Chewbacca was envisioned as a mix between “a monkey, a dog, and a cat.”
The original script of Star Wars described Chewie in the following way:
“…An eight-foot tall, savage-looking creature resembling a huge gray bush-baby-monkey with fierce ‘baboon’-like fangs. His large yellow eyes dominate a fur-covered face…[and] over his matted, furry body he wears two chrome bandoliers, a flak jacket painted in a bizarre camouflage pattern, brown cloth shorts, and little else
The Chewbacca costume was made from real yak and rabbit hair, making it extremely hot and difficult to wear for actor Peter Mayhew. It got so steamy in there, the eyes of the costume kept coming unglued and rolling out of Chewbacca’s face. They finally figured things out by Return of the Jedi and installed a water cooling system, allowing Mayhew to stay in costume for hours.
The Cowardly Lion costume is made of two dead lions
I hope you enjoyed the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz – because two real lions gave their lives just to make the costume. Whoever designed it should have made like the Tin Man and found a damn heart. And all that real lion skin put a lot of weight on actor Bert Lahr (both literally and metaphorically). The full suit weighed 90 pounds.
The mask in ‘Halloween’ is a William Shatner mask painted white
Studios will often reuse props from films. Stanley Kubrick was known to destroy his props and sets after shooting so no one could replicate his look. But turning a William Shatner mask into a fearsome villain has to be one of the most creative uses of existing prop. Shatner once talked about how the mask came to be.
“It had been made on Star Trek,” he said. “They would use the mask for appliances, so instead of my face, they’d use the mask to make sure that everything fit.”
Shatner got a kick out of his likeness being used to craft the deranged Michael Myers mask, and even wore it while trick-or-treating with his grandkids.
“I heard about it, and the next Halloween, with my grandkids, they went out trick-or-treating, I went out with them,” Shatner said. “I was wearing the mask. They’d say ‘trick or treat,’ and they’d usually get candy, but one time, this guy says, ‘get out of here.’”
“I went up to the front door, I knocked at the front door. I leered at him in the mask, then I yanked it off and I stared at him. He screamed, shut the door.”
The original Jabba the Hutt was just a regular guy
In multiple deleted scenes from A New Hope, like the one above, actor Declan Mulholland is seen playing Jabba the Hutt.
George Lucas says he had always planned on replacing Jabba with a puppet, he was just using Mulholland as a placeholder until the tech could be developed (even the deleted scenes were eventually replaced with a CGI Jabba in the 1997 rerelease, which is why the remaining footage above is so janky).
However, some hardcore fans believe Lucas originally intended for Jabba to be a human. They argue that if an alien Jabba was going to be superimposed over Mulholland, then why was Mulholland wearing a costume instead of a green suit? Further, Han Solo walks in front of Jabba during the scene – a movement that would have been a nightmare for CGI artists of the late ’70s to work around.
The original ‘Alien’ costume looked very different
The fearsome alien costume had to be built and rebuilt multiple times before Ridley Scott decided on a suitable Xenomorph. The original costume was translucent, but upon seeing it, Scott told them to rebuild it and make it black so the creature could slip into the shadows. H.R. Giger also thought to remove the eyes to make it more frightening.
The finished product was worn by Bolaji Badejo, a 6’10” design student who used martial arts – Tai Chi, specifically – to give the alien its creepy yet lethal-looking movements.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique makeup took eight hours to apply
For the role of Mystique in X-Men, actress Jennifer Lawrence had to be covered in blue paint as well as scales, which greatly complicated the process. The laborious process took up the vast majority of her time on set, but Lawrence says she didn’t mind.
“I know that everyone feels sorry for me, but it’s so much fun,” Lawrence said. “It’s like a sleepover, except I’m naked and getting painted.”
The suit from ‘Robocop’ was a deathtrap
The Robocop suit was so hot and unwieldy, it almost sank the whole production.
For starters, it took seven hours for actor Peter Weller to put it on: three for the inner part, four for the outer part. Once he got all that equipment on, he had to stay in it for hours on sets with sweltering temperatures. He was losing three pounds a day from dehydration.
He was about to quit the movie entirely until his agent talked him into staying. Eventually, they developed a system where Weller would chill in an air conditioned room between takes. Later versions of the suit had a cooling system built in.
E.T. was played by a 12-year-old boy born without legs
Scenes were also played by two people with dwarfism, Tamara de Treaux and Pat Bilon. Their costumes had eyeholes in E.T.’s chest area.
But for closeup shots where the eyeholes could be seen, Spielberg employed the talents of 12-year-old Matthew DeMerritt. He was born without legs, which allowed him to fit into the costume comfortably.