Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.
The actor: Corey Feldman’s acting career began in the ’70s, when his successful stint as a child actor found him making a flurry of appearances in commercials, TV series, and movies, but it was a trifecta of films during the mid-’80s—The Goonies, Stand By Me, and The Lost Boys—that transformed him into one of the decade’s most recognizable teen actors. Although his career has featured the same ebbs and flows as any actor, Feldman continues to work steadily and can be seen in 6 Degrees Of Hell, now available on DVD.
6 Degrees Of Hell (2012)—“Kyle Brenner”
The A.V. Club: How did you find your way into this film?
Corey Feldman: Basically, we just got an offer. As these things usually tend to go these days, my manager gets a script and an offer, and we take a look at it. If it makes sense and it’s something that seems intriguing, then I’ll get involved in it. The thing that piqued my curiosity about this project was not really so much the character but more the plotline and some of the subtext of the script. And it kind of had a third living character outside of the cast, the place where it was set, the Hotel of Horror. That really took on a life and a character of its own, and I think that’s the real star of the film. The rest of it relies on that, because it’s all about the experiences that these people go through. But at the same time, it’s such a great opportunity for cross-promoting and marketing to have this museum-type establishment where people are visiting from all over the world. It creates an opportunity for fans to have a very virtual-type experience where it’s beyond just going to a movie. They can go see the movie, they can fall in love with the characters in the movie, all the bad guys, and then they can go take the tour through the Hotel of Horror, and you can actually see all those same characters come to life. It creates a very surreal, existential type of experience.
AVC: You’ve certainly done plenty of horror films in your career. Are you a fan of the genre, or have you just gotten the hang of it after so many years?
CF: You know, I used to like ’em a lot more when I was a kid. As a kid, I liked the Halloween movies and Nightmare On Elm Street and all that kind of stuff. But as an adult, I really don’t watch much horror, to be honest. I mean, I like a good thrill. Thrillers are my favorite. I like stuff that keeps you on the edge of your seat or maybe makes you jump. But what I don’t like is the gore. I don’t like gratuitous violence and killing and all that kind of stuff. So it’s kind of an interesting paradox. I’m a guy who’s all about peace, love, and happiness. [Laughs.] I’m a bit of a hippie. And yet I’m in all these slasher films. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
Time After Time (1979)—“Boy at museum”
Zombex (2011)—“Dr. Jamison”
CF: Okay, I don’t really remember much from that one day on Time After Time, to be honest with you. [Laughs.] I was 5 years old or something like that. All I really remember from the experience was that I had no idea what the movie was about or anything. I just knew that I was on the set, and these people were dressed in some very strange clothes, and this guy who was supposed to be the star of the movie was a very bizarre guy. Everything just seemed very surreal, because everybody was in this clothing fashioned to look like the 1800s and stuff. It was a bit overwhelming as a kid. But I did get a chance to work with Malcolm McDowell, at whatever miniscule level, when he was at the peak of his career. And, ironically, I’ve got a film coming out this year with Malcolm McDowell again. Now we’ve done two brief scenes together. [Laughs.] But in this one, at least we’re both adults. It’s a movie called Zombex that’s kind of a cult-horror thing. So there you go.
AVC: In regards to your early career, your first acting role was reportedly a McDonald’s commercial when you were 3 years old, but how did you find your way into acting in the first place? Was it something that your parents suggested, or was it a case where 3-year-old you actually said, “I want to be an actor”?
CF: Well, at 3 years old, kids don’t really find their way into anything or make any type of decisions. At 3 years old, it’s called child slavery, and that’s what I endured: child slavery. So I was a slave child who got very fortunate in his early career… or I guess my parents got very fortunate, I should say. And through the success that I established as a child, I was able to somehow grasp whatever I was doing, and I had some sort of talent for it and ended up making a career out of it. But I think it was all meant to be. I believe that things happen for a reason. I think there are no coincidences in life, so obviously it was meant to be that I was there, but I wouldn’t say it was my choice. I would say that it was just the path that was laid out before me.
I had a very rough and tumultuous childhood. I often wish that I had the opportunity to make my own choices in life and choose my own path. But at the same time, I realize that things happen the way they’re supposed to. Therefore as a teenager—when it was far too late for me to go back and there was really nothing that I could do other than embrace it or hide my head in the sand for the rest of my life, because I couldn’t walk anywhere on Earth without being recognized—I finally decided to embrace it and take it as a serious business and a career. And that’s where we are today.
Dream A Little Dream (1989)—“Bobby Keller”
AVC: Is there a particular film that you can look back on and say, “That’s when I first started taking things seriously”?
CF: [Long pause.] Probably Dream A Little Dream, I would say. That would probably be a turning point for me. … It was and still is one of my favorite films that I’ve ever done. I was very young, and Meredith [Salenger] and I were flirting the whole time and had a great time, and Corey [Haim] and I were best friends and nemeses at the same time. He had his camp, and I had mine. I kind of felt like this wasn’t really a “two Coreys” movie. It was my movie. And he kind of got lucky and got the part because his girlfriend auditioned for the movie. No, I think what happened was that they said they were going to use her if he was willing to do it, too. So he came along to make sure that she got the job. That’s what happened.
AVC: Who was his girlfriend at the time?
CF: Lala Sloatman, who was Frank Zappa’s niece. Yeah, her actual name was Laura Sloatman, but she went by Lala Zappa.
AVC: Because why wouldn’t you?
CF: [Laughs.] Well, when you’re part of that family, I suppose you can pretty much do anything you want. Anyway, she went for the part of my girlfriend, ironically, but she said, “Well, my real boyfriend is Corey Haim, and if you want, I could probably get him to jump on in.” So that’s kind of what happened. He was the co-star of the movie, but it wasn’t really set up as a “two Coreys” movie. Although none of them were. By our estimation, they never were, anyway. They all kind of happened haphazardly. But I’m sure the studios were well aware of what they were devising.
AVC: You actually have a credit as a choreographer on the film.
CF: Yep! I choreographed my dance scene.
AVC: Was that something that came about spontaneously on the set?
CF: No. It was quite known that I was famous for being able to dance like Michael Jackson at that time, and the director said, “I really want to find a way to throw this in here. I was thinking about doing a scene in this auditorium where we could do this dance number, and I’d love to see you dancing down the stairs.” And I said, “Well, I don’t know how I’m going to dance down the stairs, because you can’t really do too much that looks cool going down stairs without tripping and falling and killing yourself.” It wasn’t even stairs. It was bleachers. But he said, “Well, we don’t want it to look too good.” His main focus—which really upset me, because I took my dancing very seriously—was keeping the character intact by making it look like I was an old man who suddenly had a young body. And, yes, the kid may have known how to dance, but the old man hasn’t danced in that style. So we had to put forth the idea that this guy was suddenly using his body in a way that he’d never been able to do before. So that’s what we created with that scene, and that became the main scene from the movie. I mean, that’s the one that everyone remembers: me dancing down the bleachers. It’s just ironic that it all played out the way it did.
As a matter of fact, I remember actually watching that scene with Michael Jackson and Corey Haim. Years after the movie came out, Corey and I went and visited Michael up at Neverland, and whenever I would go there, he would say, “Whatever movies you want to watch over the weekend, just send me a list, and I’ll have my film guys book those films so we can watch ’em in the theater.” So the film that we chose was Dream A Little Dream, because we wanted him to see it. I remember we were all sitting in his theater watching it, and he was just tripping out during the whole thing. [Laughs.] It was kind of wild.
Dream A Little Dream 2 (1995)—“Bobby Keller”
AVC: How do you rate the sequel?
CF: I mean, I like it as a movie. It’s just not really a sequel. As its own movie, it’s okay. It’s a nice little caper movie. But, yeah, it’s not Dream A Little Dream 2, as far as I’m concerned. But it did have the two Coreys, and we did play the characters. I guess in our own way it was the best that we could do, given that we weren’t given the creative control to do what we wanted.
AVC: Although you were a co-producer on the film. Or at least you were credited as one.
CF: No, I was. But what “co-producer” means is that I can certainly give some input, but believe me, if I wouldn’t have given at least that much, there would’ve been no trace of anything to do with the original movie. It was through my persistence that we were able to work in the storylines of Coleman [Jason Robards’ character], with the glasses having something to do with Coleman, and all that kind of stuff. And keeping the consistency of the characters, like Corey—Dinger—having a sister. Otherwise, it’d just have been these two characters that had the same name but with no traces back to the original script at all.
Edge Of Honor (1991)—“Butler”
AVC: Prior to Dream A Little Dream 2, you did your first work behind the camera as a producer on Edge Of Honor.
CF: Um, yeah, I guess I did. But I was an associate producer, and it was really title-only at that time. I think it was mainly a way to sort of funnel money around because, with whatever their contracts were with SAG, they could only pay me X amount of dollars, so they said, “Oh, well, we can get you a producing credit, and we can pay you that way.” So I said, “Okay!” But that wasn’t really a producing vehicle for me. Basically, the first movie I ever really produced was Dream A Little Dream 2.
The Fox And The Hound (1981)—“Young Copper”
CF: You’re going back to things that I just don’t have much memory of.
AVC: It just seemed that perhaps it might’ve stood out, given that it was your first voiceover work.
CF: Right, it was. But you’re asking me to pull from things that are basically a lifetime ago.
The Bad News Bears (1979-1980)—“Regi Tower”
The Love Boat (1979, 1982) —“Charlie Hanrahan” / “Mike”
Mork & Mindy (1980)—“Billy”
AVC: So is there anything from that late-’70s/early-’80s era that stands out as something you’re particularly proud of?
CF: Um… no. [Laughs.] Not really. I wouldn’t even know what most of that work was, to be honest. The only things that I’ve actually seen in the last 25 years have been the episodes of Mork & Mindy and the episodes of Love Boat that I did. Robin Williams was great. We had a lot of fun together. There was this immediate thing where… I guess this still happens in my life, where people seem to gravitate toward me. With Robin, I was just one of many kids that came through that show, but for whatever reason we connected, and he kind of took me under his wing a little bit, and then they put me in the very next episode because of the relationship that Robin and I had kind of forged. But I did over a hundred episodes of shows, so I have no idea what most of that work even looks like.
AVC: Nothing on Bad News Bears, then?
CF: Well, I’ve got recollections. It was fun being a kid, working with kids, doing a show about baseball and little league. That was fun. I made some great friendships out of it, and there are people from that show that I still talk to today. But that’s about the extent of it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)—“Donatello”
CF: Well, the first one, that was, honestly, not much work. [Laughs.] I was not much involved in the first one. When they first showed me the film, I thought it was, like, a jumpy little independent movie that probably wasn’t going to see the light of day. But I decided it might be pretty good for the kids, so I jumped in and did it, anyway. I watched the film, I watched the character and created a voice, and that was it. But I was going through a very dark time in my life at the time, so I don’t think I was too engaged in it. It was very far removed, and I really didn’t expect it to see the light of day. And when it became the biggest independent film in the history of cinema, I think it was very shocking to all of us.
And then when the second movie came around, I was busy getting my life together and really didn’t have time to deal with it. Plus, I heard they had Vanilla Ice in it, and I was, like, “Yeah, no, that’s cool, I’ll pass.” [Laughs.] But then they came around for the third one and asked me to come back, and by this time I was sober and I had my life a little bit more together, so I said, “Okay, now I can do it, and I’ll do it the right way.” So I came in, and I was very involved with the third one. I was the one who basically said, “If you want to make this real, if you want to make this authentic, you should have the actors who play the Turtles get together before you shoot the film, to rewrite the script and make it our own. Then, when you go and you shoot the film, you’ll have our voice track there as a blueprint to work the puppets off of instead of the other way around.” So that’s what they did, and what that bought us was a lot more humor and a lot more depth to the characters, and it made it feel a lot more organic. The characters were actually relating to each other, rather than just a bunch of puppets talking. Although the third film may not have been as good as the first film, from a comedy standpoint I think it was better.
The Lost Boys (1987)—“Edgar Frog”
CF: Well, I’d say that Edgar Frog is certainly the most prominent character I’ve ever played, in the sense that it’s something I created as a child. I was 15 years old, but I was given the task by Joel Schumacher to create a character based on a series of action films. He said, “Go look at the Rambo films, go look at Chuck Norris’s films, go look at Bruce Lee’s films—all the action heroes of our time—and then mold a character based on different aspects of all those characters you see.” And then he asked me to grow my hair long and make this kind of young punk action hero. So I said, “Okay, great!”
I went out and created Edgar Frog, and [Schumacher] introduced me to Jamison Newlander, who was to play the other Frog brother, and he’d given him some advice. And when Jamison and I met for the first time, I said to him, “Listen, this is how we’re gonna play this: The only way this is gonna work is if you stay with me 100 percent. If you stray from this mission at any time, if you break the deadpan, if you break the seriousness of what we believe in, then it’s gonna lose the whole thing, because the only way it works is if we’re in the same exact mind space all the way through.” So he agreed with me—he’s a fantastic actor—and that’s what we did. We came in for the final audition, and we read together, and we played those roles and we blew Joel out of the water.
Although I’d done interesting takes on characters with Stand By Me and Goonies and Gremlins and all those movies before that, Lost Boys was the first time where I felt like I really created a character, where I really removed myself entirely from it and just became somebody else. And I had so much fun doing that that I decided I wanted to do it several more times, obviously. [Laughs.]
Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008) / Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010)—“Edgar Frog”
CF: Going back into it for the newer films was very joyful for me. I had a lot of fun with them. I enjoyed the second one, but I really enjoyed making the third one especially, because I had more creative input, and I certainly was much more involved in the aspects of making that film as an executive producer, actor, and even including some of my music from my band, Truth Movement.
I’ll never forget the feeling of being up in Vancouver, Canada, and putting on the Edgar Frog outfit for the first time again and looking at myself in the mirror. I’d just grown my hair out and—the hair in all three of the films is mine, by the way. [Laughs.] I know there was some confusion, because we shot the second one during The Two Coreys, and they showed the clips on the set where I’m putting a wig on, but that’s because we were going back and doing a pickup shoot for an additional scene so that we could get Corey into the movie. That one scene is the only scene I’m wearing a wig in, the scene of him and I on the beach at the end of the movie. All the rest of it was my own hair.
But the first time I went back to it… I’ve got the hair back, same color and same length, I put on those clothes, and I looked in the mirror, and everybody’s jaws dropped, and they said, “Oh, my God, you haven’t changed. You look exactly the same.” And I looked in the mirror, and I was, like, “I do look the same. Nothing has changed.” But then you look at Corey, and it was like he was a completely different person. I remember that was just a very eye-opening experience for me.
Blown Away (1993)—“Wes”
AVC: You obviously did several films with Corey Haim, but Blown Away stands out as being the most unabashedly adult film of the bunch.
CF: Yeah, that was intentional. It was basically our version of Basic Instinct. That’s what the intention was. And I think it worked well, because it took us immediately from being little kids to going, “Here they are in a sexy adult movie!”
AVC: As a film, did you think it worked?
CF: I loved it, so, yeah. I think it’s a really good film.
Robot Chicken (2006)—Himself
AVC: You guys also reunited to do an episode of Robot Chicken. Were you fans of the show already, or did Seth Green just reach out and ask you to do it?
CF: Well, I’m a fan of the show, but Seth came to us and asked us if we would do it. He’d been asking for years, and we both said, “Well, maybe we’ll do something one day. We’ll see what happens.” But then the timing worked out, and there you go.
Meatballs 4 (1992)—“Ricky Wade”
AVC: As amazing as it may sound to anyone who hasn’t seen it, there’s a scene from Meatballs 4 on YouTube featuring you and Jack Nance that, if you didn’t know its origins, you could easily be convinced was from some lost ’90s drama.
CF: Actually, I can explain that: The movie that we were making wasn’t the movie that they ended up marketing and promoting. That’s why you noticed the, uh, extreme difference in what you were watching. [Laughs.] Because when I agreed to do that movie, I agreed to do a movie called Happy Campers, which was kind of a romantic comedy, but it was a comedy-drama as well. A regular comedy but with some hard-hitting, serious moments. Kind of a Happy Gilmore/Billy Madison vibe, where it’s very funny, tongue-in-cheek, but then there’s also the seriousness of the implications of the plotline and all that. It would’ve actually been a pretty good movie on its own merits.
But unbeknownst to us on the set, as we were in the process of making the film, the producers decided to go out and make a deal with HBO to run it as a first-run feature, and they said that the only way that they would want to do that was if it was a franchise movie. So they said, “Well, what kind of franchises do you have available?” “Hey, how about Meatballs? We can call it a Meatballs movie!” “Okay, great!” They literally made the decision to make it Meatballs 4 after we were already on set. As I’m sure you would be aware from looking over my career, a third sequel to a movie that I was never involved with originally is not really something that I would jump into. [Laughs.] So I never signed up to do Meatballs 4, nor would I have signed up to do Meatballs 4. I was completely swindled on that one.
AVC: Do you at least have fond recollections of working with Jack Nance?
CF: Jack was great. Actually, Jack and I also did a drama together. I don’t know which one was first, but we did another film together called Voodoo. Do you know which one was first or second?
AVC: Voodoo was second.
CF: Meatballs was our first one, so on Meatballs we were just getting to know each other, and we were both sober. We were both 12-step recovery people. I found that very appealing, because I was just fresh out of rehab, which is part of the reason I got swindled on it. It was also because I didn’t have all my business savvy yet. I was still a kid, and I was still trying to figure out how to be a man in the business world and be responsible and take care of my own business, vs. letting my parents dealing with it and that kind of stuff. But being newly sober, it was very frustrating to try and assimilate what exactly was expected of me as a sober individual on a movie set. It was a new experience. And Jack was great, because he had been sober for many years, and he really had it together and he was a super-nice guy.
He would tell me all these stories about how he was messed up, and he had done so much work with David Lynch. He said, “Literally, there was a point when I was walking, stumbling down Hollywood Boulevard in my rags with no shoes on, stinking of alcohol and unshaved, and I look up at the marquee, and there’s a movie with my name over the title. Then I’d walk down the street, and a few buildings later I see another movie that I’m in. There were three movies playing on the same block and I’m in all of them, and here I am, this raging alcoholic looking like a homeless man. Nobody would know if they ran into me that I was actually a guy who was starring in all of these movies.” That was kind of what made us hit it off and have the connection that we did.
As an actor, he was brilliant. He had such a dynamic performance in everything he did. Sometimes to the extreme, to where he was such an oddball that he literally seemed like he was overacting much of the time. But a lot of that came from the fact that… I mean, when you start your career as Eraserhead, and your entire career is based on doing the obscure and avant-garde type films that he did, that makes it really hard to wrangle yourself into a “normal” movie, which is basically what he had to do for Meatballs 4. I was very sad about the way his life ended. Just a sad, sad story.
New Found Glory’s “Hit Or Miss” video (1999)—“Officer Corey Feldman”
Moby’s “We Are All Made of Stars” video (2002)—himself
Neon Trees’ “1983” video (2010)—himself
Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” video (2011)—“Mr. Terry / Katy’s Dad”
AVC: How did you end up in the video for Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”?
CF: Katy just called and asked if I’d be interested in doing it, and I knew that she was a great pop artist with a blossoming, up-and-coming career, so I said, “Okay, let’s do it!”
AVC: You’ve been in other videos as well, going back to the first version of New Found Glory’s “Hit Or Miss.” Was that another case where they called you up?
CF: Yeah, they came to me. I get a lot of requests on a daily basis. Everybody wants me to do this or do that. It just kind of seems never-ending with people having requests. And sometimes I’ll do them, but, like, just recently I was asked to do Calvin Harris’s new video, but at the time I was like, “Well, I don’t really know his music, so I’m not really a fan of his work.” Basically, I didn’t really know who he was, so I said no.
Stand By Me (1986)—“Teddy Duchamp”
AVC: There had to have been quite a few young actors in the running for that film. How did you find your way into the mix?
CF: Yeah, it was a mad casting call, with thousands of kids. It was when I was working on The Goonies. We were doing the ADR on the movie, which was, like, a six-month schedule. I think it was the longest ADR schedule in the history of film. [Laughs.] Okay, actually, it was only six weeks, but that’s still an incredibly long time to spend on an ADR stage. The original cut of the film was seven hours long! Anyway, when I got the call to read for The Body, which is what Stand By Me was originally called, I went in and auditioned like everybody else, and I literally just went through the process and got the part like anybody else. But when Rob Reiner chose me, he said that when he met me and looked into my eyes, the thing that he connected with was the fact that I had such an incredible amount of pain in my eyes. He said he didn’t think that there was any other young actor my age that could’ve had the reality of that amount of pain in their eyes when they were reading the lines.
AVC: So did you guys bond relatively well on the set? You obviously had semi-shared experiences, in that you were all young actors.
CF: We all got along very well, and Rob and I got along well. We had our share of disagreements, I’m sure, but for the most part it was a great relationship. We didn’t see each other for many years, and then we reconnected for the promotion of the 25th-anniversary Blu-ray, and it was great. It was, like, catching up on Old Home Week.
Sliders (1996)—“Reed Michener”
AVC: Ten years after Stand By Me, you re-teamed with Jerry O’Connell to do an episode of Sliders, a subtle but sweet nod to your past work together when your characters part ways.
CF: I’d gotten the offer and I don’t do a lot of TV. Every once in a blue moon, I’ll do an episodic appearance, and I’ve done a few TV series, but they’ve been, uh, very short-lived. [Laughs.] It seems that my TV life is always kind of in the blink of an eye, as opposed to my film career. But when I got the offer to do it, I thought, “Oh, it’s really great that Jerry’s grown up, he’s become this good-looking guy, and he’s so far from the character he once played,” and I remember being really excited about the opportunity to work with him again. And as it’s turned out, aside from doing Lost Boys with Kiefer [Sutherland], I think Jerry and I working together on Sliders is the only time that anyone from the Stand By Me cast worked together again.
Maverick (1994)—“Bank Robber”
CF: Ooooooookay. [Laughs.] Man, you’re asking about some very random stuff.
AVC: Hey, it’s called Random Roles for a reason.
CF: Yeah, but they’re such brief moments in my life, so there’s not a whole lot of reflection I can offer. [Laughs.] You have to understand that, after a 37-year career with films where I spent six months on ’em vs. a couple of hours on a set, I don’t have a lot of memories of the latter.
AVC: I was mostly curious about how that one came about because of the fact that it was such a small part.
CF: Well, that was because of my relationship with Richard Donner [who also directed The Goonies]. Dick is like a father to me. Originally they wanted me to play one of the poker players at the table, but… I don’t know, it was apparently something to do with Mel Gibson. He didn’t think I had the right look for that part. So Dick wanted to still throw me in there, even though Mel apparently didn’t agree, so whatever. [Laughs.] Mel didn’t really want me for the role that Dick wanted me for, and Mel wasn’t, like, directing it or anything—I’m not even sure if he was a producer or anything on it—but I do know that they gave him an incredible amount of power, and he made me come in and audition for it, and then he didn’t give me the job. Oh, well, turnabout is fair play. Karma and all that.
Tales From The Crypt (1994)—“Todd”
Tales From The Crypt: Bordello Of Blood (1996)—“Caleb Verdoux”
CF: There you go. That one I remember. [Laughs.]
AVC: You mentioned earlier that you’re not a huge fan of horror, but Tales From The Crypt is more tongue-in-cheek than proper horror.
CF: Yeah, that’s different. I like horror-comedies. In fact, if you look at 90 percent of the horror films that I’ve got in my repertoire—Lost Boys, Gremlins, even Puppet Master [Vs. Demonic Toys]—they’re horror-comedies and not just horror films. Most of them have a comedic edge, which is really how I prefer it. I like the idea of building the suspense and taking it all the way up to the very last second with the suspense, and right when you think you can’t take it anymore, then you come in with the joke and kind of break the tension. To me, that’s the best kind of film. I like thrillers, so thrillers with comedy, to me, is always the best.
AVC: Dennis Miller isn’t exactly renowned for his acting. How was he to work with? Did you get the feeling he was trying to take it seriously?
CF: Not at all. Dennis Miller was the biggest dick I’ve ever worked with in the history of my career. He was terrible to the crew, treated people like shit, very disrespectful, very snobby. People would say “good morning” to him, and he would just ignore them or walk past them and grunt or something. He was just very rude. Actually, we got in a fight because of the way he was treating people; I couldn’t stand to watch it. When I’m on a set, I feel like we’re all there together, we’re a team, we’re there working as a family, and no one person is higher than another. They always do the star trip, like, “This star’s got the bigger trailer, that star’s got more assistants,” or whatever, but to me that’s all just a bunch of ego bullshit, and I don’t buy into it. I don’t play that whole game. For me, as long as I’ve got nice quarters to relax in between shots… We’re all there to work, so it’s a dig-in-and-put-your-nose-to-the-grindstone kind of thing. And Dennis Miller was the opposite of that.
He literally was not only just rude and disrespectful to everybody, but he was doing crazy things like… I remember one day he stole a van from the transportation department in Vancouver and just decided to take off and drive around because he didn’t feel like being on the set anymore. Now, anybody who knows anything about the movie industry knows, “Don’t fuck with the Teamsters.” [Laughs.] You can do anything you want, but don’t fuck with the Teamsters. And that’s exactly what he did. I could go on and on about it, but the bottom line is that I was a huge fan of Dennis Miller’s when I took that project on, I was very excited about the opportunity to work with him, and it was really my first lesson in learning that it’s sometimes best to leave people on the screen. When you get to meet them and get to know them and find out who they really are, it’s very disheartening. Dennis Miller was definitely my slap in the face to that cold, hard reality.
The other thing was that when he went out there to promote the film, he didn’t even do good by the promotion. He literally went on the late-night talk shows and said, “Don’t go see this film, because it sucks!” I mean, he killed the box office singlehandedly. But the movie itself I actually really enjoyed. I thought that Angie [Everhart] was great, Erika Eleniak was great, Chris Sarandon was great. There were a lot of great actors, which definitely gave it the support that Dennis was lacking. And the film overall, the writing, the direction… Gilbert Adler did a great job directing it. I thought it was very funny. I love the Tales From The Crypt franchise because, again, it’s the comedy-horror thing which I think works so well. I really enjoyed doing the episodic version, the television series. And I think I would’ve had a lot more fun doing that film if anybody else was playing the lead role.
The ’Burbs (1989)—“Ricky Butler”
AVC: If working with Tom Hanks was anything other than the antithesis of working with Dennis Miller, maybe you should keep it to yourself.
CF: [Laughs.] Tom was great. He is a total professional, always 100-percent dedicated to his job. A sweetheart of a guy. It was right as his career was starting to peak, right when the whole thing really broke loose. He was either on the cover of Time Magazine or Rolling Stone right around then, and he was just having monstrous success because of Big. Big had just been out in theaters and was this huge hit, and The ’Burbs was the next film he did after that. So he was huge at the time, but he couldn’t have been more of a gentleman. Great to work with as an actor and a great guy to be around.
AVC: Do you have any Brother Theodore stories?
CF: Not many. He didn’t really speak English all that well. But we had fun with the fact that he was just so grumpy and angry all the time. My whole thing is that whenever I find people like that, I usually try to make them laugh. Which is what I tried to do with Dennis Miller. I tried to make him laugh a couple of times, but when he threatened violence, I was like, “Okay, I think I’m done trying to make you laugh.”
AVC: It was one of the short-lived series you mentioned earlier, but at least you can say you worked with both Bosom Buddies.
CF: Yeah, that was another great project. Boy, we formed a family so quickly on that show. And Peter Scolari was amazing. Such a pleasure to work with him. Really, really sweet and talented guy. But everybody on that cast, we immediately formed a bond and became a family, and even though it was short-lived. We shot 10 episodes, and I remember when they made the announcement that we were getting canceled. It was on Halloween night, and we had to go out there and face the audience and do our very last show. We were all, like, crying backstage; we were all so sad. I mean, seriously, all of us really felt like we’d found a home, and we were just so sad that we were going to have to leave each other the next day.
AVC: Did the experience sour you on TV, or do you still keep an eye out for another series?
CF: I always keep my options open. I always say, “Make me an offer and send me the script, and if it’s something that I can connect to or relate to…” The character has to intrigue me, and the project overall has to intrigue me. And if it all lines up properly, then we can get into the business side of it. But it’s always about the creative first.
The Goonies (1985)—“Mouth”
AVC: The Goonies must rival The Lost Boys as the film in your back catalog with the biggest cult following.
CF: I’d say Goonies is bigger, actually. [Laughs.] The Goonies is now thought of as the biggest film in the history of Warner Bros. family films. I’m not joking. It’s apparently bigger than Willy Wonka [And The Chocolate Factory], bigger than The Wizard of Oz… or that’s what they told us, anyway. It’s the No. 1 top-selling family film in their catalog.
AVC: Which is particularly remarkable when you consider that it wasn’t that big a deal when it first came out. Certainly not compared to some of its box-office peers.
CF: Yeah, I agree with you. When it came out, it seemed like it was a success—it was No. 1 at the box office—but it wasn’t, like, the biggest movie of the year or anything. But as it’s grown through the years, much like Wizard Of Oz and Willy Wonka, it’s one of those movies that’s not only stood the test of time but made its mark over the course of time. It’s funny that you bring it up today, because I was driving by Warner Bros. Studios the other day on my way to do some work at another studio—they’re all kind of next to each other in Studio City—and when I drove by Warner Bros., they have a giant billboard on the side of the studio which says, “Warner Bros: Celebrating Their 90th Anniversary—90 Years of Entertainment!” And they have, like, these cubes of 20 or so different films in the picture that sort of make up what makes Warner Bros. Warner Bros., and in those 20 films, there’s Wizard Of Oz, there’s Willy Wonka, and there’s The Goonies. To me, seeing that was probably one of the proudest moments of my career. To know that out of the thousands of films that they’ve made through the years, we’re part of the top 20 that warrant a spot in that collage? There I am, in a picture of me and the rest of the kids, that’s right under the “WB” of the sign. It’s pretty astounding.
AVC: When we talked to Martha Plimpton, she said of the oft-discussed Goonies sequel, “If there hasn’t been one yet, there probably isn’t going to be one.” Where do you stand on the matter?
CF: If you ask Sean Astin, it’s definitely going to happen, if you ask Josh [Brolin] or Martha, it’s never gonna happen, and if you ask me… I say that there’s always hope until we’re all dead. [Laughs.]