You've seen those apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey a zillion times, but do you ever think about the people who actually played them? What about the man inside the ALF suit, or R2D2? Now it's time to meet them.
Dan Richter, the Ape from 2001: Space Odyssey (1968, dir.: Stanley Kubrick)
Richter was a poor, vagabond mime when Stanley Kubrick plucked him from obscurity to choreograph and star in the remarkable “Dawn of Man” sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Determined not to rehash the hackneyed tradition of “men in monkey suits,” Kubrick was seeking vivid characterizations by believable prehistoric man-apes whose discovery of weapons and violence presages the future of humanity in space. Since the sequence had no dialog, Kubrick felt that mimes could best express the man-apes’ motivations and emotions, and Richter’s brief audition quickly confirmed the notion.
(via Dan Richter)
Michu Meszaros, the title character of ALF (1986-1990)
A puppet was usually used for ALF, but in ten episodes ALF was running or just walking around. In these cases the 2 ft 9 in (84 cm) tall Hungarian performer, Michu Meszaros (1939-) was in the costume of the friendly alien.
(via NY Daily News)
Bolaji Badejo, the 7 ft 2 in Nigerian student of graphics arts, the titular xenomorph of Alien (1979, dir.: Ridley Scott)
He was discovered in a London pub by Peter Archer, a casting agent. Scott had been looking at basketball players, and had tested Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca from Star Wars), too, but Bolaji was the best for the role.