Tom Woodruff Jr.

Last updated

Tom Woodruff Jr.
Born (1959-01-21) January 21, 1959 (age 62)
Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Lycoming College
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Tami Spitler (m. 1983)

Tom Woodruff Jr. (born January 21, 1959) is an American actor, director, producer and special effects supervisor. He won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects for his work on the 1992 dark fantasy film Death Becomes Her ; that same year he was also nominated for the same award for Alien 3 .


Some of his most notable works include: The Santa Clause (1994), Starship Troopers (1997), Cast Away (2000), It (2017) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). [1]

Early life

Woodruff Jr. was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on January 21, 1959. He grew up in nearby Loyalsock Township, Pennsylvania and attended Loyalsock Township High School and graduated in 1977. Upon graduating high school he enrolled at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania where he earned a dual-degree in business administration and theater. [2]


Career success (1990–2010)

In 1993 his alma mater Lycoming College awarded Woodruff the Dr. James E. Douthat Outstanding Achievement Award for alumni.

Woodruff was first credited in the 1984 film The Terminator as an assistant special effects supervisor. In the 1980s Woodruff was a crucial part of numerous films and television programs. In 1986 he was part of the Stan Winston Studios Effects Crew on The Vindicator . Also in 1986 Woodruff made his debut on screen, he played a Salvager and also worked as the creature effects coordinator on Aliens . [3] [4]

In 1988, Woodruff and fellow Stan Winston alumni Alec Gillis founded effects studio Amalgamated Dynamics, which soon became highly requested in Hollywood, with movies such as Alien 3, Death Becomes Her (both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, won by the latter), Demolition Man, Wolf and Starship Troopers . [5] In the 2010s, Woodruff has continued to do practical effects in films such as Grown Ups 2 , Ender's Game , Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 , Harbinger Down , Unnatural , It , Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Godzilla: King of the Monsters . [6] Woodruff has also played many creatures in the movie he did effects for, such as Gill-man in the 1987 comedy-action film The Monster Squad , the eponymous demon from Pumpkinhead , and the Alien.

It and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2017–18)

In early 2017 Woodruff and his company Amalgamated Dynamics announced they would creating and designing the cosmetics for Pennywise in the upcoming Andy Muschietti directed horror film It. In addition to Pennywise Woodruff and business partner Alec Gillis designed and built the dead bodies for the corridors for the film. [7] Woodruff in particular designed and made the teeth for Pennywise with a great deal of comfort needed for actor Bill Skarsgård portraying Pennywise to be able to speak clearly and smile in a way needed for the film. His contributes in this area were recognized by Mushietti after films release when he said "... without all the hard work from Tom, Alec and all the guys Pennywise wouldn't have had such a big impact on the audience that it did. [8]

Woodruff and his team received praise for their work on It. They were nominated for Best Makeup by Hawaii Film Critics Society and again at the 44th Saturn Awards. [9] [10]

Woodruff and Amalgamated Dynamics were the designers and builders of the life like dinosaurs in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom . [11]

Recent and future projects (2019–present)

In 2019 Woodruff served as the lead creature character designer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Also in 2019 he served as an executive producer for the short film Playtime which was released on March 9, 2019. [12] He played Burke in the horror film The Mortuary Collection . In 2019 it was revealed Woodruff and his company would be used during the filming of Godzilla vs. Kong . [13] The film completed filming in early 2020 and Woodruff was credited as miniature effects supervisor. In late 2019 it was announced Woodruff would serve as the creature designer for the upcoming Guest House film. Director Benjamin L. Brown confirmed Woodruff would have a role in his upcoming horror film Severed Road. Woodruff is also the executive producer in the upcoming science fiction film Wellwood . [14] [15]

Business ventures

In 1988 Woodruff co-founded Amalgamated Dynamics a special and visual effects company based in Chatsworth, Los Angeles. To date the company has worked on over 150 film and television projects.

Personal life

In 1983 Woodruff married fellow Loyalsock and Lycoming grad Tami Spitler. [16] The couple have three children named David, Taylor and Connor. In 2013 Woodruff delivered the commencement speech at his alma mater Lycoming College. [17] In 2019 Woodruff and his wife moved back home to Pennsylvania, settling back in their home-town of Loyalsock Township. [18] Woodruff's son, David T. Woodruff, works in special effects and costumed acting like his father today. [19]



Tom Woodruff Jr. filmography
ActorDirectorProducerSpecial effectsVisual effects
/ Animation
1984 The Terminator Green check.svg
1986 Aliens Green check.svgGreen check.svgCredited as Salvager
The Vindicator Green check.svg
Invaders from Mars Green check.svg
1987 The Monster Squad Green check.svgGreen check.svgPortrayed Gill-man
1988 Pumpkinhead Green check.svgPortrayed Pumpkinhead
Alien Nation Green check.svg
1989 Leviathan Green check.svgGreen check.svg
1990 Tremors Green check.svgGreen check.svgCredited as Grabboid
1992 Alien 3 Green check.svgGreen check.svgCredited as Lead Alien
Death Becomes Her Green check.svg
1993 Demolition Man Green check.svg
1994 Wolf Green check.svg
1995 Mortal Kombat Green check.svgGreen check.svgCredited as Goro
Jumanji Green check.svgGreen check.svg
1996 Michael Green check.svg
Tremors 2: Aftershocks Green check.svg
1997 Alien Resurrection Green check.svg
Starship Troopers Green check.svg
1998 The X-Files Green check.svgGreen check.svg
1999 My Favorite Martian
2000 Hollow Man Green check.svg
Cast Away Green check.svg
Mattress of SolitudeGreen check.svgShort film; portrayed Batman
Bedazzled Green check.svg
2001 Evolution Green check.svgGreen check.svg
Bubble Boy Green check.svg
Tremors 3: Back to Perfection Green check.svg
2002 John Q. Green check.svg
The Santa Clause 2 Green check.svg
2003 Looney Tunes: Back in Action Green check.svgGreen check.svg
Scary Movie 3 Green check.svg
2004 Tremors 4: The Legend Begins Green check.svg
Alien vs. Predator Green check.svgGreen check.svg
2005 Elektra Green check.svgGreen check.svg
2006 Failure to Launch Green check.svg
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause Green check.svgGreen check.svg
2007 Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem Green check.svgGreen check.svg
My Cousins KeeperGreen check.svgGreen check.svgGreen check.svg
2009 Race to Witch Mountain Green check.svgCredited as Siphon
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Green check.svgPortrayed Wolfman
Old Dogs
2010 Skyline Green check.svg
2011 The Thing Green check.svg
Zookeeper Green check.svgGreen check.svg
Beautiful Wave Green check.svgCredited as Coach Parks
2012 Astronaut: The Last Push Green check.svg
2013 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Green check.svg
Fire City: King of MiseriesGreen check.svgGreen check.svg
Grown Ups 2 Green check.svg
Ender's Game Green check.svg
2015 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Green check.svg
Harbinger Down Green check.svgGreen check.svg
Kids vs Monsters Green check.svg
UnnaturalGreen check.svg
2016Change of HeartGreen check.svgGreen check.svg
2017 It Green check.svg
2018 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Green check.svg
Sorry to Bother You Green check.svgCredited as Equisapien
2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters Green check.svg
PlaytimeGreen check.svg
The Mortuary Collection Green check.svgCredited as Burke
2020 Guest House Green check.svg
2021 Godzilla vs. Kong Green check.svg
TBASevered RoadGreen check.svg
TBA Wellwood Green check.svg


1989 Monsters Herbert
1990 Tales from the Crypt Utility Monster
1998 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Gorilla
1999 Chicago Hope Stevie
1999 Seven Days Kiki the Gorilla
2011 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Bernie the Gorilla
2012 Harry's Law Gorilla
2013Blood and Guts with Scott IanHimself
Horror HalkuDemon Rufus
2016 Zoo Gorilla Suit Performer
2019 Room 104 Elmer

Awards and nominations

1991 Saturn Awards Best Special Effects Tremors NominatedNomination shared with
  • Alec Gillis
1992 Academy Awards Best Visual Effects Death Becomes Her WonWin shared with
Alien 3 NominatedNomination shared with
British Academy Film Awards Best Special EffectsDeath Becomes HerWonWin shared with
  • Ken Ralston
  • Alec Gillis
  • George Gibbs
Alien 3NominatedNomination shared with
  • Richard Edlund
  • Alec Gillis
  • George Gibbs
1993Awards Circuit CommunityBest Special EffectsDeath Becomes HerWonWin shared with
  • Ken Ralston
  • Alec Gillis
  • George Gibbs
Alien 3NominatedNomination shared with
  • Richard Edlund
  • Alec Gillis
  • George Gibbs
Saturn Awards Best Special EffectsDeath Becomes HerWonWin shared with
  • Ken Ralston
  • Alec Gillis
  • George Gibbs
Alien 3NominatedNomination shared with
  • Richard Edlund
  • Alec Gillis
  • George Gibbs
1995 Saturn Awards Best Make-Up The Santa Clause NominatedNomination shared with
  • Alec Gillis
1998 Saturn Awards Best Special Effects Starship Troopers WonWin shared with
Alien Resurrection NominatedNomination shared with
  • Erik Henry
  • Alec Gillis
1999 Saturn Awards Best Make-Up The X-Files NominatedNomination shared with
2001 Saturn Awards The 6th Day NominatedNomination shared with
2012 Rondo Hatton Awards Best Short FilmJoe Comes to LifeNominated
Saturn Awards Best Make-Up The Thing NominatedNomination shared with
  • Alec Gillis
2017 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Makeup & SFX The Monster WonWin shared with
  • Alec Gillis
2018Hawaii Film Critics SocietyBest Makeup It NominatedNomination shared with
  • Alec Gillis
44th Saturn Awards Best MakeupItNominatedNomination shared with
  • Alec Gillis

See also

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