Unearthed Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Unearthed Behind-the-Scenes Photos June 26, 2022Leave a comment

Making some of the greatest movies of all time often involves some strange sights. The magic of creating iconic scenes is a completely different experience when seen from another angle. With this in mind, peek behind the curtain and take a glance at some incredible behind-the-scenes photos from the history of both big and small screens.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Columbia Pictures

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is one of the most truly joyful movie monsters - it's hard not to revel in his soft, sugary destruction as he threatens New York in the original Ghostbusters. In a time before widespread computer effects, this scene was achieved the old fashioned way: with miniatures and a guy in a rubber costume.

MGM's Logo

Getty Images / Bettmann Archives

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's iconic logo shows off a roaring lion. Actually getting footage for this was incredibly low-tech, as a sound engineer and cameraman positioned right next to Leo the lion in order to record his famous roar. In the modern era, there would likely have been a lot more health and safety in place to protect the studio workers should Leo become agitated.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Loew's, Inc.

This costume test for a flying monkey shows a clear picture of the Wicked Witch of the West's minion. These terrifying monkeys have been traumatizing children for decades, but it's difficult to get such a clear look at the beautiful costume during the movie itself.

The Matrix (1999)

Warner Bros.

The special effects in The Matrix were mind-blowing at the time of the film's release, and had a huge impact on action movies for years afterwards. This iconic fight between Neo and Agent Smith looked a lot different when it was being filmed, with a green screen covering the walls, and hundreds of cameras which were used to create the movie's classic "bullet time" effects.

Labyrinth (1986)

Tri-Star Pictures

Jim Henson's coming-of-age story Labyrinth features some incredibly complex and inventive puppetry and practical effects. Here, Jennifer Connoly can be seen descending down a pit as hands reach out to grab her. The pit looks incredibly impressive and perhaps even more creepy when viewed out of the context of the movie.

Casablanca (1942)

Warner Bros. / Allstar

Here, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman film one of the most iconic and memorable scenes in all of cinema at the climax of Casablanca. The slightly different angle of this photo not only shows the two stars, but also the camera, recording movie history in the making.

Roman Holiday (1953)

Paramount Pictures / Bettmann Archives

Here, on-location filming for Roman Holiday shows Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck enjoying an intimate moment at the Colloseum in Italy. Or, at least, it would be an intimate moment, were it not for all the film crew standing around, just out of the movie camera's field of view.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Lucasfilm / Disney

The filming of the climactic moment from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back can be seen here, as Mark Hamill pretends to be dangling off the edge of an abyss while receiving a family history lecture from David Prowse. What's not visible in the finished movie are all the old matresses below Hamill, ready to catch him when he falls.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Lucasfilm / Getty Images

In some behind the scenes photos, one of the most beloved characters introduced in The Empire Strikes Back can be seen without his clothes - or his skin. Yoda may look like a slightly creepy droid without his fuzzy green exterior, but only the crew members who constructed the mechanical puppet got to see him.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

New Line Cinema

In this scene from the third The Lord of the Rings movie, Elijah Wood's Bilbo Baggins is grappling with Gollum, as played by Andy Serkis in a motion capture suit. Director Peter Jackson can be seen checking the shot to make sure it works well.

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Universal Pictures

In this scene from Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly wears a futuristic jacket that dries itself and adjusts to his measurements in a split second. But you probably wouldn't guess that those lightning-quick alterations were done by a few crew members just out of view of the camera.

Gone With the Wind (1939)

Loew's Inc.

Here in this behind the scenes photo from the filming of Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh can be seen adjusting her own makeup, ready to play Scarlett O'Hara. Meanwhile, her fellow cast and crew stand around, watching awkwardly.

The Shining (1980)

Warner Bros. 

This scene from The Shining shows two twin sisters, Lisa and Louise Burns, about to perform their memorable scene as the ghosts of the murdered Grady girls. Their impressive performance is genuinely chilling in the finished film.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Orion Pictures

Anthony Hopkins' career-defining turn as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs is a truly iconic cinematic performance. Here, between shoots, he is being fed french fries through the mask that his character is forced to wear to prevent him from biting people.

Titanic (1997)

20th Century Fox / Allstar

The climactic scene between Jack and Rose at the end of Titanic was clearly not easy to film. Here, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are being coached by director James Cameron, in a large pool that doubles for the Atlantic ocean in the finished movie.

Titanic (1997)

20th Century Fox

In another pool from behind the scenes on Titanic, Kate Winslet practices her aquatic action while chatting with Leonardo DiCaprio. The pair would go on to be lifelong friends after the movie catapulted both of them into superstardom.

The Parent Trap (1998)

Alamy Stock Photo

In the 1998 remake of the classic Disney movie The Parent Trap, a young Lindsey Lohan plays dual roles as twins Hallie Parker and Annie James. Here, Lohan can be seen trying out one of the movie's cameras in between takes.

Raging Bull (1980)

United Artists

The idea for Raging Bullcame to be when Robert De Niro was reading the autobiography of boxing middleweight Jake LaMotta. The Martin Scorsese-directed film was nominated for eight Oscars and despite the fact that De Niro and Scorsese worked for weeks to finalize the script, neither one of them received writing credits. 

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Paramount Pictures

At a key moment in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is shown in sillouette as he lifts the Ark of the Covenant against an ancient wall. As this behind the scenes photo shows, the Ark's clearly defined sillouette was actually created using a flat wooden cut-out.

Tron (1982)

Twitter / Walt Disney Archives

Tron was one of the first movies to make extensive use of computer-generated effects. Not every scene was created with computers though, as scenes with actors were shot with black-and-white costumes and backgrounds that were then manually given glowing color to give the impression that they were computer animated.

The Muppet Show (1976-1981)


Peeking just out of shot, The Muppet Show looked like a very different experience. The show gives the impression that characters like Fozzie Bear are genuinely alive, but as can be shown here, Fozzie was actually puppeteered by legendary performer Frank Oz, with a second puppeteer operating his left hand.

The Lord of the Rings (2001)

New Line Cinema

This enormous prop ring was used in The Lord of the Rings for close-up scenes. The movies make extensive use of camera tricks to make some characters seem smaller than others, to accurately display the heights of the tiny hobbits when compared with the larger humans and elves.

Godzilla (1954)

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The world of Godzilla, a towering monster who wreaks havoc along the Japanese coastline, was created with that wonderfully simple moviemaking staple: a man in a rubber costume. Here, Godzilla can be seen alongside two crew members as he prepares to tear through some electricity pylons.

Vertigo (1958)

Paramount Pictures / Getty Images

This promotional photo from the set of Vertigo shows legendary director Alfred Hitchcock as he directs Kim Novak, who is topless in bed. While Hitchcock has been celebrated as a talented storyteller, he has also been accused of overworking and mistreating actors, particularly women. He has been quoted as saying that "actors should be treated as cattle...in a nice way, of course."

The Birds (1963)

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Another promotional photo from a Hitchcock film, this likely staged picture shows the director pointing authoritatively. Behind him, rows of fake seagulls can be seen; these were used to make scenes with hundreds of birds feel menacing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Flickr / ITU Pictures / CC 2.0

One of Stanley Kubrick's more mentally taxing movies, 2001: A Space Odyssey was inspired by the writings of science fiction author Arthur C Clarke. In this photo, Clarke can be seen visiting the set of A Space Odyssey to see what Kubrick is doing with his writings.

Towed in a Hole (1932)

Getty Images

This photo shows legendary comedy actors Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy relaxing in between filming scenes for their short film Towed in a Hole. This movie would later be remade by the Three Stooges in 1945.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Paramount Pictures

Here, William Holden and Gloria Swanson can be seen filming a romantic scene for Sunset Boulevard. The movie tells the story of an aging silent film star who is desperate to make a big movie comeback.

Citizen Kane (1941)

RKO Radio Pictures Inc. / Photofest

Citizen Kane is widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest movies ever made. Here, the movie's co-writer, director and star Orson Welles can be seen sitting in his character's wheelchair as he directs Dorothy Comingore, who plays the titular character's wife.

Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends (1984)

Twitter / behind_pics | ITV

Thomas the Tank Engine has had a long an illustrious career on both the big and small screen. This photo, from his earliest television series, originally entitled Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, shows the miniature engine used for filming, alongside the show's original narrator, none other than Ringo Starr.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Walt Disney Studios

Captain America: Civil War was a turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the movies in the series became increasingly complicated, and the key actors became increasingly difficult to assemble together in a single room, the use of stand-ins, green screens, and incomplete costumes became more of a requirement to help make these ensemble movies a reality.

The Dark Knight (2008)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Heath Ledger posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Here, he can be seen on a skateboard, ollying over Christian Bale, while the two are in full costume.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)

Paramount Pictures

This rather disturbing prop from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was used to help David Hasselhoff swim through the seas at tremendous speed. SpongeBob and Patrick were then added to his back using traditional animation.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

Twitter / gates_mcfadden

Star Trek: The Next Generation had an impressive seven seasons on the air, which was a long time for Brent Spiner to be painted in white on a daily basis to portray the android Data. Here he and Jonathan Frakes can be seen relaxing while taking a break from filming.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

YouTube / Summit Entertainment

This scene between Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner in the teen romance movie The Twilight Saga: Eclipse looks very different in the finished film. Lautner's werewolf form was created using computer effects, so for his scenes in the movie, he wore a somewhat unflattering morph suit.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Twitter / behind_pics | 20th Century Fox

There's nothing too unusual about the behind the scenes filming of this moment from X-Men: Days of Future Past. Nicholas Hault's Beast was created using practical effects, so his costume looks impressive in-person. The best bit of the photo, though, is Hugh Jackman's wonderfully splashy face. Some people clearly look better than others when caught mid-expression.

Men in Black II (2002)

Sony Pictures Releasing

This behind the scenes photo from the set of Men in Black II shows some of the movie's worm aliens relaxing on a couch. While the Men in Black movies have plenty of computer effects, the worms were created using puppets, helping to give them a realistic sense of place within their scenes.

Labyrinth (1986)

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Here, another behind the scenes photo from Labyrinth shows director and puppeteer Jim Henson (best known as the creator of Kermit the Frog) stood alongside Star Wars creator George Lucas as they observe filming. Lucas served as an executive producer on the movie, and this was one of many projects that the duo worked on together during this time period.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Columbia Pictures

Here's an alternative look at the Stay Puft scene. Special effects artist and puppeteer Billy Bryan is squished into this incredibly hot suit - he has also worked with the Jim Henson company and worked on movies including Men in Black and Species.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The Nightmare Before Christmas is an iconic stop-motion animated movie. Here, producer Tim Burton inspects a few of the models used to make the film a reality. The film's director, Henry Selick, would go on to direct a variety of well received stop motion films, most notably Coraline.

The Matrix (1999)

Warner Bros.

In another green screen photo from the making of The Matrix, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss lean back to avoid a barrage of enemy fire. The scene looks a little less impressive before the green planks of wood and cast members have been digitally removed.

Aliens (1986)

20th Century Fox

In this photo from the making of Aliens, Sigourney Weaver poses with the enormous Alien Queen animatronic which appears in the film's climax. Even out of the context of the movie, this puppet continues to look absolutely terrifying, which isn't always the case with behind the scenes photos.

Back to the Future Part III (1990)

Facebook / Stan Winston School of Character Arts

Back to the Future Part III features a lot of impressive model work, with a miniature train and car used to film the movie's bombastic final action setpiece. It's impossible to tell that these are miniatures in the finished film.

I am Legend (2007)

Facebook / Stan Winston School of Character Arts

The zombies in the post-apocalyptic monster movie I am Legend are often accused of looking rubbery and fake, with poor computer effects failing to sell them as real and believable. As this behind the scenes photo shows, the effects could have been much worse!

Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time (1996)

Alamy Stock Photos

Terminator 2 3-D was an inconic part of the Universal Studios theme park experience for decades, and the ride featured original footage filmed by Terminator 2 director James Cameron, who can be seen here on-set.

The Terminator (1984)

Orion Pictures

State of the art puppets were used to create the titular character in the sci-fi action movie The Terminator. These puppets were switched out over time as the robot assassin's flesh slowly peels away. Here, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is standing behind the puppet in order to take off its sunglasses, revealing its glowing red eyes underneath.

Sesame Street (1969-Present)

Twitter / @behind_pics | Sesame Workshop

Here, on the set of Sesame Street, puppeteer Caroll Spinney can be seen giving life to Oscar the Grouch. Spinney also puppeted Big Bird, which is why he is still wearing his costume's colorful feet below his shorts.

Space Jam (1996)

Warner Bros.

Filming for Space Jam, in which Michael Jordan plays basketball alongside the Looney Tunes, involved, Jordan playing endlessly alongside a variety of other players in bright green morph suits. These were then replaced by cartoon characters in the finished film.

Independence Day (1996)

Facebook / Stan Winston School of Character Arts

This alien puppet from Independence Day looks suitably disturbing in the finished movie. Behind the scenes, though, it was simply a puppeteer in a t-shirt, with the alien strapped to his chest.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Here, an orchestra can be seen recording the soundtrack for The Wizard of Oz. The composer, Herbert Stothart, can be seen conducting the musicians, while the movie plays, silent, on a screen to their left, so that they can sync up the music with the action in the film.