The weird origins of your favourite movie characters | Virgin Media

The weird origins of your favourite movie characters


Ariel from The Little Mermaid


The movie version: Red-haired Disney songstress with a penchant for hoarding but a genuine fascination with mankind.

The original version: Hans Christian Anderson, he was an odd fellow. The author of the original Little Mermaid tale, first published in 1837, intended the story to be a moral lesson about impetuousness and eternal life and not so much a feelgood sing-a-long. The original Ariel is indeed granted two legs by a Sea Witch, but unlike the animated version, every step this Ariel takes feels like she's walking on sharp knives. If the Prince doesn't fall in love with her, she turns into sea foam and ceases to exist – and wouldn't you know it, her handsome man marries someone else. Ariel is offered the chance to kill the Prince to save her soul but she can't bring herself to do it, so dissolves into sputum. Fun, huh kids?

The Little Mermaid is available now on Sky Cinema


Spock from Star Trek


The movie version: The Starship Enterprise's resident logic-speaking Vulcan, with a wicked grip and a haircut by his mum. 

The original version: Gene Roddenberry originally wrote Spock not as a half-human half-Vulcan, but as a “half-Martian”, with “a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears”. It seems so obvious in retrospect that the beauty of Spock's character was that he had a unique viewpoint on both human and Vulcan issues, but Roddenberry's original Spock as written was too wholly alien – the fact he ingested his energy “through a plate in his stomach” was just too weird for mainstream TV. He went from red to yellow to his eventual pale skin, but NBC almost vetoed the pointy ears as they thought it made Spock look satanic.

Star Trek Beyond is available now on Sky Cinema


Beast from Beauty and the Beast


The movie version: Grotesque man-sized teddy bear locked away in his own luxury castle with only a talking candlestick and a singing teapot for company.

The original version: The first ever version of the tale, 'The Story of Beauty and the Beast', by the rather fabulously-named author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, was very different to the Disneyfied version we know today. For starters, Beast wasn't cursed because of his arrogance, but because he refused to marry his evil stepmother – how inconsiderate! Furthermore, de Villeneuve's Beast wasn't as eloquent as subsequent versions of the character – he had difficulty explaining himself because he was also cursed to be unintelligent and brutish. So we guess that means he couldn't sing, either.

Beauty and the Beast is available now on Sky Cinema


Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz


The movie version: Endearingly quaint prototype robo-man, with a big tin hole where his heart should be.

The original version: The original Oz is one of the most heart-warming cinema classics ever made. The alternate version had the potential to be one of the most chilling, psyche-scarring horror movies ever produced. Why? (*Horror trailer voiceover voice*) The Tin Man.  Author L. Frank Baum wrote an entire novel about his Tin Man, where he wasn't actually made of metal, but was an actual woodsman who chopped off all of his limbs because the Wicked Witch of the East enchanted his axe. Apparently he made the mistake of falling for the Witch's adopted daughter, Nimmie; in the novel, Nimmie eventually marries a creature called Chopfyt, who was made of the Tin Man's only-recently-lanced arms and legs. Sleep well, children.

Find the Wizard of Oz in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies


John McClane from Die Hard


The movie version: Vest-wearing everyman cop in way over his head, but he'll be damned if he'll let the terrorists ruin his Christmas.

The original version: Here is a great example of how wonderful and backwards and amazing Hollywood can be. Die Hard was actually an adaptation of a book called Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, which was itself a sequel to a book called The Detective. The Detective was made into a film in 1968, starring Frank Sinatra as the hero cop, Joe Leland. So when John McTiernan started out production on Die Hard, he was legally bound to offer the role of thirtysomething NYPD flatfoot John McClane to Sinatra, who was in his early '70s at the time. Sinatra said no. But that would have been an amazing movie. “Yippee-ki-yay, pally – a ring-a-ding-ding!” (*Tosses hat on a handstand you didn't even know was there*)


Han Solo from Star Wars


The movie version: Unflappable space rogue and possible nerf herder, who knows exactly how loved he is.

The original version: Unrecognisable from the Han we know and love. Instead of a human scoundrel, the first draft of Han Solo had him as a big fat green alien, with gills and no nose (how did he smell, etc etc). In this 1974 script treatment, Han was also a Jedi (then called Jedi-Bendus), but then Luke was a 60-year-old battle-scarred general and Princess Leia wasn't even a Skywalker – it's fair to say the Star Wars saga would have played out very differently if George Lucas didn't think 'Yeah, I can probably do better than this'.

Star Wars Episodes I-VII are available now on Sky Cinema 


Predator from Predator


The movie version: Giant hellbeast who can turn invisible at will because even he can't stand to look at himself.

The original version: A joke. When your entire movie is predicated on an evil alien hunter who inspires fear into the hearts of even the most fearless man, you'd better make sure that alien doesn't look like an extra from Plan 9 From Outer Space. The original Predator design was gangly and bony, with a smooth head and an extended jawbone, which looked a bit like an under-bite. John McTiernan said that when the alien costume was delivered to the set, “everyone's hearts sank”. Fun fact: this 'children's playbarn' version of the Predator was originally played by Jean-Claude Van Damme in a bright red lycra jumpsuit. For two days. Before he had a tantrum and stormed off set.

Find AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies


Ripley from Alien


The movie version: Forthright space lady who takes no nonsense from illegal aliens and certainly doesn't respect royalty.

The original version: “I just had a thought,” says Ridley Scott. “What would you think if Ripley was a woman? She would be the last one you would think would survive – she's beautiful.” That's right: Ellen Ripley, possibly the most badass female action hero role ever written, was originally conceived as a man. Alan Ripley, the manly man with manly muscles and a big gun? Yawn. But Ellen Ripley was a masterstroke, instantly launching a franchise off the back of Sigourney Weaver's strong shoulders and creating a feminist icon in the process.

Find the Aliens Collection in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies 


Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars


The movie version: Intergalactic ball of lard who is somehow even more reprehensible than he looks.

The original version: We didn't get to meet the delightful Hutt until 1983's Return Of The Jedi, but George Lucas had originally intended for space tyrant Jabba to appear in A New Hope, even going so far as to shoot a scene with Harrison Ford. The scene – which was eventually trussed up and included in the 1997 Special Edition release – saw Han reasoning with Jabba, who was originally played by actor Declan Mulholland as a sort of Irish gangster wearing medieval cosplay. Lucas claimed he was going to overlay the full motion-captured Jabba over the top of Mulholland's performance, but a) that didn't make sense in 1977, and b) that still doesn't make sense in 2017 either. The galaxy's most slovenly money lender almost looked like an outcast from The Commitments.