Hollywood armourer gives fascinating look at collection of celebrity armour

March 29, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

The Queen’s official armourer who has spent a lifetime making suits of armour and weapons for royalty and Hollywood film set designers gave the first fascinating look into his workshop.

Terry English, who was for twenty years the only armourer left in the world, began to carve out a career as costume maker for major movies in the late 60s.

He went on the provide historic and modern warfare outfits to films such as Gladiator, Aliens, Highlander, Batman, First Knight, Excalibur, Joan of Arc, Harry Potter and Dr Zhivago.

Terry’s outfits and suits of armour have been worn by actors including Helen Mirren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clive Owen, Peter O’Toole, Sean Connery and Liam Neeson.

Directors who have used his wares include Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Ridley Scott, Ken Russell, Luc Besson and Joel Schumacher.

Terry – who became armourer to Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 – creates all his suits in his own workshop and metal forge in Hayle, near St Ives in Cornwall.

He was only armourer in the world for two decades and continues to supply costumes to major Hollywood productions including the new Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe.

Terry, 60, said: ”Back in the 1960s and ’70s, I was believed to be the only armourer in the world. There are quite a few now.

”I prefer to do fantasy stuff. Like in Excalibur with the horns and tusks and wings. I enjoy that more really.

”If you’re doing historically accurate armour, you’re really just copying what existed, whereas when you do the fantasy stuff, you’re more artistic with it – it gives you the chance to design the outfits.”

His most recent projects have included making armour for Russell Crowe in the new film Robin Hood, and making costumes for Clash of the Titans, out on April 2.

Terry, who is aided by two assistants, has also designed a Zeus costume for Liam Neeson, along with suits for the five other main Gods in the film.

He added: ”Doing Clash of the Titans was a bit of a nightmare as I only had nine weeks to make six full sets of armour.

”Liam came in recently and gave me a big hug, as we worked together 30 years ago on Excalibur. He’s a lovely guy.”

Among the items on display in his workshop are fibreglass life-casts of the heads of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Russell Crowe and Helen Mirren, which he used to create headgear for the actors.

There are also a merlin helmet worn by Nicol Williamson in Excalibur and 25 full suits of armour which Terry recently finished for a Canadian film called Sucker Punch.

He has kept hold of one suit, worn by Bill Paxton in Aliens, which he says cost him about £250 to make but is now worth at least £15,000.

Terry’s home is filled with vintage film posters of the titles he has worked on. He also keeps a replica of the breastplate worn by Helen Mirren in Excalibur.

He added: ”I can remember spending six hours in Helen’s dressing room, sharing a bottle of whisky and measuring her.

”She literally stripped off naked in front of me. Of course, it was strictly professional.”

Terry has had praise heaped upon him during his 30 year career, by film stars including Richard Gere and Patrick Stewart.

Gere wrote to him to say ”thanks for the metal” after the armourer made his Lancelot costume for the Arthurian film First Knight.

Terry said: ”One of the compliments I had from Patrick Stewart when I did Excalibur was that he felt so good in the armour I made for him that it actually improved his role, because it made him feel more powerful.”

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