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Ramis: We had 11 weeks to shoot the film. I had no idea what that meant because I'd never directed before. We shot it at Rolling Hills (now called Grande Oaks), a semi-private club in Florida. We kind of picked it by default. We visited a lot of really nice country clubs, and they didn't want us because what club wants to shut down for a movie and have hundreds of people trampling on the golf course?
"... on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness. So I got that going for me, which is nice."
Ramis: We shot the Dalai Lama speech on the first day with a local actor doing the scene. And I was thinking, I'm going to get fired, this guy's horrible! When Bill arrived, he did the speech, and it was great. There were no scripted lines for Bill in the whole movie. Everything we shot with him, he would just riff. That's how he worked.
Murray: With the Dalai Lama scene, they just sort of tossed me in there—there wasn't much of anything. I just took it and ran away with it. My part just kept growing like a mushroom. I'd go back to New York and work on SNL, and they'd call me up and ask if I wanted to come back down and do some more. I was good back in those days. Improvising about golf was easy for me. And there was a great crowd of people there to entertain. If you made Doug Kenney or Harold laugh, you sort of earned your keep.
Ramis: Most of us had an improv background, so I felt comfortable letting the actors ad lib. But Ted Knight [who played the uptight Judge Smails] was a very traditional actor. The whole atmosphere was alien to him, young people running around in South Florida being crazy.
Morgan: Ted was trying to do his job and he's holding the script in his hand, and meanwhile Rodney is just running around saying whatever the heck popped into his head. Ted was really angry. I remember having lunch with Rodney one day and he's tugging on his collar just like he does in his act, going, "Am I O.K.? It's my first movie." It's amazing how someone that funny could be insecure, which made him want to one-up Ted even more. Of course, that made Ted even angrier.
Ramis: We shot the movie in 1979. It was a pretty debauched country at the time. The cocaine business in South Florida was mammoth, and everyone was doing everything. There was some concern from the studio. Someone in the accounting department leaked to the studio that everyone was taking their per diems in cash, which is ... unusual. So I think Medavoy called Jon Peters and said, "What's going on down there?"
Chase: It was pretty f------ nuts on that set. At night, we would race golf carts down the fairways, people whacked out having a good time. The crew possessed whatever you needed. But I don't remember getting high during the actual shooting or Billy [Murray] or anybody doing that.
Morgan: There was one day, you could hear on the walkie-talkies, "Where's Bill?" ... "He's sleeping in a sand trap!" ... "What do you mean he's sleeping in a sand trap?!"
Ramis: Cindy had some problems with a nude scene they wanted. She didn't want to do it. And I'm the good guy. I said, "I don't want you to do anything you're not comfortable with." And Jon Peters said, "Put her on the phone, let me talk to her for a sec." When she got off, she said, "I'll do it." I asked, "What did he say?" And she said, "He told me if I didn't do it, I'd never work again." Jon's Old Hollywood!