The Side of MacReady We Never Got to See

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R.J. MacReady from the movie The Thing, is the kind of movie hero you could go for a beer with, as long as that beer was followed by 19 more beers and a couple of shots. Something we say because in the first draft of the film’s script, he was supposed to be an abusive, alcoholic asshole. 

To explain, in the original draft of the movie, literally the first thing we as an audience were supposed to see MacReady doing was drinking straight liqueur from the bottle while ignoring the rest of the group. Just so we’re clear, this was before he had a reason to be distrustful of everyone because they were potentially a giant alien tentacle monster.

This isn't the face of a co-worker you can trust.
This isn’t really a coworker you can pound Bud Lights with.

Now drinking on the job doesn’t really make MacReady a bad guy, although it does make him a very poor choice for the person you’d want leading you during a situation where you’re literally at risk of having an alien rip your skull in half.

Along with painting McReady in an unflattering, somewhat piss-stained light, it also gives the scene in which MacReady coldly shoots Windows in the face with a flamethrower a whole new scope of meaning. One, because it suggests that MacReady never really liked or got along with anyone in the movie before this happened and two, because it means was knocking back neat whiskey by the bottle a few hours before.

Fuck you
Does this look like the face of a well adjusted man?

The addition of that cut scene, one of MacReady pounding shots of whiskey before casually blowing away one of his co-workers with a fucking flamethrower adds a whole new layer of ambiguity to a movie which is so famously dense and difficult to decipher they had to spell check the first draft with the Enigma Machine. However, it also makes the film’s hero seem less capable and more human, which is presumably why it was cut by meddling executives.

Moving on, as well as a deleted scene showing McReady getting crunk on his lonesome, there’s another cut scene in The Thing which the bearded anti-hero of the movie is shown about to get his fuck on with a blow up doll. Again this doesn’t necessarily paint MacReady as a bad guy (hey, we all have needs) but it does make his character seem a whole lot less capable as a leader. Think about it, would you take orders from a guy who just a few hours earlier was slinking around at three in the morning with 4 dollars worth of rubber under his arm and a look on his face that can only be described as “hungered child molester“.

Source: Outpost #31
Source: Outpost #31

As a funny side note, in the original script, MacReady’s blow-up doll blows away in the night and ends up scaring the shit out of him and Naul when they’re investigating Mac’s shack. Yes, MacReady the fearless leader of The Thing ends up crapping his pants when he’s surprised by his own blow-up doll. 

If you want to read more facts about our author’s favourite movie, why not read about how an artist painted the now iconic poster for the film in a single night