were a few memorable characters in "Masters of the Universe."
Frank Langella stood out as Skeletor, while many liked the quirky
old gnome, Gwildor, played by Billy Barty. Here is information
about the characters and the actors that played them, in their
Bill Stout saw the charm and humor in the "Masters
of the Universe" script. It was that selfsame script
that made his job as production designer on the project
Working directly from the screenplay's descriptions,
Stout designed the dwarf Gwildor and the deadly trio
of bounty hunters -- Beastman, Blade, Saurod -- and
their leader Karg.
"Designing the new characters was much more interesting
than redesigning the old ones," says Stout. "It
was a real challenge because I was basically starting
But, given the detail in the script, Stout soon had
the hi-tech, reptilian Saurod, the walking collection
of knives that is Blade and the half-bat, half-human
Karg on the drawing board to everyone's satisfaction.
They were pleased.
Redesigning He-Man and Skeletor, by comparison, was
a walk in the park.
The only limitations Mattel Toys put on Stout's imagination
was that he could not make the characters look radically
He-Man by Production Designer
Bill Stout based on a concept by Moebius.
Skeletor, Lord of Destruction.
What Stout did was add subtle touches of depth
that would allow the toy and cartoon characters
to make a believable transition to live action.
"That was the extent of it," says Stout.
"Making sure there was little doubt in the
audience's mind that these were real characters."
Set designs offered Stout different challenges.
Creating a generic fast-food restaurant and a
music store for the Earth-based sequences allowed
him to create larger-than-life non-fantasy settings.
But it was the design of such otherworldly sets
as Castle Grayskull's exterior and an alien communications
room that pushed stout's imagination. Both designs
benefited from Stout's hybrid mixture of styles
that incorporated equal parts swords-and-sorcery
and science-fiction elements.
Combining the best of two different worlds was
also much in evidence in the design of Skeletor's
throne room; a monstrous, multilevel undertaking
that takes up every square inch of two giant soundstages.
"When I sat down to design the set, I knew
it had to be on a grand scale but also had to
service the swordfights and running and battle
sequences," says Stout.
"What I did was turn to some old action films
like "Captain Blood" and "Sea Hawk."
Those films had great swordfight sequences and
sets that were built to service them. I found
some things in those films that I incorporated
into the throne room set."
Bill Stout sums up his work on "Masters of
the Universe" by noting that, "It was
the result of many different ideas. It is the
past and future all rolled into one."