There have been several movies made as a result of the National Lampoon magazine, but the first film came in 1978. National Lampoon's Animal House was directed by John Landis, who was still trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood in the late ‘70s. While John Belushi was the star of the film, other actors including Tim Matheson, Thomas Hulce, and Stephen Furst made up the members of a fictional fraternity at Faber College.
Animal House was a surprise hit for Universal Studios and is now one of John Belushi’s most well-known films apart from The Blues Brothers. Last year marked the film’s 40th anniversary, but there are some things about the movie that may still surprise even the biggest movie buffs. Here are 10 things you probably didn't know about Animal House.
10 Charles Manson Was Almost Involved In The Plot
Before Animal House revolved around a Dean trying to expel a fraternity, there were several other ideas that almost happened. Harold Ramis originally wrote treatments for films called Freshman Year and Laser Orgy Girls, which would have been a comedy about Charles Manson in High School.
One of the film’s producers (Matty Simmons) suggested to move the story to a college setting and base it on writer Chris Miller’s stories from National Lampoon’s Magazine. With Manson only being arrested 9 years before the film premiered, it was a good idea to avoid a comedy involving the notorious cult leader.
9 The Film Almost Had A Star-Studded Cast
While Animal House was filled with mostly new actors, it almost had a star-studded cast of comedians. Originally, Chevy Chase was to play Otter, Bill Murray as Boone, Brian Doyle-Murray as Hoover, and Dan Aykroyd as D-Day. None of the actors took the parts in the film, but D-Day was still based on Aykroyd.
Animal House also launched the careers of Kevin Bacon and John Belushi. It was Bacon’s acting debut and Belushi was really only known for his Saturday Night Live career. In fact, Belushi flew back to New York each week to work on SNL Thursday through Sunday.
8 It Was Shot At The University of Oregon
Since Animal House takes place at a college, the crew needed a real University to film in. The crew asked several different colleges if they could film the movie on their campus, but most said no after reading the script. The president of the University of Oregon at Eugene didn’t like the script, but after missing out on The Graduate, he let Universal film at their college.
While Animal House didn’t win any Academy Awards like The Graduate did, the school was likely happy that they let Animal House film at their campus since it was a huge success.
7 John Belushi Chugged Ice Tea, Not Jack Daniels
One of the most iconic images of Animal House features John Belushi holding a bottle of Jack Daniels. In the film, Bluto freaks out when they get evicted from their house and a case of booze falls on the floor. Bluto catches a fifth of Jack Daniels, which he chugs in seconds.
Belushi partied a lot during his time in Hollywood, but he didn’t actually chug that much whiskey. Instead, the bottle was filled with iced tea. Since Animal House was his acting career's start, Belushi remained sober while filming, but quickly spiraled out of control in the years after.
6 DeWayne Jessie Changed His Name Because of the Movie
One of the supporting actors in Animal House was a man named DeWayne Jessie who plays Otis Day, the leader of a band called Otis Day and the Knights. The band can be seen playing at the Dexter Lake Club, when Boon calls out “Otis, my man!”
Due to the popularity of Animal House, Jessie legally changed his name to Otis Day following the release of the film. The actor even created a real-life band and put on shows as Otis Day and the Knights after Animal House was released and is still performing today.
5 Stephen Furst Attached His Resume To A Pizza Box
Most of Animal House cast were relatively unknown at the time and even today are mostly known for Landis' movie. Stephen Furst had a few credits before appearing in Animal House as Kent Dorfman, and he applied for the gig in a peculiar way.
While working as a pizza delivery driver, Furst would often deliver to famous people from Hollywood. He reportedly glued his resume to the lid of each pizza box he delivered in hopes of getting a job. Furst would return as Flounder in the short lived series Delta House in 1979 and continued acting until 2006.
4 John Landis Was Relieved Chevy Chase Turned Down The Project
As mentioned above, Chevy Chase was once up for the role of Otter, which went to Tim Matheson. When John Landis first met Chase, he claimed that the actor was very full of himself and lit a big cigar during their meeting. Instead of joining Animal House, Chase acted alongside Goldie Hawn in Foul Play, which relieved Landis.
Despite being a funny actor appearing in films like Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Chase has a reputation for being rude. That being said, Landis did work with Chevy on the films Spies Like Us and ¡Three Amigos!.
3 The Deltas Actors Got Into A Fight With A Real Fraternity
Prior to filming Animal House, Landis had the actors who make up the Deltas go to an actual fraternity party at the University of Oregon to create a bond with each other. Apparently, the real fraternity wasn’t happy to have outsiders and after James Widdoes spilled a beer on a fraternity member, a fight broke out.
After trying to run away, the fraternity caught up to them and beat them up. Bruce McGill got a black eye and a few of Widdoes' teeth were loose but in the end, the fight brought the actors closer together.
2 Donald Sutherland Appeared Nude To Comfort Karen Allen
While Karen Allen is mostly known now for her role in the Indiana Jones movies, she started out as Katy in Animal House. Donald Sutherland, on the other hand, had been acting for over a decade before portraying the drug-loving Professor Jennings.
With this being Allen’s first film, she was nervous about having her nude bottom half being filmed. To make her feel better, Sutherland said, “Well, if she has to show her butt, I’ll show mine, too.” He did this as a joke not expecting it to make it into the final cut, but of course it did.
1 Richard Pryor Saved The Lake Club Scene
One memorable scene inAnimal House is when the fraternity goes to a lake club, which is packed with African Americans. The group feels threatened by the crowd, which infuriated Universal’s film division president Ned Tanen. He demanded the scene be removed, but Richard Pryor convinced them to keep it in the film.
Pryor is known for his roles in Superman III and Silver Streak and after he saw Animal House, he sent Tanen a letter that read “Ned, ‘Animal House’ is f***ing funny, and white people are crazy”. With Pryor's approval, Tanen left the scene intact.