To coincide with the release of Weekend at Bernie‘s on Blu-ray, actor Jonathan Silverman slaps a tropical shirt on, grabs a martini, and sits poolside to reminisce about working with the marvelous Terry Kiser, his friend Andrew McCarthy, and director Todd Kotcheff on the surprise comedy hit of 1989.
Weekend at Bernie’s was a huge hit [at the time]. I still remember people claiming Terry Kiser should have won an award…
JS : For playing dead…
For playing the dead guy. He plays the dead guy better than anyone that I’ve ever seen.
JS : Yeah. Exactly. He was brilliant. He did something very clever, he died with a little smirk on face. He made a dead man very lovable.
What I also thought was clever, casting-wise, was Andrew McCarthy being cast as the goofball and you..
JS : Yeah. He sort of played against type.
He did. He did. Do you guys still keep in touch?
JS : As a matter of fact I did another movie with Andrew. We’re not playing… We’re not having carrying around dead body or anything, but we did a National Lampoon comedy called Snatched. And it was the first time since the to sequel to Bernie’s that we worked together. We run into each other, we get together. He’s a big golfer, we play golf every now and then, but we haven’t worked together since the sequel. But we had a terrific time. It’s a very funny movie about a man who goes to donate a kidney to his ill brother-in-law and they make a mistake at the hospital. And they replace and cut-off the wrong organ instead of simply taking on the man’s kidney they gave him a sex change. [chuckle]
JS : Andrew plays the man who undergoes the surgery and he spends the rest of the movie trying to get his manhood back. I know it’s very far-fetched but a very, very funny film.
Did it give you and Andrew a chance to talk about Bernies?
Oh, we sure did. It’s how shocked we were at how… It still holds up to the day how people still enjoy watching it and still talk about it. And what was bizarre was we shot this other movie in New Orleans which is one of my favourite cities in the world. But there’s a particular section, the French Quarter, where people are enjoying themselves to great deal of music and carrying on and rabble rousing and drinking. And I remember one night Andrew and I went to dinner after filming and we just walked from point A to point B but we have to cross the famous Bourbon Street to get there. And here Andrew and I are walking and all this inebriated people are staring at us saying, “Oh my God. Where’s the dead guy!?.” They probably thought they were in some sort of alcohol induced coma.
Wow. [chuckle] Was there ever any talk of a third movie?
JS : There’s been lots of talk about… A matter of fact I remember reading every now and then online…every couple of years it pops up.
Yeah it does.
JS : I come from a school of ‘one was enough’. And I think we should have been grateful that we made one and people enjoyed it and let it go. When they finally got around the shooting the second one… And I became very close friends with a lot of the people from the first one the filmmakers Victor Drai, Robert Klane, and Ted Kotcheff and they had been taking about making a sequel. It did very well overseas and some Italian financiers wanted to make a second one and I’m like, “Guys, really? What are we supposed to do? It’s about a dead body.” [chuckle]
“What are we possibly going to explore?” And I procrastinated as long as I could and they said, “Listen, we’re shooting this movie. Andrew has jumped on. Terry Kiser has jumped on. We’re going to shoot it with or without you. Do you want to just go ahead and make this movie and have a good time with us and make some money or do you want to spend the next chunk of years explaining to people why you weren’t in the sequel?” So we went ahead and we shot the sequel and we had a great time. It certainly wasn’t near as funny, the final product, as the original. I sure hope they just leave it at that.
There’s some talk of making a third, but we’ll see. I can easily be tempted at whatever does come around but I hope they don’t bother to.
Caddyshack 2 is another sequel of yours to gets a beating… it doesn’t really deserve it, I mean it’s ‘OK’…
JS : Oh, okay. If you say so [Laughs]. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it. I do get recognized for that film. People do come up and say how much they enjoyed it. The original Caddyshack, it’s probably one of the 5 or 6 best funniest comedies ever made.
So, when Warner Bros said that they have plans to make a sequel and that they were interested in me I was thrilled. It was maybe the second or third movie I’d done in my career. It was by far the biggest budget and by far the biggest pay check, personally, that I had ever received. But I was thrilled and I think all of us were. There was Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd and Randy Quaid and Jackie Mason, who had a major career revival and just won a Tony Award. And Harold Ramis wrote the script based on the screenplay he wrote years earlier for the original. And Warner Bros threw piles of money into the budget and we were all shooting it, having a terrific time. And we even shot it at the exact same golf course before where they shot the first one. So we assumed it would be at least in the same ballpark as the first one and then, well, lo and behold it came out, the critics slammed after that it wasn’t the funniest of movies. [chuckle] But I can’t remember laughing. But again, I’m glad you like it. I’m glad some other folks liked it and we’ll leave it at that.
Weekend at Bernie’s is now available on Blu-ray