Building Animal House

Ramis: The studio gave us offices at Universal in New York, full of English antiques and hunting prints on the walls. I remember Doug Kenney drawing little rats on the paintings with a ballpoint. We went further than I think Universal expected or wanted. I think they were shocked and appalled. Chris' fraternity had virtually been a vomiting cult. And we had a lot of scenes that were almost orgies of vomit. His fraternity would eat certain kinds of food to produce certain types of regurge. We didn't back off anything.

Simmons: The studio backed off. They just figured, ''Screw it, it's a silly little movie, and we'll make a couple bucks if we're lucky — let them do whatever they want.''


Reitman: I had always hoped to direct the movie myself. But I'd only directed one movie — it was called Cannibal Girls and it was made for $5,000.

John Landis (Animal House director): I was hired to direct it when I had made one film called Schlock. [Landis' second film] Kentucky Fried Movie didn't come out until we had already started shooting Animal House. The script supervisor on Kentucky Fried Movie was living with Sean Daniel, who was an exec at Universal under Thom Mount, who was under Ned Tanen. Every day she'd go home and say ''Today we had a midget in a clown suit beating naked women.'' Sean saw Kentucky Fried Movie and brought me to the attention of Matty. I flew to New York to meet the writers at Lampoon headquarters. And I walked into this wall of ice.

Miller: Landis is fond of saying that he was met with stony hostility from us. And every time he says that I call him up and say ''John, you f---ing liar!'' I was charmed by John. He had this manic, insane energy. But he was a West Coast guy, and we were East Coast guys.

Ramis: John was really arrogant for his age and experience. He sort of referred immediately to Animal House as ''my movie.'' We'd been living with it for two years and we hated that. But he did seem to understand the material.


Ramis: The cast we had picked was Chevy Chase as Otter, Bill Murray as Boone, Brian Doyle-Murray as Hoover, [Dan] Aykroyd as D-Day, and Belushi, of course, was Bluto. None of them wanted to do it except for Belushi. They were very competitive. Chevy thought he was onto a big movie career, and he wasn't going to share the limelight with Belushi.

Reitman: After the first few months of SNL, the show had taken the country by storm — much more than South Park or something today. For the first time, they were letting people like us on TV. And Belushi and Chevy were the two guys who jumped out in the first season. We tried to get Chevy for the Tim Matheson part, but Chevy turned us down to do Foul Play.

Landis: I was putting together this interesting cast. I met with [Dragnet star] Jack Webb to play Dean Wormer, and I wanted Kim Novak for Mrs. Wormer. That was interesting, meeting Webb. Here I was with my long hair and he's just sitting there drinking Scotch and smoking cigarettes. I met Meat Loaf and a bunch of other people to play Bluto in case Belushi didn't do it.


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