The Creature From the Black Lagoon Creature From the Black Lagoon! Ben Chapman


60th Anniversary Special!

50 Years of the Gillman

All 30 Universal Monsters Blueray!

Universal Monster 30-film blueray

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What's New?

Creature From the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection:

This Blu-Ray DVD has both the regular and 3D version of The Creature From the Black Lagoon!

From Back in Black

How did you get cast for the role?

Ben: Well, I'd like to tell you that I beat out about 5,000 other guys, but no, I used to come on the Universal lot all the time and the casting director for stunt men said, “You'd be perfect for this movie they're making because you're half fish.” So the next day, I met with these gentlemen and they looked me over, had me turn around, looked at me from different angles and when they were done they said, “Come back tomorrow because we're going to resign you.”

Julie: I was under contract at Universal. What happened was, they said,

"I have nothing against remakes, but I always stress to people: If a movie makes it into a classic form, it became a classic for a reason. If it does reach that stature, you take it and you put it on a shelf and you leave it alone."

“Here's your next movie.” I was making five movies a year and she handed me the script. I thought, “Why are they putting me in this movie? There's this creature and ... I don't know ... I don't think this'll be good for my career.” Little did I know we'd be sitting here talking about it all these years later.

Julie, Did you do all the underwater swimming scenes?

Julie: I would love to fib about this, but under the water, that was Ginger Stanley who did all those beautiful underwater sequences.

What do you think of the job Millicent Patrick did being
the first female to ever design a monster?

Ben: I thought it was great what she did, of course. A lot of people don't realize she did all the artwork and sketches. The first Gill Man looked like Oscar, the Academy Award, but she made him more scaley...changed it completely.

How did they make the gills move?

Ben: On the back of the costume, behind the gills, they had rubber bladders with hoses that ran down the back of the costume and off camera. And when I would open my mouth (gasp) a man off camera would fill the bladders with air and make the gills move. Compared to today's movies, I think we did a better job because it was real. Today it's all high-tech. In our day, we made real movies with real people.

Was it a struggle with buoyancy staying under water?

Ben: Well no ... I think Ricou (Browning) wore a weight belt. I didn't do that much in the water. A lot of people ask, “Did he breathe through a reed or something under the water?” No. Ricou and I were known back then as “freedivers.” In case you don't know, a freediver is someone who can hold his breath for a long time. So what Ricou did was, he would dive to a depth that you needed, then they lowered a hose down with air and he would hook on to it. And when he was finished with a scene, he would come up.

Julie, how physically demanding was your role?

Julie: Not very. (audience laughter)

Ben: She's got great lungs on her, though. (audience groan)

Julie: I think the hardest part is the scene at the grotto. It was on a sound stage in this big tank and they forgot to heat it and it was November! So I think that was the toughest day. You would finish a scene and they would give you towels to warm up and you would just get warmed up and you'd have to go back in again. So, besides that, it wasn't too bad.

What was the chemistry like on the set between all the actors?

Julie: “I would come to work every day and see Ben in his costume and I would pat him on the head and say, “Hello, beastie ... how are you doing today?”

Ben: You'd get up in the morning and you couldn't wait to get to work. But there were some films where you couldn't wait til it was over.

How did you eat lunch wearing that costume?

Ben: The head came off. There was a zipper in the back. So they would just take the head off. And I wore long gloves that came off, but I couldn't sit down so they had to lean me against a platform and I had to eat standing up.

Universal's plans to remake Creature from the Black Lagoon

Ben: I don't know if you know the story of Gary Ross but it was his father Arthur Ross who wrote the original story of Creature from the Black Lagoon. It's his son who's going to do the remake. As far as my comment on the remake, I have nothing against remakes, but I always stress to people if a movie makes it into a classic form it became a classic for a reason. If it does reach that stature, you take it and you put it on a shelf and you leave it alone.

Julie: When a movie becomes a classic, there are a lot of things that happen almost by accident. All the right people come together and everything happens just right. I mean, if they knew how to do that every time, then every picture would be perfect. Take the Wizard of Oz, for instance. They had all these directors and they wanted Shirley Temple at first but it all came together and it's the perfect film. It's magical. So good luck to them if they can do it again.

Ben: The Gill Man was not an evil-looking person. He was a very unusual person who lived in the water. That's the other thing I think that makes a film successful. Of course, he does kill people, but you don't see it. Another thing, when we made films back in the 40s and 50s, they left it to your imagination.  Today they're so explicit. I remember when you had nothing to do, you'd go to the movies and you'd come out and feel great. Today you go to the movies and you come out and you feel worse. In other words, in our day, movies were for escapism. So you go in, you might have a problem, you'd come out and feel a little better. Today you go to a movie then you go over to the next building and you jump off.

Julie: I call it assaulting the senses. That's why I don't go to those movies.

Tell us some of your favorite parts of the film

Ben: Well, mine was carrying her around!

Julie: And I had a guy carry me around! I like the part when they say, “He could've killed you!” and I say “Yes, but he didn't.” In other words, he wasn't just destructive. There was something else with this creature going on there. I like those moments in the film very much.

If they were to redo Creature would you consider appearing in a cameo?

Julie: Well, nobody's asked us yet. (laughter)

Ben: The other thing is, we would like to know what he's going to look like. If they would bring him back as he was, then yes. But if he's going to be ... you know ... multiple arms and slithering around, then no. But Julie and I want to thank you, the fans, for keeping the Gill Man alive, because if it wasn't for you people, he would've been dead and buried a long time ago. And that's the truth. We mean that sincerely. So we wouldn't want to...I don't know...betray or prostitute something and then you people at the next convention will be like, “That Ben and Julie, (grumble, grumble)” (laughter) That's the truth. Because what you people think of us, means a lot to us.

© 2018 by the Ben Chapman Family

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