Gizmo was almost the villain in Gremlins

Gizmo, the adorable Mogwai at the center of Gremlins, was originally supposed to be far more sinister.

During a recent Q&A session (via Entertainment Weekly), Gremlins director Joe Dante revealed that Gizmo was supposed to turn into Stripe, the leader of the evil batch of gremlins in the 1984 horror-comedy. But that was until Stephen Spielberg got a glimpse of Gizmo.

"Gizmo was supposed to, in the original script, turn into Stripe, the bad Gremlin, after about 20 minutes," Dante said. "But Steven Spielberg got it into his head, after seeing all of our tests with Gizmo, that he liked Gizmo so much that he said, 'You know, we really shouldn't get rid of him. He should stick around and be the hero's pal for the entire picture.'"

The only problem was that filming was set to begin in a month and the change would mean a puppet would have to become a main character. "[It] was terrifying for us," Dante said. "We were about four weeks away from shooting, and we had no idea how to make this puppet, which was really small, carry a movie, and be a character, basically."

One of the solutions was to have Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) carry Gizmo in a backpack through much of the movie since it wasn't yet possible to make the animatronic Mogwai walk. Of course, Gizmo also got around in a stylish toy car. The technology advanced enough by 1990's Gremlins 2: The New Batch that Gizmo could move around freely.

Have more questions? Dante will be speaking at "Gremlins Rule Breakers" events from Dec. 8 through Dec. 26, which will include a screening of the cult classic along with a Q&A. Check out the full list of participating theaters.