Kutcher's most recent challenge has been finding the perfect spider for the movie Spider-man, which opens on May 3rd.
The concept designer for the movie produced a computer rendition that combined traits of up to four arachnids to create an image of the mutant spider that bites Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-man) and endows him spider powers.
"I was given this drawing of a spider that didn't exist and told to find a real spider that matched it," says Miller, whose responsibilities include assembling all the props in the entire film. The spider resembled a black widow, which wasn't an option because its bite is too dangerous.
Miller contacted Steven Kutcher and showed him the picture. Kutcher then arranged a "spider Olympics" for Spider-man director, Sam Raimi. Kutcher brought in different types of spiders to showcase the talents of each, says Miller. "He literally had the spiders doing tricks."
One spider could jump, another was able to spin webs very quickly and yet another was able to produce a drag line and essentially swing out of the wayall activites that Spider-man can do.
The spider that Raimi selected was Steatoda grossa, a brown spider with a smooth, swollen body and thin twiggy legs. The problem was that the color was wrong, "we needed a spider that had metallic blue and a radioactive red-orange color to it," says Miller.
The answer was spider make-up. Originally Kutcher wanted to make an entire costume for the spider but the timing came down to the wire and he finally settled on body paint. "I had to find a non-toxic paint, design a little harness to hold the spider as he was painted, and supervise the artist painting Steatoda."
"I need the spider to go from A to B to C and Steve can train it to do that," says Miller who has worked with Kutcher on several movies. "He is very creative, he can figure out how to get the creature to do what he wants while being very delicate," says Strub.
Why, in this age of computer-generated special effects did the director simply not animate the spider? "The real thing always looks best, especially when it fills the whole movie screen," says Miller. And computer-generated graphics are very expensive although the scene where the mutant spider bites Peter Parker is computer generated.
"People find me and I'm off on these adventures," says Kutcher, "problem solving, and exploring, and teaching, and educating people about insects." But Steven Kutcher's hat best describes his life, his love and his philosophy: "Bugs are my business."
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