In film, it's rare that a sequel is as good as (or better than) the original. However 'Aliens,' the 1986 sequel to the 1979 hit, 'Alien,' managed to top its predecessor. 

With James Cameron behind the movie, the franchise shifted gears from sci-fi horror to action. And also Bill Paxton played (or really was subjected to) one of the greatest knife games ever. Of course, Bill Paxton wasn't the only memorable cast member in this movie. Let's take a look at the cast of 'Aliens' then and now.

  • 1

    Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Ripley

    20th Century Fox / Jason Kempin, Getty Images

    Then: At the time of 'Aliens' release, Weaver had already hit it big with the role of Ellen Ripley in 'Alien' and Dana Barrett in 'Ghostbusters.' 'Aliens' earned her her first Academy Award nomination.

    Now: Weaver went on to reprise her Ripley role in two more 'Alien' films ('Alien 3' and 'Alien Resurrection'), while also pursuing other work that earned her high levels of respect, such as 'Working Girl' and 'Gorillas in the Mist' -- both of which led to Oscar noms. In 2009 Weaver starred in another James Cameron blockbuster, 'Avatar.' Most recently, she was seen in 'Vamps' and the USA mini-series 'Political Animals.'

  • 2

    Michael Biehn, Dwayne Hicks

    20th Century Fox / Fazer Harrison, Getty Images

    Then: 'Aliens' wouldn't be the first time actor Michael Biehn worked with James Cameron -- he appeared in the 1984 Cameron film 'The Terminator.' At the same time as that film, he played a minor character on 'Hill Street Blues' -- Officer Randall Buttman. (hahahahaha, "Buttman"!!)

    Now: Biehn has consistently worked through the '80s, '90s, and '00s, with appearances in 'The Abyss,' 'Tombstone,' 'The Rock' and 'Planet Terror,' among many, many more. (Like 'Time Bomb.' Have you seen that one? If you like to hate yourself you should probably watch 'Time Bomb.') He has done some work in television as well, with more regular work on 'Adventure Inc.' and 'Hawaii.' The actor also has a lengthy list of productions in development for the upcoming year. A Butt-LOAD, as it were. (Nine. There are nine of them.)

  • 3

    Lance Henriksen, Bishop

    20th Century Fox / Michael Kovac, Getty Images

    Then: Even though Henriksen has found regular work as an actor since the early '70s, his role as Bishop in the 'Alien' franchise is one of his most recognizable. Before his success there, Henriksen was in 'Dog Day Afternoon,' 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and 'The Terminator.'

    Now: Henriksen has acted in a lengthy list of films, becoming known for his demanding and deep voice, which he has used on TV shows such as 'The Legend of Korra,' 'The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes,' and the recent 'TRON: Uprising.' From 1996 - 1999, Henriksen starred as Frank Black in 67 episodes of the popular 'Millennium' series.

  • 4

    William Hope, Lt. Gorman

    20th Century Fox / IMDB

    Then: Rumor has it that actor William Hope turned down a major role in 'Full Metal Jacket' to play Lt. Gorman in 'Aliens.' Prior to his 'Aliens' success, Hope had only appeared in two other films, 'The Lords of Discipline' and 'Scanners,' in an uncredited role.

    Now: The success of 'Aliens' led to being cast as Kyle MacRae in 1988's 'Hellbound: Hellraiser 2.' This led to some serious stage roles, and he still tours in England frequently. He's been featured in 'The Saint,' 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' and 'xXx.' Today, Hope provides the voice for a number roles in 'Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.'

  • 5

    Paul Reiser, Carter Burke

    20th Century Fox / Alexandra Wyman, Getty Images

    Then: Yes, comedian Paul Reiser turned heads in 1986 when he played Carter Burke in 'Aliens.' At the time, Reiser was a successful stand-up comedian, with roles in 'Diner,' 'Beverly Hills Cop' and 'Odd Jobs.'

    Now: After 'Aliens,' Reiser went on to star as Michael Taylor in 'My Two Dads' for 60 episodes and then create and star in 'Mad About You' alongside Helen Hunt for 162 episodes. Today, while he no longer has a show on the air ('The Paul Reiser' show was swiftly canceled by NBC in 2011), Reiser is back to doing what he loves best...stand-up comedy.

  • 6

    Bill Paxton, Pvt. Hudson

    20th Century Fox / Stuart C. Wilson, Getty Images

    Then: Famed actor Bill Paxton has been appearing in film and television since the early '80, working on 'Stripes, 'The Terminator' and 'Weird Science' before his role in 'Aliens.'

    Now: Since 'Aliens,' Paxton's has appeared in several very successful films, including 'Twister,' 'True Lies,' 'Apollo 13,' 'Titanic' and 'Tombstone.' He also played the lead role of polygamist Bill Hendrickson for all five seasons of HBO's 'Big Love.' Paxton recently started alongside Kevin Costner in the mini-series 'Hatfields & McCoys' and plays Thomas Jackson in the 2013 mini-series 'To Appomattox.'

  • 7

    Jenette Goldstein, Pvt. Vasquez

    20th Century Fox / Katy Winn, Getty Images

    Then: Pvt. Vasquez was Janette Goldstein's first film role. Definitely not a bad way to start a career. In fact, she earned herself a Saturn Award for the role.

    Now: Goldstein went on to appear in 'Lethal Weapon 2,' 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day,' Titanic' and 2008's 'Autopsy.' She also has a role in this year's 'Under the Hollywood Sign,' but is more known for being the owner of Jenette Bras, a company specializing in large-sized brassieres.

  • 8

    Mark Rolston, Pvt. Drake

    20th Century Fox / Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

    Then: 'Aliens' was also Mark Rolston's first movie, but it wasn't his first acting gig -- he had previously had a few small parts on television.

    Now: After 'Aliens,' Rolston hasn't stopped working. He was in 'Lethal Weapon 2,' 'The Shawshank Redemption,' 'Eraser,' 'Rush Hour' and even 'The Departed.' His work on television has also remained steady, appearing on 'Babylon 5,' 'The X-Files,' 'The Shield,' Cold Case,' 'CSI: Miami,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and many more. For the past few years Rolston has provided the voice for Lex Luthor on 'Young Justice.'

  • 9

    Ricco Ross, Pvt. Frost

    20th Century Fox / IMDB

    Then: Actor Ricco Ross was in 'Spies Like Us' and had a small part on 'Hill Street Blues before taking on the role of Pvt. Frost in 'Aliens.'

    Now: After 'Aliens,' Ross lived in England in order to appear on 'Doctor Who' and 'Jeeves and Wooster.' He has worked on films such as 'Mission: Impossible' and 'Fierce Creatures.' Today, he still acts, appearing on television shows and commercials.

  • 10

    Daniel Kash, Pvt. Spunkmeyer

    20th Century Fox / IMDB

    Then: 'Aliens' was actor Daniel Kash's first feature film. His parents were both performers -- his mother was an opera singer and his father a violinist/conductor.

    Now: After his 'Aliens' debut, Kash played Det. Louis Gardino in the television series 'Due South' and appeared in the more recent 'Copper' as Jakob Schwarz. He also played Dr. Dreyfuss in this year's 'Mama' and has a couple of projects slated for release next year.