Reports that Andrew Garfield, the world's next Spider-Man in the upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man," actually watched real creepy-crawly spiders to prepare for his role shouldn't surprise anyone, except, perhaps, arachnophobes. Most actors are, by nature, creative people and will go to great lengths to give their characters dimension, originality, and believability.
Some actors turn to creatures, some turn to people, and one drama class even encourages actors to turn to their dreams for fleshing out pretend people. And then there are the entirely unexpected inspirations; here are five (and a bonus).
Johnny Depp: Pepe Le Pew
This amorous cartoon skunk is tragicomically always falling for the wrong feline but is unwaveringly convinced of his own charm. In addition to Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards, Captain Jack Sparrow actor Johnny Depp famously admitted that Le Pew was partially responsible for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" character.
It's one of those things that once you are told, you cannot be untold. Try to watch "Pirates" now without thinking of "Love, love love at sight first."
Michael Fassbender: Robot inspired by human
Soon to be seen in the summer blockbuster "Prometheus," Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender had a pretty odd inspiration for his robot character, David: Olympic gold-medal winning diver Greg Louganis.
It's an odd person to draw from, and certainly not someone you'd immediately equate with "robot," but Fassbender claims he was inspired by the diver's "childlike" qualities and a walk the actors says he found amusing. Hopefully the character in this prequel to "Alien" will come across better than the actor's explanation of how the character came to be.
George Lucas: Alaskan malamute
No, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas didn't actually play Chewbacca, but you might be surprised to learn that the enormous, furry alien Wookiee was inspired by Lucas's dog, an Alaskan Malamute. It explains a lot about the character, including his inherent likeability and constant loyalty, though not so much about the golden fur.
Apparently the species name, Wookiee, had an inspiration of its own as well, according to IO9: a guy named Ralph Wookie.
Andy Serkis: His cats
In preparing for the role of Gollum in "Lord of the Rings," actor Andy Serkis said that he found voice inspiration in his cats, watching and listening as they collected -- and removed -- their hairballs. A classically-trained actor, Serkis put as much thought into Gollum's movements and motivations as he did his voice.
If you only know Serkis as the man behind Gollum, you have some catching up to do: The 48 year-old actor has 80 titles to his credit, including both an onscreen and motion-capture role in Peter Jackson's "King Kong" and a highly praised performance as rebel primate Caesar in last year's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
Nicolas Cage: Cobras
It seems nearly a given that Nicolas Cage, known to be a little eccentric himself, would find interesting inspiration for a character. The actor says that the hypnotizing movement of cobras he used to own formed the basis for his role as the super-anti-hero in "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance."
Cage thought the mesmerizing way the snakes rhythmically swayed, particularly when preparing to strike, would form a great basis for Johhny Blaze's own movement. As logical and well-conceived the plan might have been, the movie, unfortunately, fared worse than the cobras, who were donated to a zoo after neighbor complaints.
Bonus: Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel: Inanimate Objects
Comedians Scheer and Huebel discuss their illustrious careers as motion-capture actors inspired to play inanimate objects in this fantastic Funny or Die video.
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