Details about the bear attack scene in The Revenant have been scarce. But with the Oscars approaching, we’re starting to learn more about how it came to be and what role Leonardo DiCaprio played in making it look real.
Not surprisingly, the scene didn’t involve a real bear (that would be silly, heh...). But it did require a lot of CGI, of course, and a man pretending to be a bear. One of the movie’s stuntmen, Glen Ennis, told Global News, “There was no bear ever on set. The closest a bear ever got to set was at the Calgary Zoo.”
Explaining the details of the shot, Ennis says, “In rehearsals, I would wear a blue suit with a bear head. Obviously that [suit] doesn’t make it into the film, and the CGI guys paint the bear in.”
The stuntman, who watched bear videos to prep for the scene, says director Alejandro Iñárritu was big on making sure the movements matched those of a real bear. “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.”
As with any movie stunt shot, the attack was filmed much like an intricate dance or wrestling match. DiCaprio, who’s nominated for a Best Actor at this year’s Academy Awards, wasn’t involved in most of the shoot.
“It was his stunt double who rehearsed most of the time, but he stepped in and rehearsed a bit because there were so many parts to this big sequence that had to be learned,” says Ennis. “You couldn’t chew it in pieces, it had to be shot all at once. Leo was around somewhat, but a lot of my work was with the stunt double until we started shooting.” Interesting.
That said, there was one part of the attack that required face time with Leo’s ass, according to Ennis. “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,” says Ennis. “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!”
The attack left Leo’s character in fairly bad condition: Sian Grigg was the makeup artist tasked with making those scars look real. As revealed in the below video about the making of the wounds, this took four-and-a-half hours of makeup application.
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Image via 20th Century Fox