Body Suits

While the use of makeup effects or facial prosthetics are used when the human element of the actor is still required to come across onscreen, sometimes a movie calls for a live gorilla to interact with actual actors. Gorillas are very temperamental  and powerful creatures that can easily injure a human – that’s when SFX teams use actors in full-body gorilla suits.

This is how character actors and actresses like Peter Elliott, Misty Rosas and John Alexander make their living – by donning full-body gorilla suits, so that they can safely interact with the live actors on set and keep the insurance companies happy at the same time.

Peter Elliott has been doing this kind of acting work for several decades now, starting with Silverbeard from Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan and most recently as Go-Go in the yet to be released Vanilla Gorilla. Some of these suits are so realistic, and the actors’ motions so ape-like, that people often can’t tell when the real ape has been swapped out for a guy in a suit. A great example of this is John Alexander and various members of his gorilla team interacting with Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist. The SFX and costume design teams did such a great job creating the faux gorilla suits that when coupled with Alexander’s incredible ape-like acting ability, audiences were unable to tell the difference between costume and a live gorilla.

Silverbeard – Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984)

Peter Elliott as Silverbeard from Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan

Joe – Mighty Joe Young (1988)

John Alexander as Joe from Mighty Joe Young 1998

Various – Gorillas in the Mist (1988)

John Alexander as a gorilla from Gorillas in the Mist

Amy – Congo (1995)

Misty Rosas as Amy from Congo

Buddy – Buddy (1997)

Peter Elliot as Buddy from Buddy

Go-Go – Vanilla Gorilla (2011)

Peter Elliott as Go-Go from The Vanilla Gorilla

Bernie – Zookeeper (2011)

Tom Woodruff Jr. and Garon Michael as Bernie from Zookeeper

Stop Motion and Motion Capture Animation…

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