Recently the L.A. Times broke the news about famed filmmaker Chris Walas, who is about to embark on a filmmaking expedition to China. That’s right, the Great Wall of China has been lowered for Walas, to make movie magic in a subject matter, that for decades Hollywood has never been able to breach. Walas is bringing the Yeren, (translated wild man) or in our case in America, Bigfoot or Sasquatch to the big screen with amazing locales in the soon-to-be number two world superpower of China. Highlight Hollywood spoke exclusively with the man, who is a dear friend of mine, filmmaker and movie monster actor Douglas Tait, who is about to embark on an experience of a lifetime.
Not only is he making his first film in China, but this historic move for China to dispel the idea of not being willing to talk about superstition is incredible. Japan had Godzilla, South Korea had the slimy sea monsters of the 1960s, but China joins North America and the U.S. with their own version of Bigfoot, courtesy one of Hollywood’s most handsome and talented leading men; Douglas Tait.
It’s no ordinary picture, this is a big deal. Though Doug is far too modest to brag, I’ll do it for him. Not only has he been seen on the screen as Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th” fame, but he’s also appeared as space monsters in “Star Trek” and dozens of other horror genre films. Aligning himself with the legendary Chris Walas, who also won an Academy Award for his makeup design on “The Fly,” co-wrote the English-language script for “Bigfoot” with director Ethan Wiley, whose next picture, “Elf Man,” starring “Jackass” regular Jason Acuña, will be released in North America before Christmas. But this is about Doug and Bigfoot. I sat down with the handsome actor on Friday to discuss all things, Bigfoot, China, making history and a lot of other things going on in the star’s life and career.
I asked him how he felt about doing this first domestic (creature) type film in the land of China. “The film is called ‘The Yeren.;’ The Yeren, or wild man, is a yet undiscovered bipedal hominid reported to reside in the mountainous and forested regions of China. It is the Chinese version of (Bigfoot), and people believe he exists. I will be bringing the Yeren to life,” said Douglas Tait.
Amazingly, it’s just unreal how every civilization, even one as ancient as China’s would have such similar stories, which have become folklore and is accepted in North America by our indigenous people; the Native America Indians. Each tribe, even those who had no interaction with each other from east to west coasts, have all spoken for centuries of the wild man, which European settlers nicknamed Bigfoot. Many of the settlers who traveled to Northern California in the 19th Century swear they had encounters with them.
But being that “The Yeren” is being made in China. I wondered if, such analytical thinkers and intelligent people have the same superstitions we do in America. Doug answered, “The Chinese are more skeptical than the Americans about things they can’t explain. The (Yeren) has been talked about for years, but they have never made a film on him, nor have they been able to make films depicting supernatural characters in China. That’s why it was such a win for the team to get this film approved to be made,” said Tait. “Tommy, it took a lot of meetings, and prodding to get the Chinese government to agree to make the film. We are shooting in the mountains where the Chinese say he exists. The Chinese need more genre based films like this.”
And very modestly Douglas Tait is not touting, that he’s making history, just as he has done many times in Tinseltown and at studios here. I wanted to verify that the great Chris Walas is in fact directly involved with this project. “Chris Walas is stepping out of retirement to do this film. Chris won an Academy Award as you know, for ‘The Fly,’ and was the creator of (“The Gremlin”) characters. Walas was also partially responsible for creating the famous sequence in (“Raiders of the Lost Ark“) when the Nazis melt from the intense heat created by the Ark of the Covenant, he worked on ‘Return Of The Jedi,’ ‘Enemy Mine’ and many more films. It is very exciting to work with Chris, as I grew up watching his work. John Goodwin from ‘CSI New York’ is also helping with Fx,” said the talented actor.
Asked where he’ll be filming, Doug replied, “They are filming in the mountains of China in a small fishing community.” Doug has donned the Bigfoot suit before. Most recently he appeared on NBC’s hit series “Grimm” as Bigfoot. I however reminded him, about the man in Montana just this week, who was hit by two cars while perpetrating the Bigfoot hoax, and although he’s doing it on a film-set, it is in China, and I wanted to now if he was nervous about this experience? “No, Tommy. It is actually very exciting to me. I get to travel to China and meet the people there and see there culture. It is also very exciting to play the title character in a Chinese (mythological creature), that has existed there for hundreds of years.”
Having known Doug’s work, he’s used to following up on projects and doing sequels, since he’s one of the easiest going and most popular men on movie sets around Hollywood and around the country. Readers from China wanted to know if Doug and Walas will be teaming up for a series of these films, much like the Godzilla films of Japan became iconic there and remade over and over. Laughing, Doug was open to the idea. But added, “As of now it is just the one film, but rumor has it that once the Chinese see the quality of makeup for (The Yeren), and the way the story is told, they might want to do another.” That’s the rumor we’re hearing at Highlight Hollywood as well.
Since last speaking with Doug, who is as busy as any leading man could be. I wanted to know what else he’s up to in his very successful acting career. “I leave in a couple weeks to shoot a film in (New Orleans), where I play another title character, and I also narrate the film. It is a five-picture deal, so it is the first of a series of films. I also just finished a secretive film for Paramount Pictures that I can’t discuss, so stay tuned to my Facebook Fan page, because it will be a ride for your life,” Doug said. Facebook for sure, here’s Doug’s fan page. ( http://www.facebook.com/Thecreatureman?ref=ts) But Highlight Hollywood will be breaking the news, and trust me, it’s huge!
The last time I interviewed Doug, I got over two dozen emails asking me to find out next time what is the most fun movie monster he’s ever done, and which was the most challenging? Doug was happy with that question, but admitted it was a tough one to answer. “The most fun is a tough question to answer, because I have so much fun with all of them. I think the most challenging was in the soon to be released movie (“Knights Of Badassdom”). I play Abominog, a 130 pound fully (animatronic) creature on two-foot shoe lifts. It was extremely exhausting to move in that thing, plus there wasn’t much room to breath in it. That was the most challenging,” Doug answered.
Fine, we’re all excited about all of Doug’s upcoming projects. But making Hollywood history, as the first leading man to breach the Great Wall of China and also breaching the secrecy of China’s mythology with the (Yeren) creature, we are all pretty stoked and excited about it here at Highlight Hollywood. And here are EXCLUSIVE photos of the first look at what the Yeren, China’s mythical wild man or (Bigfoot/Sasquatch) will look like on the big screen in Beijing next year when the film is released. Doug is excited, and let us know when we can expect him to depart for the Far East? “I leave the first of November and shoot into December.”
Just in time before winter sets in. We’ll keep you posted!
Photographs are Courtesy: Doug Tait’s Private Collection
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