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Kurt Russell Explains What John Carpenter’s The Thing Was Really About

Summary

  • John Carpenter never saw The Thing as a horror film.
  • There was a lot of thought put into the ending, but ultimately, it had to bring the story back to square one.
  • A sequel to The Thing has been discussed, but there have been no recent updates, and it doesn’t seem to be a priority.


John Carpenter’s The Thing is considered one of the greatest horror movies of all-time. However, according to star Kurt Russell, Carpenter never believed that he was making a horror film.

While revisiting the iconic ‘80s movie, Russell recalled the moment he was approached to play the lead role of MacReady. After being told about the project, he questioned exactly what the movie was, and Carpenter set him straight about what The Thing was really about. Russell told GQ:

I said, is it a monster movie or a horror film? What is it? And John said, no, this is from the book Who Goes There? He said, ‘The Thing was a movie 20…30 years ago, but I’m not doing that.’ He said, ‘I’m doing a movie about paranoia.’

Russell also addressed the often discussed topic of the movie’s ending, and how there was a lot of thought went into potentially ending the film in a different way. However, it seems that, eventually, Carpenter just had to admit that there was only one possible way to end the story, and that was to take it back to square one.

“John was never satisfied with that last scene. He didn’t want to do two hours, take the audience on a ride for two hours and bring them back to square one. The last scene we talked about a lot, and we’d write out little different versions of it, what do you think of this, what do you think of that, and it would go back and forth. In the end, I said ‘John, look, I know you don’t want to go 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. And I don’t think the audience can figure it out. I think that’s what makes The Thing great, you don’t know. What if this already happened, are you you? How would you know? And it all led itself down to him finally saying go ahead, and it was the last line, and I just said lets just sit down for a while and see what happens. If they could figure out a way to kill each other at exactly the same time, I think that was perhaps the next step there.”

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Will The Thing Return in a New Sequel?

The Blair Monster and Kurt Russell as MacReady holding dynamite in The Thing

There has been talk of The Thing getting a sequel for a few years now, with plans reportedly sitting at the feet of Blumhouse Productions. Back in 2022, Carpenter seemed to suggest that things were moving forward with the project, although he couldn’t actually talk about it. At the time, he said:

“There are updates that I am not allowed to speak of. We’ll see, we shall see. Never say never in the movie business, never say never.”

Of course, we are never too far away from popular movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s coming around again, but many of these reboots have taken the form of legacy sequels, with old cast members returning to their former roles in a real-time revival of the story. Whether this is something that we will see with The Thing is yet to be revealed, but with no updates in more than a year, it certainly doesn’t seem to be an imminent priority.

The 1982 version of The Thing is currently streaming on Paramount+ and Shudder.

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