In the bear's own words...
We hate to break it to you, but the grizzly bear that attacks Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant isn’t a real bear. We know, we know – it looked so realistic.
So how did they manage to create such a realistic creature? The bear – AKA stuntman Glenn Ellis – has revealed all.
Speaking to Global News, Ellis said that in fact he was wearing a giant blue suit the entire time, with the CGI experts painstakingly painting the bear in after shoots.
‘In rehearsals, I would wear a blue suit with a bear head,’ he said. ‘Obviously that doesn’t make it into the film, and the CGI guys paint the bear in. Alejandro [G. Iñárritu, the director] was adamant that the blue bear moved just like a real bear would move, and it was essential that it had the same nuances that a bear would have. Even though it was a big Smurf bear, it still had to be as authentic as possible.’
Here’s a photo of Ellis in the suit, as taken by Twitter user @sid131313:
Ellis revealed that it was an extremely competitive and gruelling role, with one would-be bear collapsing with exhaustion and even going to hospital – and that he had to study hours of videos of bears doing everything from attacking people silly enough to get into their enclosures, to acting seemingly calm. But, he maintains, there was never a bear on set.
‘There was no bear ever on set,’ he said. ‘The closest a bear ever got to set (that we knew of) was at the Calgary Zoo.’
You can see some of the bear’s most ferocious appearances in the video below…
Ellis was also asked if the many scenes he filmed rolling around with Leonardo were a ‘dream come true’.
‘I was [rolling around with Leonardo] about 20 per cent of the time. That’s the funniest thing, if you notice the bear head in the picture, they wanted the bear mouth to be right on his lower back,’ he said.
‘I was supposed to grab his jacket with my hand to make it look like the bear’s jaws were pulling it.
‘In order to have the bear’s jaw in the small of his back, basically my face was in his butt. My face was in Leo’s butt for a fair bit of time. I can see how that’s someone’s fantasy, but it wasn’t mine!’
Ellis said he was extremely proud of the end result, and that the film has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
‘It was hard, sweaty work for me,’ he said. ‘And now that it’s turned into what it’s turned into, I’m incredibly proud of the work. I’m a small part – obviously the geniuses who made it look as good as they did with the CGI deserve credit – but it’s still pretty cool to be a part of it.’