GREEN ALIEN - Animatronic Puppet.
32 inches tall
from the belly up.
Silicone rubber, fiberglass, & metal.
Head and neck, eyes and eyelids, mouth, arms and hands. Chest lights up.
'Something like E.T.' was the reference that Jim Abrams provided when describing how he wanted this alien to look. It is funny to me how deceptive most people's visual memory is -at least regarding E.T. We took radical departures from our reference, creating a maquette design that met with Mr. Abram's full approval. E.T. is a brown alien, with a head like a pair of binoculars cantilevered out over his neck, tiny, squinty eyes and a trunk-like body. We decided to give our alien the biggest eyes we could possibly fit mechanical clearance for within the minimum required eye turning and eyelid mechanism restrictions inside his head; our head is not binocular shaped at all, but the simple shape of these two big eyes joined in the middle; we gave ours a funny little pot belly and gave him the traditional green alien skin. I can confidently say, if you were to compare the two side by side, our alien doesn't look anything like E.T. Still, we get plenty of visitors to our shop whose first word on seeing this alien in our shop is, "is this E.T?"
Puppeteering can be tough. Its basic requirement always seems to involve the most contorted, strange, uncomfortable positions to keep your own body off camera while still bringing your puppet fully to life. The gag for E.T. here was fun- he was in the center of a group of classic early 20th century 'huddled masses' of european 'aliens' immigrating to the U.S. They all huddle together along the guardrail of a big ship watching the Statue of Liberty go by. The camera pans across the immigrants revealing the E.T. alien among them and he points up at the Statue (hey, she's green too!). We had to operate the puppet from behind, down low. Fortunately for us, the plan called for a dense enough crowd grouping to cover us. The puppeteer working the arms had to move them up and over the rail then point at the Statue of Liberty. He had to do it by feel, since the crowd was right up against our alien. There was a particularly busty lady on the alien's immediate left and from where I was working the neck and mouth, I could see that the alien's left arm while trying to clear the rail to raise and point, had met an obstacle in this lady's ample bosom. The puppeteer couldn't see what it was but could tell the arm was somehow blocked, so he did his professional best to repeatedly and vigorously push past the obstacle. The busty lady, equally professional, did her best to pay the alien's activities no notice. From where I was puppeteering, I could clearly see it all happening, but I couldn't interrupt the take to tell him. When the take was finally over, the puppeteer asked me what the hangup was. The lady turned and joined in the explanation, with the puppeteer's face turning brighter and brighter red as the realization of his freshness sank in. He stammered the most gentlemanly apology he could get out, but she assured him it was quite all right. "In fact," she said, "it was the best attention I've had all day."
GREEN ALIEN - Credits
'MAFIA' (20th Century Fox) 1997. Jim Abrams, director.
SIZZLER 'Hungry Alien' commercial. Lee Pearson, director.
SKOL 'X-Ray' commercial- Sergio Amon, director.
POSTOBAN commercial. Simon Brand, director.