A Bloody Good Time 7.17.14: Where Are They Now? - The Thing Posted by Joseph Lee on 07.17.2014
From Kurt Russell and Keith David to Wilford Brimley, Richard Masur who played Clark and more, 411's Joseph Lee looks at the cast of John Carpenter's clasic The Thing and sees where they are now!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Well, you guys voted for it, so this week's A Bloody Good Time (and this month's "Where Are They Now?") is all about The Thing. It's a movie with a lot of crazy special effects, paranoia and snow. Let's get started right away with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who played the heroine Kate Lloyd. You may know her previously from things like...
I'm kidding. I'm not going to bait and switch you guys like that. Although, I didn't think the prequel was as bad as everyone else did. No, we're talking about John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing From Another World. Keep in mind, if I skip someone, it's because they're probably going to show up in something else later on. In this case, both John Carpenter and Dean Cundey (the cinematographer) can be saved for later editions since they worked together a lot. I'm going to focus on the cast this week with one exception.
Role: R.J. MacReady
Before: Russell's kind of a big movie star, so you should know what he's been in. Before he worked with John Carpenter on The Thing, he also worked with him on Escape From New York and a TV movie about Elvis. Before that he had a role in the 1976 series The Quest, but was best known for his work in Disney movies like The Barefoot Executive and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
After: The Thing actually wasn't a big success, because it opened against E.T., which was a huge cultural phenomenon at the time. Obviously the movie turned out okay, as it's now a cult classic with the critical acclaim it deserves, but Universal treated it poorly at the time. My point is that a movie that should have helped make Kurt Russell a bigger star actually didn't do much to help his career. It didn't actually hurt it though.
He would go on to work with Carpenter again on Big Trouble In Little China (itself a box office bomb) and rebounded with more mainstream fare like Overboard and Tequila Sunrise, which were hits. In 1991 he hit pay dirt with Backdraft and that was enough to make him a big star through the rest of his career due to its critical and financial success. It even became a theme park ride! He would go on to star in big movies like Tombstone, Stargate, Poseidon. He was also Stuntman Mike in Death Proof, arguably the best part of that movie. You can currently find him in The Art of the Steal (on Netflix) and coming soon in Fast & Furious 7.
I've been a huge fan of Kurt Russell for years and it was actually because of Tango & Cash, because that's the first thing I saw him in. I've now seen at least all of his big movies and The Thing is probably my favorite. I wish he'd work with John Carpenter again, assuming Carpenter ever directs a movie again.
Before: Masur's early career involved a lot of TV work. He appeared in shows like M*A*S*H and Hawaii Five-O before he got a supporting role as Nick Lobo in Rhoda. After some minor roles and small films (and more TV work, he played David Kane in One Day at a Time), he had a supporting role in one of the biggest commercial and critical flops in Hollywood history: Heaven's Gate. It was a movie so bad and so big of a box office bomb that it more or less destroyed the career of director Michael Cimino. Masur got out okay, which makes sense since he had a smaller role.
After: He pretty much went right back to what he was doing. Richard Masur has always been best as a character actor, or a "that guy". He starred in the TV movie The Burning Bed and reunited with Kurt Russell in The Mean Season. Probably his most memorable film role, outside of The Thing, is when he played the adult version of Stan in IT. I'm not going to lie, his performance isn't great. However, it's hard to make something out of being a talking head in a fridge making bad jokes. As for the rest of his career, he was in both My Girl movies, the TV show Picket Fences and Play it to the Bone. His most recent roles were TV appearances in Blue Bloods and Elementary.
Before: Wilford Brimley is probably best known as the spokesman for Quaker Oats and Liberty Medical. He's also kind of an Internet meme ("diabeetus"). But before that, and before The Thing, he was Horace Brimley on The Waltons. Like many of the cast of The Thing, Wilford is a character actor which means he was relegated to supporting roles for much of his career.
After: He played Pop Fisher in The Natural before grabbing one of the starring roles in Cocoon and its sequel. The first film was kind of a big hit (even though when I was growing up it was known as the "old people movie" and kids decided to watch sci-fi like E.T. instead) but the sequel wasn't as successful. His other big movies included The Firm, and In & Out. His most recent film role was 2009's Did You Hear About The Morgans? and he's only been in a short film since. Outside of the occasional Liberty Medical commercial he seems to be more or less retired. But hey, he's had diabetes since 1979 and is he'll be 80 this year. Good for him.
Before: Donald Moffat's had a long acting career that stretches all the way back to the 1950s. It was mostly big parts in TV shows like Naked City and The Defenders and he didn't have very many roles in his early career. He started working a lot more in the 1970s but once again it was all TV stuff for the most part, as he appeared in everything from Night Gallery to Mission: Impossible. We're getting into guys who really haven't done anything big outside of The Thing, so their careers are going to blend together. He did get a supporting role in the Logan's Run TV series, which only lasted for a single season.
After: In the same year as The Thing, he had a supporting role in three episodes of Dallas. He's also appeared in The Right Stuff, Clear and Present Danger and even an early TV adaptation of Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity. I didn't even know that existed prior to writing this, so I'm learning new things too. Like Brimley, he seems to be retired now (but still alive at the age of 83), with his last role as that of a judge on Law & Order: Trial By Jury in 2005.
Before: Different verse, same as the first. David Clennon is a character actor that started out with bit parts and TV roles before he killed Windows in The Thing. He did get a recurring role on Barney Miller shortly before this film, however.
After: He had an even smaller role than David Moffat in The Right Stuff (at least Moffat got to play a President), but it is his TV career that you probably know him best for. He got another TV role (probably his biggest) when he played Miles Drentell in Thirtysomething. That series lasted for four years and he appeared in 22 of its 85 episodes. He went back to doing what he normally does in acting before getting a starring role in the TV series Almost Perfect, which ran for two years on CBS. He played Miles again in Once and Again, which I guess was a sequel of sorts to thirtysomething. He also played Joshua Nankin in The Agency and Carl the Watcher on Ghost Whisperer. He's still acting today and was most recently on episodes of Criminal Minds and House of Cards.
Before: How can you not love Keith David? In addition to having one of the most recognizable voices in Hollywood, he's just been a really badass kind of guy in everything I've seen him in, including the short-tempered Childs in The Thing. As it turns out, it's what he did after that movie that's more lengthy than what he did before, as he had two incredibly minor roles before he was cast.
After: He's another member of this cast to work with John Carpenter again, as he would appear in They Live as Frank to take on Roddy Piper in one of cinema's coolest fight scenes. Not long before that, he played King in Platoon, probably the biggest movie he's appeared in. He's also appeared in Road House, Armageddon and the Riddick movies, but let's be honest. It's his voice acting career for which he's best-known these days.
He's not only the spokesman of the US Navy (along with Godsmack), but he's the voice of Goliath in Gargoyles! As a 90s kid, I just have to say that Gargoyles is probably my favorite role in Keith David's career in my eyes. Do you want more examples of his voice acting? Sure! He's also Spawn and Julius in the Saints Row games. As far as modern roles, he played the Flame King in Adventure Time. One of his more recent roles was as Sgt. Major Donald Cody in FOX's short-lived sitcom Enlisted. But again, we're fans of the man for his voice work. Let's not pretend we aren't.
Before: After a few supporting roles in several TV shows (it's amazing how many of these guys appeared on Hawaii Five-O at one point or another), he played Pete alongside George Burns and Art Carney in Going in Style. He went back to TV (M*A*S*H*, Hill Street Blues) before he got to eat a man's hands with his chest in The Thing.
After: Immediately after The Thing he was in the John Landis segment of The Twilight Zone: the Movie. He continued to get TV roles and small movie roles, landing parts in movies like Pale Rider before he played Capt. Charles Devane in Hunter. That series ran for seven years (and he had a role in five of them) on NBC. In addition to playing Bill Davis in Grace Under Fire (wow, I just remembered that show), he also played Travis Marshall in Gargoyles and Paul Dreyfus in Dante's Peak. Sadly, he passed away in 1997 due to a car accident when he had a heart attack while driving. His last role wouldn't arrive until 2004 in a movie called Mind Rage.
Before: It's the same as the rest of these guys, so let's just get into his bigger roles to save time. He was in the 1979 movie Being There, the TV movie The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd and appeared in The Hindenburg in 1975.
After: Drysart also had some memorable voice roles, most notably as Uncle Pom in the English version of Castle in the Sky and Cogliostro in Spawn. As far as acting, his biggest role post-Thing (and let's be honest, the biggest of his career was as Leland McKenzie in L.A. Law. That show ran for eight seasons (Drysart won an Emmy in 1992) and even had a TV movie in 2002, which was Drysart's last role before he retired.
Before: He didn't do many noteworthy roles before The Thing. He had a small part in an episode of The Jeffersons and played Cribbs in Southern Comfort. As we get into the smaller members of the cast, we're going to find they've done less memorable stuff so you'll forgive me if some of these are shorter (for before and after).
After: Right after The Thing he landed the role of Shabu (a genie) in Just Our Luck before voicing Alex in Turbo Teen. That's the one about the kid that can transform his body into a car. The 80s were weird, just move on. He also had a supporting role on Punky Brewster as Mike Fulton and played Milo on Good Morning, Miss Bliss before it got revamped and became Saved by the Bell. Sticking with TV, he'd go on to have supporting or minor roles in The Sinbad Show and The Steve Harvey Show and a starring role in the Corner. His most recent gig was in the series Love That Girl last year for only one episode.
Thomas G. Waites
Before: We might as well say nothing and leave this blank. He had very small roles and none of it was memorable.
After: He would go on to do what many of these actors did, appear in TV roles and supporting film roles. He did get fourth-billed in The Clan of Cave Bear, but it wasn't until 2001 when he played Henry Stanton on Oz that he really got some solid work. He only had seven episodes total but he did stick around for three seasons. He also played four different roles on Law & Order between 2000 and 2009.
Before: He had some supporting roles in movies like Capone and the horror film The Children in 1980.
After: He continued with supporting roles, appearing in movies like Desperately Seeking Susan, Manhunter, JFK and Requiem for a Dream. He had a small recurring role on the show Rescue Me as Uncle Red and his most recent role was as Harry in an episode of Black Box.
Role: Special Effects
Before: Outside of Stan Winston creating the dog-thing, Rob Bottin handled the majority of the special effects today, all of which hold up today. Seriously, this is the movie you want to show your friends if they thing CGi is in any way better than practical effects when it comes to horror. Somehow the special effects in the 2011 movie look worse than the special effects in a 1982 movie. Figure that out.
Anyway, before The Thing he worked with Rick Baker on several different films with uncredited work on King Kong (1976 version) and Star Wars. His first big job was with John Carpenter in The Fog. He also provided the werewolf effects in The Howling while Baker was busy with An American Werewolf in London. Two guys that worked together both worked on werewolf movies that came out in the same year...and their approaches to the transformation scene were both completely different.
After: Oh nothing much, he only created and designed Robocop. That's right. Not only do you have this man to thank for the great monsters in The Thing, but you get to thank him for making Robocop. Go on, thank him. I'll wait. He also provided special makeup effects for Total Recall, Se7en and Legend, which got him a nomination at the Academy Awards. So yes, he created Darkness too.
His last jobs were providing special effects in the forgettable comedies Mr. Deeds and Serving Sara. He also wrote a treatment for Freddy vs Jason that wasn't used. He seems to be retired now, which really sucks.
That's it for this month's edition, but you can still vote on next month's movie! I'm mostly just coming up with a group off the top of my head to keep things interesting. Make sure to vote within the next week as I stop accepting votes when I start writing the next edition of ABGT.
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