‘Thriller’, Michael Jackson’s best idea: “I want to become a monster”

“I want to become a monster. Can I do that?”, Jackson told Landis. It is clear that he could. And not only that. His proposal materialized in an unprecedented global phenomenon. The Thriller clip is considered one of the best ever. 14 minutes that forever changed the video clip industry. The private premiere took place in November 1983, at the Crest Theater in Los Angeles. Among the first 500 viewers of the short were Diana Ross, Warren Beatty, Prince or Eddie Murphy. They left so enthusiastic that even the popular ‘Dr. Dolittle’, asked for an ‘encore’.

Directed by John Landis, the Thriller was the first video signed up in the National Film Registry in 2009. It was also the most expensive clip ever made. And there are countless curiosities and surprising details behind the scenes of his filming in Los Angeles. Because, in addition to wanting to become a monster, Michael Jackson was moved by another desire, that of “being a pioneer”.

01.- The Thriller clip it was not the result of a brilliant preconceived idea for no one. “The truth is that it’s a vain video. Everything that happened with Thriller it was because Michael wanted to become a monster just for fun. nothing was planned“John Landis told Reuters. “And everything that came after started from that idea which was spectacularly successful and totally amazing. Jackson asked John Landis to direct the video after seeing his work on ‘An American Werewolf in London.’”I want to become a monsterJackson said to Landis.I can do that?The two, along with makeup artist Rick Baker, met to look at pictures from old monster movies. “It turned out that Michael hadn’t seen many horror movies, they were too scaredLandis recounted.He wanted zombies, but the most important thing for Mike was to become a monster.“.

02.- Actually, Michael Jackson does not transform into a werewolf. Jackson, who refused to use doubles and underwent sessions of five hours of makeupundergoes two memorable transformations in the video: the first, in a strange creature (who people assume is a werewolf) and the last one in a zombie. Actually, your conversion is into a cat-man. The look was created by Rick Baker: “We made him more of a werecat because I didn’t want another werewolf anymore,” the makeup artist told Vulture in 2010. “At first I thought about doing a kind of black panther, but I finally got I put on a long mane and big ears.” Landis noted in The Guardian, which he had insisted that Jackson’s transformation not be too ugly. But Baker was amused by the idea of turn Michael into the monster he wanted to be. “I thought, ‘he’s a rock star.. I don’t think he wants to wear this makeup.’ But it turned out that I wanted to do it more than anything else“.

03.- Michael Jackson, who was 24 years old at the time, I was terrified. “We have the ‘crème de la crème’, Los Angeles’ best dancers“, explained the clip’s assistant choreographer, Vincent Paterson, in The Sun. He added, “When Michael arrived, the dancers were much better than him.” He feared that he would not be up to the task and that he would not be good enough to execute the dance steps in his revolutionary video.. The star was a nervous wreck during filming, but struggled to stand out. “I knew I had to work hard” and he trained spent hundreds of hours to perfect his iconic steps. “She rarely opened her mouth during. He didn’t say a single word. He kept very still while he listened to what the choreographer Michael Peters told him.” recalls Vincent. In the end he far exceeded his goal and “sparkles started to fly even in rehearsals“.

04.-The legend of Hollywood, Fred Astairefan of Jackson’s dance moves (he was personally taught the ‘moonwalk’ by the king of rock) attended the filming set as a spectator and was present at rehearsals. He was also accompanied by other close friends like Marlon Brando, Rock Hudson and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Michael’s parents, Joseph and Katherine also visited him. According to Landis, Michael called for Joseph to be fired; he refused and had to be ‘escorted’ by the police to the street. Joseph has denied that this happened.

05.- a boa constrictor named Muscles was one of Jackson’s pets at the time. And also was one of the guests at the filming of Thriller. In a 2016 interview, Quincy Jones (album producer) said that Jackson’s pet collection was a ubiquitous presence on the set. ‘One day I said where is Muscles?’ And we went downstairs and Muscles was in the parrot cage. He had just eaten the parrot and his head was stuck between the bars of the cage.”

06.- Jackson was then a devout Jehovah’s Witness who brought his books on this and other religions to filming. Once the clip finished, Jackson began to panic because members of his church had told him that promoted demonology and satanism. This is what his lawyer, John Branca, told Vanity Fair. Fearing he would be excommunicated, he implored Landis to destroy the film. Instead, Branca convinced him that insert this explanatory note: “Due to my strong personal convictions I wish to emphasize that this film in no way endorses a belief in the supernatural.“.

07.- Playboy model Ola Ray was Michael’s partner in ‘Thriller’. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Ray Reveals Jackson Showed Up Every Day At Her Trailer… Just To Watch Her Get Her Makeup Done. It was rumored that the two had an affair. “What was between us it was something like kindergarten. I thought it was important for him to be around someone who made him feel comfortable, and that was my main goal.”

07.- Vincent Pricethe legend of horror movies, recorded the spooky speaking voice of the theme in two takes. He was only paid about 1,000 dollars (currently €976) for his work. After the immense success of the video, the actor expressed his frustration at the miserable amount he had received. He also confessed that Jackson stopped answering his calls.

08.- spread the rumor that the UPC barcode that appeared in Thriller was Jackson’s home phone number. It was actually a hair studio in Bellevue, Washington, that received more than 50 calls a day. A woman in Youngstown, Ohio, who also had that phone number said that while the kids she called were nice, some adults were “quite rude and ignorant.”

09.- In his 1988 memoir – Moonwalk – Jackson explains how he conceived each of the three clips that were produced for the Thriller album – Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller -. “I wanted to be a pioneer in this relatively new medium and make the best music shorts we could make.“.

‘Thriller’, Michael Jackson’s best idea: “I want to become a monster”