During the recent AFI at the Movies event at the Arclight in Hollywood, Kurt Russell was on hand to introduce the 1982 John Carpenter classic The Thing. Before the start of the flick Russell reminisced about his time on set and more. Check it out!
Think you know everything about The Thing? Think again! Big thanks to Haleigh Foutch at Collider for taking the time to write this up. Check out some highlights below, and click the link for the whole thing!
Russell was involved in the production, kicking around ideas with Carpenter, long before he was asked to play J.R. MacReady. He wasn’t actually brought on to act until production had begun shooting second unit in Alaska.
There are no female characters in the film, and the only female presence is the voice of the chess computer MacReady plays (voiced by Adrienne Barbeau). Likewise, the crew ended up being comprised entirely of men. Russell recalled, “It was the most interesting set I was on because the psychology of what happened on that movie was unique; it was something I’ve never seen. Very little posturing goes on with men when there’s no women to posture for and…it seriously begins to show itself in the movie, the way these actors used it.”
Russell believes that the film failed initially because people were too horrified by the monsters Carpenter imagined and Rob Bottin’s legendary effects that brought them to life. As a result they failed to see the quality of the film behind the scary monsters. “It disallowed some audiences, and certainly critics and reviewers, to be able to get past the horrificness of the monster to watch the movie.”
Russell recalled the experience of making a film heavily reliant on effects before that became the norm, “I remember John Carpenter, many times, trying to describe to his actors what it was they were looking at. It was in post-production that this monster was going to be created, we had a couple puppets on set that were pretty cool that would give us an idea, but it always amazed us that we would turn around and be playing the scene to a wall with an X on it, or a box, or a gobo with a big white X. I would look around after the shot and realize there’s nine guys looking at one object with nine different imaginings.”
While shooting the film Russell absolutely hated the giant sombrero MacReady wears, but when he looks back on it now, it’s one of his favorite parts. “To me it was just another example of the whole relationship that John Carpenter and I have shared together and the one we have shared together with the movie industry. I was like the reviewers to come, I just didn’t get it, I just didn’t understand this hat, but now that I watch the movie, I realize it’s perfect. John was just ahead of the curve. He generally was.”
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