Douglas Tait is an actor and producer. His first notable role was as "Jason Voorhees" in the climax of the 2003 horror film Freddy Vs. Jason. He has also worked in the creation of many of Hollywood’s most recent and memorable “monster” and creature characters for some of the film industry’s biggest blockbusters. Please view the slideshow to the left of this article to see some of Douglas' roles.
Among his more notable characters, he has played the "Head Sleestak" and "Zarn" in Land of the Lost, and as he once said in an interview, the "Long Face Bar Alien" in J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek. He has also played the role of "Zorgon" in Jon Favreau’s Zathura and performed the movements for the "Frost Giants" in Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh. I had the pleasure of interviewing Douglas about his career & working on the Snickers Godzilla commercial.
Michael Garone: Ok, so tell me about your beginnings. Why did you want to become an actor?
Douglas Tait: Well, I got the acting bug my junior year in High School. It was something that I felt I HAD to do, that there was nothing else in life that would satisfy me. I started to take classes, worked as an extra in films, and got a job at Universal Studios Hollywood playing Frankenstein, and other Classic Monsters. I never thought of a career acting behind Special FX makeup, I was pursuing a career as a serious actor. Working at Universal Studios is where it all started.
From my work at Universal, I would get recommended for small projects and commercials playing Creatures and Monsters. This led to other things and when I played Jason in the ending of Freddy vs. Jason, it gave me some status among filmmakers. Then I went on to do Zathura with Stan Winston Studios, and Land Of The Lost with Mike Elizalde's shop Spectral Motion. All this time I was pursuing a regular acting career and working on shows playing bit parts out of makeup.
It wasn't until I played the Long Face Bar Alien in Star Trek that people really started to know my name. Barney Burman won the Academy Award for best makeup on the film and he featured my character in all of the press he did, and people started to ask who the guy was behind that prosthetic. Star Trek opened the door to amazing opportunities in my career, and I have been blessed with consistent work ever since.
MG: First gig as an actor?
DT: My first gig was a National basketball commercial for the Navy. It's what got me into The Screen Actors Guild right out of high school. Then my first real acting gig was a guest-starring role as Frankenstein on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It was the 100th episode of the show, and it aired on Halloween.
You can view both videos here:
Navy Commercial: http://youtu.be/D5jkoMkOnho
Sabrina The Teenage Witch as Franky: http://youtu.be/24IobEdXZuk
MG: Talk about your time as the Long Face Bar Alien in Star Trek. How long was the make-up process and working w/ Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana?
DT: Playing the Long Face Bar Alien was an amazing experience. JJ Abrams is one of the nicest A-list directors I have ever worked for. He loved the character and couldn't stop laughing take after take. Barney Burman won the Academy Award for best makeup and he featured my character in a lot of his press articles.
This gave me a lot of exposure and was great for my career. The makeup took about 4 hours to apply. Spending time with Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana was also a fantastic experience. We spent hours talking about acting and life; they are both very humble and were excited about tackling such iconic characters. They never saw me out of makeup, so it will be interesting to see their reaction when I run into them again. I was contacted to return as The Long Face Alien in the sequel: Into Darkness, but unfortunately they cut my scene.
MG: Tell me about your work as a Tarleton Demon on Sleepy Hollow.
DT: Sleepy Hollow is a blast to work on. They shoot the show in Wilmington, NC. The lead of the show Tom Mison is such a nice guy. When we met he said he was excited to work with me, how cool is that?! I have been called to play other roles on the series, but I have been busy with other work. I will definitely be back on the show, and I am interested to see what cool character I will play next!
MG: You played a Frost Giant in the first Thor film. Did you get to stage fight w/ Thor himself: Chris Hemsworth?
DT: Unfortunately with Thor, I didn't get to work with any of the actors on set. I was called when the film was in Post Production to replace some of the movements of the Frost Giants, and added some Frost Giant moves that were not shot on film. Everything I did was done with Motion Capture on a sound stage.
MG: How fun was it playing the King of The Monsters: Godzilla in the Snickers commercial?
DT: It was a blast to play such a well-known Creature. I always thought Godzilla was cool, but I didn't grow up watching him like the Universal Classic Monster movies. Now I know how huge the Godzilla following is. I have received numerous Facebook messages about the commercial. Apparently Cleve Hall and myself are the only American actors who have worn a full Godzilla suit. Another iconic character to add to my resume!
MG: Now that you have become one of the few elite to play Godzilla; what was the audition process like? Describe the suit fitting process and anything from your filming experience if you can please.
DT: Anytime a role comes up that has prosthetics or a creature suit, my name is usually in the mix. This is a beautiful thing as there is only a small group of us that are known for this kind of acting. I got a call to audition for the Snickers Commercial with 100 + tall actors with hopes to play the iconic character. Since this kind of work is extremely difficult, producers are very weary of hiring an actor who has never worn a full creature suit. They can lose a lot of money if an actor couldn't handle the intensity of the suit, or became claustrophobic. This works in my favor as my resume is full of Creature roles in recognizable films, and I have worked with the shop that built Godzilla, (Legacy FX) on numerous projects. Legacy FX was formerly known as Stan Winston Studios and the same talented folks that ran Stan's, run Legacy.
Once I was cast, I had 7 fittings at the shop plus a rehearsal day, and the first day of shooting was on Dec. 2nd 2013. This was a very quick build for such a huge suit. I like to train on things that will help me with the character, and when I have time to play in the suit, I get a feel for what those limitations will be. Playing Godzilla was difficult to work with; these huge monsters are always a challenge. That is where my intense training comes in. The weight of the suit is not the only challenge; there is a certain mental element that comes in to play while performing inside a creature suit. You go into it mentally prepared knowing it’s going to be tough, then you have to sell the performance. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It is great to work with a shop like Legacy FX because they are the best at what they do. I know going into it that they are going to make it the most comfortable it can be. All that being said, I am very grateful to have played such an iconic character.
MG: You were executive producer on the film, of "In The Name of Freedom." A 16-minute short film that appeared at the 14th Annual LA Shorts Fest in 2010. It was an Official Selection of the New York International Latino Film Festival, won in the category of "Best Drama Short" at the 2010 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival, and won the "Best Fiction Short" category at the 2010 CINE Film and Video Competition. What is the film about?
DT: ‘In the Name of Freedom’ is a tough, gritty, uncensored war film about peace. The story follows a female American soldier, (Isabel Cueva), who is captured in Iraq but saved by one of her captors. My wife Isabel Cueva wrote, directed and stars in it, and I also act in it. It was a great experience making this film and taking it to festivals. It opened a lot of doors for my wife as an actress and we made great industry connections from the film. Here is the trailer: http://youtu.be/T0cEsYs8glk
MG: Favorite film that you have worked on to date and why?
DT: That is a tough question, so many great memories from each of them. I really enjoyed Star Trek, Land Of The Lost, and getting the chance to play Jason Voorhees in Freddy vs. Jason was pretty epic. I think my favorite though was Outpost 37. It is a real cool Sci-Fi/War film based off the Academy Award documentary film Restrepo, and it will be out later this year. I shot it in South Africa, and Steve Wang designed my character. I play "The Heavy" a huge alien character with a laser gun that goes around blowing things up. There are several Heavies in the film and I got to play all of them. I recently watched the final cut and it is a fantastic film. My character is all practical FX and it looks amazing. Shooting in South Africa was also a great experience. We were out in the mountains and would see all kinds of exotic animals. It was really neat.
MG: Favorite character to date that you have played and why?
DT: My favorite character that I have played has not aired yet. I am the lead Villain in a new show for ABC called "The Quest." I can't speak much about it at this point, but it will air sometime this spring. I shot the series at a 18th Century castle in Vienna, It is very exciting for me and I can't wait to share.
MG: Any future projects you are working on that you can talk about?
DT: I just finished a Futuristic Sci-Fi film called Exfil, and soon I am starting Max Steel. Max Steel is the popular cartoon from the toy company Mattel. They are making the cartoon into an action packed feature film, and I am playing one of the characters. I also have a few others I am attached to shooting in the summer.
For more on Douglas please check the following sites:
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/Thecreatureman