I’ve heard it said, “There is nothing sexier than a guy in a suit”
I am focusing on Ghostbusters for a few blogs because there is an upcoming documentary Cleaning Up The Town, Remembering Ghostbusters, and also the planned re-release of the films next month for the 25th and 30th anniversaries. This week I want to introduce you to two characters from Ghostbusters 2, the Scoleri Brothers. In Ghostbusters 2, Tony and Nunzio Scoleri were ghosts of prisoners executed by the same judge who is hearing the Ghostbusters case.
The concept of the Scoleri Brothers was inspired by a pair of brothers who had once robbed a store owned by the father of the late actor/ writer , Harold Ramis. Visual designer Henry Mayo based his original designs for the characters on the comic characters Cousin Eerie and Uncle Creepy. Producer, Michael Gross worked closely with Mayo on the character designs. As they evolved, Nunzio got fatter and fatter. According to Henry, “Once Michael Gross saw my drawings, he insisted the fat one be a lot heavier than I’d done. Most of my early work before arriving at ILM was finding the size Michael wanted.”
If Nunzio was supposed to be impossibly fat, Tony Scoleri was supposed to be impossibly thin. Tony was played by actor Jim Fye. To accentuate his thinness, we created his torso from spandex which was painted by Bob Cooper to look skeletal. His head was sculpted to be oversized, but long and very thin.
The Nunzio costume was huge. We built an enormous fat suit with bean bag style fat pouches that moved and undulated with the character. I had recently made a similar fat suit for Weird Al Yankovic’s Fat video, and Tim Lawrence, the head of the creature shop, wanted similar movement in Nunzio’s body. Nunzio was played in the film by Tim Lawrence. It was decided to make both the characters appear to be flying in their electric chairs, so we incorporated flying harnesses into the suits. The mechanisms in them were made to be controlled with a computerized motion control system. The movement could also be controlled by puppeteers for a live performance. Lawrence brought in Bob Cooper to paint Tony’s torso, Mike Smithson to work the heads, Bill Forsch to make Nunzio’s arms, and Buzz Neidig to work on additional details such as teeth and tongues. Al Coulter headed up the mechanics department.
The heads for both costumes and the body for Nunzio were very heavy. The actors had to stay in the suits for hours at a time while hanging in front of a blue screen. Jim Fye said that the greatest challenge was the flying part , according to Jim, “I’d never done anything like that before and it was fun, but keeping balanced and striking the poses in midair in the full costume and the heavy headpiece was very challenging.” Though it was challenging, Fye said that he had the most fun playing Tony Scoleri. The Scoleri shoot was five days. Jim said, “As I recall… it was spent mostly about 10 feet off the ground. I had a very comfortable moleskin undergarment that the wires were attached to, but after that amount of time, gravity took its toll”. To put it delicately, we left poor Jim black and blue in some sensitive areas, but he never voiced a complaint.
Here is some footage of me, Barbara Jenichen Hartman, Eleanor Harrold and Howie Weed fitting the Nunzio costume on Tim Lawrence. Video by William Forsche.
We finished shooting the Scoleris on a Saturday. The actors got one day off and then started shooting the Statue of Liberty on Monday. We were so lucky to have really professional actors to work with. I never remember a complaint from Jim, Tim or Robin (Slimer), and we put them through a lot.
Here is the finished scene of the Scoleri Brothers from the film:
Next time I will be showing the Statue of Liberty costume and also one of the creatures from the original Ghostbusters film. Much thanks to Henry Mayo for the use of his original design drawings, and to Bill Forsche, and Jim Fye for the use of their photos and video. I am going to leave you with some drawings from Henry Mayo of his designs for more puppet characters from Ghostbusters 2.
This is Henry Mayo’s design for a mink coat that comes to life. The puppets were built by Rick Lazzerini in Los Angeles.
This is Henry Mayo’s design for the theater ghost puppet which was built in Los Angeles by Rick Lazzerini.
This is Henry Mayo’s design for the Bathtub Monster which was built in LA by Rick Lazzerini.
And for now, this is the end.