There was no beating around the bush when it came to 'The Thing' at the New York Comic-Con earlier today. As soon as the applause died down, director Matthijs van Heijningen introduced a brand-new teaser that no one had ever seen before. And, as the eagle-eyed among us noted, the stars on the panel -- Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, Ulrich Thomsen and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje -- also stood up to take a peek, because none of them had ever seen it either.
This tasty morsel gave us a glimpse of what happened before the Thing descended on MacReady (Kurt Russell) and his crew in John Carpenter's 1982 movie 'The Thing.' After Adam Goodman (Christian Olsen) convinces his friend and colleague Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to go to Antarctica with him to investigate, well, something, they meet up with a team of Norwegian scientists to figure out what the heck is hidden in a mysterious block of ice. Unfortunately for pilots Sam Carter (Edgerton) and Derek Jameson (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), they get stuck on the site as well when all hell breaks out of that ice. Or, as we saw in the teaser, when Dr. Sander Halvorson (Thomsen) drills into it, releasing this shape-shifting terror among them. Tentacles, a giant blowtorch, and plenty of terror follow hot on the heels of this discovery as the Thing makes itself at home among the scientists.
So what we did find out about the movie? Find out after the jump.
THE ENTIRE CAST HAS SEEN THE ORIGINAL 'THE THING'
Director Matthijs van Heijningen said that he saw the movie when he was around 15, "but as a European, I was also interested in these poor bastards, these Norwegians. I've always had an idea, a fascination with what happened to these people. How did the ax get into the door, what happened to this two-faced creature outside, who were these people?" Meanwhile, Edgerton declared he "was definitely a fan of the original movie; I think I saw it for the first time, I would have been maybe about 12. I saw it on video, and I've seen it about four or five times since." "The scene that stuck with me the most was -- this was [in] high school -- is the scene where they're testing the blood," said Christian Olsen. "I saw 'The Thing' back then -- on German television, by the way; it was a dubbed German version and I thought it was a German movie for a long time," said Thomsen. "It was a great film, and very scary."
THE LADY OF THE HOUSE IS PRETTY BADASS
A big shift in this 'Thing' is the addition of a female character to the crew. Kate Lloyd (Winstead) is a paleontologist who soon becomes handy with a blowtorch. (She wasn't on hand for the panel because she was getting married.) "To find a protagonist, in any way to compare it to MacReady, would be a failure," said van Heijningen. "I'm a huge 'Alien' fan so I thought we could make the protagonist a sort of Ripley character -- you know, smart, maybe a little shy ... she slowly gets into this movie and becomes the heroine, not because she wants to [but] because she's probably the smartest one on the block." Christian Olsen, whose character Adam had a bit of history with Kate, said, "It changes the dynamic because she's the strongest of all the characters. They [use] the blueprint for Ripley in 'Alien' and that's what she's playing. And she crushes it. She's so good."
HERE COME THE VIKINGS
Part of the tension in 'The Thing' comes from the tug-of-war between the English-speaking characters and the Norwegians, who could communicate among themselves. This adds to the paranoia. It doesn't hurt that the Norwegian actors were intimidating. Christian Olsen described them as "full-blown Vikings. And that's macho, macho men. And they're amazing. The movie doesn't work without [them]." Akinnuoye-Agbaje later added, "There is definitely a dynamic between the Norwegians and the Americans. We don't like them, and they don't like us. It's a cultural clash. They think we're lazy and brash and arrogant, and we think they're crazy and drunk ... They're always [working] and we're just sitting back drinking whiskey to keep ourselves nice and warm and we only do the bare minimum."
THIS IS SCARY STUFF, DUDE
Akinnuoye-Agbaje looks big and tough, but his character got the willies more than once in the movie. "I leave the party of celebrants after they discover the Thing, and I go into the room where it is to try and see what it is, you know, so they're in the [other] room partying. It's dark, it's quiet, and I go in and I've not seen it -- even as an actor -- before that time, so I went in and I looked at it, and it's frozen in this ice, and that was pretty awesome because I didn't even know what it looked like until that day."
On the other hand, Akinnuoye-Agbaje himself was more perturbed by the practical monsters, which had tentacles and limbs falling off. "They paid real attention to detail in creating these creatures. I mean, it's amazing, because some of them have to look like some of the actors, and so it's half actor and half creature." Seeing the monstrous versions of his fellow actors left quite an impression on him. "When you see this twisted, contorted form of what you look like, you know, your mouth's over here and your butt is coming out of here, it's just gross ... You go home at night just wanting to wash it off in the shower." Akinnuoye-Agbaje gave us some more creepy details that are better left for the big screen, but in his words, "It's just an orgy of horror!"
PRACTICAL MONSTERS ARE IMPRACTICAL TO TRANSPORT
It's hard to get through customs sometimes, but it can be a real hassle if your car is full of monster parts. One surprised customs officer found out the hard way that the crew was transporting the Thing across the border when he stopped a bus full of parts. Christian Olsen said, "When they brought the practicals [practical monsters] over in a bus, customs stopped the bus that has all the stuff in it, and the guy got his flashlight and was like, 'Open this,' and he opened it, and there's a full frickin' -- it's the Thing in a box! And he freaks out -- freaks out! Starts making phone calls... [They] bring in like seven guys, a SWAT team... Those things are somewhere right now."
DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE THE THING IF YOU'RE THE THING?
'The Thing' leaves plenty of questions unanswered for the viewer, but we're not the only ones left chewing over what really happened out on the tundra. Edgerton told us, "For example, I know that, from doing a little bit of research and reading, that Kurt Russell and one of the other guys on the set were having a large argument about, if you are the alien, do you know that you are the alien? Or are you unaware of whether you're the alien? Which I think is a really great question. And [it's] a really difficult question when you're trying to approach the moment where you might have to suddenly have to go from human to become the alien. Certainly at the end of the Carpenter film there's a sense to it of, are either of those guys OK? And when will they know? And I love the mystery it's left with."
Edgerton, however, demurred when asked his take on this rather philosophical question. "I want you to see the film, and I'd love for you to tell me the next time that you see me," he said with a laugh.