Brian Steele Biography
Birthplace: Highland, Michigan
Monster in training
As a child, Brian Steele knew only two speeds: full throttle and off. Perpetually hyperactive and adventurous, young Brian constantly pushed boundaries and tested the patience of his parents and teachers. Brian’s boundless energy and ambition had no direction. Growing up in small-town Highland, Michigan, Brian says he “felt awkward” and out of place. He recalls that, “at that time in your life where everybody at school has their little groups they hang out with, I didn’t fit into any of those groups.” He felt like an outcast. A few local Detroit television programs changed all that. Brian discovered “Monster Week,” The Ghoul, and Sir Graves Ghastly - fright fest-y shows whose creature-characters he found fascinating. “I’d sneak downstairs after my parents went to bed to watch these guys,” he says. “It was Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff. They were playing outcasts.” Larger than life outcasts. Just like Brian.
Too big for a small town
“Awkward” took on a whole new meaning in 7th grade, when Brian grew six inches in less than a year. He says his “knees would rotate out of their sockets. My mind would tell my body to move one way, and it would move the other.” Kids at school called him “slinky,” he grew at such an alarming rate. Towering over classmates at an astounding 6’7”, Brian again found himself turning to onscreen icons for inspiration; watching over-the-top physical comedy by Buster Keaton, The Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy helped him embrace his physical awkwardness. Lacking an outlet for his energy or any focus on a career, Brian had no direction. “I went to an automotive trade school for awhile so that I could take over my father’s business.” Brian’s found his dreams were bigger than what a small town could offer. In 1985 he moved to the Florida Keys, hoping to discover his dreams there. But after two years working odd jobs like bagging groceries, working at a go-cart track, and on the docks at the local marina, Brian decided to move one more time. With only $700, a duffel bag full of clothes and a 10-speed bicycle, he bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles.
CreatureBoy is Born!
CreatureBoy is born Brian’s gamble paid off. L.A. loved him. Universal Studios Theme Park took one look at the awkward 24 year-old and knew exactly what to do with him; they hired him to perform as Frankenstein’s monster. At first, Brian was terrified. “You just suit up and go out into the Theme Park with 10,000 tourists. “ It was tough at first,” Brian remembers. Park visitors sometimes heckled the characters. “People have thrown sodas at me from a tram, crowds of kids have ambushed me from behind and I was even punched a few times.” He never regarded difficulties as setbacks. He was learning to make creative decisions as a performer. Behind the mask of Frankenstein, harnessing his hyperactivity through a creative outlet, Brian Steele had finally found his calling. When Universal was searching for an actor to don the suit for the television version of Harry and the Henderson’s, they didn’t have to look far. Brian was thrilled to be surrounded with cast mates who helped him nurture his talents as a Performer. The cast was always patient and supportive as he became familiar with working on his first TV set. Brian is “Forever grateful” to them because, “they gave me the confidence to cultivate my craft.”
Beneath a suit
48 episodes as Harry led to a role on NBC’s sci-fi series, Earth 2. Brian learned quickly about the niche in Hollywood for “creature actors.” Glued, painted, Velcro-ed, snapped and harnessed into bodysuits and masks, Brian made a name for himself as the man who could bring monsters to life. Since 1997, he has played characters tailor made to scare audiences. That year, The Relic opened the door for Brian to work on his first Feature film. He has breathed life into villains in Predators, Terminator Salvation, the Underworld Trilogy and Blade: Trinity. He’s worked with acclaimed directors Guillermo Del Toro (both HellBoy films) and M. Night Shayamalan (Lady in the Water). He’s battled Christian Bale, Wesley Snipes, Ron Perlman, Kate Beckinsale, Dwanye Johnson, Adrian Brody and Tom Sizemore. Brian also battled Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin in The Edge where he portrayed the menacing bear for the attack scenes in an animatronic & hydraulic bear suit.
Getting in creature shape
How hard does Brian train to become monster-worthy? For HellBoy II’s Mr. Wink, “it was grueling,” he explains. “Three months of swimming, hiking, weight training, and lung conditioning.” Lung conditioning? That means learning to breathe through a wet towel, for the creature-in-training-jargon-challenged. Most creature suits are heavy and hot, “The mental and physical training required to wear them is extremely painful,” Brian says. His answer to the agony of training his body and mind? “Make the pain familiar”
It’s now been over twenty years since Brian first put on the mask of Frankenstein’s Monster. What are his plans after breathing life into monsters for two decades? “I just want to keep bringing to life characters that challenge me.”