Invasion of the Body Snatchers imagined the horrors of waking up to find a loved one is not who they used to be anymore. But the pod-tastic film wouldn't have been the same without its two leading actors who anchored the sci-fi thriller.
1. Big names were floated for the leads.
After Richard Kiley turned it down, actors like Joseph Cotten, Charlton Heston, Robert Ryan, and Brian Keith were discussed. Richard Widmark, Richard Basehart, Gig Young, and John Forsythe were also talked about, though dismissed due to the perceived cost of casting them. For the female lead, Donna Reed, Anne Bancroft, Barbara Hale, and Vera Miles were brought up.
2. Dana Wynter considered it her first real film.
Producer Walter Wanger wanted Wynter, an English actress, after seeing her coincidently at the William Morris Agency in New York. Dana had just signed a contract with Fox, but was allowed to delay it to film Body Snatchers. Wanger called her the brunette Grace Kelly with the zest of Ava Gardner, and said she was his best discovery since Hedy Lamarr.
3. McCarthy owes his acting career to an Invasion co-star.
Seventeen years earlier, Larry Gates, who played the doctor, dared McCarthy to read a scene from Henry IV to help a professor out. McCarthy, who hadn’t even thought of acting prior, was cast in a small role, and later had a chance to fill in for a larger part. The professor’s encouragement lead McCarthy to pursue acting as a career.
4. Dana Wynter got pranked by the director.
Director Don Seigel was dating a woman who lived nearby Wynter’s home. One night he decided to leave a present at her door step – a pod. “I nearly broke my beck, because when you open your front door to go to your car, you don’t expect to find something large on your doorstep,” Wynter said.
5. The leads got along.
Dana said about her co-star, “[Kevin’s] full of enthusiasm, you feel that he’s decent through and through and through and through.” McCarthy felt the same about her, and actually had somewhat of a crush. However, both were already married, so the romance remained on-screen.
6. Entire plaster body casts were made of the cast.
To create their pod-selves, the actors were covered in plaster of Paris, except for their nose and mouth. By some accounts, the temperature inside reached 120 degrees. The result was a feeling similar to being inside a sarcophagus, which was hard for Carolyn Jones who was claustrophobic.
7. Wynter was also pranked in the plaster.
As the other actors had done, Dana was covered in plaster and only able to breathe through a straw. It was then that the crew assisting with the plaster mold tapped on the tub and said, “Dana, listen we won’t be long. We’re just off for lunch.”