One Of The Most Iconic Characters In Cinematic History Was This Actor's Only Film Role

Throughout the history of the horror genre, several villains have become pop culture icons unto themselves. For example, it's been nearly four decades since the original "A Nightmare On Elm Street" was first released in theaters, but Freddy Krueger remains a classic movie monster to this day. Similarly, Michael Myers, the villain in the "Halloween" franchise, has helped sign the paychecks of at least 10 actors, per Pop Sugar, who have portrayed him over the decades.

Another classic movie villain never actually got a name, and throughout the history of the franchise has been known only as "the Xenomorph" as IndieWire reports. The alien in the "Alien" franchise has appeared in multiple films over the decades, but in the original film – released in 1979, decades before reliable CGI — he was portrayed by an actor in a suit. Specifically, director Ridley Scott needed an exceptionally tall actor to portray the being, and he found what he needed in a Nigerian visual artist who got his one and only film role.

Bolaji Badejo's Lucky Break

Back in the late 1970s, CGI hadn't yet become the default process for special effects that it is in action/horror movies today, and as such, monsters such as the xenomorph were often portrayed by actors in costume. In this particular case, director Ridley Scott was looking for an exceptionally tall person to fill out the costume. Since the xenomorph often appeared onscreen with its human counterparts, a tall person was needed for the role in order to provide the audience with a visual reference for its scale, as the book, "The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron" reports.

Bolaji Badejo happened to be in the right place at the right time. The Nigerian-born special effects artist happened to be in a London pub at the same time as one of Scott's casting staff, and soon enough, a contract was signed and the Lagos visual artist was in the suit.

The four months during which Badejo was on the set could be grueling, he said in an interview with Strange Shapes. At one point, he almost suffocated. "I was held up by a harness around my stomach, and I was suffocating trying to make these movements," he said.

'Alien' Was Bolaji Badejo's Only Film Role

After wrapping up filming "Alien," Badejo put acting in the rearview mirror — he was never particularly interested in acting in the first place, according to Bold Entrance – and went back to Lagos to return to his art career. Though he was offered roles in subsequent entries in the franchise, he turned them down, possibly due to the extreme physical and mental demands of the role. "The fact that I played the part of Alien, for me, that's good enough," he would later say, via CNN.

In 1983, Badejo opened up a Lagos art gallery, and remained in Nigeria while pursuing his career as a visual artist. The artist had suffered from sickle-cell anemia — a disease that is common across sub-Saharan Africa, according to the National Library of Medicine – for his entire life, according to The Telegraph. In 1992, the disease finally claimed his life while Badejo was at the young age of 39. He left behind two children.