Few personalities in the entertainment industry are as contentious as Chevy Chase. The acerbic and unyielding comedian has been on the stage for many years. He got his start as a member of the original Saturday Night Live cast, and after leaving the show, he continued to have a successful movie career, becoming a well-known figure by the late 1970s. Chase played both the bumbling idiot and the quick-witted smooth talker in his performances, which earned him enormous popularity with broad audiences who still cherish his legendary characters.
Despite his rise to stardom, Chevy Chase’s career suffered over the years, and on some occasions, Chase was also unkind to his co-stars. It was common for the troublesome leading man to generate problems on sets by disparaging or provoking those around him and separating himself from future possibilities to work. By the 1990s, Chase had a long history of underwhelming motion pictures, a failing late-night talk show, and a declining reputation. The SNL alum has had a variety of parts to choose from over the years, but it’s obvious that most of them are over the actor’s controversial behaviour. Let’s look at the reasons why Chevy Chase’s most iconic roles made the world fall in love with him in the first place, despite the bitter taste the behind-the-scenes stories left.
Andy Farmer (Funny Farm)
Although it wasn’t as well-known as his other movies, 1988’s Funny Farm starred Chase as sports writer Andy Farmer, who makes the decision to leave his hectic city life behind with his wife in order to experience small-town country life and find inspiration for his new novel. A typical “fish out of water” story that emphasises the beauty of Norman Rockwell’s America and the pain of the main characters in their lifestyle whiplash. Chevy Chase is at the top of his career because he is given the freedom to display his skills in physical slapstick comedy while offering his own distinct brand of outrageous responses to the peculiar behaviours of his new neighbours.
Over the years, the movie subtly gained a reputation as a ’80s cult classic; it is regarded as a hidden treasure among Chase’s prodigious output. Funny Farm is well worth watching, even if only for Chase’s outstanding performance. It boasts a remarkable supporting cast of excellent character actors, excellent writing with well-done callbacks, and a charming, lovingly produced spoof of the simpler pleasures of Americana living.
Clark Griswold (Vacation Series)
In the movie Vacation, the Griswold family is seated in the automobile.
The Vacation series was another huge smash, and this time, Chevy Chase was allowed to hog all the attention. It was based on filmmaker John Hughes’ memories of his own family vacations as a boy. With the original National Lampoon’s Vacation and Christmas Vacation standing out as the series’ most prominent instalments, it’s unusual for Chase to return to a series and find renewed popularity. Even though lesser-known Vacation films and the 2015 adaptation may have been duds, the two blockbusters more than made up for it.
A fitting role for the lead actor’s comedic skills, Chase’s portrayal of Clark Griswold is brilliant in its relatability (especially when pushed to his limits). He is a devoted husband and father who, despite getting himself and his family into more than their fair share of sticky situations due to his ignorance and stubbornness, is adamant about giving them his vision of the ideal holiday, whether they survive it or not. Studios appear keen to capitalise on the success of the Vacation franchise, despite the fact that audiences only really need to see the original and the Christmas sequel. A TV spin-off series was previously speculated.
Dusty Bottoms (Three Amigos!)
Chase shines in the 1986 comedy Three Amigos! as one of the three dimwitted silent cinema stars who are mistaken for their on-screen characters and are now in charge of fending off a vicious Mexican gang. This time, he is a member of a trio, and he does so admirably. When paired with great comic actors Steve Martin and Martin Short, the chemistry between the three is flawless since they each have their own chance to shine and laugh. Three Amigoscast, !’s which included comic auteur John Landis as director, was a recipe for a classic movie that obviously influenced following masterpieces like Galaxy Quest and Tropic Thunder.
Although Chase isn’t the show’s only star, he nonetheless makes the most of his little screen time and interacts with the other comic performers with grace and charisma. Fans continue to watch the quotable adventure, which represents a professional high point for everyone engaged in its creation.
Himself (Saturday Night Live)
Chase’s influence on Saturday Night Live at the time was unrivalled as one of the founding cast members and the man behind the creation of Weekend Update, a long-running mainstay of the late-night sketch comedy series. He went on to swiftly become the most well-liked member of the cast. Chase, who was still in the early stages of his career, blended in seamlessly with the company, leaving his mark with his dry delivery and slapstick. He later became famous for his clumsy portrayals, including his impression of President Gerald Ford.
Chase was the first participant to leave the programme after an additional 1.5 years. Getting into a fist brawl with Bill Murray and other aggressive and egotistical actions behind the scenes caused the comedian to leave and be temporarily banned from the show. Years later, Chase has made sporadic appearances, including on the show’s 40th anniversary, but he has also hurled barbs at the current cast, claiming that the only time SNL was successful was during its first two years, when he was a part of it (what a coincidence).
Irwin Fletcher (Fletch)
Chevy Chase was created for the character of Fletch, an undercover reporter, where he could properly showcase his talents as a comedic actor and leading man. The movie depicts the escapades of the title character, who is infamous for having to don many disguises and using his quick wit to charm his way out of repeated interrogation. There is no finer role that has allowed the star to flex his powers in both physical and verbal delivery, garnering continual laughs the entire time. It perfectly captures the strength of Chase’s versatility and range. Following up on what made the first film so delightful, a sequel was produced a few years later to generally positive reviews. A relaunch starring Mad Men actor Jon Hamm is also in the works.
Chevy Chase has enjoyed tremendous success and acclaim throughout the course of his decades-long career in comedy, despite the mountains of controversy. There is certainly plenty of Chevy out there to enjoy; just don’t meet your heroes. It’s difficult to resist being charmed by the on-screen presence of the movie icon, and if horror stories of what happens off camera have no effect on watchability to a casual viewer, then there is definitely plenty of Chevy out there.
Pierce Hawthorne (Community)
Chevy Chase was cast as billionaire CEO and community college student Pierce Hawthorne in the adored sitcom Community, reviving his career. Being an elderly, out-of-touch, and gleefully offensive member of the infamous study group, Pierce was a break from the cool-headed characters he’d play in years prior. Pierce was a highly liked component of the show, at least when he was in front of the camera. He frequently had the most memorable lines and got to use his now-perfected comedic timing.
Because it was his most recent major role and, hence, his most recent opportunity to enrage his fellow cast members, the programme has unfortunately received the lion’s share of the press coverage of Chase during the past ten years. The comic actor, who appeared to be unaware of the detrimental effect he was having on the set, would frequently argue with the show’s creator and make casual and disrespectful remarks to his Black co-stars. Pierce Hawthorne’s deranged and unlikeable side may have been more similar to the actual Chevy Chase than the actor would care to admit, and his departure from the programme after the fourth season due to ongoing conflicts is a regrettable end to what could have been a significant chance.
Ty Webb (Caddyshack)
Caddyshack, one of Chase’s most recognisable films, requires little introduction. It continues to hold the coveted title of being one of those comedies that swept the world by storm more than 40 years after its premiere. Chase once again acts with a stellar group of comic actors, but fortunately, he has many chances to display his dry wit and aloofness. Being one of the actor’s first endeavours, it served as yet another incredible launching pad for him to achieve even greater success.
Chevy Chase, who portrays the sarcastic son of a co-founder of a golf country club, always seems to be one step ahead of everyone and dominates the competition both on and off the course. With so many memorable lines, it’s obvious that Ty Webb is still one of Chase’s particular favourites, as evidenced by the numerous Q&A sessions he has hosted following the movie’s screenings for die-hard fans.
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