Spent the better part of last night watching every single second and scrap on the Criterion Collection Wes Anderson-approved Bottle Rocket two-fer, available today (ya think?), and there are copious revelations contained therein. Such as: The line "On the run from Johnny Law, ain't no trip to Cleveland" comes from an episode of Miami Vice (hmm, really?). Or that Owen Wilson didn't want to appear in the film because then "it wouldn't really seem like a real movie." Or that Harvey Goff was supposed to have a cameo. (He does in the deleted scenes -- a treat). Or that it was Jim Brooks -- who offers this lengthy behind-the-curtains making-of -- who came up with the line, "How does an asshole like Bob get such a great kitchen?"
Till last night, everything I knew about the making of the movie came from Matt Seitz's must-read (again) 1995 cover story in the paper version of Unfair Park. And, of course, Martin Scorsese's 2000 Esquire love letter.
But from the 25-minute making-of doc on the second disc came this WTF moment: Danny Fine, now vice president of sales for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, was actually supposed to play Owen's brother in Bottle Rocket. It was nothing less than shocking to see Danny, with whom I attended Thomas Jefferson High School, show up in some rescued footage, shot between the making of the original short and the Columbia feature. His memories after the jump.
Danny knew the Wilson boys from school: He went to St. Mark's from first through eight grade, and was at TJ in the mid-80s -- when Owen was getting the boot from the prep school and forced to spend a little while in the public school trenches with the rest of us unwashed. He still talk to Owen -- every day, damned near. Still, he's yet to see the Criterion DVD. Odds are there's a screening in his future, oh, tonight. Till then, he offers this look back:
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"We were a Goff's on Lovers Lane in the middle of the night, and I was gonna be Owen's brother," he says of his one big scene. "We get in an argument at Goff's, and Owen's got a trick shoulder, so we get in this fight, and I separated his shoulder. Owen's going, 'Ow, ow, ow, ow!' And Wes is going, 'Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot!' We did 13 minutes of film that night, and they took it to Sundance, and James Brooks was interested in it. As the story's been told me, Brooks said, 'How much more you got?'"
The boys returned from Utah, then filmed a total of 40 minutes' worth of footage. Danny recalls loving what he saw during a screening at Luke and Owen's folks' house on Strait Lane, but he also didn't think it would ever amount to much. "I just thought it was this joke, because I was in the middle of it," he says. "I had a friend who wanted to invest, and I told him, 'Don't -- it's going to be a catastrophe.'"
Which is what everyone else figured as well: Anderson and Wilson and Brooks, among others, talk on the commentary track and on the making-of about an infamous test screening in Santa Monica, during which the audience streamed out of the theater well before it was over. Even now, Anderson says of Bottle Rocket, there are "so many people who hate it." Danny recalls that following the screening, which he also attended, "Owen said, 'What am I gong to do now?' It was horrible."
Alas, Danny didn't make the final cut. He did wind up with a bit part in Rushmore though -- as Coach Fritz. Got paid $42, as he recalls. "Cashed the check, when I probably should have kept it as a souvenir," he says. "But I probably needed it at the time." --Robert Wilonsky