James Cameron’s 1986 sci-fi movie sequel Aliens simply wouldn’t be the classic it is without Carrie Henn. As Newt, the sole survivor of an alien infestation on a distant moon, Henn played co-star to Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, accompanying her on a long journey to escape the terrifying xenomorphs of LV-426.i

With no acting experience, the young star was a surprise hit in this movie, winning a Saturn Award for a debut performance in one of the biggest movies of the year. However, Carrie Henn never acted again, choosing instead to leave Hollywood behind and become a teacher in a small US town. Why did Henn cut her promising acting career short?

Carrie Henn was born on May 7, 1976, in Panama City, Florida, to a father in the US Air Force and a mother who was a nurse from the UK. When Henn was a toddler, her family relocated to the military base RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England for her father’s work.

When Henn was eight years old, development on the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror Alien was underway. Casting director Sarah Jackson in search of young talent paid a visit to Henn’s school, where she spotted Henn in the school cafeteria, took her photograph and instantly called her in for an audition.