15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Three Amigos’
Before opting to replace Chevy Chase with Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short starred alongside him in the beloved 1980s comedy Three Amigos, aka Galaxy Quest, with more sequined sombreros. While it’s no sweater, we’d like to offer you the gift of trivia, all about the greatest movie ever made that prominently features a singing bush, such as how…
Steve Martin Was Inspired by Disneyland Performers
As Martin revealed in his recent book, Number One Is Walking, the seeds of Three Amigos were planted way back when he was working at Disneyland at the age of 12, performing rope tricks across from a trio of “sensational musicians” called Gonzalez, Gonzalez and Gonzalez. They used to sing the song “The Three Caballeros,” which was also used in a Disney film of the same name.
...And a Beverly Hills Restaurant Mural
Years later, Martin was struck by a mural at one of his favorite restaurants “depicting a Vaquero rearing back on a horse and waving his hat,” and thought that the image could be the “heart of a film.” Since the title The Three Caballeros was taken, he came up with an acceptable substitute.
Martin Threw the Original Script Away
According to Martin, he originally hired two writers to turn his ideas into a screenplay, but it “didn’t work out.” The initial script was “very different” from what we got in the end and mostly “based on puns.”
It Was Rewritten by Martin, Lorne Michaels and Singer Randy Newman
Martin approached Michaels to co-write the film during his five-year break from Saturday Night Live. The pair decided to throw the existing script away and start fresh, along with Newman, who Michaels invited because he wanted “some music in it” and also because “Randy’s one of the funniest people I know.” Newman penned several songs for the film, including “My Little Buttercup.”
It Was Nearly Directed by Steven Spielberg
At one point, Spielberg was in talks to direct the film and wanted Bill Murray and Robin Williams to play the roles later filled by Chase and Short. He decided to make some movie called E.T. instead.
John Landis Directed the Movie While on Trial For Involuntary Manslaughter
Three Amigos was ultimately helmed by Blues Brothers director John Landis who, at the time of making the film, was on trial for involuntary manslaughter following the tragic deaths on the set of the Twilight Zone movie. According to Landis, all his post-production work had to be done at night because he was in court during the day.
The Score Was Written by a Hollywood Legend
Landis used a personal connection to hire composer Elmer Bernstein, the Oscar-winner who gave us the classic scores for films like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Magnificent Seven. His Three Amigos music inarguably gives the movie a sense of authenticity and grandeur that, in turn, elevates the comedy.
The Bartender Was Played by Comedian Fred Asparagus
The role of the bartender was played by Asparagus, a stand-up who also appeared in This is Spinal Tap and Beverly Hills Cop III.
Martin Used His Dog’s Name for the Invisible Swordsman Chant
The magical chants that conjure the Invisible Swordsman were made up on the spot — Martin just repeated the name of his dog “Farley” in rapid succession.
Sam Kinison Had a Cameo That Was Cut
Per Landis, one scene that ended up on the cutting room floor featured Kinison as “a savage mountain man, wearing chicken bones” who gets shot by Chase’s character Dusty — this is followed by “a long scene where the dying cannibal shows snapshots of his children to the guilt-ridden Chevy.”
El Guapo Was Played by Acclaimed Filmmaker Alfonso Arau
It’s hard to imagine Three Amigos without its charismatic villain El Guapo. The part was played by Arau, who is not only an accomplished actor, but also a renowned filmmaker famous for directing movies such as Like Water For Chocolate.
A Behind-the-Scenes Prank Was Recycled for ‘SNL’
Originally, the three stars were going to wear their Amigos costumes to the film’s premiere, but then the plan was scrapped. Martin and Chase joked that they shouldn’t tell Short, who would then look like an idiot at the screening. While they didn’t go through with the prank, the idea was eventually used for a bit on SNL’s 25th Anniversary Special, but with Chase in the ridiculous outfit.
Landis’ Defense Attorney Blasted the Movie’s Racist Stereotypes
Three Amigos has been criticized in recent years for its problematic stereotypes — but this complaint was made back in 1986 as well, not just by critics, but by Landis’ lawyer Harland Braun, who said that the plot involved “these dumb Mexicans bringing in gringos to save them from vicious Mexicans, who are all dirty.”
It Showed Up in an Episode of ‘The Sopranos’
“Some funny shit.”
Chris Hemsworth Suggested the Possibility of a Remake
When Avengers: Endgame wrapped, Hemsworth casually suggested that he might want to mount a remake of Three Amigos with Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. Frankly, we’d rather see an Avengers movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short.
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