chevy chase

Chevy Chase on AMA (and I don’t like it)!

This is Chevy Chase.
I’m here to answer any questions you have about Woody Harrelson’s movies!
And anything else I can remember about Woody.
And I’ll answer anything you ask me… except for one, that I’m not gonna tell you about.
Go ahead!
(*Victoria’s helping me out via phone)
Update: I wanna thank you for putting up with me, and my remarks, and also, I wanna thank all of the people that asked questions, because they were good questions and very interesting, and made me have to REALLY think, which is an unusual thing for me to do!
You take care Victoria.

What was the scariest thing that happened during the shooting of ‘Spies Like Us’? 3

OH MY GOODNESS, that’s a great question!
You know, we shot that in a town called Ouarzazate in the Sahara desert, just one long dirt road about 200 miles into the desert from Marrakech, and it was also a base for some of the fighting that was going on between the Morrocan army and others. And I had a Jeep, and I had to drive Danny into the desert to our set, and when we were done at the end of the day, we would have to drive back. And one time, Danny said “Hey look! Some Moroccan troops!” and took a camera out and took a photo and they SAW him – and they immediately jumped into the back of their truck and started chasing us! So I drove like a bat out of hell to this supposed hotel, and Danny and I lucked out and got into some Volkswagen bus with curtains, and we could see through the curtains, soldiers coming out with their guns, pointing around – like they didn’t want us to take their picture!
So anyway, the next morning, I had to go BACK to that set through the desert, but I was going a bit later than Danny, so he wasn’t going to drive with me, and I got there, and got into my trailer, and the director of the movie came in and said “I guess you heard about Danny” and I said “What?” and he said “He’s in a prison on Marrakech.”
And I couldn’t believe it and he said “I’m afraid you’ll probably be going too” and then he left my trailer. And I took out a photo of my wife and children, and sort of cheered up, alone in my trailer, frightened, until Danny came to the trailer, with a big laugh and a “haha” joke.
So nothing came of it – he had just scared me, but I thought the soldiers got him and put him in jail!

I grew up outside of Chevy Chase, MD and as a young child I always imagined they named the city after you. Have they given you the keys to the city yet?

Actually they did, back in 1976 or 1977? They gave me the keys and re-named the city after me. A big proclamation, signed….That’s when I was coming off of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and was quite famous, at that time, you know. It was fun.

Why hasn’t Chevrolet come up with a Chase model?

I don’t know.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
The thing is, my name is Chevy, and their name for Chevrolet would have to be “Chevrolet.”
And also, I’d sue ’em for as much as I possibly could!

What is your relationship to your aristocratic origin?

Mom is not around any more, so I won’t get to ask her, but she was the adopted daughter of Cornelius Crane, which as you know is the first two things on my birth certificate was “Cornelius Crane Chevy Chase.” So Chevy’s really my name, but the point I’m making is that mom’s relationship to her father and also to Captain John Parker – her name was Kathleen Parker-Crane – so that goes WAY back in history – I don’t know what the aristocratic thing is, but it’s enough to say that Cornelius Crane left her nothing when he died, and he was an extremely rich man, but somehow when he got married again, to a Japanese lady who i never met, he left it all to the Zen buddhist society, and my mom was in a bad mood for the rest of her life.
What can you do?

I have read that you did not particularly enjoy your role in the show Community. Can you tell us what your experience on that show was like?

It was very taxing, because we didn’t get to move around a lot, and we would work 15, 16 hours a day sometimes, and right into early Sunday morning. So it was not easy work. I can tell ya. It’s tough to cover 8 people around a table without moving the camera, moving the camera, moving the lights, it takes FOREVER, and you have to do it over, and over, and make it look fresh, so if people realized that – it can be very taxing and very tough work.

How do you feel about the current state of SNL? Any favorite features players?

Anything that Lorne does is gonna be funny. And I don’t watch it that often, so I can’t really respond to the question of who’s on it or who isn’t on it, but i just know that I have such an infinite trust in Lorne’s judgement of good players, you know – Lorne, by the way, his worst and best qualities are firing and hiring, he can’t fire ANYBODY, but he can hire VERY well – so there are probably are a lot more cast members than there ever were! So there are 15 now, and when we just did it, there were just 7 of us.

What’s the most common movie quote that people shout at you on the street?

People say to me “I’m so-and-so and you’re not!” as opposed to me saying “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not” but that was from SNL…
And they also liked “NANANANANANANANA!”
which is out of CADDYSHACK.

Do you have any favorite holiday traditions or foods?

My wife is a great cook, she does turkeys usually, actually all the time, actually! Heritage organic turkey! And I carve, which I’ve learned. And… sweet potato mallow, and stuffing… and cranberry sauce from scratch… my favorite part is the next day when I can just make turkey sandwiches for a week!

What current show would you like to guest on?

Game of Thrones!

What are some of your best memories from National Lampoon’s films?

Well, my best memory is having worked with Harold Ramis, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. He was also in GHOSTBUSTERS, but he directed me in CADDYSHACK and the original VACATION!
And he gave me the character of Clark Griswold.
And loved working with Eric Idle in EUROPEAN VACATION. When I was speaking what i thought was French to the waiter, and he was just making obscene… and working with Imogene Coca was great, because she really tied me into – and I’d worked with Sid Caesar too, but i really grew up on him, so it was terrific. I loved the scene, I think my favorite scene of all of ’em, is the scene between me and Jim Teach who’s playing the motorcycle cop who stops my car because obviously I’ve killed the dog, hahaha! And then he’s very upset, he says because the leash has been trailing behind us, he stops me and he says “You should be ashamed sir, step out of the car” and I say “I can’t believe I did that, I would never do that” and we both just go through that talk. If you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, if you haven’t, you should see it, it’s very funny.

How did you wind up in the You Can Call me Al video?

In the summers we’d go out to Easthampton, L.I., and my wife and children and I had a house there, and we don’t go there much anymore but Lorne Michaels also started coming out there, when I showed him where to go, and Paul Simon was always going to Montauk, a little further out on the island. Paul Simon was a good friend during the making of the first year of SNL, and I was at Lorne’s house out there, and he said “Have you heard Paul’s new album GRASSLAND?” and I said “no!” it was just the first test pressing, it wasn’t released yet.
And he said “We’re going to do a video of “you can call me Al” and our first version didn’t work too well, and I think you should do it with Paul and you should sing.”
So within a couple days, I just learned the song and we went in there to shoot it for next to nothing, while other people were shooting videos that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And it came out tongue in cheek, and very funny because i’m tall, he’s short, and he’s hilarious in that! He’s a very good physical comic too!

Is there still a feud between you and Bill Murray?

No! I had Bill tied up with a phone cord, so he can’t swing a golf club at me anymore, hahaha! He invites me to play golf with him, but he’s so good, I don’t even see him after the first hole – he’s usually WAY at the 9th hole, too far for me to catch up!
We’re friends.
I think he’s remarkable – and by the way, I just St. Vincent with Billy in it, and I thought That’s an Oscar caliber performance, really great. So it’s nice to see his growth, and it’s nice not to have to smell his breath.

What was your experience like making Fletch?

I loved making FLETCH. Probably was my second most favorite movie to make, just because I was allowed to make up so much of the dialogue. I can’t even remember learning any dialogue! I was just given the right by Michael Ritchie, a terrific director who’s passed away, I’m sad to say, but he let me just go. And that’s why I had such a good time doing it, and you know, looking back on that, I don’t think I’ve ever been funnier in some ways!

What’s your favorite book?

Moby Dick!

This article makes it sound like you were a real jerk on the set of SNL. What is your side of the story?

Well, I don’t know who that guy is, but obviously he was a jerk, because i was never a jerk on the set of SNL. I loved it so much and had SO much to do – both writing and acting – and I loved everybody on that show. Only John Belushi got angry with me, because I became a star before he did :), but we’d worked together before John and I, when he was the star on an off-broadway show. But I don’t know where that comes from. But people are always gonna start rumors or say mean things about other people, just so they can ask such a question I guess. I don’t know.
Anyway: I’ve never been a jerk on anything. It wouldn’t do me any good! And it’s just not in my nature.

Do you have any funny stories from the set of Caddyshack?

throaty laugh
Let’s see now… All I can think of is Billy Murray holding up that candy bar in the pool!

You have this very unique way of using your face, which is very hard to describe, but is most famously seen in the SNL bits where you would sit behind somebody and mimic them behind their backs. Another thing you do, while saying your lines, is randomly pulling faces which makes for really odd line readings. It’s one of the things that makes you stand out and I’ve never seen anyone else do that. Who or where were you influenced by in that regard?

Um, you know, that’s so funny! There’s a term for that that i learned in college – it became a term in college – for anybody who could get behind a professor, and make the strangest faces AT him without being seen BY him while he’s talking to another student, and seeing if you could break up another student without getting caught.
It was “harshing.”
And that’s what i was doing on WEEKEND UPDATE, later, when they first did an editorial I believe, I would just back off a little bit and just start harshing her! Jane wouldn’t be able to see it, she knew I was doing it, but she wouldn’t let on. And she tried to catch me. And I would always wipe back to a straight face.

Of all the roles you’ve ever played on screen, which was your favorite? Why?

It’s very hard to choose.
Because I’ve enjoyed all of them, really!
There’s a movie that never really did big in terms of its receipts, but it was called “Funny Farm,” and in some ways, it may be my best performance. It was very real and very fun. I think it’s because also it had the great director George Roy Hill. He directed me in that.

What is your favourite memory of Gilda?

My favorite memory is Gilda eating EVERY KNOWN candy you could buy in a candy store – she LOVED that. And she also, I have to say, was a great, great physical comedian. one of the funniest things i ever saw was a scene with her and Belushi, they had known each other before at Second City, and in this particular sketch, he’s directing her and a man in a movie, and something goes wrong with the man, his lines or something, John would yell “CUT!” and he’d go talk to the guy, but if anything went wrong with Gilda, he’d slap her as hard as he could, and she’d go plunging to the wall, and she’d make it look like she was hit with a brick…She was SO good at making you believe in Gilda, as a human being, as a real human being she was one of the nicest ladies I ever knew.

Do you have a favourite memory of Richard Pryor?

OH MY GOSH. I think that there will never be anybody as funny as a standup, because he was so ACTIVE on the stage. And he did so many great impressions of real people, you know? Like the guy from the bar, all that stuff, and Richard and I were very good friends, I loved working with him, it enabled me to write one of the least attractive sketches on SNL, which was called “Job Application,” in which I’m asking him a few questions as he’s applied for a job, but all of my questions just break down into… what’s the word? They all just become more and more racist, you know, and this is just a word association test Mr. Pryor or whatever your name is, so if I say “apple,” you say “house,” hahaha! So we went from there, and all the words i came up with were very edgy words, starting out not too bad and getting really bad, and Richard had to come back with a word every time I said a word and the funny thing was, talking to Richard while we were writing the sketch, he couldn’t really come up with that many words. There just weren’t that many words for white people, and it was a very telling thing, because that still exists in our society.
But the fact that Richard had no prejudice of any kind… he was a great comedian, a great comic actor. And it was telling that he held no prejudicial beliefs.

Have you ever had any strange fan encounters?

Um, I think most of my fans are strange, really?
I met the second man on the moon – Buzz Aldrin – and he was laughing at my name, and I was laughing at his!
But we’re both fans of each other.
That’s pretty cool.
And of course, when I met John Cleese, I almost threw myself at him!
There was a time when I was on SNL that people were referring to me as “The American John Cleese” and I was always very flattered by that. But when I did meet him, it was terrific. We were about the same height, and we were both as annoyed as each other as we wanted to be.

Is it true that you were not really a big fan of The Three Amigos? What about it made it such a challenge?

Actually, it’s not true that I wasn’t a fan! I was a HUGE fan of the Three Amigos! It was probably the most fun movie I ever made, with Steve Martin and Martin Short – so I don’t know where that came from!
Hahaha – it was hard NOT to laugh with those two! They were too funny! That was the biggest challenge – not cracking up.

What is your favorite Rodney Dangerfield memory?

We never had one. HAHAHAHA!
My favorite Rodney memory – sorry, I can’t tell you. It’s filthy.

What is John Carpenter like as a director?

He had a distinct flavor about him.
Very good director.
Somewhat moody, and also, you know, I think any movie that he directs somehow turns into complete horror! that’s his best genre, hahah! It was good to work with the guy on that particular picture – they cut the horror out of it.

How would you feel about returning back to Community permanently, not just for 1 or 2 appearances?

I feel like I’ve been there and done that? And the show probably has a different shape, feel, and is going on its own good merits.

Have you always wanted to be a comedian?

No, I come from a very funny dad, and I’ve always wanted to be like him, although he was not a comedian, he was a writer and a publisher and an editor. And it’s just – it seems to be that people who call themselves comedians aren’t generally that funny. I don’t think of myself as one. I think of myself as a guy who gets lucky and is funny. And most of it’s very physical frankly, right down to moving an eyebrow. Whatever that is, it’s physical.
It takes a certain amount of athleticism.

How did you go from Cornelius to Chevy?

It’s just a nickname that my grandma on the other side of family – my dad’s side – named me 2 days after I was born. She couldn’t stand the idea of being named “Corny” or “Neil” and she wasn’t from the aristocracy that my mother was from. She was my dad’s mom, and she lived up in Woodstock where i grew up most of the time I was in New York, and my granddad was a painter, and they were simple wonderful people. Very loving and lovely. So she made me Chevy. And that stuck.

What projects are you currently working on? Any new movies, comedy or drama, coming out next year?

Yes, there will be 2 things coming out I believe, and I’ll be working with Beverly D’Angelo on a half-hour sitcom that we’re gonna do. But we’re not gonna be Clark & Ellen – we can’t be the Griswolds – but we won’t stray far from it.

What’s your favourite kind of vacation?

Um… we like to go to, you know, in the winter sometimes, we do one of two things: go skiing (which we love) or get down to the islands, you know? In the caribbean. Those are both great. And to be able to afford to do that is a real wonderful thing, that we can.

What advice would you give to someone getting into the entertainment business?

Well, my advice is always WRITE.
People who want to get into show business -first of all, your imagination is the most important part of you in show business. And you also write best for yourself in many ways, when you’re starting out.
So that’s my advice.

Where did the idea for the the three amigos come from?

The idea came from the 3 Caballeros. It was Steve Martin’s idea, along with Randy Newman, who also wrote the song The Three Amigos! He’s a very funny man, and a very funny writer, and of course, Steve is one of my best friends and I love what he comes up with, he’s a very multitalented man.