By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures.
When Columbia Pictures and Marvel showed footage of Ghost Rider at Comic-Con, audiences got their first glimpse of the live-action realization of the comic book. Flesh burns from Nicolas Cage’s face until the flaming skull emotes with the complete range of the Oscar-winning actor. Cage did his own motion capture for the effect, unless they wouldn’t let him.
Ghost Rider Effects
“A bunch of the times it’s Nick,” said director Mark Stephen Johnson. “It depends on if there’s a stunt involved. It’s both. And it was quite an elaborate get-up they had.”
Getting the flames surrounding his head to look right was the real challenged. “Interactive fire’s been kind of the bane of our existence the last few years,” Johnson said. “CG fire’s the toughest thing to do. And what we would do is we would have a green neoprene hood on with these lights that would give you interactive lighting on your shoulders. Remove the head and then we could put in the skull and the fire and whatnot. But it proved to be a lot more difficult than we had thought. It was real fire for all purposes. We’d move but the fire sometimes wouldn’t move the way it should have and it would film wrong. So it took a tremendous amount of time, of working it. We wanted to get all of his expressions in the skull which are hard to do without lips or tongue or eyes, and still make it feel like it’s Nick.”
That’s why the movie is taking so long to finish. Ghost Rider previewed at Comic-con in 2005 thinking they’d be out before this year’s festivities. “We’re close now but we still wouldn’t have been ready,” said Johnson. “We really lucked out because the movie was supposed to come out in August, they saw the movie, and they really liked it and pushed us up to July which is the second week of Pirates of the Caribbean, a place nobody wants to be in. But most important they liked the movie and there was things I wanted to get in the movie, some really great fight stuff that was very expensive, big ticket stuff, and they let us do that. So it was great that we got a couple of days to go pick that stuff up. And like I said, the flaming skull was literally still being worked. It went down to the wire to get it just perfect. A hard thing, as you know, if that character doesn’t work, the movie doesn’t work. So we were so close that we just didn’t want to rush it.”
Ghost Rider opens to theatres on February 16, 2007.
For the comic con footage, movie poster, stills, set pics, movie info and
synopsis, go to the Ghost
Rider Movie Page.