When Robert De Niro was just getting started as an actor, he believed that an actor can truly achieve something if he goes for a particular role/part through transformation.
To keep it short, this theory brought him a lot of troubles along his career in Hollywood, but on the other hand, this same strategy made his one of the better actors that we know and recognize today.
Another example: Everyone remembers the “Predator” movie, where a bunch of “armed to the teeth” soldiers go deep into the jungle, and encounter an almost indestructible hunter from outer space.
The “creature” or the Predator as we call it, was played by Kevin Peter Hall, legendary actor, known for his portrayals of Predator and Harry the Bigfoot.
We’re sure that if Hall sadly did not die in the early 90’s he would still continue to bring monsters to life. The good thing is that other actors quickly stepped up, and took Kevin Peter Hall’s place. One of them was Brian Steele. Steele in fact played Harry in the “Harry and the Hendersons” tv series (Hall played the original Harry in the movie), and after that his career as a “creature actor” took him to new heights.
In no time, Brian Steele was recognized in Hollywood as an actor, who could bring monsters to life. In other words, a “creature actor”.
Since 1997, he has played characters tailor made to scare audiences. That year, “The Relic” opened the door for Brian to work on his first Feature film. He has breathed life into villains in “Predators”, “Terminator Salvation”, the “Underworld” Trilogy and “Blade: Trinity”.
Steele also brought various monsters to life in “Men in Black 2”, “Resident Evil”, “Doom”. He’s worked with acclaimed directors Guillermo Del Toro (both HellBoy films) and M. Night Shayamalan (Lady in the Water). He’s battled Christian Bale, Wesley Snipes, Ron Perlman, Kate Beckinsale, Dwayne Johnson, Adrian Brody, Tom Sizemore, Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.
As Steele himself puts it: “I just want to keep bringing to life characters that challenge me.”
Below is my interview with Brian Steele, who seemed like a really great guy, and I personally, really appreciate the work that he does on-screen. The interview was originally taken for my online news portal. You can also view Brian Steele photo gallery here.
Brian, as far as I know, you’re the most recognizable of the “creature actors” that are in high demand in Hollywood today. Some people on forums compare you to the late Kevin Peter Hall, who’s role of “Harry” you undertook in the early 90’s. Was Hall some sort of inspiration to you, aside from such greats as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price?
Being mentioned in the same breath let alone being compared to Kevin Peter Hall is truly a great honor. His ability to bring characters to life absolutely amazes me. He set the bar very high and as far as I am concerned is in a class by himself. I have watched his performances as the “Predator” and “Harry” over and over. Each time I see them I’m simply blow away by his performance.
Before accepting the part, do you undertake sort of a research on how, for example, a particular creature should behave? I am talking about having your own professional vision on the character your perform, as different actors can portray creatures differently…
I study lots of different types of animal and reptile movements. Critters always use the simplest and most fluid movements. They never over complicate a movement. Every movement seems to have a purpose and uses its energy very effectively. After the suit is sculpted, I begin to think about how this character might move. Each suit has its own particular balance points which movement should be focused around. Most of the time I might feel completely off balance in the suit but, the creatures outward appearance looks perfectly balanced. I always let the sculpture teach me how it should move.
Which “creature” character, in your career was it most difficult/exhausting to play/portray? Which one you enjoyed playing the most?
Portraying “Wink” in “HellBoy 2” takes the prize in all categories. He was so massive…I trained for months before the shoot to gain the mental toughness and physical strength to bring the big guy to life. I was so lucky to be a part of the strong SFX team at Spectral Motion. This relationship gave me lots of input and rehearsal time to really prepare for this demanding role. I’m so proud of all the artists that worked on this GUY! They gave me an incredible character to work with. By far the most rewarding experience!
Aside from Brian Steele, who is known as a “creature actor”, how would you think of yourself as a mainstream actor, without makeup and masks? Would you be just as successful? Or, you prefer being in your “niche” so to speak?
I have absolutely no aspirations of doing anything other than bringing creatures to life. I cannot think of a more rewarding job than this, period! I love everything thing about it, from working with the design & fabrication team, rehearsing and finding the creatures characteristics to finally working with the director and puppeteers to get the beast on screen. I simply love my job!
Which creature is there, that you have yet to portray in front of the camera? Which one would you love to play?
Hands down or should I say fins down, I would love to play “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.” I cant think of a more iconic character that I would enjoy bringing to life.
Do you have any plans on, maybe, opening your own SFX studio in the future, where you can not only to perform, but also create monsters, and probably teach a thing or two to the younger generation of “creature” actors?
I’m always up for helping others learn movement. The process is always evolving so we learn so much from each other. I don’t have any plans of ever opening a SFX studio of my own. It’s never been an aspiration of mine. I do enjoy in my spare time working on my CreatureBoy clothing line. I’ve taken my work ethic and inspirations and designed the “CreatureBoy” and “Make The Pain Familiar” apparel lines.
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