Felix Silla, who played the iconic Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, had a near-death experience in the 1980s. And it traumatized him for months to come.
Both before and after Felix Silla dressed up as the hairiest member of The Addams Family, he dabbled in stunt work. And in 1984, he signed on to be a double in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
At one point, Silla stepped in for one of the stars to film a white water rapids scene. And as he finished his stunt, his raft flipped—trapping him underwater.
“The only thing I could see was yellow on top of my head,” Silla told the Sioux City Journal in 2014.
Silla did not know how to swim. And for a few moments, he was scared for his life. Luckily, a crew member jumped into the water and pulled Silla to safety. But director Steven Spielberg banned the stunt double from filming any more water scenes.
“Don’t let Felix go in the water anymore,” he insisted. “I need him to finish the film.”
Felix Silla was able to finish the film just as Spielberg wanted, but the experience gave him nightmares for the following six months.
“That was a very close call,” Silla remembered.
How Felix Silla Won the Role of Cousin Itt on ‘The Addams Family’
Felix Silla had an illustrious Hollywood career. He starred in huge blockbusters like Spaceballs and Return of the Jedi. And he worked stunts in other films such as Poltergeist and ET. But his time as Cousin Itt on The Addams Family was one of his favorite jobs.
“I had a lot of freedom of movement in the Cousin Itt costume,” the actor told The Morning News in 1980. “There were a lot of moveable pieces, so I was able to give Itt some personality.”
But the costume wasn’t the best part about his gig on the legendary comedy. The job also came out of the blue when he was struggling to find consistent work.
During an interview, Silla said the casting invite came while he was visiting another Hollywood set on a Friday afternoon. Two men were out hunting for their future Addams Family actors. And when they noticed Silla, they yelled “that’s Itt!” and hired him on the spot.
The following Monday, Felix Silla was suiting up as Cousin Itt. And over the course of a year, he appeared in 17 episodes. Silla credits the role for opening up future opportunities in Hollywood and giving him a solid career in the industry.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Silla admitted. “I had no idea, but I was so happy I got a job.