Movies - TV
J.J. Abrams Took An Unusual Approach To Super 8's Creature Design
By WITNEY SEIBOLD
J.J. Abrams' 2011 sci-fi film "Super 8" is an homage to co-producer Steven Spielberg's own "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” only the film’s alien is not an adorable, kid-sized critter, but a massive, spindly monster with many long bony limbs, threatening eyes, and multiple nostrils. Neville Page designed the alien and had to take a backward approach from the usual way of doing things.
Since production already assembled the alien's underground lair prior to the design of the actual alien, the creature needed to match the environment instead of the other way around. Page had to think like an archeologist, speculating what kind of species would occupy the surroundings, and wrapped his mind around an imaginary animal that was both lumbering and meticulous.
The final design was vaguely humanoid, with two leg limbs, four arm limbs, and an elongated, flat head atop a barrel-shaped torso. The creature's legs split at the shin, leading down to a pair of hoof-like feet on each leg that, in Page’s mind, were an evolutionary development intended for digging, and Page figured his creature would be comfortable underground.
The most crucial design element was the eyes, which had to be heartfelt and convincing enough to properly connect with the characters and audiences alike, without the alien resembling a cartoon character. Page likely struck a good balance, and said, “Ultimately our alien had to be completely original, organic in nature and have an iconic feeling to it.”