Friday, 4 April 2014
Small Roles, Big Impact #3 An Interview with Andy 'Lardass Hogan' Lindberg
Who remembers the campfire story that Gordie Lachance told about a kid called Lardass Hogan in the 1986 Classic 'Stand by me'?
The film, directed by Rob Reiner, based on a Stephen King short story tells the story of four boys on a journey to find the body of a missing boy. During the journey Geordie tells the story of a boy, a competition and revenge...
"Well this kid is our age but he's fat, real fat. He weighs close to one-eighty. But you know it's not his fault it's his glands.Well all the kids instead of calling him Davie they call him Lardass; Lardass Hogan. Even his little brother and sister call him Lardass. At school they put a sticker on his back that says 'wide load,' and they rank him out and beat him up whenever they got a chance. But one day he gets an idea. The greatest revenge-idea a kid ever had...."
The part was played by actor Andy Lindberg, and Retro LadyLand had the chance to chat to him about it...
How did you get the part? What was the description of the part?
"A former acting teacher of mine, Beth Harper, who still teaches theatre at The Portland Actors Conservatory (www.actorsconservatory.com) knew someone who was acting as a local casting agent for the film. She told some friends and I about it and we made arrangements to go in to audition.
When we went in initially, I had no idea what roles were being cast. All we knew at that point was that the movie was based on a Steven King book and it took place in the 1950’s. So the three of us put on white t-shirts, blue jeans, and Converse and went in. The first audition was just each of us on camera (a camcorder, I’m sure) saying our name, height, weight, and any acting credits. I think I even screwed up my first try and I recall doing a second."
Did you audition for any other part in the film?
"Somehow I then heard that the movie was to be based on Stephen King’s novella The Body from the book Different Seasons. So I began to read it. The timeline begins to get a bit fuzzy here, but I had a second audition, reading from the script. I cannot really remember what I read, but I began to hope that they were considering me for the role of VERN.
I later heard from a friend at the Civic Theatre that they were considering me for LARDASS. I remember being disappointed, but not heart broken, as I was still in the running for something. I DO recall reading the book, getting to the LA chapter and thinking, “Oh no. I bet THIS is what they’ll cast me as!”"
What did you have to do for the audition?"I read from the script at the second audition. I’m not sure what scene. I know that I read Vern’s “goucher” speech for my final audition."
So how many pies did you actually have to eat?
"I did some estimating once and calculated that based on the number of shots and the number of takes I must have put my face into several hundred pies.
I have never liked pie. I didn’t like it before the film, and I am not a huge fan now. In fact, on a fewoccasions I have been served a pie or cobbler with a blueberry filling and it has triggered my gag reflex!
The Pie Eat began on our second day of shooting (Monday). Some bakery in Eugene, Oregon showed up each morning on-set with hundreds of real blueberry pies. Real pies. The pies had ben baked with care and even had rock sugar on top- which cut my face. I had tiny cuts on my nose from forcing my way into the pies."
How did they rig the sick 'hose'?
"The first attempt at vomiting was done with a power washer filled with blueberry pie filling. Poor Dick Durock was blasted with several hundred PSI of pie! That, needless to say, did not work.
In the end they built a rig made from a ten-gallon cylinder with a plunger on top and a hosepipe at the bottom. The hose then snaked along the floor, up my leg, beneath my shirt to the side of my face away from camera. They taped the hose to the side of my face!
Five guys (at least) would push on the plunger, forcing the mixture of blueberry pie filling and large curd cottage cheese out through the 3 inch hose that was literally attached to the side of my face with tape.
All I had to do was open mouth as wide as possible and turn my head. From that moment on in the shoot there was not a second that some part of me wasn’t sticky with pie filling.
Smaller versions of the rig were built for the other guys on the dais who threw up."
And what was in the 'vomit'?
"Blue berry pie filling mixed with large curd cottage cheese."
You've obviously trimmed down a bit since then(!) did being in the movie help any negative feelings (if you did have some) your peers had to your size?
"I struggle with my weight to this day.
LARDASS was meant to be huge, cartoony huge, and with that in mind I wore a fat suit. The suit consisted of both top and bottom padding and was very hot. The crew was very sweet and would bring me water or cold RC cola whenever I asked.
People on the film were sensitive to the fact that I was an obese young man playing a character that was shamed for being fat, and so they took pains to point out that I was wearing a fat suit, so it wasn’t really ME that was being made fun of. I had no problem with it, but it does help that I was not, and have never been anywhere close to wearing the size 60 waist Levis I wore in the film.
Being known for playing a character named LARDASS is an invitation for people to comment upon or at least consider my size. In my experience the type of person who would have a negative thing to say about my size vis-à-vis the role is the kind of asshole who would have thought less of me because of my size anyway!
My general response is “what beloved American film were YOU in?”"
What was it like for you once the film came out?
"I told all my friends that I would see it with them when it came, so I ended up seeing it many, many times in the theatre. The first time was with my family at the (now gone) Southgate Cinema in Milwaukie, Oregon. It was rather surreal. Up to the moment I saw my scene for the first time I only had my own, first person memories of the various shots. Suddenly, here was an outside eye showing me my own life (as it were). Those first few viewings were the closest to an out of body experience I may ever have!
Though the role gave me a certain notoriety I didn’t seek out promotion. It did make for an easy conversation starter at parties!"
"I briefly met the other boys, though I do not have recall of it. They were on set and in town during my shoot. It was their vacation. You can see a picture on my website of my walking back to my trailer to get clean, with Will Weaton in the foreground.
I recall my brother asking who “the quiet guy” was. He was asking about River Phoenix.
I also remember that during a cast and crew softball game it became clear that NO ONE like Corey Feldman. Poor guy. But he WAS acting like an ass during the game, however."
Did you ever laugh when you shouldn't have? Did anyone else?
"I don’t recall breaking up. But I remember a few takes when The Mayor throws up on his wife, the vomit went straight into her bra and inflated her bosom like a balloon. There was quite a bit of laughter at that."
How long did the filming take?
"We shot for five days."
Do you know how much fake vomit was 'squirted' on the audience?
"To shoot the crowd vomiting, numbered ziplock bags (1, 2, 3) were passed around. Before the camera rolled the extras put the pie filling in their mouths, trying to look natural. When your number was called you barfed out your pie filling.
They shot it many times, so, certainly gallons of the stuff were used.
My own vomit was 10 gallons each time. I was sticky head to toe for most of the shoot."
What was Rob Reiner like to work for? What direction did he give you?
"My first on-set interaction with Rob Reiner was after the hairdresser had buzzed all of my hair off except for a funny little forelock that poked out, kind of like Tintin’s hair. I was marched over to Rob and he had them zip it off."
I remember Rob being very kind and funny. I was used to working cooperatively in the theatre, and so, being the naïve child actor that I was, I would offer my thoughts on this shot or that moment. My suggestions were always welcomed. I think, in part because I was offering to do more than they expected me to do, or, I hope, because it was just a good idea.
I DO recall that Reiner lost his patience with the extras during the crowd shots and kind of gave them a talking-to over the megaphone. I was thankful that he never had a reason to turn that ire on me."
How old were you when you appeared as Lardass?
"I was 14 years old."
How does it feel to be an integral part of one of (in my humble opinion) the greatest movies ever made (as constantly included in polls)?
"“Greatest movies ever made” is pushing it a bit!
I think others might agree with me too...
Still, it is a strange blessing to have an event that took place nearly 30 years ago be such a positive presence in my life. There was a time when the attention could be a little overwhelming, but that ended long ago. I will say the film still has a lot of street cred. Most younger people don’t know the film as well and often they give me attention because their parents are huge fans! That makes me feel old, for sure.
The attention from people who enjoyed the film is probably the largest legacy in my life from the movie. It gave people with whom I had no connection, or acquaintance the opportunity to connect."
How often do you drop it into conversation?
"I very seldom discuss it (but am happy to do so). If you were in a film I loved, I’d want to hear about it from you, too!"
So, when did you slim down?
"I’ve gone up and down since high school. With LARDASS as a credit it was always suggested that I stay big for my career. Most recently I’ve worked with a personal trainer to stay healthy in a meaningful way, not just dieting."
Why didn't you continue with a film career?
"Though my family was very supportive of my acting as a kid, I would never have thought to ask them to move to LA, and that was what would have had to happen for a film career. Portland, Oregon was always going to be the next big movie city, but that didn’t happen.
Truth be told, I have always looked at acting as a very selfish endeavor. I did it because I enjoyed it. I wasn’t interested in changing lives with it, or educating audiences. I had a great time performing."
"I almost studied Theatre in college, but, again, I just felt selfish about that. In the end I have had a variety of amazing careers, mainly in science education. (I used to travel around rural Alaska with a live American alligator!)
Annnd in 2008 I dropped it all and moved to New York to pursue acting! Life is dumb sometimes."
"The project I’m most excited about, currently, is an Oregon history podcast called Kick Ass Oregon History. http://www.orhistory.com. Soon to be released weekly, the podcast is a partnership between myself and longtime friend Doug Kenck-Crispin, who is pursuing his Masters in Public History from Portland State University. The podcast is a rather irreverent mix of history, commentary, and music, all with the goal of having fun learning about my home state of Oregon.
You can follow all of my adventures at anylindberg.com."