Becoming an actor is the dream of many young people all over the world. With luxurious lifestyles, legions of fans, and more money than anyone could ever need, the life of a Hollywood star certainly seems an exciting proposition, but making movies isn’t always as fun as it seems.
On screen, we only see the end result: a couple of hours of edited, enhanced footage cut together into a feature length motion picture. What we don’t see is the long weeks of casting, the endless reshoots, the innumerable production problems, the difficult behind-the-scenes moments, and the desperately uncomfortable costumes.
Yes, one of many actors’ biggest complaints involves the outfits they were forced to wear. They may look cool on screen, but slipping into tight spandex on a boiling hot day or sitting for hours while oodles of prosthetics and masses of makeup are applied to one’s face definitely doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.
Some of these parts turned out to be highly lucrative for the actors concerned, but each scene was made so much harder due to the cumbersome costumes they had to wear and these stars simply couldn’t wait to tear them off at the end of each day.
10. Turtle Suits (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Developed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the turtle suits used in Steve Barron’s 1990 film of the world’s most fearsome fighting team were said to be literally painful to wear. Each suit was fitted with a bunch of animatronics, making them very difficult to get in and out of.
Not only that, but they were also incredibly heavy. The suit heads alone were said to have weighed around 30 pounds, and all those animatronic systems made the costumes particularly bulky. Each actor actually needed to be given their own specially-made wooden frame to rest on between takes, with fans being used to blow cold air onto their faces as they boiled up inside all that rubber and metal.
Leif Tilden, who played Donatello in the film and spent much of his career wearing big heavy outfits, compared the early days of filming to being in Vietnam. Actors would get ridiculously hot inside the suits, with all four losing a lot of weight over the course of production. Josh Pais, who played Raphael, even started to feel claustrophobic when the head of his suit went on and had a few breakdowns on set, yelling at the costume team to get the head off as quickly as they could.
9. Black Widow (The Avengers)
They might look cool and stylish on screen, but most superhero costumes aren’t a lot of fun to wear, according to the actors who wear them. Almost every Avengers star complained about their outfit during the filming of the first movie, with some even having their own personal air-conditioning units hidden under their costumes to keep cool.
Scarlett Johansson, who plays Black Widow in the movies, complained that she drew the shortest straw of all. On the outside, her skintight black suit doesn’t look too uncomfortable, but Johansson revealed that the one-piece outfit was unbearably hot.
Johansson said that as soon as the cameras stopped rolling, every actor couldn’t wait to get out of his or her suit, adding that she wore nothing underneath hers and would sweat buckets during the shooting of an average scene. Johannson even compared her outfit to a wetsuit and revealed she actually suffered slight hallucinations during the film of one fight scene due to how hot she’d gotten.
8. RoboCop (RoboCop 3)
If there’s one series that sums up the phrase ‘diminishing returns’ quite nicely, it’s RoboCop. The first movie was an undisputed classic, the second had a few good moments but simply wasn’t as good, and the third was a real stinker.
Part of what made RoboCop 3 so disliked was the replacement of lead actor Peter Weller with Robert John Burke. Burke was criticised for his jerking movements and stilted delivery, but some of those complaints could be explained by the fact that the poor actor had been forced into a suit that simply wasn’t big enough for his body.
The production company decided to keep the suit from RoboCop 2 and hire a new actor to fit into it. Rather than trying to find the best man for the job, the production’s priority was getting a guy who could fit in their expensive outfit so they didn’t have to waste money making a new one.
Burke did just about squeeze in there, but he was more muscular than Weller, with a bigger chest and neck. Wearing the outfit was physically painful for the actor, who called his costume a “torture chamber” during one interview. The suit was said to weigh around 150 lbs and additional parts were added over the course of production, making it even more cumbersome.
7. Spacesuits (Alien)
The “space jockey” scene in the first Alien, in which the crew of the Nostromo discover the body of an alien lifeform that has clearly been killed by a Xenomorph in its infant ‘Chestburster’ form, nearly didn’t happen at all.
The production company didn’t see the point of the scene, but director Ridley Scott insisted on making it happen. This meant that actors John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, and Veronica Cartwright had to wear big, bulky spacesuits. Just like real spacesuits, these outfits were designed to keep all air out, making them exceptionally hot on the inside.
To make matters worse, filming took place during a heatwave and the hot studio lights only made the costumes even more torturous to wear. The actors actually passed out several times, with oxygen tanks needing to be kept on standby. Not only that, but in order to make the set look larger, Scott also made his two sons, Jake and Luke, and another child dress up in the suits too, risking their health just to get some cool shots on camera.
6. Loki (The Avengers)
Another Avengers cast member who has struggled with his outfit is Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in the series, as well as appearing in the Thor movies too. English actor Hiddleston seems to really enjoy playing the role and read a lot of comics in preparation for the first Thor movie.
He knew he wanted Loki’s trademark horns to be part of the costume, but he didn’t realise just how uncomfortable they’d turn out to be on his head. His regular outfit is pretty hot and heavy, but the headpiece is even worse, being one of the bulkiest individual costume pieces throughout the Avengers series.
Hiddleston says that the horns cover up his ears, making it hard for him to hear, and that he has felt a little claustrophobic while wearing them at several moments. Trying to listen and deliver lines at crucial moments can’t be easy with impaired hearing, but Hiddleston has said he doesn’t want to complain too much as he feels lucky to be part of such an exciting set of films.
5. Mystique (X-Men)
In the X-Men comics, Raven Darkhölme, also known as Mystique, has clear blue skin and wears clothes like anyone else, but in Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies, the aesthetics of the character were changed significantly.
In the films, where she has been portrayed by Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence, Mystique is basically naked, with scaly patches of skin hiding her more intimate areas. It’s a striking look but it meant hours of preparation for the two actors.
For each day of shooting, Romjin and Lawrence needed to sit around for eight long hours while all that makeup was applied to their naked bodies. Lawrence explained that the prosthetic scales would be attached first of all, followed by three coats of paint and then five more layers of the blue stuff in selected areas around her body.
The Hungers Games star actually had a bad reaction to the paint at one point, developing blisters on her skin, and so the production decided to give her a bodysuit for the latest X-Men film, meaning she only needed to spend three hours getting made up rather than eight.
1. Chewbacca (Star Wars)
The role of Chewbacca turned out to be a defining one for 7ft 3 Peter Mayhew, but the Surrey-born actor had some tough times making the original trio of Star Wars movies while wearing a thick, fluffy costume made from a mixture of goat and yak hair.
Not only did Mayhew have to worry about overheating under all that fur, he also had to do his best to keep the costume as clean as possible. Whenever it got a little wet, the outfit would develop a horrible odour, and it’s actually possible to see Mayhew actively trying to avoid getting dirty during the memorable trash compactor scene in the first Star Wars movie.
The intense heat generated within the suit also caused the face to sometimes slip out of line with Mayhew’s eyes, resulting in a pretty ghoulish sight and several retakes. Fortunately, when it came time to make the prequels and Mayhew was called back in for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the suit had been adapted to involve a cooling system.