We know that movies aren’t real, but sometimes our suspension of disbelief allows us to really believe that we are watching an actual robot, instead of an actor playing a robot.
That’s when you know they did an amazing job in the role, but they also probably had a little help from the costume department.
It’s not just that they’re good costumes though—there are also some very interesting stories behind these famous costumes.
Anthony Daniels: C-3PO
The Star Wars movies changed the game when it came to actors and costumes. Audiences were shocked when they found out some of the most beloved characters in the films were actual actors in costume, especially Chewbacca, R2D2, and of course, C-3PO.
Anthony Daniels has played the famous robot in every one of the Star Wars films, from the very first one up until this December’s The Last Jedi. Daniels was persuaded by his agent to take the initial role in the sci-fi film from 1977 as his background at the time was mostly in theater.
In the first film, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the costume was quite a mess; The FW says, “Due in part to the relatively tight budget George Lucas had for the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, the C-3PO outfit was far from perfect. On the very first day of filming the costume kept falling apart every few minutes, a situation that made working in the deserts of Tunisia an especially grueling task. This situation was made worse when a section of the left leg shattered and forced itself straight through the plastic covering and into Daniels’ foot.”
Things didn’t get much better from there. If you go back and watch the film today, you’ll see that C-3PO is mostly seen from his waist up because the bottom section of the costume kept falling apart.
In an interview with The Guardian, Daniels shares his personal account of filming all of the movies; he says the best part of playing C-3PO has been “accepting praise on his behalf. Being his best friend.”
Lisa and Louise Burns: “The Shining” Twins
While the two girls in the film aren’t necessarily in a major costume, their look is infamous. Ask anyone about the creepiest part of the movie and you won’t be hard-pressed to find someone who believes it’s the two girls dressed in the bright blue dresses walking around and holding hands, telling Danny to come play with them. They’re some of the most iconic faces in the history of horror, but in real life, they were just normal 10-year-old twin girls in England.
Today, they’ve grown up and led lives outside of the film industry. Lisa is a lawyer and Louise is a published scientist. However, they still have memories of being back on set.
They spoke with the Daily Mail about their time on set, including celebrating their 11th birthday: “What was so wonderful to us was that Stanley had found the time to celebrate the 11th birthday of two children he was never going to meet again. It really did feel like we were all family by then.”
As for the dresses, the breathtaking scene where they’re covered in blood had to be done in just one take because they only had one set of the dresses, which are now held in a museum.
As famous as those dresses are, though, the girls never enjoyed them. “We really hated them, they were horrible to wear and quite scratchy. Neither of us were particularly ‘girly’ as kids, so they weren’t our kind of clothes.”
Dustin Hoffman: Tootsie
The 1982 film about an actor dressing as a woman to land a role on a soap opera was inspired by a question Hoffman had: What would it be like to be a woman?
Interestingly enough, the idea turned into a script but Hoffman wouldn’t make the movie unless the studio did some make up tests and transformed him into a woman. The catch was, he would walk around New York City and if people didn’t turn and stare thinking he was a man in drag—instead if they just passed by thinking nothing of a normal woman walking around the city—then he would make it. Otherwise it wasn’t the message he wanted to send.
So the studio did the test, made him up, and he looked in the mirror and told them, “okay, I’m a woman, but now you need to make me a beautiful woman.” And they responded by saying, “well, that’s really as good as it gets.” Hoffman told his wife that night in tears that he needed to make this picture because there are too many interesting woman who don’t get the time of day because they’re not beautiful.
In an emotional three-minute interview with AFI, he states, “This was never a comedy for me.”
The process of transformation was no joke either. According to IMDb, “Hoffman’s two-hour make-up preparations included shaving his legs, arms and the back of his fingers while in a sauna, taping back his facial skin to tighten his features and installing daintier-looking false teeth. No amount of makeup, however, could conceal Hoffman’s five-o’clock shadow for very long. He could only be filmed for three to four hours at a time.”
Johnny Depp: Edward Scissorhands
Tim Burton was only 32 years old when he directed this cult classic film. Depp was a newcomer as well, having only been in the television show 21 Jump Street. No one knew the pair would become lifelong friends, making over eight movies together so far. The concept for the film came from the depths of Burton’s mind and combined his childhood of growing up in suburbia with the dark underbelly of what it is like to be an outcast.
Edward Scissorhands was really only given the green light after the mega success of Burton’s previous film, Batman. The studio wanted Tom Cruise for the role but after meeting him, Burton knew Depp would be a smarter choice. That was definitely the right choice.
Depp’s costume was skin-tight leather and the famous scissor hands, basically confining his movements, which works well since the character only has around 170 words in the entire film. Depp told Entertainment Weekly that the costume helped build the actor’s character: “It gave me this feeling of being completely bound up. I couldn’t function normally. I watched a lot of Chaplin stuff, because he was a genius at expressing himself without words.”
As for the costume itself, it was designed by the legendary Stan Winston who did the costuming for the Terminator films, and would go on to do Jurassic Park, Alien, and a couple more Burton films down the line. According to a blog on the Stan Winston School of Character Arts website, “It was Winston who decided to use real scissors for Edward’s fingers. When Winston first showed his sketches to Burton, the director responded that, ‘I didn’t think he’d actually have scissors for fingers. I thought they’d just be long sharp pieces of metal that weren’t finished—but this is much better!’”