7 Insane But True Stories About Famous Movie Costumes
Costumes: Without them, movies would just be filled with a bunch of naked people, and who the hell would watch that? (Oh, wait.) Anyway, costumes are a huge part of the filmmaking process -- think of the first time you saw the Wicked Witch, or Darth Vader, or Johnny Depp in a cra-a-azy wig. Sometimes, those same costumes have surprisingly insane backstories that deserve movies of their own, like...
Jabba The Hutt Was A Bunch Of Dudes Smushed Together In A Sack
After abandoning the idea of having him be a heavyset Irishman dressed like one of the wildlings from Game Of Thrones, someone came up with the idea that Jabba the Hutt should be a hookah-smoking space slug.
"Imagine a pile of rotting garbage who's high all the time. The kids will love it."
It turns out that creating and operating the Jabba puppet was actually a huge ordeal, which is probably why Sesame Street doesn't have any giant slug monsters. In fact, being in the Jabba costume was such a trip, someone recently put together a fascinating documentary about the poor souls who were crammed together in there. For starters, we learned that the suit was apparently designed using half-naked Ken dolls:
More like Jabba the hunks.
The puppet required two guys (though fully clothed, and hopefully with their genitals intact) getting smooshed together to operate Jabba's arms and mouth. Plus, there were people controlling his face and eyes, and a little person in Jabba's tail with a crank to make it wag -- you know, for all of those scenes where Lando jingled his keys and talked excitedly about going to the park.
"Actually, that's not a tail, that's..." "Don't wanna know, George."
It was like if a NASA command module was half the size, and instead of an adventure to the heavens, the "astronauts" were only there to make a repulsively bulbous alien puppet shit-talk Han Solo.
To be fair, NASA would finally get some funding if they sent humans to Mars in a Jabba the Hutt puppet.
Most insanely, there was a guy whose only job was to crouch underneath Jabba and smoke cigars, blowing the smoke through a tube to make it look like Jabba was puffing away:
After all, this is what you typically do when you get into those positions with people.
The suit itself was so crowded, one puppeteer claimed that Carrie Fisher might have stepped on the tail guy's head in the scene where she kills Jabba. Say what you will about the CGI version of the character, at least his presence didn't necessitate a bunch of dudes reenacting a dry-hump orgy inside a monster-shaped bag.
Related: Why Does Anyone Fear The Hutts?
Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique Costume Smelled Like Pee
Mystique: everyone's favorite X-Men character, or at least the one who most resembles an extra from a The Smurfs porn parody. She's the shape-shifting blue mutant who's totally naked except for her breasts and genitals, which are seemingly covered by the braille version of a Tom Clancy novel.
"Actually, those are all nipples."
"Dammit, George, you don't even work on this movie!"
Of course, this costume is an incredibly elaborate undertaking -- it's not like simply donning a cape and tights to play Superman, or slapping on a run-of-the-mill hood made of LED lights to be Ghost Rider. The behind-the-scenes photos of Jennifer Lawrence getting ready for work look like about as much fun as... well, having strangers paint your naked body blue for seven hours.
At least she had the same Arrested Development joke over and over to cheer her up.
For X-Men: Apocalypse, they gave her what she described as "a blue pantyhose that goes around whole body," which was easier to deal with... with one caveat. There was no good way for her to go to the bathroom. Unlike Wolverine, who's basically wearing street clothes, Mystique is put in a most awkward position. Fortunately for Lawrence, movie magic found a way. Unfortunately, that way was just a goddamn funnel.
Well, a funnel and a deranged Professor X.
Yup, Lawrence was expected to pee standing up. Of course, with Mystique's powers limited to shapeshifting and not some kind of urine telekinesis, things didn't always go as planned. Yup, she got some "drips" of piss on her costume which, not surprisingly, led "to a distinct smell." Meaning that X-Men's sexy, kickass character had the aroma of the floor of a bus terminal.
A Small Boy With No Legs Played Drunk-Ass E.T.
Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial faced a lot of production challenges; working with child actors, making bicycles fly, and turning E.T. into a lovable scamp, despite the fact that his entire body resembled a mummified scrotum.
E.T. was conceived as a combination of puppetry and elaborate costumes, but his ravishing testicle complexion made that a bit tricky. Sometimes the role was played by a little person, but for some shots, they used 12-year-old Matthew De Meritt, who was born without legs. He would not only fit inside the costume perfectly, but also use his arms to walk, giving E.T. a distinctive gait. If all of this sounds like we're bullshitting you, check out this super official-looking blueprint:
Meanwhile, the dog was operated by a large family of hamsters.
It seems pretty heartwarming that a young boy gets a chance to act in an all-time classic movie, but some of the details are a little messed up. According to the now-adult Matthew, he was only in the suit for the scenes where E.T. got hurt in some way. It turns out the little people they hired were too old to fall down safely, perhaps because of some obscure union rule requiring they only hire surviving The Wizard Of Oz cast members. This means that Matthew got the privilege of being E.T. when he falls over on Halloween, gets hit by the fridge door, and of course, gets hammered and passes out. The magic of movies!
"WANTED: Small, pain-averse boy capable of pretending to get shit-faced on a six-pack of Coors."
Star Trek: The Next Generation's Uniforms Stank Like Ass
The Star Trek franchise has always been hit or miss when it came to predicting the future -- sure, we all walk around with personal communicators and computer pads, but instead of the Eugenics Wars, the worst thing we got in 1992 was "Achy Breaky Heart." And while we haven't reached the 24th century yet, the "futuristic" fashion of Star Trek: The Next Generation already looks undeniably 80s in a way that was invisible to us back then.
It doesn't help that this was taken in the same studio as most New Wave promo shots.
The early seasons of the show were the worst offenders, mainly due to creator Gene Roddenberry's fierce conviction that spandex would be the go-to material for the clothing of the future. In addition to its inherent tackiness, spandex had another big problem. According to one of the show's costumers, "Spandex retains odor, so there is a certain part where if you're wearing them for a long period of time, you can't really clean all the smell out." Meaning that the bridge of the Enterprise very likely smelled like an anthropomorphic gym sock's wet fart.
"OK, who farted?"
"That was you last week, Captain."
If all that wasn't enough, according to Patrick Stewart, the uniforms were purposefully a size too small because the "producers wanted to have a smooth, unwrinkled look." Of course, this ended up giving everybody back problems, and was finally changed only after Stewart's chiropractor convinced him to threaten a lawsuit. No word on if it was the chiropractor who pressured them to get rid of all the dudes wearing skirts.
Marlon Brando's Costume In The Island Of Doctor Moreau Was Apparently A Scheme To Skip Being In The Movie
We've talked a lot about Marlon Brando's wackiness in the past, from the time he wanted to read his lines off a baby's diaper, to when he insisted on reading them off a grown woman's bare ass. We've even talked about the piece de resistance of his madness: The Island Of Doctor Moreau. And while some of the Brando stories from that garbage fire of a movie seem legitimately nuts (his personal dwarf, the suggestion that he should be half-dolphin), one ridiculous suggestion of his may have been secretly brilliant.
When Brando's Doctor Moreau shows up, he's wearing white makeup and sunglasses, looking like a California Raisin on its deathbed.
Or like he just sneezed on a Hollywood producer's "special tray."
Of course, this look isn't owed to Moreau author H.G. Wells huffing paint thinner for a few chapters -- it was a suggestion of Brando's. Why? Well, in the recent documentary about the making of the film, the crew speculates that Brando came up with this costume idea not because it would be a compelling look for the character, but out of pure, epic-scale laziness. Thanks to this costume, his stand-in could slather on some white paint, pop on a pair of Ray-Bans, and do most of the work that afternoon while Brando stayed in his trailer.
Well, at least this time Brando didn't pop on a fake mustache and go on the lam.
He even had someone banned from the set for questioning the whole albino Bono look:
"The director pointed out actors can't ban people, so he banned him too."
Now knowing that Brando's wardrobe suggestions sometimes have ulterior motives, maybe someone should double-check that his Don Corleone wasn't just a ruse to smuggle free cotton balls out of the set.
RoboCop's Suit Almost Killed The Whole Movie
After four movies, a Saturday morning cartoon, and a particularly baffling fried chicken commercial, it's hard to imagine that RoboCop would have amounted to anything if it weren't for his badass robot suit -- which, incidentally, nearly derailed the whole damn movie. After toying around with some even more blatant Judge Dredd-like ideas, designer Rob Bottin came up with the iconic suit we now know, love, and hope to one day live inside after being gunned down by petty thugs.
"I AM THE REGULATION!"
Amazingly, though, that wasn't good enough for the movie's director, Paul Verhoeven. He insisted they should be going for a "revolutionary" look inspired by Japanese comics -- which he later admitted did not work out terribly well. We like the way he phrased it:
"In retrospect, a giant cat shaped like a bus wasn't the right look for this project."
After dragging his heels, and fighting with the designer, Verhoeven eventually settled on that same goddamned design he'd rejected -- meaning that the whole thing had been hopelessly delayed for no reason. This was a big problem, because instead of having a month to figure out how to move in his new metal pajamas, the first time that actor Peter Weller got to try on the suit was to shoot a scene. Which, understandably, pissed him off.
Also adding fuel to the fire of pissed-off-ness, because of his tiff with the director, the designer wouldn't come to the set, leaving the crew to try and assemble the suit themselves. It was like if Ikea made futuristic crime-fighting equipment instead of shitty bookshelves -- right down to the part where it took 11 freaking hours. The producer responded to Weller's reasonable protests by... firing him.
"Wait, let me try that again. Can you stand by a window this time?"
Luckily for movie history, the suit was tailor-made for Weller, and since they didn't have time or money to make a new one, the producers had no choice to hire him back. Yes, like everything in life, Hollywood too is governed by a heady mix of fear, pragmatism, and laziness.
The Original Alien Suit Had An Actual Human Skull In It
When he wasn't busy hawking stereo equipment or riding around on his backyard toy train powered by nightmares, Swiss artist H.R. Giger was changing pop culture. Most famously, Giger's paintings influenced the look of the Alien movies... and presumably adorn the walls of Hell's dental offices.
Have we ever mentioned that this kind of looks like a dong? Just checking.
Giger himself worked on the film as well, personally crafting the sculpture to use as the model for the Xenomorph costume -- and if you think he just popped by a Target to pick up some papier mache and a glue gun, you're out of your goddamned mind. For starters, he used a real human skull for the alien's face, as seen in this video, and felt the need to state that insane fact twice for good measure.
"Definitely not a real alien one that I gathered during my intergalactic travels. Nope."
When asked about the skull in an interview, Giger confirmed the story followed by a terse "Don't ask me where I got it" -- which would be a shady thing to say about a pen or a stapler, let alone a piece of the human anatomy. The film's writer, Dan O'Bannon, witnessed the alien's creation firsthand, elaborating that " took a human skull and jammed it right on the front, riveted it into place and then started modifying it ... and he takes out his hacksaw and he saws the jawbone off and extends it like six inches. He puts an extension on it, and creates this distorted jawbone." The costume also featured other assorted bones, and bizarrely, condoms were used for the alien's lips, for that sensual touch.