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Many a dorm room wall has sported the inescpable image of John Belushi wearing his Animal House COLLEGE sweatshirt, putting up a strong fight against the blacklight Bob Marley posters of the world. The tiny 1978 film became one of the biggest comedy movies of all time, launched more than several Hollywood careers, and basically started the raunchy teen movie genre. Animal House cast photos show an odd assortment of actors who became underdogs for whom audiences ended up rooting. The film follows the pledges and members of Delta Tau Chi house of Faber College. The frat is notorious for their partying and wild antics and when they are put on “double secret probation” by the dean, they only ramp up their borderline-insane behaviors.

The Animal House cast partied hard both on and off screen, sharing the voices of the young baby boomer generation on movie screens for the very first time. Animal House writers like the late Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis used their own college fraternity experiences to bring the adventures of Delta house at the fictional Faber College to life. While Belushi was one of the biggest names going into production, many other of Animal House’s stars like Kevin Bacon have the movie to thank for starting their careers. The stories behind Animal House include fights, drugs, and a lot of vomit.

The Cast Went To A Real Frat Party… And Got Beaten To A Pulp By Football Players

As the cast was completely submerging themselves into their roles, they decided to attend a real frat party on the University of Oregon campus. A group of college girls invited them to a mixer thrown at a “wealthy jock fraternity,” but things turned ugly as soon as they walked in. After a bunch of drunk football players called them some offensive choice words, Hoover actor James Widdoes threw a beer and started an all-out brawl. Punches flew and Widdoes’s teeth were nearly knocked out. D-Day actor Bruce McGill received a black eye in the scuffle but was too embarrassed to tell director John Landis what really happened. Although McGill insisted his injury was the result of a rough touch football game, Landis eventually found out what his cast had really been up to.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

The Cast Threw Wild Parties Every Night At The Hotel That Included ‘Strange Smoke’ And A Stolen Piano

After getting beat up by real frat boys on campus, the cast and crew of Animal House decided to stick around their side-of-the-freeway motel. There, they discovered an old piano in the lobby and since no one seemed to be using it, a few of them pushed it across the parking lot during a rainstorm and into Bruce McGill’s room.

Despite John Landis acting as a sort of parental figure and not joining in, everyone else used the room for daily parties. There was liquor, music, and “strange smoke.” If anything, the parties certainly helped the Delta House members get into character and Kevin Bacon recalled, “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.”

Photo:  Universal Pictures

The Cast Stayed In Character Throughout Filming And Treated Each Other Like Frat Enemies

If actually attending a frat party on campus wasn’t enough to get the cast into character, John Landis got all the actors playing Delta members to meet and begin bonding five days before filming began. They called each other by their character’s name and painted the Delta house with the graffiti seen in the film. When the cast playing Omega members joined them, they were treated as enemies.

Mark Metcalf – who played Neidermeyer – remembered food being thrown at him. Metcalf opted to hang out in his motel room while the rest of the actors partied so he could  “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.”

Photo:  Universal Pictures

John Belushi Stayed In A House In The Suburbs While Filming To Keep His Sobriety Intact

Anyone who knows about the relationship John Belushi had with drugs might assume he fit right in with the rest of the hard partying cast. However, during the filming of Animal House, Belushi was actually one of the best behaved. In order to keep him out of trouble, Belushi and his wife Judy were asked to stay in a suburban house far away from the motel to avoid temptation.

He managed to remain clean throughout the shoot, despite having to fly back to New York for a few days every week to film Saturday Night Live. John Landis attributed Belushi’s ability to stay sober to his desire to succeed in his first film role. However, Landis apparently gave Belushi too much slack while filming The Blues Brothers a few years later, as his cocaine habit had spiraled out of control.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

Delta House Was Inspired By Writer Chris Miller’s Dartmouth Fraternity… Which Was Described As A ‘Vomiting Cult’

As the writers were creating the script for Animal House, they often found themselves drawing on their own experiences in college fraternities for inspiration. Writer Chris Miller’s stories about Alpha Delta Phi at Dartmouth were usually the craziest, and John Belushi’s Bluto character was inspired by a real life guy who poured mustard on his head and bit girls while crawling around on the dance floor.

Miller’s name at the frat was “Pinto” which made it into the film, but many of his experiences with vomit were cut. Harold Ramis remembered, “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.”

The real life Alpha Delta has lived up to its movie reputation. They have been disciplined for numerous things including serving alcohol to minors and were kicked off campus in 2015 for branding their new members with hot pokers.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

Mark Metcalf Was Cast After Lying About Riding Horses And Stephen Furst Got The Job After Delivering His Resume With A Pizza

Since the makers of Animal House were unable to get their first choices for their cast, the roles went to mostly unknown actors desperate to find work. Mark Metcalf, who won the role of Neidermeyer, was asked if he knew how to ride horses. He didn’t, so he made up stories about his father working as a trick rider in the circus just to get the part.

Stephen Furst received the part of Flounder after one of the National Lampoon publishers ordered a pizza which also contained his resume inside the box. Kevin Bacon, who still had his baby fat and was working as a waiter at the time, snagged his first movie role when a casting director happened to notice his “smarminess.” Tom Hulce signed on to play Pinto in order to take a U-turn from the serious subject matter he’d been dealing with on the stage while starring in the play Equus.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

Filming Took Place At The University Of Oregon Only Because They Didn’t Read The Script And Regretted Turning Down ‘The Graduate’

While searching for a college campus to serve as the location of Animal House, the filmmakers visited six different states and 12 different colleges. Although the schools were happy to flirt with Hollywood, they changed their minds as soon as they read the Animal House script. Finally, the University of Oregon gave them the green light, but only through a bit of luck. It turned out the school had turned down the opportunity for The Graduate to film there since the president thought the script was dirty. He regretted that decision so much he didn’t bother to read the Animal House script before giving his okay. Since the exploits of Mrs. Robinson were a little more high-brow than those of Delta House, it was probably a good thing he didn’t or the movie might have never been made.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

‘National Lampoon’ Co-Founder Doug Kenney Defaced Fine Artwork In The Universal Offices

Although Universal agreed to produce Animal House, they didn’t have much faith in it. Not impressed with National Lampoon‘s history of gross humor and immature vulgarity, they gave the movie a budget of less than $3 million, which in respect to movie-making isn’t very much. The Universal execs figured they would be making a decent profit (since the budget was so small), so they allowed the crew to do pretty much whatever they wanted and gave them an office at their studio in New York.

Unsurprisingly, the cast and crew brought the antics of the film’s characters to the posh NYC offices. The building was filled with various fine artwork featuring hunting scenes and English antiques. Doug Kenney, a co-founder of National Lampoon, defaced multiple pieces of art in the office building by drawing rats on them with a ball point pen.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

The ‘Animal House’ Script Began As A Charles Manson High School Movie

When no one at National Lampoon liked Harold Ramis’s script for something called Freshman Year, he worked with fellow Lampooner Doug Kenney to write Laser Orgy Girls, which centered around Charles Manson and his high school exploits.

Several drafts later, the film changed completely and they decided the setting should be a college campus, presumably so they could get away with more raunchy, low-brow material. Ramis, Kenney, and Chris Miller used their own college frat experiences for inspiration (especially some wild ones from Miller) and the Delta House was born. When director John Landis was brought on, the script was revised several times more. One producer at Universal said, “Everybody is drunk, high or getting laid! I’d never make this movie!” prompting Landis to cut a scene featuring a vomiting contest, among other things.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

If John Landis Hadn’t Babysat Kiefer Sutherland, ‘Animal House’ Might Not Have Been Made

National Lampoon began in 1970 when a small group of Harvard students wrote a Lord of the Rings parody. While more than one million people subscribed to the magazine and many big names in comedy came out of it, they did not have an easy time getting Animal House made. The movie went through numerous script changes, was turned down by eight different directors, and the crew visited more than 12 colleges to find one that would allow them to film there. Finally, Universal agreed to make the film but wanted a bigger star than John Belushi to appear. Luckily, director John Landis had gotten to know Donald Sutherland after working with him on Kelly’s Heroes and babysitting Kiefer, and Sutherland agreed to star as Professor Dave Jennings and be the big name Universal wanted.

Photo:  Universal Pictures

Members Of The Then-Current Cast Of ‘Saturday Night Live’ Were Offered Parts But Only John Belushi Accepted

Saturday Night Live began a few years before Animal House was made, and the filmmakers were hoping to use some of the SNL cast in their movie. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and John Belushi were all offered parts but only Belushi accepted. The part of Otter was originally written for Chevy Chase – who had recently left SNL – but he turned down the offer as well. Chase was notorious for being difficult to work with and since he was about to star as the lead in Foul Play, he didn’t want to share a starring role with Belushi.

Director John Landis was glad some of the SNL members turned down the roles, as he didn’t want to make “an SNL film.” He tried to convince Universal to hire more dramatic actors and other interesting casting choices such as Meat Loaf, but the film ultimately ended up with actors no one had heard of at the time.

 

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