As it turns out, no actual sharks were ridden on the set of Aquaman.
Willem Dafoe, who plays Vulko in the upcoming DC Comics film, appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this week in promotion of the film. While there, the actor was complimented by Fallon on his shark-riding abilities, which prompted him to explain the true movie magic behind James Wan's visually stunning epic.
"To create the underwater thing, I'm always on wires, almost, which was really cool," Dafoe explained. "When I was doing it, it's not a shark. It's a green cube. I'm sitting basically on a box on wires and I'm flying around. The trick is, you know, to personalize it. Try to imagine it, the green box. I gave it a name. Named it Muriel, after my mother. That's not to say she was a shark. Somehow, I love that name, and it made me love my shark. That's the connection ya gotta make when you're an actor!"
Hard to believe Warner Bros. didn't allow sharks on set! In fact, Wan went above and beyond in trying to create the underwater world of Atlantis and the creatures which inhabit it.
"It was a combination of a lot, a lot of efforts from a lot of people," Wan told ComicBook.com. "Whenever we have the actors, obviously, they're there on wires and on rigs, and they have to do what they have to do, and big stunts obviously with the actors riding their creatures, and jumping, and hacking and slashing their way through the sequence. And then ultimately just a lot of many iterations of visual effects on all the shots. Just keep working on the shots, keep tweaking it, and trying to get the animation looking right. Trying to make sure to design the action in such a way where even though there's a lot of visual effects happening, a lot of CG happening, I want the audience to kind of know where they are, and then on top of that, just wanted to just keep breaking grounds. You know, breaking visual grounds that we haven't seen before, and just really push the envelope."
Ultimately, Wan hopes that Aquaman -- if it's not ahead of it's time effects-wise -- will stand up well against films in the future as visual effects technology advances. "I really want this movie, decades from now, for people to still say, 'Holy crap. This movie holds up,'" Wan said. "Or even if the visual effects don't hold up 10 years from now, at least they can look at it and just go, 'Wow, they went for it in a big, big way.'"
Aquaman hit theaters on December 21, 2018.