The iconic wardrobe that Kurt Russell initially rejected
(Credits: Far Out / The Weinstein Company / YouTube Still)
One of the most widely loved artists in the film industry, Kurt Russell has built a body of work that speaks to his immense range as an actor. Throughout his acclaimed career, the American star collaborated with some of the greatest filmmakers the medium had to offer. Ranging from movies by Mike Nichols to John Carpenter, Russell also entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe while expanding the scope of his incredibly stacked filmography.
Due to the popularity of his onscreen appearances, there are some things that fans will always associate with Kurt Russell. These do not just include memorable lines of dialogue but also elements of wardrobe that have remained embedded in the cultural memory. One example of the latter is the eyepatch Russell wore for his rendition of Snake Plissken, whose image is completely unforgettable.
However, there are other iconic associations that Russell did not welcome at first. During his conversation with GQ about the most memorable projects he signed onto throughout his extensive career, the actor opened up about a wardrobe decision that he initially laughed at. This was, of course, the sombrero his character R.J. MacReady wore in John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Russell began: “John and I had been talking. Sometimes, we’d talk about what he was doing next or what I was doing next, whatever. We got to talking about what he was doing next… He was trying to figure out who to cast in the character of MacReady… My best friend and brother-in-law at the time, Larry Franco, was producing it with John, and finally, one day, I think Larry said it to me first… John said, ‘This is from the book Who Goes There?‘. He said, ‘Yeah, The Thing was a movie 30 years ago, but I’m not doing that. I’m doing a movie about paranoia.”
The actor added: “I went into wardrobe and you know, with the other things we’d done, I sort of did it myself, sort of came up with stuff and showed it to John… 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 he said, ‘Oh, that’s your hat.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to be wearing that hat. That’s insane. What are you talking about?’”
Although The Thing was critically panned upon release, it is now seen as one of John Carpenter’s finest cinematic achievements. A masterful interpretation of Cold War politics and human psychology, it transcends the sci-fi genre frameworks. Just like the critical re-evaluation that has changed the movie’s public perception, Russell has also come around on the hat and now considers it to be truly iconic.
Watch the full interview below.