NAME: Jules Sylvester
JOB: Reptile wrangler
LATEST GIG: Boss to 450 slithering costars of the summer's most buzzed-about action movie
WHY SNAKES ARE BIGGER DIVAS THAN ACTRESSES
"Snakes get tired after an hour because it's hot and they get cranky," says Sylvester, 55, who brought 27 types of snakes from his Westlake Village, Calif., company Reptile Rentals. "And if a snake is stressed out, it won't eat for a week." But the Plane snakes stayed calm—if elusive. On the plane set, "at the end of the day, we'd count them all. There was always one that we'd end up finding in the seat cushions."
CHER: 1,400; SAMUEL L. JACKSON: NOT SO MANY
Sylvester, who learned to handle snakes at 16 in his native Kenya, has wrangled animals (he also specializes in tarantulas and alligators) for scores of films. His biggest cast? "For The Witches of Eastwick, we had about 1,400 snakes in the same room with Cher. She's a tough chick." Plane star Samuel L. Jackson didn't often get close to the reptiles, but not, says Sylvester, because he was scared: "His agents were fearful of losing the meal ticket!"
WHY SNAKES ON A PLANE ISN'T A DOCUMENTARY
With its mix of real snakes and CGI effects, "the movie doesn't look that realistic. Snakes never open their mouths with the hissing noise. They come up in front of you, stare and 'Whap!' they strike," he says. "They added a bit of dramatics, which is fine. It's Hollywood. If people have a problem with it, it's like, 'Get over yourself! It's Snakes on a Plane!'"