actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

Actor / EntertainerI'm Tom Woodruff Jr., known as the Alien in the Alien and Alien vs. Predator films and many other monster roles like Pumpkinhead, the Gill Man from Monster Squad, and Goro from Mortal Kombat. AMA!

Oct 31st 2017 by Tom_WoodruffJr • 40 Questions • 530 Points

UPDATE: Thanks for all the questions and comments -- I really enjoyed this. As I alluded to in one of my answers, we'll have a special announcement tomorrow that we think people may like. You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or subscribe to our YouTubeChannel for that news and other behind-the-scenes information as we continue our work. Thanks again and Happy Halloween!

Over the course of my 35-year career, I've designed and created creature and character effects in more than 100 feature films, spanning everything from The Terminator to It and including Death Becomes Her (for which I won an Academy Award). I've also acted, directed and produced.

Proof: https://twitter.com/Tom_WoodruffJr/status/925389196751093761

Ask me anything, and Happy Horrorween!

Q:

Did Wolfman really have nards, or was it just a lucky shot? I've been asking this since childhood.

A:

I see real pain in that face when he crumples so, yeah, Wolfman's got nards!


Q:

Hi Tom! What of your work are you most proud of?

A:

Goro and the Alien Queen from AVP were the two most challenging technical successes but favorite monster character is Pumpkinhead.


Q:

What is your creative experience while making Terminator?

A:

Totally in awe - I think it jacked up my creative experience working with Stan Winston because he was so willing to trust us (the guys in the shop) to jump in and get involved.


Q:

Happy Halloween Tom!

What does your pumpkin look like this year and what candy do you have for trick or treaters?

A:

Left my pumpkin full and intact this year, hanging out with some other gourds on the front porch. Don't get any trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood anymore.


Q:

If you could play any current or upcoming monster roles, what would it be?

A:

Creature From the Black Lagoon would be amazing after having started as the character in Monster Squad but it looks like Doug Jones nailed it! There is still a Frankenstein I've designed that is under wraps that I'd like to jump into before long.


Q:

Very cool! Thanks for your time!

A:

Would love to have a take at Creature From the Black Lagoon but looks like Doug Jones has nailed it. There is still a version of Frankenstein that hasn't ben done yet that would be amazing to jump into.


Q:

Hey Tom! How do you feel about Mark Rolston doing an AMA at the same time as you?

A:

Wait, he what??????!!!!!!!!! I gotta' go! Mark Ralston - cool guy and has played some creepy characters (Shawshank Redemption - yikes!) Ask him if he remembered us taking a lifecast and him giggling while we had to tear the alginate out of his chest hairs.


Q:

Hey Tom, how are you doing?

If you could go back in time to any past project you've worked on, would you change anything? What would you do differently?

A:

Every project could do with some tweaking given what I know now and the materials and techiniques developed over the years. Nothing specific comes to mind - I could probably do a whole Reddit as a Monday morning quarterback.


Q:

How big will be special effects in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom? And can you tell us anything about the movie in general?

A:

Um, it's about these dinosaurs... Special Effects are happening on location in the UK so our involvement was limited to some non-moving props - BIG, but non-moving.


Q:

How long did it take to become Goro?

A:

Physically, the studio had me working out with a great MA instructor, Pat Johnson for 4 months before we shot. Daily, it took about 45 minutes to climb into the suit pieces and have it all assembled around me to be ready for shooting.


Q:

Tremors is coming back as a TV series. Will you be involved? There's also a NEW Terminator film in the works. Would you like to return to the Terminator universe if they asked you?

A:

Not involved in the new Tremors series. And the Terminator series has become so huge I don't think there's anything new I could bring to it.


Q:

What is your favorite action movie?

A:

Right off the top of me head, Die Hard.


Q:

If you could go back in time and change one thing you did (career-wise), what would it be?

A:

This is tricky... I think I would have focused more on the traditional fundamentals of drawing and sculpting. I think that could have helped my confidence.


Q:

Hello Tom, happy Halloween! Big fan of ADI from the Netherlands. What was your best experiance while working on Starship Troopers?

A:

Alec and I were split on projects at the time so he was on location while I was in the studio starting Alien Resurrection. But I remember as all the parts came out for all the giant bugs we built and the first tests of the Warrior Bugs picking up a stunt man and throwing him around. Should have some of that footage up on YouTube soon.


Q:

If you could steal a smooch from any monster in Hollywood who would it be?

A:

There are so many real Hollywood monsters in the news right now. I pass.


Q:

Huge fan of the Xenomorphs! What was the most challenging aspect with these creatures?

A:

Hiding the man shape inside the suit.


Q:

What's one classic film (recent or vintage) that you wanted to work on?

A:

Karloff Frankenstein!


Q:

What kind of music do you like listening to while you do your creations? Who are some of your favorite bands?

A:

Vintage Monster Movie soundtracks, Sinatra, jazz, '60s pop (love vintage surf music).


Q:

Hey Tom! What gives you the most inspiration when designing new creatures and effects?

A:

Real life suits me best for general look and some detail specifics. I believe if there are some elements of familiar animals and creatures we've seen online or in TV documentaries it helps sell the concept as real to the brain, maybe even just the subconscious, to help keep it grounded.


Q:

What happened to the Monster Squad Gillman costume? Any chance it has been preserved?

A:

I don't believe it lasted. The Stan Winston guys has a urethane copy in their trophy room but it has since been passed onto private collector's hands.


Q:

Over the past 35 years, do you think you had more fun acting, directing, or producing, and why?

A:

Directing was great. It's like art directing in the studio has become, working with accomplished artists and in many cases experts at what they do, only now it covers an entire cross-section of the arts and techniques of filmmaking.


Q:

What’s the one character you feel was your pièce de résistance?

A:

I believe the Gill Man in Monster Squad was the most complete and on-target creature I've played. Very little screen time but when he was on, he completely in context of the character and the story.


Q:

Happy Halloween Tom! Given your impressive resume of costumed characters, What is your Halloween costume this year?

A:

I was just complaining that I should have done something for Halloween this year. I've spent a couple of dry Halloweens waiting for kids to show up so I can scare them at the door but they never came. Cool thing is there are a few people dressed up at the studio today!


Q:

Hi Tom, Happy Halloween and big fan! I almost attended school for SPFX but decided on a degree in Culinary so I can still create and work with my hands. Outside of Special Effects makeup is there any other hobby or activity that you like to do that is or isn't related to SPFX?

A:

Yeah, I have my "other life", but the truth is, it can almost all be traced back to a connection. My whole life has been movie monsters and I don't see it changing this time around...


Q:

Do you know Karel Zeman's movies?

A:

Loved those movies! Had a great look and technique, cheap but effective! Ahead of his time.


Q:

In your opinion, Who would win in a fight? A Predator or a Terminator?

A:

Predator would have to be stripped of his weapons, especially the wrist bomb. Terminator would be able to outlast him since no fatigue factor.


Q:

What is your favorite horror movie ?

A:

I know I should say "It", but it's Karloff Frankenstein. (by the way, go see "It" in theatres now)


Q:

If you could star in any remakes of older movies, what would they be?

A:

Would be great to have been able to raid the Universal monster properties but with the direction they've taken, I don't think they're going to have that Universal feel which, honestly, may be the best thing for audiences today...


Q:

How do you remember working with Stan Winston? Do you have any funny/interesting story with him?

A:

Stan was a great mix of artist and chief and monster fan. Early days with Stan was a lot of working side-by-side in the shop and he was always the first to break silence with something inane and stupid and hilarious.


Q:

Thank you for participating in one of my favourite films of all times. You helped create something I absolutely love and always will.

This is something I've always wondered, how did the jazz hand scene happen?

A:

Piano and sax.


Q:

What upcoming conventions do you have on your schedule? Your the last Monster I am missing a signature for on my Original Theatrical Poster for Monster Squad.

A:

Hope to be able to sign up and fill-in your Monster Squad poster. As of now, no dates are set for future appearance...


Q:

Does it feel cool knowing you're part of the Mortal Kombat franchise, and that your character is still a fan favorite?

A:

I'm very happy with what we were able to invent and put onscreen for Mortal Kombat. I think Goro is one of our stand-out creations, both in art and technology and glad to know the fans appreciated what we did.


Q:

What was it like working with Lance Henrikson on Pumpkinhead? Was he nice or was did he stay in character anything like that?

A:

I've worked with lance now on nearly a dozen projects. He's a good friend and a solid go-to for his acting skills and commitment. My favorite story is from Pumpkinhead when he and I were alone during lunch and he told me he was so impressed how I was able to submerge myself into that uncomfortable costume and keep my mind focused on the character without complaining. It set the bar for me for every other creature suit I would ever do,


Q:

As you see technology change are you happy or sad most things now have become CGI?

A:

Am much happier to see a new interest in the hybrid approach of starting with practical and counting on VFX to enhance what is captured on-camera.


Q:

Do you remember anything notable about English life or culture whilst working there for Alien 3?

A:

So much, much more than I can relay here. But it made me very thankful to have been there for 10 months on Aliens and for another 10 months during Alien3 and be able to just start to understand the culture from being there.


Q:

You aiming for that next aliens movie?

A:

Always hopeful but Ridley Scott has chosen a direction and with shooting in the UK where tax incentives support the work locally, I think we're pushed out for good.


Q:

What's your favorite Godzilla movie?

A:

The original was always a favorite and the one that still holds the most interest for me.


Q:

What movies coming down the line get you excited for the practical effects? Anyone working on anything you can talk about?

A:

Nothing we can talk about yet but a huge and healthy make-up show for Bright coming out in December and next year's Jurassic World and The Predator.


Q:

I have seen terrible practical effects and amazing practical effects (The Thing original being the most outstanding). What is the key to lifelike props/animatronics?

A:

Having the support of the director and producers to follow through with the plan during shooting and post to make the most of what practical (and practical with VFX enhancements) can do.


Q:

Hi Tom,

Did you ever meet H.R Gieger? And if you did what was he like?

A:

See earlier, above.