”Stay with me”: the hard road to success (Topic)

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”Stay with me”: the hard road to success

Image Thirty years ago, on 8 August 1986, Rob Reiner's film Stay with Me premiered. Although today the tape rightfully bears the status of a cult, at one time almost all major Hollywood film companies abandoned it. Despite the difficulties, the adaptation of Stephen King's novel “ Body ” nevertheless saw the light of day to remain in the hearts of several generations of viewers as the perfect example of a story about childhood friendship and growing up.

The success of Stay With Me has put Rainer out of the shadow of his famous father, who has earned nine Emmy awards as an actor, writer and producer. A couple of years earlier, Rob had made his directorial debut with the comedy This Is Spinal Tap, but in the eyes of the public, he continued to be a supporting actor on the sitcom All in the Family ( All in the Family ). It was the adaptation of King that allowed Rainer to establish himself as a truly talented and versatile director. Within a few years, he directed the comedy "When Harry Met Sally", the drama "A Few Good Boys", the fantasy "Princess Bride" and the successful adaptation of another work of The King of Horrors - "Misery."
The film about four boys from the provincial town of Castle Rock might not have been born if not for the insistence of screenwriters Bruce E. Evans and Reynold Gideon, who managed to get permission from King to adapt his story for the big screen. In the early 80s, the famous writer was so disappointed with the film versions of "The Shining" and "Christina" that he seriously considered ending his collaboration with Hollywood. The writers were able to convince Stephen , but as soon as they finished working on the text, it turned out that there was no buyer for their project.


Bruce E. Evans (Writer & Producer):Literally every company in Hollywood has abandoned our script. All the studio bosses said that the story of 12-year-old boys walking down the railroad track would not interest the audience. Nobody knew what to build an advertisement for a film about children, which raises serious questions. But this story won over us precisely because there were no girls, first kisses and other usual attributes of pictures about teenagers in it. We wanted to make a tape about guys who are beginning to realize what it means to be mortal.

Reynold Gideon (writer and producer):In the end, only Norman Lear from Embassy Studios decided to meet with us.

Rob Reiner (director):Originally, the director's chair was planned to be entrusted to Adrian Line, but he wanted to take a break after exhausting work on the tape "9 1/2 Weeks". Then Bruce and Reynold decided to send their text to me. Their script had great dialogue and interesting characters, but it seemed to me that something was missing. For the next four days, I couldn't get the story out of my head.


Andrew Scheinman (Producer):The turning point was the realization that we should shift our focus from Kris Chambers to Gordy Lachance . As a result, we got a story about a boy who feels that his father underestimates him. Already in the course of the adventure, our hero begins to understand that the problem lies in his parent, and not in himself.

Rob Reiner :In the first version of the script, Lachance was not emphasized. I thought we needed to pay more attention to this insecure boy. Gordy went in search of the body because he felt cold from his father and felt guilty for not being able to cry at his brother's funeral.

Many young Hollywood actors, including Ethan Hawke and Sean Astin, competed for the main roles in the film. Rainer chose River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell.

Wil Wheaton (playing Gordy Lachance ):The audition for this movie seemed to go on forever. After a series of preliminary casting rounds, they selected a dozen actors, and then began trying out all sorts of combinations of the final four. It's funny that I almost lost my role to a terrible acting teacher. When I once asked him how to learn how to cry at the click of a firecracker, he replied that the filmmakers would just drop lemon juice in my eyes. I must admit that this prospect did not please me too much. During one of the casting stages, I told the producers with all directness that I did not like crying scenes. Luckily, Reynold Gideon jumped up to me and told me to say I was joking.


Rob Reiner :We've looked at so many actors that I can hardly remember all of their names. But I will always remember the day when River Phoenix came to audition for the role of Chris Chambers .

Jerry O'Connell (playing Verne Tessio ):I remember my parents said that an actor from the TV series “ All in the Family ". For some reason I thought that I had to pass screen tests for the film of the main star of this sitcom - Carroll O'Connor.

Rob Reiner : Jerry was just great. As soon as he walked through the door, he announced: "Hey, you're the same guy from Channel 5 ." It was on this channel that the reruns of " All in the family " were played at that time.

Bruce E. Evans :The hardest part was finding Teddy . For a long time we could not find an actor who could play such an embittered boy. For a while, we even thought about giving the role to River and starting the search for a new Chris Chambers .


Corey Feldman (playing Teddy Duchamp ): Rob was impressed with my screen tests. For me, creating this image was not a big problem: I relied on my own experience. Most of my peers did not have to deal with adult violence, and I returned home from school with one single question: "How many cuffs will I get today?"

Rob Reiner :It was also difficult for us to find a narrator, since the voices of most of the actors did not suit me at all. And then I thought of Richard Dreyfuss. Fortunately, he not only agreed to this role, but also offered to star in the final scene of the film.

To help the boys find a common language, Rob Reiner decided to bring them to Oregon a couple of weeks before filming began.

Jerry O'Connell : Rob got along quickly with us. We can say that on the set we perceived him as the fifth member of our company. While we waited for filming to begin, he did not ask us to rehearse or memorize dialogues. For two weeks the four of us were just playing different board games, so we were really good friends by the time the tape started production.


Rob Reiner :By then, the guys were working like Swiss watches. There is a moment in the film when the boys say that Teddy's father participated in the Normandy landings. We shot this tense scene in a long take. Each of them entered into dialogue exactly when the situation required it. At a certain point they took a break, after which Vernu had to defuse the tension with the songs “Have Gun Will Travel” . Only a real actor could sense so subtly when the perfect moment to break the silence came. I was satisfied with the very first take of this complex scene.

Wil Wheaton :We were pretty much like our heroes. I was awkward, shy and extremely sensitive. It was easy to bring me to tears, which Corey enjoyed using. Sometimes he was quite cruel, and River stood up for me a couple of times. Once upon a time, Rob and one of our producers even intervened and asked Corey to leave me alone. I have no grudge against him. Now we do not maintain a relationship, but I never wished him ill. I understood that he had a difficult childhood.

Corey Feldman :When River and I embarked on another adventure, Wheaton was simply locked in his hotel room.

Jerry O'Connell :One of my most vivid childhood memories is the Independence Day celebration at Rivera's home. It turned out that fireworks are freely available in Oregon. We bought a whole box and ran them all night.


Just a few days before filming, Embassy studio moved under the wing of Columbia film company. At the time, it was owned by the Coca-Cola corporation, whose management was not at all eager to launch a rather controversial film with dubious commercial prospects.

Reynold Gideon :News of the sale of Embassy came three days before the start of work. They just told us: "Roll up and go home."

Rob Reiner :By that time, our entire film crew had already gathered in Oregon. Moreover, we managed to build the main scenery. You can imagine our feelings when we are told that the film is no longer needed. The budget was $ 7.5 million and we had no idea if we could find this money.

Reynold Gideon :The current chairman of the board of Disney studio, Alan Horn, was then the chief financial officer of Embassy . He told Norman Lear : “You have neither a distributor, nor a deal to release the film on videotapes. It looks very, very bad in terms of cash outlook. " However, Norman liked our script. He believed so much in the talent of Rob and the boys that he covered the costs of the film out of his own pocket.


The drama Reiner gave the audience a lot of emotional scenes. One of the most memorable moments was the conversation between Chris and Gordy about the stolen money.

Rob Reiner :We shot a couple of takes, but River couldn't find the right emotion for this scene. I took him aside with the words: "You don't have to tell me, but you must have had moments in your life when one of the adults seriously let you down." The next take ended up in the final version of the film. I don't know what exactly prompted Rivera to play so convincingly. He never admitted what he was thinking at that moment.

Jerry O'Connell :On the first day of shooting, we were working on a scene in a junkyard when we were unexpectedly interrupted by the Stop command. Rob came up to me and said, "What are you doing?" My hero was just watching the verbal skirmish between the landfill owner and Teddy , and therefore I did not understand the essence of the question. Then the director explained: “Even if you have no words in this scene, you must somehow react to what is happening. Look, your friend is getting into a fight. What will you do? ”.

Corey Feldman :This moment could have been my moment of glory, but it got seriously cut on the editing table.

Rob Reiner :Working with children is not easy at all. During the filming of the scene on the bridge, they managed to bring me to white heat. With the help of camera tricks, we created the feeling that the guys were in danger of being hit by the wheels of the train, but in fact they were so far away that they were not at all afraid. In those days, it was 30-degree heat outside, and our team had to manually drive a heavy camera cart over the sleepers. The boys, on the other hand, were frankly playing the fool, breaking one take after another. At one fine moment I could not resist, shouting: "If the train does not kill you, I will do it!" They panicked and we finally got the footage we wanted.


Corey Feldman :And for the leech scene, they set up an artificial lake in the middle of the forest to ensure our maximum safety. However, we got to the shooting only six weeks later, when nature helped turn this ecologically clean reservoir into a natural swamp. When we got into it, there were not only leeches, but also worms, beetles and other animals.

Will Wheaton :The swamp was nasty and terribly cold. That day of shooting generally left us with extremely unpleasant memories. The guys and I used to visit the local mall for a ride on the water slides. On the day of filming that scene, we were not allowed on the slides. They thought we were covered with real open wounds.

Corey Feldman :This is how the scene with four half-naked boys was born, one of whom is pulling a leech out of his panties. I'm not sure that in modern cinema, something like this would get away with us ...


Rob Reiner :At the end of the story, Chris instructs Ace . Already in the midst of work on the film, Andrew Scheinman offered to hand over weapons to Gordy , who became the central character of our story. When we showed the painting to Stephen King , he said: "Why didn't I think of this myself?"

After finishing shooting in the summer of 1985, the film team had to start looking for a distributor.

Rob Reiner :And again we were given to understand that Hollywood is not interested in our picture at all.

Bruce E. Evans :The head of Universal left the preview altogether in the middle of the film.

Rob Reiner :In the end, we had no choice but to go to the studio Columbia , which once made it clear that she did not need the film. We were fortunate to have a change of senior management at that time and the new boss of the film company, Guy McElwine, watched " Stay With Me " right at home with guests. They say that at the end of the film, tears came to his eyes, and he said this: “We will support this picture. And I don’t care if it will make a profit. ”

Bruce E. Evans :There is a version that then McElwine felt bad, which is why they decided to watch the film at his home. In addition to studio management and marketing specialists, the daughters of the head of the film company were present. They say that the fate of " Stay with me " was sealed in a matter of minutes, because the girls fell in love with the hero Rivera at first sight.


Despite the difficult path to the screens, the tape not only earned more than $ 52 million at the box office, but also brought Evans and Gideon nominations for the award “ Oscar ".

Corey Feldman :Shortly after the release of " Stay with Me " I received an email from Michael Jackson who congratulated me on my success. It turned out that the filmmakers planned to use one of his songs, but then settled on a soundtrack from the 50s.

Jerry O'Connell :We didn't even have a high-profile premiere with the actors. In fact, I saw a film for the first time with my grandparents in a cinema on Fifth Avenue. The ticket lady recognized me as one of the main characters and returned the money to us with the words: "Movie stars do not pay for tickets." I starred in a film that was to become a real classic, and for the next few days my grandfather could only tell everyone around about how the usher let him into the hall for free.

Andrew Scheinman :In the first weekend, we raised either $ 3 million or $ 5 million . But the film managed to demonstrate tremendous stamina at the box office.

Wil Wheaton :I was not ready for the audience to receive the tape so warmly. Once, three large boxes with letters from fans appeared on the doorstep of my house ...

Andrew Scheinman :When the film came out, we were in London filming " The Princess Bride ". As soon as Rob returned to the States, he became “the guy who shot“ Stay with Me ”.


The life of the leading actors has developed in different ways. Wheaton soon landed a role in Star Trek: The Next Generation , which helped him gain an impressive army of new fans. O'Connell has made a successful film career and has also become a darling of the geek community thanks to his role in Parallel Worlds ( Sliders ). A year after the release of " Stay with me ", Feldman starred in another famous film of the 80s - "The Lost Boys", but then he had to struggle with addictions for a long time. River Phoenix also felt the negative consequences of fame. In 1989 he received an " Oscar " nomination for his role in the crime drama "Idle" but four years later, his life was cut short by a drug overdose.

Wil Wheaton :I was angry with Rivera for a long time, because he was the guy who could repeat the career of Tom Hanks. He could become an actor with $ 20 million in royalties. I worked hard, but I never got as many opportunities. I just couldn’t believe that Phoenix did this with his life. But most of all I was angry that there was not a single person next to him who would have prevented the tragedy. Almost every young Hollywood actor is immediately surrounded by a bunch of damn parasites. These people could have saved Rivera , but they only thought about milking money out of him. I don't know their names, but I hope that life made them pay for their actions.

Corey Feldman :By that time, I had already been to the rehabilitation center. The assistant director of the film I was filming at the time admitted that River looked very bad on the set of My Own Idaho State. When I called him, he didn't even understand who he was talking to. I sincerely wanted to support him, because he was one of the few who found kind words about me when information about my arrest for drug possession appeared in the press. We agreed to meet in Los Angeles after the filming of my film was completed, but I never had time to come to his aid ...

Richard Dreyfuss (narrator):When we lose actors like River or Philip Seymour Hoffman, our hearts are always deeply wounded because they could have given us many more images. In my opinion, Phoenix was the most talented actor of his generation.


Despite the tragic death of Rivera , the tape managed to leave a big mark on the lives of its creators.

Jerry O'Connell :I once discovered that my wife, Rebecca Romijn, is a real fan of “ Stay with Me ”. I learned about this quite by accident from a conversation with her school friends. We had a couple of drinks, and they said that as a child, her room was decorated with posters of our picture. Rebecca herself never told me about it ...

Corey Feldman :The film has gained such a cult status that we are always asked why we didn't make a sequel.

Richard Dreyfuss :This is one of those films that you will definitely watch to the end if you happen to see it on any TV channel.

Wil Wheaton :On the one hand, I am immensely happy that I had this role in my career. Many of my colleagues may never get the chance to star in a movie like this in their entire lives. But the other side of the coin is that for many years I was worried that I would not repeat this success.


Jerry O'Connell :I am constantly reminded of those times. As the film says, we never have the same friends as we were in childhood.

Source: Variety

The Topic of Article: ”Stay with me”: the hard road to success.
Author: Jake Pinkman