Building Animal House

Matheson: We noticed an old piano in the lobby and no one was playing it so we decided to take it to McGill's room. We wheeled it across the parking lot through the rain. And every night after work, that's where the party was.

McGill: I'd howl on that piano. There were nights I wanted to sleep and I couldn't get people to leave.

Simmons: There was a lot of strange smoke.

Landis: McGill's room became party central. But I was sort of the principal. If I walked in and they were smoking a joint, it got stashed right away.

Bacon: The vibe was very much like it was in the movie. The Delta guys certainly didn't want to hang out with me. I was kind of young and not cool. I definitely felt like an outcast because they had all these amazing parties. Sometimes I found my way in the door, but generally no.

Metcalf: The Deltas partied there every night. And I had them move my room right above his so that I had to listen to all this partying to get into character. I would sit up there and spit polish my riding boots and brood and make plans for what I could do to get revenge on them for their decadent way of life.


Matheson: Belushi would've been there, I guarantee you. But they wanted to keep John away because they knew his tendencies. So they got him and [his wife] Judy a house in the suburbs.

Landis: John was clean. And he was working hard because he saw this movie as a big opportunity. When we did Blues Brothers later, he had a very bad cocaine habit. On Animal House that wasn't true.

McGill: Belushi would work with us Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then head back to New York for SNL.

Allen: John didn't have a lot of time to hang out. But he invited us up to the house on a couple of occasions.

Bacon: Belushi threw parties for the cast and shipped back lox and bagels and stuff for us. I had maybe a couple of scenes with him — you know, he spit mashed potatoes on me.

Widdoes: John developed an impersonation of me and would follow me around and sing this commercial for Freshen-Up gum that I had done.

Furst: The last scene I shot in the movie was where Belushi is trying to cheer me up after my car is wrecked and he's breaking bottles on his head. What you see on the screen is Take 18. I could not stop laughing.

Landis: I spent a lot of time with John figuring out who Bluto was. We decided he was a cross between Harpo Marx and the Cookie Monster. The scene where John's devouring everything in the cafeteria line, I was behind the camera going ''What's that? An apple. It looks good. I think we should EAT THE APPLE!!!'' Then I'd go, ''Uh-oh, a hamburger!''

McGill: The first time Belushi ever got up in front of a crowd and sang blues was at the Eugene hotel. He was really nervous. And he got up and sang ''Hey, Bartender.'' It was a really great night for him.


Reitman: The first preview screening was four months before it opened, in Denver. I've been in the business for 25 years now, and I've never had a screening like that one. From the first joke when the mannequin flies out the Delta House window, the audience started bouncing. They just went nuts. Then everyone was our best friend.


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