Four friends decide the time is right to take a break from their lives and hit the open road on their Harleys in the comedy film Wild Hogs directed by Walt Becker and starring John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H Macy. Tossing away their cell phones and leaving jobs, wives, and other commitments behind for a few days, the Wild Hogs bikers take off on a once in a lifetime trip that winds up being much, much wilder than they expected.
The four stars of the film got together to discuss their road trip comedy at a press conference in Hollywood.
What experience did you have riding Harleys before making Wild Hogs?
John Travolta: “Okay, I've ridden a bike since I was 18. It was the first transportation when I came to Hollywood because it was inexpensive and easy for me. And then I rode Harleys with the Daytona Bike League several times hither to the movie. So that's my history.”
Were there any spills during filming?
John Travolta: “No. Tim [Allen] was the only one that had spills, and that's because he was showing off, like he likes to - always.”
William H Macy: “I rode bikes when I was a kid [and] a Hodaka in college. I had a bike the first time I moved to L.A. I had a Honda and I got around on that. But I'd never ridden Harleys, so I went to Harley school. Not really, but we learned how to ride Harleys for about a week, a couple of weeks, before we went there. I dropped the bike once just because we had to pull in and put the kickstand down, and climb off very quickly. I did all of that except the part about putting the kickstand up. The bike fell. They roll if you don't put the kickstand down.”
Tim Allen: “I rode many bikes and motorcycles. My brother was in an accident when he was a kid and my mom forbade us to use motorcycles. About four years ago I bought a Norton that I've been riding around LA a little bit, but this was the first time I was on a Harley.”
Martin Lawrence: “I rode like a long time ago, but I wasn't that good so I got lit up. The only time I started riding it was on this movie and I was really nervous, so I feel really good to announce my retirement from riding.”
What was it like to work with Peter Fonda and can you talk about the nude scene in the pond?
John Travolta; “For the record, I used to pull [my underwear] down occasionally just to feel the cool water. It was my idea to have Peter Fonda, and I will take full credit for this idea. I was 13 years old when I saw him on the screen in Easy Rider. [I was] pretty wowed by that so I thought it would be the perfect classy cherry on the cake idea, to bring him in as the savior of the day again. I am very fond of Peter and Jane [Fonda] and glad that we used him in the movie. Now, naked in the pond...”
William H Macy: Laughing, “It changed my life.”
Tim Allen: “All of ours. Lord. Where'd you put that sock again? What was that sock you were… He had a sock he was wearing.”
Do you have any favorite road trip memories?
John Travolta: “Well, when I was a kid I would take short trips to Santa Barbara and Palm Springs. But nothing…no road kill to report or any such thing.”
Martin Lawrence: “My road trips have been to Vegas, but you know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
William H Macy: “I'd been on a road trip right out of college, with a buddy of mine. It was uneventful. We didn't get laid. Although one time it was about 800 degrees and we were in Texas. We had shorts on and nothing else and somehow a motorcycle cop pulls up beside me and says, ‘Come on, get on it, get on, go, go, go!’ So I speeded up and it turns out we're in a huge state funeral. There are about 40 black Cadillacs in a row and then a green van called Mr Greenjeans, with two guys with no clothes in it. We went right out of town onto the freeway. I waved goodbye to them, and isn't that a good story?”
Being Hollywood stars, you haven’t had the chance to go through the middle-age soul-searching period that your characters are going through. How did you relate to that and what was the personal connection to these characters?
John Travolta: “Well, we're too blessed to be stressed. Woo! Well, the only thing I ran into is that I am a wanderlust, as far as travel and adventure. I will go off on any given moment with the family and friends to explore the world. I go around the world once a year. I go to Africa, you know, Russia, wherever… I love it. That's probably the only thing I identify with my character, is the wanderlust aspect of it.”
William H Macy: “I don't think the film's about four guys having a mid-life crisis as much as four guys who are trying to regain something. One of the things that I love about it, what I love about it is that these guys adore each other, but they don't know how to say it. They don't know how to express it. And because they face this danger together, it never has to be stated, but it's more palpable at the end of the film. And secondly, I think it's four guys who are tired of being afraid, just afraid all the time. They're afraid of saying the wrong thing, of not being there when they're needed. They're afraid in their jobs - the whole thing, they're just afraid.
One of the things about the whole Harley motorcycle culture is that it's a little bit renegade. It’s a little bit dangerous and then it gets intensified when they run afoul of this other motorcycle gang, and they stand up for once in their lives. So it's not about the midlife crisis as much as four guys who need to sort of plant their flag.”
John Travolta: “It can happen at any age, really.”