Start Here

Men In Suits - A Documentary on the Art of Monster Suit Acting

Men In Suits -  A Documentary on the Art of Monster Suit Acting

By Frank H. Woodward - Co-founder Wyrd Studios

To watch the MEN IN SUITS Trailer simply click on the video player above.

THERE’S SOMEONE IN THERE

Godzilla... Chewbacca... Robby the Robot... These are some of the most iconic characters in cinema, but many people still don't know about the incredible actors who bring these creatures to life! Growing up a monster kid, it was always puzzling to me that people could list off every actor that played James Bond or Batman but they couldn’t tell you who played Predator or the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Pictured above: 5 Classic Characters - ALL Men in Suits

THE ART OF SUIT ACTING

What ultimately convinced Wyrd to make MEN IN SUITS was when we told a friend, “We’re thinking about doing a documentary about the guys who wear creature suits.” Her response was, “That’s a job?”
It was no question after that. We made MEN IN SUITS to show that it’s not only a job… it’s an art.

LEGENDS OF THE CRAFT

Through interviews with some of the top suit actors and exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ footage, MEN IN SUITS shines a long overdue light on a craft that is getting lost in this age of computer graphics.

These interviews include:


• Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth)


• Tom Woodruff Jr. (the Alien fims, Pumpkinhead)


• Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla, Ultraman)


• Bob Burns (The Ghost Busters, Invasion of the Saucer Men)


• Brian Steele (Hellboy II, Predators)


• Douglas Tait (Zathura, Knights of Badassdom)


• Misty Rosas (Congo, Sid The Science Kid)


• Michelan Sisti (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dinosaurs)


• John Alexander (Gorillas In The Mist, Men In Black)


• Van Snowden (H.R. Pufnstuff, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters)


• Arturo Gil (Monkeybone, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey)


• Camden Toy (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel)


• Bobby Clark (Star Trek)

MEN IN SUITS also features August Ragone (author, Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters), Todd Tucker (Drac Studios), Alec Gillis (ADI Effects), William Malone (director, House on Haunted Hill) and Guillermo Del Toro (director, Pan's Labyrinth)

Pictured above: Haruo Nakajima takes a tea break from his duties as king of the monster suit performers aka GODZILLA.

Pictured above: Paul Blaisdell & Kathy Burns work on the creature suit for "The She-Creature."

Pictured above: One of the earliest men in suits, Bob Burns, in one of his prized gorilla suits.

GEEK RANT

And now a bit of a geeky rant…
You’ll notice we call these people “actors”. That’s because the term “suit performer” sells their achievements short. While we’re seeing a mixture of digital and practical more than we did in the honeymoon days of CG, it’s still too easy for producers and audiences to underestimate the power of a skilled suit actor.

Pictured above: Fauno from PAN'S LABYRINTH (aka actor Doug Jones) takes a break from delivering a finely nuanced performance on Guillermo del Toro's seminal fantasy film.

Pictured above: Tom Woodruff Jr. pays homage to a classic in his role as Gillman in THE MONSTER SQUAD.

LIFE-LIKE MOMENTS FOR FREE

The thing about CG vs. practical is you don’t get anything for free. Every turn of the head or twitch of the finger requires someone to animate that in the CG world. An actual actor on set with a symphony of actions and behavior can give you life-like moments for free.

Pictured above: Brian Steele (aka CreatureBoy) in a test fitting for his role as Hell Knight/Baron of Hell in DOOM.

ON MO-CAP AND ACTING

Even Mo-Cap isn’t a guarantee of a full performance. It’s rarely one to one. Animators always have to fill in the blanks that weren’t captured. No offense to Andy Serkis because he brings such a rich foundation to all his roles, but Gollum was also created by a host of WETA animators.

Pictured above: Actor Andy Serkis and his digital counterpart Gollum from THE LORD OF THE RINGS series.


I realize this is true of practical creatures, too. It takes an actor like Brian Steele and a team of puppeteers to realize a character like Mr. Wink in HELLBOY II. It’s just that the current fascination with mo-cap seems to say that guys in leotards with shiny balls are worthy of being called actors while guys wearing animatronic heads… well, that’s something else entirely. Could anyone be so wrong?
 What’s worse is that some producers and studio heads are actually buying the hype. Look at a film like RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Not a practical ape in there as far as I know. And we’ve been doing realistic gorillas for decades now. End rant.

CHECK IT OUT

If you’re as passionate about guys in suits as I am, please check out MEN IN SUITS. The DVD is available on Amazon (http://amzn.com/B00A5DJKWQ). You can also join the MEN IN SUITS discussion and share creature photos via our Facebook page, Twitter feed (@wyrdstuff) or website (www.wyrdstuff.com). Please tell us what you think.

- Frank H. Woodward

Wyrd co-founder along with William Janczewski & James B. Myers

To watch the MEN IN SUITS trailer, simply click on the player at the top of the page!