Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ In RARE Behind The Scenes Photos.
When Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009, the world lost its beloved "King of Pop." And yet, there is no doubt that his legacy will live on for future generations. Most famously, his hit song "Thriller" is known worldwide. It has been used in videos, including the viral clip of prison inmates dancing to the number in Cebu, Philippines, in 2007, and references in multiple films and television shows, from Coming to America (1988) to Glee in 2011.
Even without such references, the fame of the song together with its 14-minute-long musical horror film stands on their own lasting impressions. Through the video, director John Landis helped Michael live out his monster-movie fantasies with moves and images the world had never seen before.
Though we can watch and re-watch everything Michael Jackson, photographer Douglas Kirkland published these rare photos in a book titled Michael Jackson: The Making of "Thriller" 4 Days/1983.
Younger generations may not know that Michael Jackson's videos for "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" helped establish MTV. In 1983, he made one of the world's biggest videos for "Thriller." It cost half a million dollars to make, a considerable sum at the time.
Pictured at the center is former Playmate Ola Ray, who played Jackson's love interest in the video.
Photographer Douglas Kirkland noted in the book, "Everything about [Michael] made me think that he was a gentle person."
Makeup artist Rick Baker, pictured left, was reluctant to work on "Thriller" at first. According to his past experience with "An American Werewolf in London," executing this kind of transformation made him feel akin to a dentist that spent hours on a single patient.
The plot is two-fold: one in which Jackson is depicted as a werewolf-like beast in a 1950s movie and another in which he is watching the movie from a theater.
Baker kept the dancers' makeup at a minimum due to time constraints. Jackson is shown here holding his pet boa constructor, Muscles.
Though Michael was quite comfortable with the process, he found the yellow contact lenses painful and was nervous for the behind-the-scenes footage shot by Landis.
Cinematographer Robert Paynter noted in the book, "'Thriller' was the only time I worked with someone who made me want to write down my thoughts about him and the effect he had on me." Pictured here: Landis directing Jackson.
These photographs were taken for Life magazine. Kirkland said that Jackson was at his peak just before a take. "He projected this glorious smile which could warm anybody up," Kirkland recalls.
"Thriller" was released on December 2, 1983. MTV aired the video twice an hour. It went on to become the first music video recognized by the National Film Registry and is considered to be the greatest music video of all time.