Exclusive Interview: Peter MacGregor-Scott on The Fugitive and Batman

Animal House Deathmobile

CraveOnline: Gotcha! was before the big paintball craze, wasn’t it?

Peter MacGregor-Scott: Yes, it was. It was very, very early in those days, very early. We had gone on a couple of paintball weekend battles out in Acton and fallen in love with it. When the script came by, we said, “Oh, we’ve got to do it.” It was a lot of fun. Anthony Edwards, as you know, we had done a couple of pictures with him. Great guy, and Linda Fiorentino was really good in the picture.

That probably started her down the femme fatale path.

Yes, it probably did. She’s difficult, but a wonderful actress.

We’ve heard that too. Were there any incidents on the set of that movie?

No, not really. She was very professional. We had absolutely no trouble with her whatsoever. I did another film after that with her where she was more difficult and had been an actress for a longer period of time. Those changes were evident in her behavior, but she’s nevertheless still a very talented person.

Another one I enjoyed was Troop Beverly Hills, which was a great high concept of sending a Beverly Hills woman out into nature. That’s the kind of movie they don’t make so much anymore, is it?

No, exactly. It was a lovely film. Shelley [Long] was very good in the picture and they let us film anywhere in Beverly Hills we wanted to go, I’m sure largely because [writer/producer] Ava Fries is a Beverly Hills grand dame. We filmed in the courthouse. You name it, we filmed there but that was a lot of fun to do, and a lot of those actresses have turned out to be very good performers. Probably I would say five or six of them have turned out to be really excellent performers.

Were the Cheech and Chong movies really professional experiences?

Very. There was never any smoke. When the boys are working, it’s a very clean set. No alcohol, no smoke, no nothing. They learned that in their live performances. They went to Folsom Prison and they had a little too much extra, and it wasn’t a good day for them. They said, “Okay, that’s the end of that. We go on clean as a whistle from now on.” I did three pictures with them and that was the way it was from then ‘til now I’m sure.

What are your stories about Animal House?

You know, it was my first studio movie and they had me in for a meeting with all the brass. I was by far the youngest person. I was 27, 28, had long hair and they said, “Can you make this movie for two million dollars?” I thought fuck, I can make this movie three times for $2 million. But yeah, we were actually $19,000 over budget and I wrote like a 15 page analysis of why we had gone over budget. They must have pissed themselves laughing. I mean, $19,000 is the coffee budget on a big movie nowadays for a week.

Was the overage all the stuff at the parade at the end of the movie?

No, it was a bit of everything. We had some transportation issues. We had some additional storage which we wanted to keep things like the Bluesmobile and just such minor things. We cracked a window, the guy went after the insurance and the insurance wouldn’t pay for it. That was $750 for the window. $19,000 was not a hell of a lot of money. The picture’s grossed $142 million. That was forgiven a long time ago.

How about The Jerk?

Oh, wonderful. Carl Reiner, excellent, just lovely. Steve Martin, Carl Reiner, they would come to the set together. They had a little Honda. It was an Accord or a Civic, probably a Civic, and they would drive out together and discuss the day’s work. No fancy limos, they were just really great to work with and so hard working. That was a lot of fun.

Speaking of difficult actors, you made a few Steven Seagal movies, as has Andy Davis. Did you have a good time with him?

I liked him very much. It was early days for him and we had really quite a special relationship. I realized what I had and I realized that his time was limited, of his own accord, and so I would shoot him out and plan the day to get him in and get him done. If you do that and you keep him working and keep him informed, the guy gives you 100%.  But if he’s hanging around and spending a long time between shots, that’s not good.

I informed Andy about the book Seagalogy, where the author studied the films of Steven Seagal. I think you’d enjoy it too.

Oh dear.

Are you going to produce Thieves Fortune for Andy?

I’m not sure, but probably. We have a very special relationship and we’ve done a lot of pictures together. It’s a very, very nice, warm relationship.

What is next for you?

I’m involved in a television series which I spent quite a lot of time on.

One that’s currently on?

No, it’s one that we’re trying to get placed and a great deal of the money is already raised. It’ll be interesting. It’s a little on the expensive side but I think that we can raise the money for it.

Can you say anything about it?

Not really. It’s early, early days.

Is it a cable or network series?

I suspect it’ll be cable. Both Showtime and HBO have expressed interest in it and we’ll see. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.