What Kurt Russell Initially Detested About John Carpenter’s The Thing

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Written By Sedoso Feb

MacReady, a helicopter pilot, leaves the Arctic station wearing a warm, fur-lines coat, a cotton hoodie, and sunglasses. He also, perhaps to keep his head warm, often dons a hat with a dangling leather strap. It’s not a knit cap or a toque as one might expect, however. It’s an oversized large-brimmed sombrero. Given the stoic nature of the character, audiences accept the large hat as a deliberate choice made by MacReady, someone who, after all, knows more about living in the Arctic than most of us in the audience. If Russell had had his druthers, however, he would have nixed the hat. He said: 

“I went into wardrobe … and when I was in there, I noticed, sitting over on this chair by itself, was this enormous sombrero. And finally, at some point, I said to the wardrobe person, ‘What’s the deal with the sombrero?’ And they said, ‘Oh, that’s your hat.’ I said, ‘I’m not f***ing wearing that hat! It’s insane! What are you talking about?! No!’ And they said, ‘Well, John’s already been shooting some stuff with it.’ I said, ‘What!?’ […] I never loved the sombrero.”

Sadly, the hat could not be changed, as John Carpenter had already been filming establishing shots with Russell’s stand-in wearing it. It was established. Russell was stuck with the hat. 

When asked if he still hated the hat, Russell wanted to make it very clear that he did not. Indeed, he felt that Carpenter had made an interesting creative choice about MacReady’s character. The hat communicated a lot about who MacReady was, and Russell came to appreciate the efficiency in conveying those traits. 

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