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Tom Woodruff Jr.
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Tom Woodruff Jr.

Tom Woodruff Jr. had an early interest in movies and monsters as a result of late-night broadcasts of the now classic Universal monster movies and the stop-motion effects of Ray Harryhausen. Finally, seeing one of the Planet of the Apes films in a theater focused his attention on the craft of make-up, while getting his hands on his father's 8mm home movie camera at 13 years old simultaneously encouraged his interest in filmmaking.

As a youth growing up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Tom's only contact with Hollywood was through the mail, writing letters to the artists whose work he admired most, like John Chambers, who created the Planet of the Apes make-ups. Early in high school, he began to produce his own Super 8 movies, using friends as cast members and saving money for his own camera equipment. Later, in college, Tom was allowed to adapt an independent studies curriculum in Theatre to focus on filmmaking and writing and continued to work on his own make-up creations and film work, story ideas, and screenplays.

Tom finally made his move to Los Angeles in 1982. Six months of making the rounds of make-up effects houses finally led to his first paying job, working for a company on a 3-D science fiction film. It was soon followed by working for Tom Burman on Buckarool Banzai and Star Trek 3. That work, as well as an association with friends already involved, led to Tom joining Stan Winston's team on Terminator. That was the beginning of a five-year tenure, which saw Tom become a key member of the crew under Winston, and had the opportunity to work on such features as Aliens and television shows such as Amazing Stories and Tales from the Crypt.

During this time, Tom began wearing the complicated make-ups and costumes of the creatures designed at the studio. His physical body build and tolerance, was well as his ability to perform as an actor, led to his portraying the title characters in such movies as Alien3, Monster Squad, Pumpkinhead, and Leviathan.

During these years, Tom continued to write, ultimately teaming up with another of Stan's digital-technicians, Alec Gillis, to co-produce, write, and direct The Demon With three Tales, a promotional piece designed to sell a feature anthology project. Tom and Alec formed Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., primarily as an imposing-sounding source from which to pursue their own make-up and effects projects, but with the intent to use the company as an umbrella under which their own film productions could eventually grow.

Their first year saw Tom and Alec on a variety of projects, from handling the thirty-foot creature effects on Gale Anne Hurd's Tremors, to creating a ventriloquist's dummy that magically comes to life on the TV series What a Dummy. Other effects projects continued to come into the studio, including The Grifters and HBO's Tales from the Crypt. In the spring of 1990, Tom and Alec began one of their most intensive projects, Alien3. Since the production was being shot in England, the two had to set up a shop facility at Pinewood Studios outside of London. The 10-month period saw them designing and creating the new Alien creatures, with Tom playing the role of the Alien.

In between effect-oriented productions, Tom and Alec continue to write and develop their own personal projects.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2000.

Tom Woodruff Jr. Facts

BirthplaceWilliamsport, Pennsylvania, USA

Selected Filmography

Not available.