Have you ever wondered if the guy in the Chewbacca suit is just as hairy as the character he plays? Or if there’s occasionally a person inside ALF? We certainly have, and usually we’re too lazy to pause and consult the Internet. But not today, folks! Today we’re solving the mystery of costumed characters once and for all — or at least for ten of film’s and TV’s favorite masked mortals. We’ve compiled some kids’ characters, a couple sci-fi villains, and a handful of cuddly creatures paired with the suit actors within. Check ’em out after the jump, and let us know of any other costumed characters that have piqued your pop-culture curiosity.
Big Bird/Caroll Spinney, Sesame Street (1969 – Present)
It’s hard to admit this to our inner Sesame Street kids, but there’s a human inside Big Bird. Always has been, always will be. The heartwarming part? It’s still Caroll Spinney after all these years. Spinney, at age 78, insists, “I can’t imagine willingly walking away from Big Bird.” Brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it? Not yet? What about now?
Chewbacca/Peter Mayhew, Star Wars (1977, 1980, 1983, 2005)
There were quite a few folks in costumes throughout this series, but we’re going to focus on a very special Wookiee. Peter Mayhew, at a towering seven feet, three inches, was discovered after his photograph was featured in a newspaper article about men with colossal feet. From there, he was cast in 1977’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and then, of course, Star Wars.
Fran Sinclair/Tony Sabin Prince, Dinosaurs (1991-1994)
You might ask, “Of all the dinosaurs on Dinosaurs, why pick Fran Sinclair?” Sure, the guy inside Charlene Sinclair was also Michelangelo and the guy inside Robbie Sinclair was also Donatello, but Fran always had that extra something. Y’know, the Lucille Bluth factor. Listen to Fran’s voice and then check out this voice. Fun fact, eh?
Harry/Kevin Peter Hall, Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
If your family’s car has ever accidentally hit a “bigfoot” like the Hendersons’, consider us incredibly jealous. That lucky bunch got to hang with such a kind creature, courtesy of Kevin Peter Hall. Kevin was also the man behind the Predator, but we’ll always prefer this softer, sillier alternative.
KW/Alice Parkinson, Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Alice Parkinson had recognizable roles in Sanctum and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but you probably didn’t realize she was in Where the Wild Things Are. Indeed, Parkinson was inside KW while Lauren Ambrose provided the vocals. We’d love to be in KW’s costume, too, if it meant getting to chill with the infamous Bob and Terry, pictured above.
ALF/Michu Meszaros, ALF (1986-1990)
ALF was a wildcard. He was usually a puppet, but sometimes Michu Meszaros was inside. Meszaros, a two-foot, nine-inch Hungarian performer once known as the Ringling Brothers’ “Shortest Man in the World,” would provide the full-body shots of the alien standing, walking, dancing, and so on.
Barney/David Joyner, Barney and Friends (1992-2000)
Being inside the Barney suit isn’t as emotionally bewitching as being inside Big Bird, apparently. Many men have come and gone, but one of the longest stints belonged to David Joyner. Performing from 1992 to 2000, Joyner reigned during Barney’s glory days — that is, until these little twerps came along and turned the kiddies onto psychedelics.
Godzilla/Haruo Nakajima, Godzilla (1954)
Haruo Nakajima was a champ for sporting this 200-pound Godzilla suit, which hadn’t been designed with his well-being in mind. A suited-up Nakajima could only walk 30 feet at a time, and a cupful of sweat would frequently be drained from the costume. Nakajima went on to perform as a suit actor for 23 years, earning his title as the best in the business.
Ludo/Ron Mueck and Rob Mills, Labyrinth (1986)
Acting inside the large Labyrinth beast was a huge responsibility, what with all that rock summoning and smelling and such. For this reason, Ludo was performed by not one, but two actors who took turns — Rob Mills and Ron Mueck. Nowadays, Ron Mueck is better known for his crazy cool sculptures, but we’ll never forget his noble contributions to the defeat of the almighty David Bowie Goblin King. What a film.
Alien/Bolaji Badejo, Alien (1979)
Bolaji Badejo, a design student, was sitting at a bar when he was picked up for his role in Alien. Director Ridley Scott wanted an abnormally tall, slender body to portray the villain, and Badejo’s seven-foot, two-inch frame fit the bill perfectly.