Over the course of his 35-year career, Tom Woodruff Jr. has 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 he won an Academy Award). He's also acted, directed and produced.
He held a reddit AMA recently, putting to bed the question of whether the Wolfman has nards and shedding the tiniest bit of light on Alien 5. Here are a few of our favorites, but you can read his full AMA here.
krystynlo: Hi, Tom! Thanks for doing this. What did you do in It?
Tom_WoodruffJr: Designed Pennywise MU, following the design of director Andy Muschietti and created all the prosthetics including dead kids, wounds, etc.
LegendaryCichlid: How closely did you work with Giger on the Xenomorph? It is such an iconic monster I'd love to know more about the process of bringing the artwork to life.
Tom_WoodruffJr: The studio was distancing itself from Giger on Alien3, for reasons I don't know. I would be on the phone when Giger called and invited Alec [Gillis] and I to his studio in Zurich and instructed by the studio to turn him down. Huge regrets. Should have sneaked over for a milestone event but under contract and all, hands were tied so no real working with the genius behind it all!
Moos3Lord: Did Wolfman really have nards, or was it just a lucky shot? I've been asking this since childhood.
Tom_WoodruffJr: I see real pain in that face when he crumples so, yeah, Wolfman's got nards!
AvPGCorporalHicks: How involved did you and ADI get with Neill Blomkamp's Alien 5? He mentioned he would be using your studio so I was curious as to how much discussion was had over the film's creature design direction? Thanks!
Tom_WoodruffJr: Just an exchange of Neil's artwork and story ideas and a maquette that he requested, details of which he asked us to hold back.
TurtlesWillFly: How long did it take to become Goro?
Tom_WoodruffJr: 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.
TheArnoldFans1: What was your best memory from The Terminator and do you own any Terminator or AVP Predator movie props or memorabilia?
Tom_WoodruffJr: Best Terminator memory was doing MU on Arnold while he dozed in the make-up chair. It was like climbing a mountain to get to the peak and trying to paint it without waking up the giant! I still have the insert puppet head I made for the eye surgery scene.
Hyperspacehost: Your work on the 2011 The Thing prequel looks incredible but it got pasted over in post. What's it like being a physical effects maestro in this era?
Tom_WoodruffJr: The Thing (prequel) was a disappointment to me as much as to the fans. Luckily the studioADI YouTube channel comes on as strong as it does because these kinds of films today are tough to hold onto. There is a lot of re-introducing producer levels to what can be done in-camera and how great things look when we can combine practical and visual effects together!
akujiki87: Huge fan of the Xenomorphs! What was the most challenging aspect with these creatures?
Tom_WoodruffJr: Hiding the man shape inside the suit.
shivan21: Hi Tom! What of your work are you most proud of?
Tom_WoodruffJr: Goro and the Alien Queen from AVP were the two most challenging technical successes, but favorite monster character is Pumpkinhead.
misterbrainbug: Hello Tom, happy Halloween! Big fan of ADI from the Netherlands. What was your best experience while working on Starship Troopers?
Tom_WoodruffJr: 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.
Saudj99: Hello Tom, who is the best actor/actress you have worked with?