THE BIG CHILL

Glenn Close, Meg Tilly and other stars of the 1983 hit share their fa­vorite mem­o­ries and on-set pranks.

Closer Weekly - - Contents -

Ire­mem­ber the first day go­ing to the set,” Meg Tilly says of head­ing to work on 1983’s now-iconic col­lege friend­ship movie The Big Chill. “I was driv­ing a beat-up Pinto be­cause that was all I could af­ford. I went to the gate, in­tro­duced my­self and the guard looked at me and my car and dis­missed me. I was mor­ti­fied!” Af­ter find­ing a park­ing spot and a pay phone — this was the early ’80s, re­mem­ber — she called the set and Wil­liam Hurt picked up. “I started to cry,” she tells Closer. “But Bill came to my res­cue, jumped in my car and took me un­der his wing.”

That act of friend­ship fell right in line with all that fol­lowed. The Big Chill is now the same age as the group of Baby Boomers de­picted in the film when it was re­leased 35 years ago. And much like their char­ac­ters — Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan alums who come to­gether for the fu­neral of one of their own — the ac­tors, who are now mostly in their 60s and 70s, re­call their time film­ing with nos­tal­gia. “I still see all of us in the kitchen danc­ing around,” says Meg, 58. “There was al­ways food, good com­rades, and all of th­ese mem­o­ries come flood­ing back.”

GOOD LOVIN’

Friend­ship was at the core of the movie, but “it’s not a par­tic­u­larly rose-col­ored ver­sion of it,” says direc­tor Lawrence Kas­dan, whose wife, Meg, cu­rated the mu­sic for the sound­track filled with 1960s hits. “It’s what re­ally hap­pens,” he adds.

“Peo­ple rub each other wrong, but the friend­ship sur­vives and helps you deal with the world.” And in mak­ing the film, Kas­dan wanted the ac­tors to re­ally be­come friends. “We had a month’s re­hearsal,” JoBeth Wil­liams mar­vels to Closer. “And dur­ing shoot­ing in South Carolina, Larry in­sisted that we all show up ev­ery day, whether or not we were shoot­ing any scenes.”

It worked. “I have a slew of golden mem­o­ries,” says Jeff Gold­blum, who’s kept in touch with ev­ery­one. “I just had a great time.” While JoBeth says there weren’t any on-set ro­mances, “most of us hung out to­gether in the evenings play­ing cha­rades and Trivial Pur­suit,” which Meg says “got very com­pet­i­tive.”

Things also got goofy. On Hal­loween, Kevin Klein and Jeff came as “sheiks in their bed­sheets,” JoBeth re­calls. And at the Bring Change to Mind Revels & Rev­e­la­tions Fundraiser in New York City re­cently, Glenn Close told Closer, “Mary Kay [Place] and JoBeth and I went to Kmart and bought the biggest bras and panties we could find and hung them on the fan in Jeff and Kevin’s house, and they didn’t no­tice un­til they turned on the fan!”

“We all be­came friends and had so much fun!” — JoBeth Wil­liams

JOY TO THE WORLD

The film was a sur­prise hit. “No one knew it was go­ing to be suc­cess­ful,” Meg says. It earned nearly $60 mil­lion at the box of­fice in 1983, but JoBeth says, “It was ex­tremely hard to get made. Seven stu­dios turned it down” be­cause there was “too much talk­ing and too lit­tle ac­tion!”

What’s more, Glenn, fol­low­ing The World Ac­cord­ing to Garp, didn’t want to play a mother fig­ure again. She pre­ferred Mary Kay’s sin­gle at­tor­ney. “I liked that she was a work­ing girl,” Glenn says. But Kas­dan con­vinced her. And ul­ti­mately, as Tom Berenger says, the movie be­came “one of those things that every­body can iden­tify with.”

Now, all the ac­tors look back fondly. “It was like a bub­ble of time in a spe­cial place,” says Meg. Adds JoBeth, it was “ex­hil­a­rat­ing,” and “re­mains one of my fa­vorite films to shoot.” And while in 1983 there was never talk of a se­quel, Glenn tells Closer, “It would be won­der­ful!”

But un­til then, they have their mem­o­ries. “It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence to have chal­leng­ing work that also made you laugh,” Glenn says. “We can look back and say that was a very spe­cial time.”

— Lisa Cham­bers, with re­port­ing by Lexi Cic­cone and Ilyssa Panitz

Many of the orig­i­nal cast re­united in Toronto in 2013 for a 30th an­niver­sarycel­e­bra­tion of the film.

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