‘He Was An Addict’: Jane Curtin Opens Up About How John Belushi Could Make ‘SNL’ A Nightmare
According to Jane Curtin, John Belushi is one of the many legendary comics who is so much more fun to see on-screen than in the green room.
Belushi’s struggles with substance abuse and addiction are well-known. The tales of Belushi’s Blues Brothers benders read like frat boy fiction — like the time he wandered off set, only for Dan Aykroyd to eventually track him him down at a nearby residence where an unwitting homeowner was surprised to find that Belushi had broken into his house, raided his fridge and crashed on his couch like a greasy, coked-out Goldilocks. However, as the comic’s early collaborators have often noted, his difficult temperament and out-of-control behavior started long before he was a home-invading household name. Curtin says that Belushi started causing problems for her as soon as they stepped on set together in Saturday Night Live’s inaugural season.
“I got along with everyone,” Curtin told People in an interview published earlier this week about her five-season stint on SNL, adding the caveat, “But I did have problems with John.”
“I had a life — a dog, a husband, an apartment with a little garden. It was a life I really enjoyed,” Curtin said of her state-of-mind heading into the pilot season of SNL. Famously one of the most sober cast members in SNL history and the most disapproving of the drug culture in the show’s first season, Curtin immediately found herself at odds with the original cast’s most ferocious party animal. “John, obviously, he could party with the best of them, but the next day these guys were just so miserable,” she explained. “Plus, the 90 minutes on the show were so exciting and adrenaline-pumping, I felt all the other stuff was self-indulgent and seemed hard.”
Curtin clarified that, though her and Belushi had their differences, she always understood where his nastiness came from. “That was because John wasn’t John. He was an addict,” she said.
Belushi and Curtin were once described as “archenemies” for their many differences during the making of SNL — in Live from New York: The Complete Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Curtin said of Belushi, “When John started making too much money, and started doing too many drugs, the sweet John was gone and the ambitious John took over, and that’s what was difficult to deal with. His ambition was just overwhelming, as was his need to self-medicate.”
She also said in the same book, “John absolutely didn’t like being in sketches with women. He told me women were not funny. Actually, Chevy (Chase) said it to me as well. And I found it stunning.”
Presumably, the only takeaway Chase would have from that quote is that someone thinks he’s stunning.