To the Batcave as the Damn Dirty Geeks welcome Academy Award-winning creature creator, makeup artist, actor and director Tom Woodruff, Jr. to discuss his amazing career and early influences that started him on his filmmaking journey.
Tom has amassed a huge career in high profile films with his creative partner Alec Gillis, who together created Amalgamated Dynamics Inc., a leader in practical creature, makeup and special effects. A very brief list of Tom’s credits include: STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, ALIEN 3, PREDATOR, JUMANJI, SPIDER-MAN (2002) and most recently BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.
Tom Woodruff Jr. on Batmobiles & Pumpkinheads
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Tom not only makes some of your favorite movie creatures, he often performs as them in the creature suits he creates, including the Lead Alien in both ALIEN 3 and ALIEN RESURRECTION, the title creature of the original PUMPKINHEAD, and Bernie the gorilla in ZOOKEEPER. We discuss the particular challenges of suit performances in such films, and how his acting experience in these suits begins in the creature design phase as he brings aliens, apes and monsters to life on the big screen.
This episode starts off with some laughs about Tom’s excellent replica of the original 1966 Batmobile from the classic Adam West TV series. Like many of the DDG, this show had a huge influence on Tom’s childhood and it was an early gateway into genre entertainment that helped shape his future career. Tom also belongs to the ever-expanding group who credit KING KONG and PLANET OF THE APES as highly influential on his life and work — it almost seems to be a theme of the DDG podcast, go figure! Below is a photo gallery of Tom and highlights of his amazing career:
Special thanks to Brice Cranston for engineering audio for this episode and composing our fantastic Damn Dirty Geeks theme we proudly present in every episode.
Trivia: Tom Woodruff added a fun new twist on our Name Dropping game by not (immediately) remembering the names of people he was mentioning, and many laughs ensued. Confirming the eventual results: indeed Mark McCracken took over the title creature role in PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS; and Jon Berg helped create the memorable holo-chess game (called Dejarik – extra geek points) for STAR WARS in 1977.
Trivia: Tom Woodruff not only designed the Lead Alien creatures for ALIEN 3 and ALIEN RESURRECTION, but he also wore the creature suit for both and played opposite Sigourney Weaver in their scenes together.
Trivia: two of Tom’s early filmmaking influences were stop-motion animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen and PLANET OF THE APES makeup designer John Chambers, whose work inspired him as a young filmmaker. When Tom moved to California in 1982, he started his professional career joining Stan Winston’s crew working on THE TERMINATOR.
studioADI YouTube channel – packed with exclusive making-of video from dozens of their films – YouTube studioADI page – the official social media page for Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. – Facebook
Inside Kong – Tom Woodruff’s stop-motion reel recreating a KING KONG scene with the original armature – Vimeo Mighty Joe Young – Tom Woodruff’s stop-motion reel with the original Mighty Joe Young armature – YouTube Batmobile replica – Tom Woodruff becomes the Caped Crusader driving his authentic replica Batmobile – Vimeo
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You can find further info and episode show notes on our Damn Dirty Geeks Facebook page. Artwork is © 2001 Frank Dietz.