A Makeup Test from Ridley Scott’s Long-Abandoned I Am Legend Surfaces


Ridley Scott's long-abandoned I Am Legend

A makeup test from Ridley Scott’s long-abandoned I Am Legend surfaces

I Am Legend has seen a number of big-screen adaptations over the years. There was The Last Man on Earth in 1964, The Omega Man in 1971, and the Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend in 2007. The latter, which was eventually directed by Francis Lawrence, was in development by the studio since 1994. Over those 13 years, there were a number of directors attached, including Ridley Scott.

While Scott eventually abandoned the project, makeup artist Alec Gillis took to Instagram to show a makeup test for the feature (via ComicBook.com).

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Ridley Scott’s version of I AM LEGEND was to have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and featured ‘hemocytes’ realized as makeup characters. I think we did our design exploratory in about 1997 ( is that right @h2originals ?) Ridley was influenced by wax figures from the 17th century. We did a test on a single female subject to show her in a few stages of emaciation. The appliance pieces were sculpted by @ryankennethpeterson and Steve Koch and applied by @Tom_woodruffjr , myself and Barry Koper. Shortly after we shot the test at ADI Warner’s decided not to make the movie. The budget was coming in 10 mil higher than desired. It all got shelved until the Francis Lawrence/ Will Smith version years later. We did get an interview on that version but there was next to no interest in makeup fx. Contribbing sculptors were @schellsculpturestudio and Jeff Boccaccio. Tech work helmed by @h2originals. Paint by Mike Larrabee.

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In the caption, Gillis explains that Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to star, and the ‘hemocyte’ creatures would’ve been actors in makeup — as opposed to Lawrence’s version, where they were mostly CGI. “Ridley was influenced by wax figures from the 17th century. We did a test on a single female subject to show her in a few stages of emaciation,” Gillis wrote in the caption beneath the eight-photo slideshow, which shows the impressive effects work that was done.

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Ultimately, Scott’s budget was $10 million more than what the studio wanted to give the production, and it was shelved for about a year until Lawrence and Smith took over.

Lawrence’s version of I Am Legend eventually took in more than $500 million worldwide, and remains one of the 100 top-grossing films of all time, both in the U.S. and abroad. It also radically changed the ending of the source material — but did well enough financially no one seemed to mind.

Would Scott and company have made the same choice? We’ll likely never know, but it’s fun to wonder what might have been.