‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ star Dana Barron reveals Griswold family secrets, from Christie Brinkley’s pool scene to Chevy Chase rewrites

Dana Barron played Audrey Griswold in the 1983 favorite National Lampoon's Vacation.  (Photos courtesy of Everett Collection and Getty Images.)

Dana Barron played Audrey Griswold in the 1983 favorite National Lampoon’s Holiday. (Photos courtesy of Everett Collection and Getty Images.)

Talk about the ultimate family album. National Lampoon’s Holiday Star Dana Barron still has her copy of the first script of the favorite 1983 comedy that introduced America to the Griswold family, led by Chevy Chase patriarch Clark. And the actress knows firsthand that there are substantial differences between what screenwriter John Hughes wrote on the page and what ended up making it on screen under the direction of Harold Ramis.

“I have the original script, so I can always go back to it and say, ‘Oh, that’s what happened,'” Barron told Yahoo Entertainment of that first. Vacation, which is coming to 4K Ultra HD on June 27 in honor of its 40th anniversary. And she’s been coming back to it a lot recently as she works on her own behind-the-scenes memoir chronicling the making of the film. “I had to go back and relive what I remember,” says Barron, who was 16 when she played Griswold’s eldest child, Audrey, alongside Anthony Michael Hall as her son. younger brother Rusty and Beverly D’Angelo as their long-suffering mother. Ellen.

Watch our interview with Dana Barron on YouTube below.

And some of those memories include Vacationis an original ending never before seen. In the film, Clark crams his clan into their Wagon Queen Family Truckster and embarks on a wild road trip to Wally World – the happiest place on Earth that isn’t called Disneyland. Both versions of Vacation conclude with the Griswolds stopping at the park to find it’s closed for maintenance. In the theatrical cut, Clark takes hapless Wally World security guard Russ Lasky (played by the late John Candy) hostage and does as many rides as he can before the cops show up.

But in the version of the finale that Hughes scripted and Ramis originally shot, Clark heads straight for the house of park owner Roy Walley (Eddie Bracken) and takes him hostage instead. But test audiences reacted badly when the Griswolds became home invaders, so Ramis quickly rounded up the cast to shoot the alternate ending. To date, the original ending has never been released, although Chase has stated that he has a copy on VHS.

“I should get Chevy to show me that, because I see him in a couple of weeks,” Barron laughs. “I think they should have released it on this (4K edition) as well, because I’m sure the fans would love to see it.”

In the absence of Chase’s VHS footage, Barron must rely on his own memories – as well as his copy of the script – to piece together what they filmed. “I have a picture of me posing on the Truckster that’s in Roy’s koi pond,” she says. “We storm the estate with a BB gun and Chevy has Roy and all the executives dancing and singing. It was fun, and I miss not being able to see that part.”

On the other hand, Barron didn’t like rotating that midsummer seat. “It was extremely hot and people were literally fainting,” she recalls. “They must have given them scented salts to wake them up!”

While she’d like to see the original ending released for historical purposes, Barron ultimately believes Ramis made the right choice in ending the film at Wally World instead of Wally’s estate. “Harold said the first ending didn’t work out, because no one went to Wally World. It wasn’t fun – it was an inconvenience. All this time we’re trying to make it happen, and we never got to see it. Now we do!”

Left to right: Russ Lasky and the Griswold family at Wally World in the revised ending of National Lampoon's Vacation.  (Photo: Courtesy of Everett Collection)

Left to right: Russ Lasky and the Griswold family at Wally World in the revised ending of National Lampoon’s Holiday. (Photo: Courtesy of Everett Collection)

Because the new ending was shot months after production ended, there are visible continuity errors in the Wally World finale. Hall had been going through a growth spurt, so Rusty is noticeably taller than he was in the rest of the movie. And the four Griswolds lost the summer tan they had acquired during the first round of filming. But Candy’s hilarious performance as Russ more than makes up for those discrepancies. “It was so much fun being with John,” confirms Barron. “I think the movie works because everyone loves Wally World.”

Barron says his next book will also correct the record of other Vacation stories that are not entirely accurate. For example, there’s a fan theory that Christie Brinkley’s famous “Girl in the Red Ferrari” – who becomes Clark’s road crush – is actually Roy Wally’s daughter, and that’s why she also drives across the country. “That’s so not true,” insists Barron.

Meanwhile, on a previously recorded commentary track, Chase appears to suggest that an earlier version of Clark’s belated encounter with Brinkley in a motel pool included a kiss before they were discovered by the rest of the guests. , including his embarrassed family. “It wasn’t shot, and it was pretty much as it was written,” Barron recalled. “Chevy and Harold rewrote John’s script, which didn’t make John very happy. But they had to make it Clark-centric; originally it was supposed to be from Rusty’s point of view and they changed for Clark’s point of view and that changed the whole movie. Chevy was this huge story and he had to be the star of the movie.

But Barron is also quick to note that the notoriously prickly Chase didn’t bring a star’s ego to the set. “He was very charming and funny – no problem with him,” she says, adding that the actor took the time to write a letter of recommendation for his application to New York University’s business school. years later. “He’s a nice guy, but you also have to be really quick. We did a convention once where the announcer was kind of goofing off and he jumped up, because he saw a comedic way of having fun . You have to be quick on your toes (around him).”

Christie Brinkley and Chase in the famous pool scene from National Lampoon's Vacation.  (Photo: Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Christie Brinkley and Chase in famous pool scene from National Lampoon’s Holiday. (Photo: Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Speaking of Rusty, Barron reveals that a Hall-related story beat was shot during the pool scene that didn’t make the final cut. “There’s a woman next to Anthony on the balcony and she was supposed to be a whore,” she said. “(Rusty) was going to walk into his hotel room with her. But they cut that — it was like, ‘Not appropriate!'”

According to Barron, his then 14-year-old co-star conspired to pull off another age-inappropriate moment backstage. At the beginning of the film, Ramis stages a tribute to Alfred Hitchock psychology where Clark sneaks up on his wife when she’s in the shower. When he pulls back the curtain, he surprises Ellen topless with… a banana. Meanwhile, Hall surprised everyone when it turned out he crashed the set to see D’Angelo’s nude scene.

“At 14, Michael Hall was hiding on set watching his mother naked,” Barron laughs. “He was grabbed by (producer) Matty Simmons, who said, ‘What are you doing? Get out of here!’ He was trying to spy on his naked mother! Vacation for you.”

Unfortunately, Barron was unable to join his parents when they flew to their European holidays two years later. The 1985 Amy Heckerling-directed sequel cast new actors like Audrey and Rusty after Hall was unavailable to reprise the role due to his commitment to weird science. “Amy said, ‘You can’t have the old Audrey with a new Rusty,'” she recalled. “So they had two new kids, and Matty Simmons said that was one of the biggest mistakes he’s ever made in his career.” (Dana Hill and Jason Lively play siblings in European holidayswhile Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki take over for the years 1989 Christmas holidays and Marisol Nichols and Ethan Embry join the fray in 1997 Vacation in Las Vegas.)

“It was sad,” admits Barron. “I was like, ‘My family is gone and left me!'” But rather than moping around in her room, she went on vacation to Europe. “I was 18, so I put a backpack on my back and went to Europe! I thought, ‘If they don’t take me, I’ll take myself.’ had a great summer vacation — like, In fact on holiday.”

National Lampoon’s Holiday will be released in 4K Ultra HD on Tuesday, June 27.

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