The cast and filmmakers of Universal’s The Thing made an appearance at the 2010 New York Comic-Con on Saturday to promote their upcoming prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 film, and revealed the first footage from the new film (see footage description here below).
Director Matthijs van Heijningen said that in the film we will get to see The Thing creature in its “pure form” — the form in which it’s been trapped in the ice in for all these years, but he also hinted that since the very nature of The Thing is stealing the biological identity of other lifeforms and it being from another planet, how could we know what this entity’s pure form really is.
Heijningen talked about a bit the effects used in the film, stating that they used as many practical effects (as opposed to CGI) as possible. He said he feels that playing against a man in a suit is much better for the actors than looking at a tennis ball on a string against a green screen. “We had as many real monsters on the set as possible,” the director said.
Also, when asked how the prequel creature will differ from Carpenter’s, Heijningen said when someone transforms, there’s more of the original inhabitant in the creature and that you will always see a part of that person as a passenger in that creature. “They are scary, they’re freaky,” he said.
The panelists confirmed that their movie is not a remake, but a prequel set in the universe of Carpenter’s film, taking place a mere 3 days prior to the events of the 1982 film, and will focus on the inhabitants of the Norwegian base in Antarctica, the remnants of which are seen in Carpenter’s film. The filmmakers said they painstakingly created the Norwegian base from clues from the 1982 film.
Heijningen said that as a European he was fascinated by the people from the Norwegian base and wanted to discover who these people were and was interested in finding more about “those poor bastards.”
One of the first questions asked of the panelists was about their decision to title this prequel simply The Thing, which is the same name as the Carpenter film. Producers Eric Newman and Marc Abraham said they had tried out a few other names, but nothing seemed right. Newman referenced Exorcist: The Heretic, saying that he didn’t really like the prequel/sequel colon naming convention, stating that it “feels less referential” to do something like that than to keep the film as The Thing, especially because it is the same monster and it’s not a sequel. He said adding on something would have made it seem like a video game. Abraham admitted that had they come up with a brilliant way to finesse the name, they would have, but that they “fell short of that.”
The actors on the panel all spoke about their characters.
Joel Edgerton is Sam Carter, an American helicopter pilot running a supply operation to the bases. He’s employed by a team of scientists desperate to get to the Norwegian base, who then want them to stay there a bit longer. He and his two co-pilots are left in the dark as to why they are there and what is the mysterious thing the scientists have found.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is Derreck Jameson, a co-pilot, who’s ferrying the scientists to and from the base in Antarctica. The pilots are ex-Vets trying to make a buck, they are practical, and all about doing the job, but they get stuck on the base. The scientists ask if they can stay another day to ferry the “find” for them, but they don’t know what that is. He said his character provides the sense of humor in the fear and horror, saying he has a great character. “I’m the only black guy in the movie, so you’re not gonna to miss me,” he joked.
Eric Christian Olsen is Adam Goodman, a scientist who works for the works for the main biologist on the team, Dr. Sander Halvorson, and is the one who persuades Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to go on the expedition.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate Lloyd. Winstead wasn’t on the panel, as she was getting married that day, but Heijningen said they created her character from the clues from the Carpenter movie. He said they didn’t want a protagonist that would be compared to Kurt Russell’s character from the Carpenter film. The director wanted Kate to be more like a Ripley character (Sigourney Weaver’s role in the Alien films), someone who’s smart, maybe a little shy at first, but becomes the heroine not because she wants to, but because she’s the smartest one and if she doesn’t do anything, she knows she’ll die. She takes charge because she has to.
Ulrich Thomsen as Dr. Sander Halvorson, the main biologist on the expedition, who drills into the ice which contains the “discovery” and brings The Thing back to life. Thomsen said that his character is “kind of the bad guy.”
Below are some images of the panelists, along with a description of what was called the teaser trailer, which was pulled together especially for NYCC. It was shown twice during the panel, and the first time it rolled, the actors — who hadn’t seen the footage yet either — actually jumped off the stage so that they could watch it along with the audience. You can hear a tinge of the original score from the Carpenter film in teaser. Heijningen said are still cutting the music for the film, but that they will use the sounds from the original score “delicately,” adding “You should feel an echo of it in this movie.”
The Thing hits theaters on April 29, 2011.
Kate Lloyd (Winstead) gets out of a cab in New York City on a rainy day. She heads into a cafe, where she’s meeting with Sam (Olsen), who wants her to come on a scientific expedition in Antarctica. She asks him what did they find there, but he says he can’t say, but that he’s offering her “the opportunity to get out in the field to do something big.”
Antarctica: Daytime wide shot of the frozen landscape; changes to nightime shot. On the base, Dr. Halvorson (Thomsen) is looking over the huge block of ice which houses their “discovery.” He says, “I have never seen anything on any cellular level than what we have here…” As Dr. Halvorson speaks, we see drilling into the block of ice, along with flashes from a happy sing-a-long at the camp. “You, my friends, will all be immortalized as the people who made this discovery. It is surely not of this world. The impact of this find will be felt for thousands of years. From this point on, the world as we know it, our sense of identity, religion, culture, and civilization, has forever been altered.”
That’s when, as they say, shit gets real.
The creature is unleashed, we see quick flashes of it, lots of screaming, people from the base fleeing in horror, as words on the screen state:
IN A PLACE WHERE THERE IS NOTHING
At the end, the “SOME” part of SOMETHING drops off and is replaced by a superscript “THE” to make the title THE THING.