From right to left : John, Myself, Production Manager Robert Brown, Associate Producer Larry Franco. The Juneau Ice Field. Location Scout April, 1981

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Rob coming out of THE FOG, 1980

                       Having had a taste of  The Roar Of The Greasepaint by appearing as an actor in front of the camera on THE FOG, Rob Bottin initially made a concerted pitch to John Carpenter and myself to play Palmer in THE THING. We were surprised by his request ( when John first mentioned it to me I thought he was kidding ), and skeptical of his ability to pull it off - he already had the massive responsibility of the effects work heaped on his twenty two year old shoulders, much of which was scheduled to be shot with the principal actors. Undaunted, he told me he was deadly serious about playing the role and would take acting classes if need be, but as pre - production rapidly advanced it was clear to all that it was an impossible idea to pursue ( I don't recall whether Rob actually read for the role, but I remember him lobbying hard for the chance )...


                  I was the custom then ( and, indeed, now ) for studio casting departments to pay very close attention to up and coming comedians performing at nightclubs around Hollywood, with assistants dispatched nightly to monitor the proceedings at watering holes like THE IMPROVISATION. When THE THING first crossed the desks of executives at Universal they wondered whether, given the roles' comedic potential, it would be advantageous to consider one of the best and the brightest for the role of Palmer...

Charles Fleischer

Jay Leno
Gary Shandling

                  Jay Leno met and read for us. A recent film of his, AMERICAN HOT WAX, was screened. Gary Shandling and Charles Fleisher ( later to become the voice of ROGER RABBIT ) also met, among others, but the concern always was whether they had the dramatic "chops" in order to pull the entire role off...       

                   A veteran casting director, Lynn Stalmaster, had given me a great early piece of advice -  "When in doubt, always go for the actor" - which is just what we did with David Clennon. David had recently appeared in MISSING, the Costa-Gavras film for Universal, and was one of the first actors in the door - an early and enthusiastic selection by John and ourselves, and one we certainly never regretted...


  1. That's awesome! Thanks Stuart, the THING junkie in me has had it's fix enough to hold me over for a while longer! :-)

    BeAst WisheS - L

  2. Whew. I was worried the blog had ended with the cast and crew screening. Glad to see there's more still stories to tell. Thanks for sharing all this with us!

  3. Stuart, it's a very amazing information because unlike for Stan Winston, I never heard before that Rob wished to become actor since The Fog, I don't think he asked to play one character in Legend, for example. David Clennon was an excellent choice, I loved him with his counterpart David Rasche in Edward Zwick's Special bulletin too, they created a very intense huis-clos in this TV- movie.

    About Rob Bottin, do you remember of some non used heads in the final cut that he created for The Thing ? One is extremly grimacing, rather grotesque, with furious eyes, perhaps it could be some Blair's face, in the "Boxmonster" avatar? Another one could be Bennings at middle metamorphosis in the never filmed death under ice scene - do you know if some work began about this, as fake howling dog and Bennings's dummy? I can to send to you these pictures if you have email ( mine is )

    Still dying to wait for new posts !

    PS : on the final Boxmonster's drawing, Blair seems to have a third eye, it was a reference to the Campbell's alien?

  4. Hey Stuart, I'm showing THE THING at a local horror movie festival here in Wichita, KS on October 8th and 9th! Thanks again for the blog and all your contributions to this classic flick!

    BeAst WisheS -- Leif Jonker

  5. John Carpenter's THE THING Tonight and Tuesday Night (Oct 8th & 9th) on the BIG SCREEN, 7pm & 10pm in Wichita, KS at the WARREN OLDTOWN THEATRE only $5! BE THERE and please donate a buck or two to MOSAIC HOMELESS OUTREACH when you buy your tickets! For more info visit: Learn more about Mosaic at: