You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Goonies’ cast reflect on life-changing film

Donner's adventure story has fervent fanbase

There’s no escaping “The Goonies.” Of all the films Richard Donner (“Dick,” to friends) has directed — including “The Omen,” “Superman” and the entire “Lethal Weapon” franchise — the treasure-hunting kids’ adventure story seems to have the most fervent fanbase. Just ask the cast:

Even before shooting began, Donner told tough guy Robert Davi they were making a film that would rival “The Wizard of Oz” as a family favorite. “I go into a grocery store or Starbucks today and people still recognize me from working on ‘Goonies.’ It truly has become an absolute classic,” says Davi, who believes it was Donner’s trust in his actors and his willingness to let them improvise that created such an iconic film. “The whole aspect of me singing opera, that wasn’t in the script,” he says. “I came to Donner and brought the idea up. He and (Steven) Spielberg loved it so much they kept it in the movie.”

After “Goonies,” Sean Astin has a hard time disappearing into the crowd. Take a recent encounter at a Big Ten football game: “I was walking around Michigan State’s campus during tailgating, and a bunch of college kids still recognized me as a Goonie,” says the actor, who played the movie’s inhaler-toting hero, Mikey Walsh. Though he’s also widely recognized for his roles in “Rudy” and “The Lord of the Rings,” Astin insists the “Goonies” interactions are the most interesting: “I have people with asthma come up to me and say how the film and my character (have) influenced them.”

Now that he’s the respected star of an Oscar-winning movie, Josh Brolin has no problem admitting he may have taken his work on “The Goonies” a little too seriously at the time. During one of the cave scenes, Brolin suddenly felt compelled to climb the tunnel walls, but Donner talked him out of it. “I imagined being back in my mother’s womb and there was suddenly a total breakdown, a regression happening as the stress mounted (mind you, I was reading Stanislavsky at the time), and Dick’s response was, ‘Yeah, you could do that, or you could just say the lines.’ I was young and easily manipulated,” Brolin says.

Jeff Cohen, who immortalized the “Truffle Shuffle,” has long since shed his baby fat, graduating to a career as an entertainment lawyer at Cohen & Gardner. Thinking back to his lone bigscreen role, Cohen recalls, “Toward the end, Dick kept saying, ‘I can’t wait till this is done so I can go home to Hawaii,’ so on the last day of shooting, I dressed up like a Hawaiian tourist to play a little joke on Donner.” The joke went over so well that exec producer Spielberg decided to fly all the Goonies down to Hawaii after shooting had wrapped. “To Dick’s surprise, we were all waiting at his house when he arrived back from Hollywood,” Cohen recalls. “I think that moment might have caused his blood pressure to rise just a bit.”

Mention “Goonies,” and the first thing out of Mouth’s mouth is an immortal line from the movie: “Goonies never say die!” Even so, at one point, Corey Feldman says he actually got tired of fans constantly referring to the film, especially when he was touring with his band. But working with Donner is one of his fondest memories of the project. “When we first started filming, he didn’t want to be around the kids all the time,” Feldman says. “He found a peace of mind and complacency with it — he had to, or he would have ended up killing us all.”

“He came off like your favorite uncle,” says Martha Plimpton, who also remembers driving Donner crazy. “Toward the end of the shoot, he couldn’t get far enough away from us. I mean, even Santa Claus would have had enough of us by then.” All these years later, she’s still impressed with Donner’s setup on the Warner Bros. lot: “His office was so cool. It had a candy dispenser and pinball machine. It was like being in Uncle Vic’s office.”

Rumors have been swirling for years about a “Goonies” sequel, but Richard Donner says his most recent attempt simply didn’t pan out. “We tried really hard, and Steven (Spielberg) said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We had a lot of young writers submit work, but it just didn’t seem to call for it,” he explains.

Lately, Donner has been chasing a different spinoff idea: “I’m in the process of trying to get it done as a musical on Broadway. Wouldn’t that be great?”

The director has already met with former Broadway entertainment attorney John F. Breglio, and Donner seems confident things are moving in the right direction. He’s even figured out where to break for intermission: right after the kids fall through the hole, with the second half unfolding underground.

Jeff Goldsmith contributed to this report.

More Film

  • Aladdin

    China Box Office: 'Aladdin' Opens on Top With $19 Million Weekend

    Disney’s “Aladdin” opened on top of the Chinese box office with a less than magical $18.7 million debut weekend. According to data from Artisan Gateway, the film beat previous chart winner “Detective Pikachu” which earned $7.5 million in its third weekend. That score advances the cumulative China total for “Pikachu” to $83.3 million. The Guy [...]

  • 'Nina Wu' Review: Stylish, Glitchy, Provocative

    Cannes Film Review: 'Nina Wu'

    “They don’t just want to take my body, they want to take my soul!” So runs the overripe line of dialogue that actress Nina Wu (Wu Kexi) has to repeat again and again in “Nina Wu,” the fascinating, glitchy, stylish, and troublesome new film from Taiwanese director Midi Z (“The Road to Mandalay”). Nina practices [...]

  • 'All About Yves" Review: Feeble French

    Cannes Film Review: 'All About Yves'

    Benoit Forgeard’s dorky “All About Yves,” bizarrely chosen as the closing film of 2019’s Directors’ Fortnight selection in Cannes, is literally about an intelligent refrigerator that ascends to Eurovision fame as a rapper. Imagine Spike Jonze’s “Her” played for the cheapest of laughs, shorn of atmosphere, and absent all melancholic insight into our relationship with [...]

  • 'The Bare Necessity' Review: Offbeat, Charming

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Bare Necessity'

    A perfectly charmant way to, as the song has it, forget about your worries and your strife for 100 airy minutes, writer-director Erwan le Duc’s “The Bare Necessity” is a breezy little sweetheart of a debut, that threatens to give the rather ominous description “quirky French romantic comedy” a good name. In its dappled countryside [...]

  • Adam

    Cannes Film Review: 'Adam'

    With her debut feature “Adam,” Maryam Touzani allows her audience to sit back and relax comfortably into a beautifully made, character-driven little gem that knows when and how to touch all the right buttons. Taking the stories of two women, both frozen in existential stasis, and bringing them together in a predictable yet deeply satisfying [...]

  • 'To Live to Sing' Review: A

    Cannes Film Review: 'To Live to Sing'

    After his taut, impressive debut “Old Stone” which tracked with nightmarish relentlessness the high cost of compassion in modern urban China, Canadian-Chinese director Johnny Ma loosens his grip a little to deliver a softer, if not necessarily less pessimistic examination of the failing fortunes of a regional Sichuan Opera troupe. “To Live to Sing” is [...]

  • Hugh Jackman Sings Happy Birthday to

    Hugh Jackman Leads Massive One-Man Show Crowd in 'Happy Birthday' for Ian McKellen

    Hugh Jackman may have had to skip Ian McKellen’s birthday party to perform his one-man show, “The Man, The Music, The Show,” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t celebrate his “X-Men” co-star’s 80th. Jackman took a moment at the Manchester Arena Saturday to lead the sold-out audience — some 50,000 strong — in a rendition [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content