Meet the Stunt Man Who Played The Revenant's Terrifying Bear: I Looked Like a 'Big Smurf Bear' On Set
"My face was in Leo's butt for a fair bit of time," says actor Glen Ennis
“There was no bear ever on set,” stuntman Glen Ennis, 51, tells Global News, laughing. “The closest a bear ever got to set – [that we know of] – was at the Calgary Zoo.”
Ennis would know: he’s one of two men who, with the help of CGI, brought the bear to life.
“In rehearsals, I would wear a blue suit with a bear head,” says Ennis. “Obviously that [suit] doesn’t make it into the film, and the CGI guys paint the bear in. Alejandro [Gonzélez Iñérritu] was adamant that the blue bear moved just like a real bear would move, and it was essential that it had the same nuances that a bear would have. Even though it was a big Smurf bear, it still had to be as authentic as possible.”
Making the attack on DiCaprio, 41, look like the real deal required both research – Ennis studied countless bear videos online – and practice.
“It was his stunt double who rehearsed most of the time, but he stepped in and rehearsed a bit because there were so many parts to this big sequence that had to be learned,” Ennis says of working with the Oscar-nominated actor. “You couldn’t chew it in pieces, it had to be shot all at once. Leo was around somewhat, but a lot of my work was with the stunt double until we started shooting.”
And that’s when things got unpredictable, with Ennis having to roll around on the ground with the actor as cameras captured their every movie.
“That’s the funniest thing – if you notice the bear head in the picture, they wanted the bear mouth to be right on his lower back,” he explains. “I was supposed to grab his jacket with my hand to make it look like the bear’s jaws were pulling it. In order to have the bear’s jaw in the small of his back, basically my face was in his butt.”
Ennis continues: “My face was in Leo’s butt for a fair bit of time. I can see how that’s someone’s fantasy, but it wasn’t mine!”
“When I was doing it, I had no idea that the bear scene was going to be such an integral part of it,” he shares with Global News. “It was hard, sweaty work for me. And now that it’s turned into what it’s turned into, I’m incredibly proud of the work. I’m a small part – obviously the geniuses who made it look as good as they did with the CGI deserve credit – but it’s still pretty cool to be a part of it.”