The 1994 film Airheads—a comedy about rock trio The Lone Rangers, who take a radio station hostage—is one of those movies that barely made a blip at the box office, but has gained plenty of traction in the years since. So if you’re a latter-day Airheads fan who has always wondered how this movie even got made, Consequence Of Sound is here to help with an extensive oral history in honor of Airheads’ 25th anniversary.
Writer Andrew Buss talks to stars Brendan Fraser, Joe Mantegna, Michael McKean, Amy Locane, and Nina Siemaszko about the movie, as well as screenwriter Rich Wilkes and director Michael Lehmann. 20th Century Fox president Todd Baker remembers, “We were looking for comedies at the time, and it was a fantastic script. It was really funny. The idea was out there and rebellious while also sort of mainstream at the same time.” Still, Fox had its limits, as Wilkes recalls: “Adam Sandler had originally a tattoo on his neck and they were like, ‘No, we’re not going to have some dude with a tattoo on his neck. That’s way too radical.’” The studio also vetoed the band members wearing leather pants, says Wilkes: “It’s like, ‘What are you guys talking about? Have you seen a music video in the last 10 years?’” Fraser points out that he does still have his leather pants from Monkeybone.
There’s plenty of fun stories to be found. “If there was a Stockholm syndrome going on, let me die that way because it was really fun,” recalls Michael McKean. “It was fun to be physically taken out of things for a while. I spend a chunk of the movie tied to a chair. It’s very relaxing I found. It’s like the Raymond Burr job. ‘I’ll do the show Ironside but never stand up.’”
Sadly, that fun didn’t translate to audiences the first time around, but on second (or third) glances, people eventually warmed to a the story of a band just trying to get their music heard, even if they accidentally take some hostages (with water guns!) to make that happen. Find out more behind-the-scenes stories, including the leather jacket that Brendan Fraser still misses to this day, over at Consequence Of Sound.