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Dukes of Hazzard - Jay Chandrasekhar interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q: You said you were a great fan of the television series and I wondered, at any time when you were growing up, did you think somebody would beat you to it and make a feature film before you got there?
A:
No. I didn’t really know I was going to make the movie until Billy [the producer] sent me the script. I was probably nine or ten when the show was on air, I had a poster of Daisy Duke on my wall and I was going through puberty at the time. I was a big fan of the show!
Johnny Knoxville: Could you expand on that?
JC: [Laughing] Expand on that?! I had a high lotion bill at the time. I was also a big fan of the car-jumping and I was really happy when Billy sent me the script.

Q: The out-takes also show a few cars getting written off. How many did you manage to go through and, Seann and Johnny, were you actually responsible for any of those?
A:
We took 30 General Lees down there and we came back with seven. We tossed that thing all over the place and trashed about 30 police cars too. Those cars are extremely heavy and when they jump the front axel brakes and they either slam really hard left or really hard right, so it was exciting each time we jumped one to bet on which way it was going to go.
Scott: We didn’t crash the car at all. There was one time when you see the car coming out of Cooter’s Garage and it was on, what, a ratchet?
Jay: Yeah, it’s the thing that gets the car up to speed really quick and then Seann took over and put it into a slide and then he was supposed to zoom off down the road but as he was coming out the brakes gave way.
You can hear these guys in the car shouting “Whoooo!”, having a blast, acting then all of a sudden it goes quiet and you hear Seann go, [whispering] 'The brakes are out!'.
Then they almost go flying into one ditch and he saves it, then almost goes flying into another ditch and he saves it again. And then they’re screaming down the road and at the end of the road is a roadblock with about a hundred fans waiting! And these guys are just heading right towards them, so he slams…
Knoxville: He slams into the fans!
Jay: He slams it into park and the car screeches to a halt. We got a new brake guy after that!

Q. Were you worried that the fans of the original series weren’t going to go see the new film?
A:
It was a real question as to who was going to go. A think a fair number of people have gone in the US and I think a lot of them are younger. I think the older folks will probably catch up with it on DVD.

Q. I thought the film was great and loved the way you set up stereotypes like the Confederate Flag and the woman’s car breaking down, then picked them apart. How important was it to you to bring The Dukes of Hazzard up to date, like having Jessica break down and ask for help, then having the woman say 'Help yourself!'?
A:
We were big fans of the show so we wanted to remind people of some of those things that we liked at the time. The Confederate Flag obviously means different things now, but the fact of the matter is that the car is called the General Lee and had to have the flag on it, so we figured we’d acknowledge the debate and make a little fun of it.

Q. What will there be on the DVD that didn’t make it into the film?
Jay:
There’s actually an R-rated version of the movie that we’ve made that will come out on the DVD later, but the initial DVD will be this movie. But the next one’s good too! A little naughtier…

Q. What makes it R-rated? Is that Johnny’s parts?!
A.
More swearing, more nudity, more dirty jokes.

Q. Do you have any good stories about working with Burt Reynolds?
A:
Well, Burt Reynolds has sort of made a career being anti-authority and unfortunately with the director you end up being the authority. He’s a great guy, he’s hilarious and he tells great showbiz stories. His back was hurting one day and I was having him doing too many takes I think. He took me aside and he started chewing me out. He said “You don’t respect me goddamn it!” and then threw a DVD at me.
The DVD says “Why My Back Hurts – Burt Reynolds”! It’s two and a half minutes straight of him falling off a building, crashing a car, rolling down a hill played to this really beautiful classical music. I said “Sorry, Sir”.

Q. It’s so refreshing to see a good old car crash. Where did you find the people to do the stunts?
A:
What was exciting about the original show and about ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ and ‘The Blues Brothers’ was that it was before they had the sort of technology. Those stunts had a certain feeling to them.
The guy we got to do the second unit directing, this guy Dan Bradley who did The Bourne Supremacy and the car crash in Adaptation, I don’t know if you remember that. He’s just a real visceral, violent kind of car guy and he’s so talented. When he and I talked about we just wanted it to feel very real and so he got some of the best drivers in the world to smash cars into other cars.

Q. Would you guys ever consider remaking another 80s action series. Maybe The A-Team?
A:
Yeah, I have a group called Brooklyn Lizard and we’ve made a film called ‘Super Troopers’ but we’ve been trying to get ‘The A-Team’. I wanted to play BA Baracus.

Related stories: Our verdict on the film

Johnny Knoxville interview

Seann William Scott interview

Jessica Simpson interview

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