The Blues Brothers was released on June 20, 1980 and starred Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. The plot of the film is rather complex, with two brothers reuniting their band to raise $5,000 for an orphanage that raised them while dealing with the police, a country band, and Illinois Nazis.
The film was by no means a safe bet for Universal Studios, especially after production ran way over budget, but The Blues Brothers still turned into a massive success. Despite the film being nearly 40 years old, there are still some things you might not know about the making of the film. Here are 10 Crazy BTS Facts That Will Change The Way You Watch The Blues Brothers.
10 Chicago Police Officers Loved John Belushi
The cops in The Blues Brothers certainly didn't love Jake and Elwood Blues, but the Chicago Police Department did love John Belushi. By the time The Blues Brothers was released, Belushi was a massively popular comedian due to his time on Saturday Night Live and the success of National Lampoon’s Animal House.
In short, Belushi was so famous that he could essentially do whatever he wanted. Producer and writer Mitch Glazer even recalled times when police officers would recognize Belushi on the street and give them a ride home. Aykroyd even went as far as calling Belushi the “unofficial mayor of Chicago.”
9 John Belushi Got Paid Twice As Much As Dan Aykroyd
John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were two of the original cast members on Saturday Night Live, but Belushi hit fame before Aykroyd did. Aykroyd would, of course, go on to star in films like Ghostbusters and Coneheads, but Animal House really kickstarted his career.
Because of Belushi’s previous acting experience, his paycheck reflected it. Aykroyd got paid $250,000 for The Blues Brothers while Belushi got double that at $500,000. Belushi could have continued his acting career and possibly become an even bigger star than Aykroyd if it weren’t for his untimely death in 1982.
8 The Film Once Held A World Record
Upon viewing The Blues Brothers, it’s easy to see how the film went over budget. There were plenty of explosions, special effects, and car chases. After Jake and Elwood escape from The Palace Hotel Ballroom, they rush to get to Chicago City Hall so that they can pay the Roman Catholic Orphanage’s tax bill.
Dozens of cop cars chase them through the streets of Chicago and a total of 103 cars were destroyed during filming. They held the world record for most cars destroyed in a film for two years until The Junkman destroyed 150 cars and a plane.
7 That Chase Scene Took Place In A Real Shopping Mall
While many films build giant sets to destroy for filming purposes, The Blues Brothers destroyed an actual mall. The iconic scene was filmed in Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois, which had recently been closed due to crime and gang activity in the area. According to a documentary on the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Blues Brothers, the then-empty mall was filled with actual merchandise from stores, with the promise that any merchandise undamaged would be returned.
The parking lot of the mall was also filled with all brand-new cars since that was the only way they would have been able to fill the abandoned lot. After the film crew destroyed the mall, it was never renovated and was eventually torn down in 2012.
6 Dan Aykroyd Proposed To Carrie Fisher During Filming
The Blues Brothers came out three years after the massive success of Star Wars and was able to snag one of the film’s stars: Carrie Fisher. Fisher played the mystery woman who was the ex-fiancé of Jake. In real life, though, she was engaged to Dan Aykroyd. Belushi apparently set them up on set after Aykroyd gave her the Heimlich maneuver when she choked on a brussels sprout.
They fell in love and eventually got engaged. Aykroyd even revealed that they had thought about having children together, which obviously didn’t happen. The couple decided to break off their engagement after Fisher reconciled her relationship with Paul Simon.
5 Part Of The Film’s Budget Was For Cocaine
Most people know that John Belushi tragically died in 1982 due to a mixture of heroin and cocaine. Belushi was shot into the spotlight after the success of Animal House, which fueled his drug addiction. One of the many reasons why The Blues Brothers fell behind on production was because Belushi constantly disappeared or didn’t show up to set.
Aykroyd even admitted to Vanity Fair that part of the film’s budget was for cocaine for night shoots. In a documentary for the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Blues Brothers, John Landis recalled a time where he had an altercation with Belushi after he flushed his cocaine, but they reconciled rather quickly.
4 Dan Aykroyd Originally Wrote A 324-Page Script
The idea for The Blues Brothers started at Aykroyd’s speakeasy called the 505 Club in Toronto when he met Belushi for the first time. Aykroyd introduced Belushi to the blues and, soon after, they decided to create their own band that was based on two characters with a love of two things: Chicago and the blues.
After appearing on SNL, the idea came for a movie, which Aykroyd wrote the screenplay for called The Return of The Blues Brothers. The script was originally 324 pages, which Landis had to trim down after he got ahold of it. The story goes that when Aykroyd was finished with the screenplay, he called producer Bob Weiss and simply said, “Be on your property tonight.” When Weiss got home, he found the thick script wrapped in the cover of a phone book.
3 Belushi Was Seriously Injured For The Big Concert
Before Jake and Elwood get money to pay the tax bill for the Penguin’s orphanage, they have to put on a big show at the Palace Hotel (which was actually filmed inside the Hollywood Palladium). The concert is a highlight of the film, with Cab Calloway performing Minnie the Moocher and Jake and Elwood performing electrifying renditions of “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”
That being said, Belushi hurt himself after riding a kid’s skateboard before the big scene. The actor was helped by an orthopedist and then pushed himself through the scene. You wouldn’t be able to tell, but Belushi does appear to be limping in the tunnel after they escape the ballroom.
2 Certain Movie Theaters Wouldn’t Book The Film
While The Blues Brothers is now a cult classic, certain movie theaters refused to play the movie when it was first released. In his interview with Vanity Fair, Landis explained that certain theaters wouldn’t play the movie because they considered it “a black movie.” Landis recalled a conversation he had with Ted Mann of Mann Theaters, who refused to book the movie in any of his theaters except for one in Compton.
When Landis asked why he wouldn’t book showtimes in Westwood (a fancy part of California), Mann replied by saying, “Because I don’t want any blacks in Westwood.” Despite this setback, the film still made a lot of money and is loved today by people of all different skin tones.
1 Belushi Wandered Into A Random Person’s House During Filming
Anybody who lived in Chicago when Belushi was acting knew how loved the actor truly was. Belushi loved Chicago and the city loved him back. According to a story Aykroyd told to Vanity Fair, Belushi once wandered off set and was welcomed into the home of a complete stranger.
Belushi apparently walked into a random neighborhood, knocked on somebody’s door, ate some of their food, and then fell asleep on their couch. Aykroyd eventually found him and woke him up, saying they had to get back to set. Aykroyd elaborated, calling Belushi “America’s Guest.”