When actor Will Shephard turned up at the Beverley Hills offices of Dino De Laurentiis, he expected to be interviewed for a modest role in the great man’s next production.
“My agent told me on the phone that you were looking for actors who could do animal movements, but she didn’t tell me what the film was about,” said Will.
“It’s King Kong,” said the producer.
“You mean a remake of the 1933 film?”
“What’s the role I’m being considered for?”
And so began an extraordinary few months in Will’s life as he joined fellow actor and make-up artist Rick Baker to become the one of the ‘guys in the ape suit’, striding through miniature jungles, wrestling a giant rubber snake, running amok in Manhattan and scaling the World Trade Center. Inside the suit it was fearsomely hot, the special contact lenses made him dizzy and he frequently had to insert a tube through the gorilla mask in order to breathe.
But the illusion was perfect: audiences never knew that the highly publicized, forty-foot tall, mechanical Kong that had cost millions of dollars to develop only got a few seconds of exposure, and that on screen for the rest of the movie were Rick and Will, clad in rubber and bear-hide.
Inside King Kong is Will’s journal of his experiences on the set in 1976. This delightful, engaging and funny account is accompanied by behind-the-scenes photographs that are being published for the first time.