CADDDYSHACK is best known for the iconic leading actors: Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, Ted Knight, and Bill Murray, but originally the film was supposed to an ANIMAL HOUSE on the golf course, centering primarily on the young caddies: with the adults as secondary characters... This all changed during filming, and HAMILTON MITCHELL takes us back to the rough and greens of Bushwood Country Club...
How did the role of “Motormouth” in Caddyshack come about?
It was one of my very first auditions in Los Angeles. I read for two roles, Motormouth and Goofy, and they combined them for me on the strength of my audition. I took a risk, made a "show" out of my scene and performed it non-stop from walking in to leaving.
The movie was originally mostly about the caddies – with the four “ringers”: Knight, Dangerfield, Chase and Murray as side characters – can you describe some of the scenes involving just you and the caddies that were cut out – or that were in the original script and not filmed?
There were so many... For the first month, we did many caddy scenes and improved and came up with material. Before the stars arrived. One example, I was pulled from the Dalai Lama scene for a basketball scene, which was cut. I also used to have romantic scenes with "Grace" played by Ann Ryerson, though she was nearly cut from the film too. I arrived at The Caddyshack being thrown off a bus, did faux golf announcing with Tony DuNunzio (the Great Scott Colomby)... but all those and more were cut. I filmed for over 3 months, with just a few lines left.
Was the decision to center on the four older characters something they came up with during filming, or was it a pre-production decision – and when did they change the script?
I don't know when they decided, but the producers wanted the star power, and began cutting and adding as we went along. There were some disappointments by the end of the run.
How much do you recollect of the swimming pool scene?
I remember we shot that in a day. I had a stuntman to help me do the leading flying leap into the pool. Choreographing the underwater dance was fun, though hard to breath. I improved a couple of other bits -- one, I walk upside down along the pool wall with my shoes sticking up -- a funny visual -- another, Scott drowns me.
Were you part of the synchronized swimming scene? If so – did it take a while to rehearse?
You can't miss me, I've got the tall, plaid covered legs... it did not take long to figure out, just a couple of circles, maybe ten minutes.
Your greatest line is “I’ve often thought of becoming a golf club”… Was this adlibbed? How many takes to “nail” this beautiful line that epitomizes your awesome character?
Thank you: that is one of my favorites. Really slams Danny's brown-nosing. I think it was fed to me by Harold Ramis and/or Doug Kenny [pic shown]... I provided some, but they gave me so many great ones... another one which didn't make it was when I came upon the Caddyshack brawl... my announcement was "Another beautiful day at Bushwood marred by teen violence."
Would you say your character “Motormouth” was a stoner, an airhead, or both?
I like to think of him as the "class clown" of the caddies... he was supposed to do faux announcing at every opportunity to lambast the proceeding.
Give us a summary of the following alumni:
MICHAEL O’KEEFE: An extremely talented mystery to the rest of us.
CHEVY CHASE: Chevy was going through a lot back then, but he was generous to us at times, critical at others.
BILL MURRAY: The best. Salt of the Earth. He and Brian took me up to NY after to do SNL.
TED KNIGHT: We all thought Ted would steal the movie at the time; his craft and comedy were so honed.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD: He really was that guy, always nervous about how he was doing. We told him he was doing great. He took care of me when a swamp reed hit me in the eye.
SCOTT COLOMBY: A great friend and young veteran already by then. Helped me a lot on my first set.
CINDY MORGAN: For a babe, Cindy was fun and accessible back then.
DOUG KENNEY: A genius, and very funny. Doug was one of a kind. A tortured intellect. I was not surprised by his death in Hawaii.
BRIAN DOYLE MURRAY: Another great, grounded Irish Catholic Mensh. Brian co-authored the film and let me stay at his penthouse in NY.
What did you think of the film when it first screened?
It didn't open that well, but I think we had an idea it would be something special a few years later, it's cult status started to take hold.
What scene was your favorite to be filmed in?
My individual pratfall and physical comedy golf scenes, and the one on one scenes with my fellow actors which are not longer there. Probably where I played in the Caddy Tournament (later cut out).
What scene is your favorite scene (or character) as you watch the movie now?
Bill Murray with the flowers or the gopher.
The golf course blowing up – were the actors present during this or was it all filmed separately?
We watched from a distance.
I’m a fan of Tony Danza and Stacy Nelkin, and enjoyed the film “Going Ape” – what part did you play in this?
They were great to work with, and very nice. The mom was a little rougher. Anyway, I played Marvin, who delivered ape food.
You have worked on film and television – give us a couple of the differences between the two?
I enjoy both, my current television series on Nickelodeon, Ned's Declassified (cable) is nice, because I work almost every day, for most of the year... and I will be on Suite Life on Deck coming up this Fall. Sometimes film work is more disjointed... separation between days and locations... yet, I just had that on an episode of COLD CASE.
HAMILTON MITCHELL CADDDYSHACK INTERVIEW BY JAMES M. TATE