"Oh, no. She's not my wife, she's just my old lady"

"...O.K. now you'll be coming out here and you'll be doing a stable fall face down frog modified. Now out here comes the static line 'cause it goes like from this to here see, and then the pilot chute will open and it'll pull the bridle out and then the main canopy will be open see, 'cause they're all connected, and then you'll be down here and you'll be looking up here at the WDI indicator and you'll also going to check for Mae West and if that's not there then you need to check here for 4 panels and a hole. Then when you come down you're gonna find the piece and you're gonna land over here and you're going to get in this position - except you don't wanna do that - because that means you in trouble, so what you want to do is you wanna get right here and then you're gonna come round here and you're gonna fold up and you're gonna do a toggle and jettison and always watch the horizon O.K?"

"OK, you're inside the plane... I cut the engine... you reach your hands outside the door... step out on the wheel... dangle the foot... and AUUUUGGHH...... AUUUUGGHH...... AUUUUGGHH..... AUUUUGGHH...... WAUH... He missed the mattress!"

"Hey is everything cool dude? Look, if it'll make you feel better I'll take a chute up and jump first so's you can watch how it's done. (Pause) Oh ho! Oh ho ho! Ohhh ho ho ho, oh God! Well I can't do that. If I do that, who's gonna land the plane? Oh dear!."

"I'd rather burn in at 200 mph and have some laughs, then to eat it in a car accident, I mean thats a really dumb way to go"

"You might want to take a couple hits of this, before you go out the door, it makes the trip down real interesting"

"Oh, hey, I gotta tell you about my dream. You're gonna get into this man. This is great. No, really, you see like the one thing I wanna do before I join the cosmos is to hang glide off of Mt. Everest. Yeah, but wait, this is the best part: NAKED! Ha Ha! Yeah man, born to be wild!"

"Hey listen dude, if you're into playin' it close that's cool, but we're talkin' major malfunction here!".

"Way to go Mr. Hicks... I wanna shake your hand... say, he's got a pretty good grip on that thing."

"I-35 to route 635, south to band aid, band aid? Oh, Cleveland, ha ha... "


Taken from a series of emails with Marvin J. McIntyre during June/July 2003. Marvin also provided the wealth of new photos shown down the right hand side. Many thanks to Marvin for all his help!

Getting the role

Back in 1981 Kevin Reynolds was at the University of Southern California making his graduate student film, called Proof. This short film was basically the parachute school sequence we all know from Fandango. At that time I was a member of the Screen Actors Guild (I still am), which ran a program with the American Film Institute called the SAG/AFI Conservatory. Among other things it serves as a means of connecting SAG members with student filmmakers. Actors submit a picture and resume, which are made available to student directors at the LA schools that have film programs (AFI, USC, Cal Arts, UCLA, etc.).

I joined as soon as I found out about it and not long after that Kevin arranged an audition for me, where I read for him and Mark Illsley. They liked it enough to cast me, and over several weekends we shot the film up in the Palmdale area. It was a terrific experience, which turned out exceptionally well. Then Steven Spielberg saw the film and gave Kevin money to write a feature screenplay. That led to the deal with Amblin and Warner Brothers to make Fandango.

Kevin wanted to re-create the Proof section as closely as possible for Fandango and hired me to reprise the part of Truman Sparks. (He did make a few changes and additions, including the blackboard speech. Also, the later scenes when I fly in to collect Suzy Amis - 'turn left at band-aid' and the helicopter chase - were added for Fandango). While mine was still not the usual route to getting cast, interviews and readings, it was much less unique than that of Chuck Bush, who was spotted by Kevin and Mark at a 7-11. The reason Chuck's story is so interesting is that it happens so seldom.

The Texas heat

I almost dehydrated myself while out walking on my first day in El Paso. Luckily one of the film's prop masters, I don't remember if it was Rick Young or Tom Shaw, was out on an errand and spotted me, giving me a ride back to the hotel - the fates were with me!

Working with the cast and crew

Fandango was unique among my location-shot experiences. It is the only film about which I can truthfully say that every person who worked on it, in the office, on the crew and in the cast, had a good time. I was not on for the entire shoot, I did three and one half of the ten weeks, but while I was there other people affirmed my observation. My time was a drop and pick-up so I was there in the early stages and at the end.

I saw this part as a major career move and tried to behave accordingly. I made it a point to be as professional, open and friendly as I could. Everyone I interacted with during the shoot returned that behaviour to me. The rest of the cast were all great to me and very open to my style of working.

I especially enjoyed working with Glenn Headly [who played Trelis, Truman's 'old lady']. She was terrific on every level - I should have paid closer attention and learned more from her but I was so focused on what I was trying to do that I missed the opportunity. But, as I said, everyone was great.

I also want to mention Randy Deluca and Bill Warren, the two stunt pilots for my character. Randy was also the co-ordinator for the film. Mike Hancock applied my make-up, Jean Austin managed to make my hair consistently dishevelled, and Michelle Neeley and Art Brouillard handled my wardrobe. A quick story of their ingenuity-my flight jacket looked much too new for something Truman would have. They tied it to the back of one of the production cars, which then dragged it down the highway as it went from the office to the set. That created the desired appearance. I could mention more people but suffice it to say everyone there helped make my job easier; I credit and thank them all!

"It was a wonderful day. There is nothing better for an actor's ego than to have the entire crew concentrating solely on him."

The last thing I would like to add is to credit the caterers, and Tim Zinnemann and Barry Osborne for finding and hiring them. It was a company called 'For Stars.' They were helped in getting started by Francis Coppola (to drop a name). Saying they were first class all the way is an understatement. It is very unusual for a film with the budget of Fandango to get food, and service, of the quality they provided. Frank and Bubba (master of the bubbaque) and their crew (time has not served me in remembering the other names) were amazing from start to finish. The difference a great caterer makes on a movie set is not very often mentioned and should be more. 'For Stars' were the vanguard of a movement of major improvement in movie catering. They were, as I said, a major reason for the great atmosphere on the set.

Please don't think I am forgetting Kevin Reynolds. The absence of pressure on the set, considering the amount he must have been under (his first film, the first film for Amblin Productions, people watching because of Steven Spielberg's connection to the project) is a huge achievement and helped the cast more than any other factor.

Getting recognised

I don't get recognised very much, but when I do it is usually for Fandango. I do get recognised from other films too, usually those which are televised more.

Playing a pilot

To answer your question, there was not the prerequisite of being a pilot - there very seldom is of any such skill in any picture. The company has no interest in risking the actors and prefers to hire experts.

Mark Illsley did all of the flying in Proof and Randy Deluca and Bill Warren did the plane work in Fandango. Mark went on to direct Happy, Texas. Bill Warren flies in air shows (Bill Warren's Aerial Circus); he flew a bi-plane and had a two woman wing-walking act when last I saw him. Unfortunately, Randy died a short time after we finished Fandango - he was as great a friend as he was a pilot. I still miss him. All three of them were great to work with, and to know. I always appreciate people who make my job easier and make me look better on screen. The two helicopter pilots, Ross Reynolds and Karl Wickman, were also terrific, both personally and professionally.

The freeway scene

We shot the freeway scene in Oklahoma, on an interstate just outside of Tulsa (as Don Williams would sing, we were 'living on Tulsa time'). It was originally supposed to be shot outside of Dallas, Texas, but the police there said they would not be able to shut down the freeway. The film commission in Oklahoma said it would not be a problem, so off we went. Only those involved in the stunt were allowed to be at the freeway, so I did not get to see the actual landing. Bill Warren flew the plane, and got it in one take.

The picking-up-the-girl scene

The scene where I picked up the girl was shot is a suburb of Tulsa. Randy and Bill did the driving of the plane. I did a very small amount, just enough to get the plane moving so they could cut to a shot of the plane.

Just as a quick aside, has anyone mentioned that the plane was nicknamed 'Picasso'? It was a moniker Randy Deluca came up with. In another aside, I was responsible for the Rolls Royce being in the driveway of the house of the girl. If you look you can see it when she runs out the door to the plane.

The man whose lawn was being used to film from owned a Rolls Royce. I suggested that we put it at the house being filmed, to show that the girl's family had money. The owner said fine. A crew driver took it over and parked it. Just before the filming was to start I noticed that it was parked face in. I explained that it should be parked with the front showing because the grill is the most identifying feature of a Rolls Royce. They turned it around and shot the scene. I don't know how interesting that is, but to me details like that help a scene.

Filming the flying scenes

There was absolutely no blue screen used in Fandango. The entirety of the plane interiors, with Judd and me, were filmed on the ground. Camera angles and wind machines created the illusion of being in flight. All of that was filmed in one day.

Judd and I worked in the morning, and I did my solo scenes in the afternoon. Because we had filmed it all before in Proof, with a different actor (Clifford Martin) than Judd, and Kevin wanted to re-create the shots and pace of Proof, (he and the Tom Del Ruth, the DP, used Proof as a storyboard) we were able to move quickly. It was a wonderful day. There is nothing better for an actor's ego than to have the entire crew concentrating solely on him.

The scene with the helicopter rising to tell me to follow it to Love Field was shot in Oklahoma. The plane was placed on top of a cliff. The helicopter pilot, Karl Wickman, took the helicopter below the cliff's top and, on cue, brought it up into the shot. When the time came he took the helicopter away from the plane to create the look of me turning the plane.

He was, as I have said, a terrific pilot. I got to work with him again on Short Circuit. Karl also flew the helicopter in the chase scene. Ross Reynolds flew the camera copter. Bill Warren was my double for that, and all else shot in Oklahoma. I did shoot some stuff flying the plane, but none of it was used.

Truman's Dialogue

No one could ask for a better working relationship than the one I, and I assume the rest of the cast, had with Kevin Reynolds.

Most of my dialogue came with the script, and most of that was in Proof. Kevin's attitude was that if I had an idea to either let him know or just try it. If it worked, it stayed. The dialogue did not have to be done word for word, although that was almost always the best way to do it (and the way most of it was done). The important thing was the spirit and energy of the scene.

I did contribute a few things in Proof, some of which even made it through editing, and we kept for Fandango. I appreciate to this day that Kevin let me keep in calling Gardner Barnes "Mr. Burns". It is not a big deal, and few people have commented on it, but I think it says something about the character, and helped me in doing Truman.

The best illustration I can give you is the blackboard scene. As I mentioned, it was not in Proof. Before he left for Texas Kevin told me about the scene, and gave me the script and a handbook on parachute jumping. He told me if I wanted to change or add anything to go ahead and we would go over it when I got down to the location.

I wrote a version that even Leo Tolstoy would have considered long. If filmed it would have consumed more screen time than the rest of the movie, which, while not my intention, I wouldn't have objected to. What I wanted to do was add as much parachuting nomenclature as I could. So I put in every example in the book. After he read it and we discussed it Kevin edited the scene down. When we got ready to shoot his only direction was "Have fun with it." Everyone was happy with take one, but I had thought of a bit I wanted to add and Kevin agreed to another take, in which I added my bit. It, I'm happy to say, made the movie.

Click on the images below for much larger versions. All images © Warner Brothers.