When they first appeared on the silver screen, movies brought the nation and the world together like never before. They’re still an incredibly important part of our cultural zeitgeist, but what we see in the finished project isn’t always how the movie was made.
If you’re a fan of going to the latest flick at the theater or settling into the couch to unwind with some action or comedy, check out these behind-the-scenes photos from recent movies. You’re sure to see something that surprises you, and you’ll have plenty to talk about to your movie fan friends.
Beauty and the Padded Suit
CGI is expected and used in almost every movie, from the big-budget superhero blockbusters to the little films that just need some color correction or frame merging. When Emma Watson descended the staircase in her beautiful yellow dress, arm-in-arm with the beast, it might have been hard to picture the man wearing the graphics, but here he is in all his glory: bulky gray suit, springs under the feet, and decals on the outfit to help graphic artists create the look they want.
As graphic tech improves, it might be Watson on her own in the future, as characters are added in free-hand.
Even Her Own Kids
Angelina Jolie has gone on record saying she wanted to be a “film noir goddess” with her costume for ‘Maleficent 2’. But she may have gone a little bit overboard with the dark and deadly details, seeing as how nearly every child on the set – including her own children! – found her a little bit too frightful.
Even the child actors didn’t enjoy how she looked, which led to plenty of adjusted details for the sequel, which she took, apparently. Hopefully the little ones were able to handle her look this time.
Some of These Scenes Were No Joke
‘Joker’ broke the box-office bank when it came out, and we learned plenty about Joaquin Phoenix’s acting process thanks to behind the scenes photos.
There were plenty of scenes that were pre-planned (such as the photo booth or the famous stairs scene) but there were lots where they just let Phoenix do what he wanted: “When he climbed into the refrigerator, we had no idea he was going to do that. We set up two camera positions, and Joaquin just thought about what he would do if he was a massive insomniac. Again, we lit it so he could go anywhere, and the first and only time he did it, we were mesmerized.”
Revenge is Best Served Cold
This picture shows us one of the memorable scenes from Quentin Tarantino’s bloody two-part movie series, ‘Kill Bill’. The main character (known only as the Bride, played by Uma Thurman) is working her way through those who betrayed her, a long list of deadly assassins, leading up to the leader of the Crazy 88, O-Ren Ishi, played by Lucy Liu.
Like many of the scenes in this movie duology, this is a beautifully shot and designed scene that locks your eyes to the screen. This Japanese yamato nadeshiko versus angry yellow jumpsuit-wearing Bride shot is definitely pleasing to the eye.
Pretending to Hate Someone Must be Difficult
While the cameras were rolling, Lucy Liu and Uma Thurman played the parts of two assassins who fought to the death among the snow and blood, and the Bride emerges victorious by slicing the top off of O-Ren Ishi’s skull.
But when the cameras shut off and Tarantino called cut, the two actresses didn’t have to act to be the best of friends. This famous image shows the aftermath of the fight as the two stars hug, complete with prosthetic head addition for Lucy Liu which, now that we aren’t seeing it shot perfectly, looks pretty silly.
I Invented a Shrinking Car, Marty!
The DeLorean is one of the most famous cars in the world, thanks to its inclusion in one of the most movie trilogies ever, the ‘Back to the Future’ series. All three movies feature the vehicle heavily, as it’s the way the entire plot kicks off, and how Doc Brown created his greatest invention.
The still here is from the third movie in the series, ‘Back to the Future III’, in which Marty chases Doc Brown to the year 1885 and has to figure out a way to power the car home. It’s a miniature of the DeLorean, and the steam engine that got it up to speed the filmmakers used to keep costs down.
Back to the Present
The Train itself is only a few feet tall, and the DeLorean model doesn’t even hit twelve inches. Since there’s no way to power the car in the wild west in the year 1885, Doc Brown and Marty come up with the idea to have the train push it to the requisite speed of 88 miles per hour, which activates the flux capacitor and sends Marty to when he needs to be.
The scene is the powerful climax of the film and the last of the ‘Back to the Future’ movies, and the filmmakers spared no expense.
She Probably Didn’t Eat Any Cake on Set
While it’s commonly thought Marie Antoinette uttered the famous phrase “Let them eat cake” during the famous and deadly French revolution, there’s no evidence she was actually the one who said it. Regardless, she’s remembered as saying this callous phrase as people starved for bread.
Kirsten Dunst played this famous member of nobility in the movie ‘Marie Antoinette’, and the stills have her showing off regal looks and period-accurate fashion. While Antoinette is remembered for this phrase, she was generally thought to be kind and thoughtful, even to peasants. But even acting as a queen is hard work.
Time for Some Tunes
When Dunst wasn’t sashaying around in huge ball gowns and heavy hairdos, she and actor Jason Schwartzman, who played Louis XVI, sat around and listened to music, despite being surrounded by crew, amazing sets, and beautiful artwork.
Everybody needs some relaxation, and going for a jog between shots certainly wasn’t in the cards, thanks to the aforementioned heavy outfits, as well as the pristine makeup and styles the actress was dutied to maintain. Sitting and listening to some music seems like the kind of thing the real Antoinette got up to, though she probably brought in actual musicians.
How could you forget ‘The Matrix’? As Neo begins to realize what his world is really like, and how powerful the machines truly are, the viewers are treated to incredible shots with an amazing mix of CGI and stunt work.
One of the most famous scenes in the entire series is near the end of the third movie – though the movie is thought to be lesser than the earlier two – when the machine world, now full of nothing but rogue Agent Smiths, turns itself against the savior Neo, and an incredible fight in the rain takes place.
The Many Faces of Hugo Weaving
Famous actor Hugo Weaving – well known for his role as Agent Smith as well as Elrond from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies – had numerous duplicate faces made for other actors to portray him, since Agent Smith gains the ability to turn other people into copies of himself. Plenty were needed, and while CGI did help with the process, a few rubber heads were made to make the process easier.
This picture shows just how detailed the process was, able to replicate Agent Smith down to an exact science, just like in the movie itself.
Freddy’s Ready for You
The eighties were a treasure trove of slasher films for the horror movie fan, and few were more well known than the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ series. The iconic villain, nightmare creature Freddy Krueger, wields his sharp glove and sneaks into the dreams of the kids on Elm Street, with a classic burned face, striped sweater, dowdy brown hat, and bone-chilling rhyme.
If you’re looking for some scares this Halloween, this movie series is sure to deliver, and you’ll even see some familiar faces – the first movie was Johnny Depp’s first big role. But the real draw here is Freddy.
Aw, He’s Not So Bad
While the Freddy in the movies was the deadliest thing the cast had ever come across, haunting them on and off throughout an entire series and killing plenty of them, in real life they were all actors and professionals. Freddy Krueger’s actor, Robert Englund, was reportedly scared even of himself – he’s reported that his iconic character gives him nightmares.
As this image shows, even in his famous frightening look, Englund was well-liked by the rest of the cast. He probably enjoyed the positive attention, even as he was getting used to him being an icon of fear.
Magical Characters Make for a Magical Series
The Harry Potter books and movies are famous for memorable and unique characters that seem oh-so-alive. Anybody who picks up a copy or pops a disk into their player knows that kind Dumbledore is the good guy, while nostril-less Lord Voldemort is the bad guy at first glance.
The two characters couldn’t be more opposed, both in their looks, their goals, and their methods. For most of the series, the two characters are in a duel of wits and power with young Harry Potter at the center. But how did the two actors treat each other when the cameras weren’t rolling?
While Voldemort and Dumbledore did know each other before the former’s turn to one of the most evil characters in book history, they were never this friendly. No, this image simply shows actors Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) and Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) sharing a laugh and a snack while resting their legs between shots. What Potterhead wouldn’t give their wand to be able to listen in on this conversation?
Their body language and expressions don’t show any fear or animosity, which might surprise you until you remember these are two old pros – they’ve worked on movies before, and know how to treat co-workers.
They Go All the Way Up
As one of the longest-running movie franchises in history, ‘Godzilla’ has been destroying or saving the city of Tokyo since 1954, and has appeared in an incredible thirty-three films! A prehistoric monster who stomps through town and destroys everything he comes across had viewers glued to the screen when it first appeared!
While the original now seems pretty kitschy – CGI has grown by leaps and bounds since the fifties – fans of the cult classic still enjoy the original big monster movie. Just look at those legs and see how far they go up!
The Monster Unmasked
It’s common knowledge these days that the original Godzilla was just a man in a rubber suit. One of the two actors was Haruo Nakajimo, who we see in this photo getting his monster steps down just right. This sort of image makes the originals a little less frightening, since it isn’t a real monster stomping through a real city, but a regular guy playing around with a model built specifically for the movie.
Still though: those legs. Nowadays filmmakers are able to make much more realistic-looking monsters thanks to CGI, but it’s hard to forget that they were once played by regular people.
The Form Has Been Chosen
Here’s another famous film from the eighties that you’re sure to recognize: This is a shot from the climax of the first ‘Ghostbusters’, where Gozer the Gozerian, the ancient Sumerian deity, becomes the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in order to wreak destruction on the world of mortals. The Ghostbusters must put all their wits and ingenuity together to find a way to banish this evil creature back to the pits from whence it came.
The crowd flees in terror as this Marshmallow Man stomps through New York City. How will the Ghostbusters possibly defeat this menace?
It Will be Easier Than You Think
This was another famous film where it, and its sequel, were made before the wide-spread advent of computer graphics, which means that miniature models are the name of the game. While the Marshmallow Man is still a hefty size, the road it’s stomping through is pretty tiny, and the cars on it might as well be matchbox cars.
It was filmed with the pinnacle of techniques and technologies at the time, and viewers still enjoy watching this destructive force spread gooey marshmallow fluff across the city – it’s impossible to tell they used miniatures at all.
A Classic Blockbuster Bromance
‘Ben-Hur’ is a famous, long, epic movie from 1959 that features Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd as the two lead roles. The characters began as childhood friends, but their paths in life led them to becoming mortal enemies.
The film’s most famous scene, and surely the one most people can recall, is the incredible chariot race between Judah Ben-Hur and Messala. It’s a scene that is full of classic action and amazing stunts, but the stories behind the scene might be even more incredible than the scene itself. Plenty of real chariots were destroyed, and over a hundred and fifty horses died.
Vespa Smiles on Set
Thankfully, the two lead actors remained uninjured, and are even seen here riding on a Vespa with big sunny smiles on their faces. The best ability of an actor is to pretend to be enemies with someone while enjoying their company in real life – we’ve already seen it a number of times on this list.
Heston and Boyd worked hard to film what turned into one of the most famous movies of all time, but they also spent some time hanging out as friends between the dangerous shots. We’re always happy to see actors smiling together.
CGI Swings the Other Way
The ‘Jurassic Park’ series began in the early nineties and is still rolling along, having come out with a few new films recently that really show what a good action movie reboot can do. Famous actors like Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard act amazing together, as a dinosaur trainer and an operations manager at the titular dinosaur theme park.
They’ve used improved CGI technology, just like the originals, and brought dinosaur power to the box office. The movies were a hit, with the first claiming the top spot on the all-time earnings list until ‘Stars Wars: The Force Awakens’ came out.
We’re Lucky These Monsters Aren’t Around Anymore
Taking a look at the behind-the-scenes photo takes away a lot of the tense power the dinosaurs have in the film, and even though the filmmakers used plenty of CGI to create the beasts, the filmmakers smartly went for plenty of practical effects as well. The actors are so good at pretending they’re facing down real prehistoric dinosaurs.
There’s lots of information about how the artists and consulting experts were able to create these amazing creatures, and able to make them look so good. The movie definitely profited from their expertise, and viewers all over the world seemed to love it.
Play With Us. Forever…
Stephen King’s bestseller ‘The Shining’ was a chart-topping book that brought fear back to the front of a lot of people’s minds, and Stanley Kubrick took it upon himself to turn the chilling book into an even more chilling 1980 movie starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd.
The movie brought us the trope of the creepy ghost twins, who only want Danny to come play with them forever, and it’s one of the enduring scary things that writers and filmmakers have gone back to over and over again. But how were the twins backstage?
Nothing Wrong With These Girls
Little kids in horror films are, for some reason, one of the creepiest ways to send chills down your viewers’ spines, but when the cameras weren’t rolling, these twins were just a pair of young actresses. It’s very likely that Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance, did actually play with them when they weren’t needed on set.
The twins won the hearts of everyone on the set. It’s known that Stanley Kubrick didn’t let Lloyd know what kind of movie ‘The Shining’ was, and Lloyd only found out when he watched the film as a teenager. We wonder if Kubrick used the same tactic with the twins?
Batman and Bane Coming to Blows
Actor Tom Hardy is a hunk and a heartthrob, but when he put on the mask and the military-inspired outfit of Bane for the third installation of the Christopher Nolan Batman series, ‘Dark Knight Rises’, Hardy became a violent and brutal villain.
His mask gave his voice an unmistakable timbre, and he even managed to bring Batman down and cast him into the darkness. He almost manages to bring down the entire city of Gotham, until Bruce Wayne seemingly makes the ultimate sacrifice to keep the city safe. Why don’t you go ahead and guess how the actors acted when off camera?
Having a Laugh with the Bat
We hope that Tom Hardy returned to his normal voice when joking around with Batman/Bruce Wayne actor Christian Bale, since it looks like they did it often enough. The two characters are mortal enemies in the movie, but clearly the actors themselves are good friends. This image, which shows part of the big mob scene that takes place in the third act, has Bale and Hardy chuckling while the next shot is set up.
Bane and the Bat are all smiles here, but once the cameras start rolling they’re going to start delivering powerful blows to each other again.
Send in the Clowns
We’re back to our horror favorite Stephen King. His 1986 novel “It” introduced us to creepy clown Pennywise, whose shape shifting powers brought unending terror to the children of Derry, Maine. The first actor to become this clown was Tim Curry for the 1990 television miniseries, and for the two-part movie series it was Bill Skarsgard.
Both excel at creepy characters, but the design is slightly different, with Curry’s version being a little more colorful, which hides the evil brewing inside the character, and Skarsgard’s version being more muted and outwardly creepy. How much makeup did it require to get into character, we wonder?
Sit Still, Bill
Not only did they need to sit in the makeup chair for a few hours just to get ready for the day, but every time they got a smudge or had a little bit of mishap, they had to take another seat so the makeup people could make things perfect.
Bill Skarsgard may have plenty of creepy qualities and acting skills, but as we see here, even he needs help to get the right look to scare the Losers Club silly. But how scary is a clown when we see them without his face paint?
Big Things Come in Small Packages
‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies are beloved by book fans and movie aficionados alike for the amazing story, incredible scenes, and memorable moments spread throughout, as well as the frankly amazing amount of work required for each of the three movies.
The hobbits are well-loved as well, since these little folk stand alongside towering elves, men, and even the bigger dwarves. They faced down orcs, armies, giant spiders, and the fires of Mount Doom and their own doubts to emerge victorious at the end of the story.
One Doesn’t Simply Take a Helicopter Into Mordor
The Hobbits travel all over New Zealand, and they thankfully didn’t require the actors to walk all that way on bare feet. This picture shows all four of the hobbits – and a pilot – packed into a helicopter to ferry them to and from their scenes.
It certainly would be easier to take a flight to Mordor and drop the Ring into the volcano from above, but it wouldn’t make for a very good movie – not to mention the Nazgul would be able to take them down easily thanks to their own winged mounts.
Another Horror Icon Unmasked
Alongside Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers is one of the enduring horror icons from the eighties, and he’s even the main face of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, the perfect films to watch if you want some scares in October. This character stalked babysitters, leaving everyone in the movie theater looking over their shoulder.
You probably know that the famous mask Myers wears is a Captain Kirk mask that has been mangled and bleached, but have you ever looked behind the mask to see what Myers really looks like? Get ready to have some movie magic disappear.
Anybody Who Drinks Dr. Pepper Can’t be That Bad
Even killers need to grab a bite to eat or have something to drink, and when the cameras aren’t rolling the mask has to come off so the actor – Nick Castle, for most of the films – could get something inside his stomach.
While seeing Myers enjoying a Dr. Pepper does kind of kill the mood, he still made for a killer villain in all of the movies he appeared in, no matter what he enjoys snacking on. We all know that film characters are actors, but horror movies rely on a certain feeling, and that feeling can be broken by just one image.
They Can’t Always be Guarding the Galaxy
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films that really grabbed people’s attention, and some think the sequel is even better. The movies have clever dialogue, a great soundtrack straight from the eighties, and an amazing cast of characters that continues to grow.
Of course, the actors have to sometimes take a break – acting can be hard – which gives us plenty of behind the scenes images to peruse. This famous movie series had plenty of press buzzing around it while filming, so we’re sure to see something interesting.
Naps and Smartphones
While Kurt Russel, who played Star-Lord’s father Ego, is in need of a good nap. Gamora and Star-Lord himself have taken out their phones to check their space Instagram accounts or check their messages. Or play solitaire, who knows. The huge blue screen behind them helped the filmmakers create the amazing starscapes we see throughout the movies, and there are plenty of crew members working hard setting up the next shot.
We see a strange generational divide here, as Kurt Russel shuts his eyes to keep his strength, while Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana take to the internet and a little bit of eye strain.
To the Stars
If you’re into science fiction you’ve probably heard of ‘Ad Astra’, a movie that combines futuristic scenery and a focus on emotions and feelings. But what was it like behind the scenes as Brad Pitt explores his life and the limits of space before our very eyes?
Nasa and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory helped with the extensive research required to make the science and scenes right. The visual effects are a little bit more subtle than you might expect thanks to trying to stay close to tech like the International Space Station or the Apollo missions. Technology has changed a lot, but the look of things hasn’t, for the most part.
The Bond films are one of the longest-running and most popular movie franchises out there, with tons of movies and multiple actors portraying the secret agent. One of the frequent list-toppers of Bond films is the 1964 ‘Goldfinger’, which practically codified the secret agent tropes we know and love today. In this film adaption of the Ian Fleming novel, the villainous Goldfinger offs one of his own employees, Jill Masterson, by covering her with gold paint – an odd way to kill, but definitely noticeable and true-to-life.
You see, the body has to “breathe” in a way, and covering the entire body makes that impossible. Masterson dies from suffocation, despite being able to breathe.
She’s Okay, Everyone
Of course, the filmmakers wouldn’t really put actress Shirley Eaton in danger in that way – leaving a spot on the spine unpainted is enough to reduce the danger to almost negligible. Masterson was about to blab on her boss to Bond, but he wasn’t quick enough to save the character from a death most unlikely.
Of course, Bond goes on to save the day and – in this installation – the global economy, but the golden girl was one of the most enduring pictures from the third Bond film. Thanks to the shining gold, Easton’s beauty, and the deadly consequences, it’s sure to last.
This Famous Duo Again
We’re back to where we started, with the Disney live-action adaption of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, featuring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the eponymous characters. Disney has jumped on the CGI bandwagon but bad, and this movie was derided for the overuse of obvious CGI elements.
They came up with plenty of technology to try and bring this movie to life, and while the Beast doesn’t look too bad, that’s only while you’re looking at the finished project. From their first meeting to the famous dance scene and the climax of the film, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens had to act clean, without knowing what things would really look like.
It’s another shot of the CGI suit we saw at the top of this article, and while Watson looks stunning, her co-star needs plenty of work to fit into this film. The actress definitely deserves applause for managing to not lose her serious and loving face while staring into the eyes of a man wrapped in spandex and covered in symbols that will help graphic artists build the body of the beast around him.
The famous ballroom scene definitely wouldn’t have been the same if we could see how it was filmed before all the extras were added.
Can Robots Get Sunburned?
Billions of people around the world love the original ‘Star Wars’ characters for their vibrant details, amazing looks, and personalities. Characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia lead us on a journey from the deep reaches of space to sandy Tatooine to the cold and brutal metal construction of the Death Star and beyond.
Other characters like C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca round out the cast against Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, and it’s easy to forget that all of those interesting characters have actors inside them. They seem so real, but yes – even robots need to take a break.
Lunch Break for the Robots
Even though we know this is a fictional story and a movie that lots of people put time and effort into, it can be jarring to see the dwarf actor Kenny Baker getting a little bit of sun with R2-D2’s dome head tilted back, giving him space to enjoy his sandwich.
Kenny Baker’s small stature made him perfect for his role of R2-D2, which while it didn’t use his voice, his physical acting helped plenty of viewers fall in love with the snarky little beeping robot. We wonder how hot it was inside that metal can in the blazing Tunisian sun.
Alien Friends Share a Tender Moment
Drax, played by Dave Bautista, rubs Rocket Raccoon’s head during a slow moment at what looks like the end of the first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movie. Rocket Raccoon’s voice comes from famous A-lister Bradley Cooper, and while his physical form was built using CGI, an actor still had to wear a suit that made it possible for artists to accurately recreate the movements and positions of this character.
The actor who did so was Sean Gunn, brother to the director of both ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movies, James Gunn.
We Must Wonder How the Actors Felt During This Scene
Here’s the non-CGI version of the scene, where Dave Bautista pats Sean Gunn’s green-suited head. Bautista is still acting just as his character should – or would, since Drax is a bit of a funny character – but Sean looks like he could be acting, or it looks like he could be rethinking all of his life choices.
As we’ve seen a number of times, providing a base for CGI artists to work from is becoming a more and more important task in movies, but it’s still probably pretty strange to do so.
A Boy and his Tiger
‘Life of Pi’ is a movie based on a book of the same name. The two main characters – at least those that last any amount of time – are a young boy and a fearsome, man-eating tiger, trapped together on a small lifeboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Obviously, it would be neither safe nor practical to film the scenes with a real tiger present, so the director had to use the now-standard CGI, but this was back before CGI had really exploded (despite it already being in use). The result was a completed movie, zero devoured actors, and a little more, too.
More Petting on Movie Sets, it Seems
Instead of a real tiger, the actor who played Pi would interact with a large stuffed toy, colored a bright blue for the CGI artists. The boat was built on a set, and so instead of the life-threatening conditions that harried the main character through the entire movie, it was simple for them to film.
But not cheap: the company who did all the CGI for the movie, despite creating a finished and well-received product, eventually went broke due to all the extra time, rendering power, and other resources they had to pour in to finish the movie on time.
Lord of the Body Doubles
While filming the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies, as well as ‘The Hobbit’ series, director Peter Jackson wanted practical effects as much as possible – though he did lessen this approach for ‘The Hobbit’ movies. With a Middle-Earth full of hobbits, dwarves, men, elves, wizards, and giants, plenty of different actors took up the mantles of your favorite character, not just the names you’re aware of.
Sir Ian McKellen, in particular, needed a lot of help. Since his character Gandalf interacts with hobbits so much, there needed to be a way for him to tower over the other actors.
Plenty of work went into making sure it was possible to get the right shorts, even with the size differences present in the story. For scenes that have Gandalf talking to Frodo or Bilbo, there were several tricks used, including a seven-foot-tall body double, usually shooting him from the back.
Sometimes, in ‘The Hobbit’ movies especially, the digital team placed McKellen’s face on the body double to help get the shot they wanted. Of course, there were also shorter and smaller body doubles used for the smaller races – talk about a big production!
Fawning Over the Visuals
‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, by acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro, is full of incredible sights, a magical story that mixes wonder and darkness in equal amounts, and a few unforgettable characters – no matter how hard viewers might try.
Not only is there the faun, the satyr character that provides our main heroine with the direction she needs, but we also have the pale man, a nightmarish figure with a blank face and eyeballs set in the palms of his hands.
Even Satyrs Need to Eat
Unlike most movies these days, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ shied away from most CGI techniques, instead going for the practical effects like the Lord of the Rings. Here we see the faun, played by Doug Jones, having a lunch break in the mess tent. Jones also played the movie’s other creature, the pale man, and is an accomplished CGI actor and suit-wearer.
He probably built up an appetite wearing that big and heavy outfit – which was also said to be incredibly loud, so loud in fact that Jones couldn’t even hear himself speak thanks to the motors shifting his horns.
“Ihm Going Bahck to My Trailah”
Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for his very first movie role, that of the unstoppable Terminator in the movie of the same name, and his acting of the character is so good we can all very easily recognize him as a robotic character. But when the skin on his body sloughs away and the robotic skeleton appears to hunt down Sarah Connor, it’s still quite shocking.
Nowadays plenty of CGI would have been used to make things easier and try to make them look more real, but back in the late eighties they didn’t really have those options.
Arnold Needs a Hand
We see the truth of the matter in this image, which shows the crew holding the camera steady as the well-muscled Arnold looks on. The metallic hand is made out of movie magic, and even the arm it’s attached to looks fake.
Of course, it’s impossible to create a movie with such amazing scenes like ‘The Terminator’ without using at least some special effects, but before computer graphics took the lead, these practical effects were the easiest way to do it. We’re going to see plenty more examples before we’re through here.
The Glory of God is Pretty Light
Some directors work extra hard to make sure every detail of their movies are perfect, and there’s no director that does such good work like Steven Spielberg. In ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’, this attention to detail was everywhere, except for one unique instance.
‘The Ark of the Covenant’ is known to be quite heavy, requiring multiple people to carry it with any safety. So when Indy and his helper find it buried and need to remove it out from under Nazi noses, a few changes had to be made.
Movie Shortcuts Are Everywhere
Instead of a heavy golden ark that contained the visceral and physical glory of God, the director had a cardboard cutout created – all just to be able to film a scene that has Indy and another character carry the Ark in front of a light source.
The actors probably had to make a couple of tries to make it look realistic, since the weight difference was incredibly large, but it’s likely you didn’t even notice that they weren’t carrying the real thing. The actors were probably pretty thankful for the change – it looks a lot easier.
Does Whatever a Spider Can
There have been plenty of ‘Spider-Man’ movies that have graced the silver screen, and the most recent Marvel offerings have been some of the most well-received. Spider-Man has plenty of incredible powers at his disposal, like spider sense, incredible physical abilities, and unique climbing abilities. With just the tips of his fingers, he can scale buildings big and small.
Here we see him holding tight at the top of a tower, which must have been quite thrilling – in one way or another – for the actor, who of course doesn’t have Spider-Man’s real life powers.
Wires and Green Screens: Every Superhero’s Secret
It looks like the producers weren’t willing to put Tom Holland’s life in danger while he’s wearing the Spider-Suit, which means they created a fake tower, a fake background, and even gave him a few safety wires to prevent injuries.
The actor might not be able to do everything a spider can do, which means some of that famous Marvel CGI work has to come into effect. And we can’t really blame them – it’s not like shooting a movie scene at the top of a building is feasible.
She’s So Good to the Books
The magical world of ‘Harry Potter’ is full of wondrous sights that let us really know what we’re seeing is a place of beauty. Main character Hermione Granger is a voracious reader who spends plenty of time in the library, and so she knows where all the books belong – but they also seem to know where their own place is.
She holds the books up and they slide right into place. Cleaning up is much easier when stuff finds its own way back to where it belongs.
You Probably Saw This Coming
With all the zaps of spells flying around Hogwarts castle and all the other magical items, plenty of CGI and movie magic was needed to make sure things worked in a way that didn’t betray any pedestrianism inside the school of witchcraft and wizardry.
One of the ways they did this was aid Granger – played by Emma Watson in her breakout role – in putting the books away with a few green-sleeved hands that grab the books as she holds them up and pulls them into place. Once the filming was done, the hands were erased, which made it look like the books were floating into place.
Proof CGI Doesn’t Make a Good Movie
‘Avatar’, by James Cameron, has a huge amount of CGI for characters, backgrounds, special effects, and more, and it is certainly visually stunning. The blue Na’vi needed a huge amount of work to turn Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and all the other alien actors into their blue, creature forms.
People who still somehow enjoy this movie continually bring up the visuals as the best part of the film, but the amount of CGI and other special effects take a lot of the beauty away when you look at how things really looked behind the scenes.
That Must Have Been Itchy
While the actors did wear blue, pointed ears, for the most part everything – everything – you see is CGI, from the shape of the bodies to the body colors, hair, and almost everything else. Only the actors and actresses’ faces remain true on their bodies, but even those seem to have been diluted in some way, resulting in more mild expressions.
They had big suits, CGI dots, and even more hardware that helped create the movie we all saw in the theaters. They needed even more to create the 3D version of the movie.
This! Is! The! Movies!
Zach Snyder’s ‘300’ is a visually-impressive, incredibly stylistic film that had plenty of special effects needed to get the right feeling. While ‘300’ isn’t exactly historically accurate, Snyder made specific changes to bring about a desired effect on the viewer.
As we’ve seen, the difference between what the actors see and how the finished product looks are pretty varied, and 300 is a movie that used a few wild techniques that helped build a movie that wows viewers even now.
They Used Way More Than 300 Special Effects
The movie ‘300’ gives us a deadly battle between a relatively small number of Spartans against a nearly limitless army of Persians, set in a mountain pass and with plenty of battles that go back and forth until the very end. But here we see lead actor Gerard Butler and director Zach Snyder having a chat between scenes.
There are plenty of crew members working hard to set up the next shot, lighting to highlight the right details, and lots of movie set equipment that make it possible to create something like ‘300’.
The Real Godfather
‘The Godfather’ is one of the most famous movies of all time. It’s a mob epic, the first of its kind, and features tons of huge names such as Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and the legendary Marlon Brando as the Don himself, Vito Corleone.
There wasn’t much need for special effects in this movie, other than gunshots and fight scenes. One of the famous stills from the movie is Don Corleone, dressed in a tuxedo to celebrate his daughter’s wedding, listening as another man whispers in his ear. Brando’s presence in the movie set him as the king of the film.
The Movie’s Head Honcho
Marlon Brando may have received nothing but respect from the other characters of the movie, but when the cameras weren’t rolling, director Francis Ford Coppola was in charge. The two big names of this movie are seen here, Brando in his famous outfit and cheeks stuffed with cotton to get the memorable Don Corleone voice, and Coppola standing behind him in a seventies outfit, haircut, and facial hair.
These two figures clashed during the film, with Brando needing cue cards for his lines a lot of the time, since he refused to memorize them. Yet, despite this tumult, the movie remains a classic.
She’s Not Keeping Clear of the Blades
James Cameron’s third movie on this list, ‘Titanic’, is one of the biggest blockbusters to ever show up at the movies, and this immense film required plenty of special effects and rudimentary CGI before we saw the finished project.
The film’s female lead, Rose, had everybody interested. After the collision with the iceberg, Rose must make the choice to plunge into the freezing water from the deck of the ship. But how did this event look when you strip away all the changes added afterward?
Protect That Rose
Plenty of methods were used to make sure actress Kate Winslet wasn’t hurt during this dramatic and dangerous scene. There are plenty of crash mats underneath her, an emergency crew on standby in case she does suffer an injury, and, even if actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s grip should slip, people at top next to him will be able to keep her from falling.
Does this do away with a little bit of the movie magic? Sure it does, but we’re sure that Kate Winslet appreciates all the effort put into keeping her whole.
Back in the Desert with the Robots
We’ve already seen what it was like for little Kenny Baker inside his R2-D2 suit, but what about his golden friend C-3PO? Hanging out with Jedi, rogues, and princesses has got to be tiring work, especially if you’re wearing a metal suit in the hot sun of the desert.
Actor Anthony Daniels likely had to take frequent breaks to keep from overheating, but what if he just needed a little something to wet his whistle? Don’t worry, the people on set have something to help with just that.
Take a Big Drink, Daniels
If the actor inside C-3PO needed to get a quick drink but didn’t want to have to pull himself out of his suit, he had a cup with a straw – classic. We’re not sure exactly what’s in the cup, but it was likely just water, since the hot outfit and hotter sun probably led to plenty of sweating.
He’s drinking right through his C-3PO mouth, which tells us a little something about how the suit was made. We’re beginning to wonder if, looking close enough, you could see Anthony Daniels’ mouth moving during his lines.
The King of the Movies
There are plenty of movies that lead with the Metro Goldwyn Mayer title card, the lion roaring through the twisted and curled film strip.
You probably are aware it is a real lion, but what did it look like while filming? The reverberating roars and majestic look of the king of beasts has always been an eye-catching sight, even oh-so long ago.
There’s a Real Cat This Time
All the way back in 1924, a few filmmakers got together to film this legendary lion. It might not have been at the backdrop of a movie, but there’s still plenty of early tech needed to capture the famous roar and shaking mane.
The nineteen twenties was right at the start of the movie industry as a whole, and sounded movies in particular, so it must have been quite a start to movie audiences to have a lion roaring at them when they might not even be used to hearing the actors talk. We wonder if the lion was paid.
Every Danced With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?
Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ is an iconic part of superhero movie history, thanks to the dark and whimsical Gotham city, the famous caped crusader himself, and the wild, wacky, and killer Joker, as played by Jack Nicholson. He killed his role, allowing himself to go a little bit crazy as the clown prince of crime.
This 1989 movie is one of the lasting films for hero fans, even if superheroes have been popping up every couple of months, from ‘Batman’ and ‘Superman’ to ‘Spider-Man’, ‘Black Panther’, and many more.
Makeup is a Joke
While his quirky acting, the immaculate directing, and the memorable writing of Nicholson’s Joker gave plenty of people chills, Jack still had to spend his time in the makeup chair to get ready for the role.
He might not have been a real psycho clown, but this behind the scenes picture gives us a little bit of insight as to why Nicholson let out all the stops whenever he was in front of the camera. After sitting still and getting your hair, lips, and face painted for hours on end, you’d probably feel a little bit crazy too!
Tim Burton makes another appearance on the list with his classic Gothic movie ‘Edward Scissorhands’. Not only is this cult film still enjoyed by audiences all over the world, it’s the first of many collaborations between Burton and principal actor Johnny Depp, which has led to plenty of other movies afterward.
Since the film’s main character is a man with scissors for hands, you can imagine there was plenty of extra work done to make sure everything looked good, natural, and just the way that Tim Burton wanted it once all was said and done.
A Little Bit of Love
‘Edward Scissorhands’ also starred Winona Ryder, and while the film is a romance at its core, the two principles were already friendly. Even with those sharp fingers, here we see Ryder and Depp embracing, before Depp has had his scarred-up face put on.
There’s plenty of chemistry between these two, and for good reason – after the movie was finished, they went on to have a real romantic relationship.
‘The Terminator’ makes another appearance on the list, and for good reason. This famous science-fiction film had plenty of special effect help, even if it was made before the emergence of widespread CGI.
Director James Cameron’s vision of a future war between man and machines has inspired plenty of work, including The Matrix, and Schwarzenegger ends up pretty beat up by the end.
He’s Not Such a Bad Robot
Behind the scenes Arnold had to get plenty of makeup work and effects done to turn into the battered and beaten T-800, but he and Cameron remained fast friends despite.
This photo shows them standing side-by side, and Cameron even has a smile on his face – Arnold might be trying to smile, but there’s plenty of detailed work on his face, which means he might not have the ability to, or he didn’t want to mess up the makeup person’s hard work.
Cutting to the Quick
The ‘Indiana Jones’ movies are an adventure-junkie’s dream series, filmed in the style of the classic pulp series’ like Buck Rogers.
Harrison Ford portrays this character like a dream, and alongside Han Solo he built his name in Hollywood quickly. Jones’ wry sense of humor, the quick-witted nature of the character, and the memorable character might be one of the most famous characters in movie history.
Young Movie Heroes
Here we see Harrison Ford and director Steven Spielberg taking a break under the hot sun, while filming what looks like the opening scene of ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’. It’s somewhat amazing to see these two Hollywood pillars so young and fresh.
Fresh-faced at least, since they’re working in the jungle and under the hot sun.
The Original Hero
The very first person to play the ‘Man of Steel’ on the silver screen was the famous Christopher Reeves, and many still consider him to be the standard for supermen. His iconic hair curl, lantern jaw, and broad stature created the visual look that we still conjure up when we imagine an American hero.
Reeves was tragically rendered quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse, and requires a portable ventilator just to breath, but he’s still a hero to us.
Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
The original ‘Superman’ movie is classic enough to not have access to CGI, which meant that Reeves really was flying around, though as we see here he had plenty of help from wires, safety equipment, and crew.
They had to use fans to simulate his flapping cape, and while the look hasn’t exactly held up to modern standards, it still looks good enough to sink in the story and marvel at the power of the last son of Krypton.
Another Crazy Jack Nicholson Role
Instead of a Clown Prince of Crime, in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ Jack Nicholson plays a criminal sent to a mental institution, despite the fact he isn’t mentally deranged. It’s known as one of the greatest films of all time, thanks in part to Nicholson’s crazy acting, and the tense nature of living in a mental institution while not belonging there.
His character goes on to wreak havoc in the institution.
Everybody’s Crazy Here
While the story has some terrible things happen to Jack Nicholson’s character, of course the actors all got along fine when the cameras weren’t rolling. Nurses, patients, and members of the crew have all crowded in front of the camera for a big picture.
Things seem to have gotten a bit crazy, even while not acting, and we’re sure those who helped work on the movie enjoy having a memory of some fun goofs.
Travolta is Always Dancing
Quentin Tarantino’s unique method of filmmaking makes the list once again, this time from one of the famous scenes from ‘Pulp Fiction’ – the scene where Uma Thurman and John Travolta cut a rug at the diner scene.
The movie is quirky, violent, and has lots of quotable lines, but this scene helped cement it, thanks to fun camera angles, a classic song to dance to, and just a little bit on the line – a dance trophy.
Must Have Been Nice to Film Something Not Covered in Blood
Tarantino and his crew seemed to have a lot of fun filming this not exactly important, though certainly interesting scene.
The diner was built to remind the patrons and the viewers of the fifties, and there are lots of things that keep your attention on the screen, including not only the two actors, but the colorful scenery, the fun music, and much more.
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