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SYFY WIRE John Carpenter

Kurt Russell Admits He Wasn't a Big Fan of MacReady's Iconic Sombrero in The Thing

His dislike of ostentatious headwear outweighed his dislike of an alien assimilating all of humanity.

By Josh Weiss
Kurt Russel in "The Thing"

If Kurt Russell was given the choice to direct his flamethrower at a dangerous alien life-form hellbent on assimilating all of humanity or an ostentatious piece of headwear, he'd choose to burn the headwear every time. Recently breaking down some of his most iconic film roles for a GQ video, the 72-year-old actor admitted that he wasn't a big fan of the now-famous sombrero worn by shaggy helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady in John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing (now available to own from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment).

Why Kurt Russell "Never Loved" MacReady's Sombrero in The Thing

"I went into wardrobe ... and when I was in there, I noticed, sitting over on this chair by itself, was this enormous sombrero," he remembered. "And finally, at some point, I said to the wardrobe person, 'What's the deal with the sombrero?' And they said, 'Oh, that's your hat.' I said, 'I'm not f—ing wearing that hat! It's insane! What are you talking about?! No!' And they said, 'Well, John's already been shooting some stuff with it.' I said, 'What?'" They said, 'Yeah, just [establishing shots].' I said, 'That hat was established?! With what?!' They said, 'You're flying the helicopter, they've already got some helicopter shots.' I went, 'Aw, come on!' ... I never loved the sombrero."

Despite his initial dislike of the costume choice, Russell now thinks the hat was a "perfect" move on Carpenter's part. "Sometimes, there's a lot of things that somebody else sees that you don't see," he continued. "You have to be open for these things. That's a tough one because it's just you wearing this big-ass goofy thing on your head. But that's where John had no fear because he knew how he was going to shoot it. I started laughing at it and saying, 'Yeah, [MacReady's] a drunk, he doesn't give a sh**, so he's got that sombrero on."

For More on John Carpenter's The Thing:

The Thing Oral History: The Cast & Crew's Definitive History of John Carpenter's Masterpiece

Exclusive: Mondo Reveals Flame-Throwing Kurt Russell Figure From John Carpenter's The Thing

John Carpenter Confirms He Knows Who Was Human at the End of 1982's The Thing

Kurt Russell Sounds Off on The Thing's Ambiguous Ending

Russell also dove into the movie's famous (and oft-debated) conclusion, which sees MacReady and Childs (Keith David) in a final paranoid standoff as the vestiges of the camp burns all around them. Even if one of them has been taken over by the alien, there's nothing the other man can do. No matter how you slice it, they're both going to freeze amidst the flickering embers of Outpost 31. The only thing that can be done is to share the last bottle of whisky and wait for the inevitable.

"John was never quite satisfied with the last scene," Russell said, echoing comments he made in December. "His main thing was he didn't want to take the audience on a ride for two hours and bring them back to square one. When you're doing a movie, you don't know what you've got. You [have a general idea], but you don't know exactly how this is gonna go together and what's gonna come out of it ... We talked about the last scene a lot. We'd write out little different versions of it. We'd go back and forth and I finally said, 'John, I know you don't want to come back to square one, but that's kind of what it is. We don't even know if we're real. We don't know. I don't think the audience can figure it out.' I think that's what makes The Thing great, is you don't know."

John Carpenter's The Thing — along with its divisive 2011 prequel — is available to own from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.