On July 12, 1991, action cinema changed forever with the release of 'Point Break.' In the film, Keanu Reeves stars as Johnny Utah, a rookie FBI agent who is sent undercover into the Ex-Presidents, a notorious gang of bank-robbers who love holding people up at gun point, almost as much as they love surfing. Utah's allegiances are challenged when he strikes up a bond with the gang's charismatic leader, Bodhi -- played by the late Patrick Swayze -- a criminal with a Zen-like approach to fighting the system.
'Point Break' speaks to all those viewers who know that the human spirit is alive in them and must be expressed at all costs, whether that means skydiving without a parachute, or firing your gun up in the air while shouting "argh!" In addition to Reeves and Swayze, 'Point Break' stars the eccentric, Oscar-nominated Gary Busey as Angelo Pappas, Johnny Utah's FBI mentor.
Moviefone wanted to speak with Mr. Busey about the film's 20th anniversary... but you don't really speak with Gary so much, as strap in and let him take you on a ride. Here now is Gary Busey's thoughts on 'Point Break,' possible sequels and a once-in-a-lifetime sky-diving adventure with Patrick Swayze.
Moviefone: Good afternoon, Mr. Busey --
Gary Busey: Mr. Goosey? That's pretty good, haven't thought of that yet. My name's Gary Goosey, what would you like for me to smell? That's just funny things I say when I'm not thinking.
What attracted you to 'Point Break' initially?
I had some wishes and some prayers in my mind to work with a female director. And I got called up and met ['Point Break' director] Kathryn Bigelow. And Kathryn and I hit it off great; just real simple, authentic, listened to her, she listened to me. And she had an idea for a stunt coordinator, and I said "No, don't get him, get Glenn Wilder." Glenn Wilder brought incredible action to the movie, with the neighborhood chase between Patrick and Keanu, running through doors and windows -- and I think Patrick put a pitbull in Keanu's arms. He was magical and you didn't buy popcorn or get Cokes when there was action in that movie.
That car chase in the parking lot, that was me driving. And that was so much fun because the adrenaline gets pumped up to over-the-amount of numbers you can imagine in your little brain. I'm not saying you have a little brain, but those little bitty finches and pet shop birds, they have tiny brains, and they couldn't figure it out at all, but I know you did, so let's leave the birds out of it.
How would you describe Kathryn Bigelow's directing style?
Strong. Focused. And even if she doesn't know what is going on quite yet -- in other words when how to direct a scene with a Steadicam that covers the whole FBI floor -- she sat there and thought and thought. We watched her just sitting there at the desk, thinking. Not making notes, nothing, just thinking. Wasn't even looking around the room, just thinking. And we got up and we did it and it was a one-taker. Man, it covered a lot of ground; it was John C. McGinley and Keanu, going through the FBI room and it was brilliant. She's just so simple and authentic and laid back, but so strong and powerful and focused at the same time. So you get the best of both worlds with Kathryn. And I would work with her in an instant. In fact Kathryn: this is Gary saying let's snap the current in another picture because I enjoy working with you, Kathryn.
More than anything, out of the movies I've done, 'Point Break' is a paradigm of motion picture performance and motion picture direction. Directing and editing. The music. Working with Patrick -- god bless him in the name of Jesus Christ -- and Keanu, I took him under my wing, he was only 21. I used to talk to Keanu about awareness-level-gatherings. And he chimed in on that, he liked that a lot. It's where your awareness of something gets so complete, that that gathering of information on that one awareness will put you up on another level.
How did you develop your on-screen dynamic with Keanu?
It was natural. He was hungry and I was feeding. I told Keanu every scene we did together was his scene and I was going to see to it that he shined. But I didn't tell him that, I just let him know it with my behavior and my actions, cause only actions speak when you come down to art. And art is only the search, it is not the final form. So therefore it's forever, ongoing, and it's beautiful because life is art and art is life.
And I must mention John C. McGinley because this kid is a number one, A-list bona fide actor because he can do anything. My favorite scene in the movie is when I knock the poop out of him and tell him to respect his elders. He's a great actor, everybody in that cast was there to build a foundation that supported the house called 'Point Break' and that house will never come down, not with earth quakes, winds, typhoons, hurricanes or tornadoes or earth quakes. Or earth quakes. I said "earth quakes" three times.
One especially memorable moment of yours is the "meatball sandwich" scene. I've heard that your "gimme two" line is quoted back at you more than any other bit of dialogue.
That happens everywhere in the country.
Saying "I'm so hungry, I can eat the a** end out of a dead rhino" -- how do you prepare to deliver a line like that?
You just say it; there's no approach. You just say the line of the character you're in. I got news for you -- acting is the absence of acting. It's believing in a moment that you're creating there at that time with your authenticity. N-A-R spells "No acting required" and that's me. I'm just believing in a moment that I'm celebrating at that time.
And the moment that I'm celebrating at that time -- "Utah, gimme two! Two meatball sandwiches" -- that was improv. Because it was dead-air between me sitting in the car, reading the paper, looking at 'Calvin & Hobbes,' so I just stuck my head out the window and made the motion of "gimme two. Two of 'em Utah, gimme two meatball sandwiches." And that line has stuck. It's funny how lines stick from different movies, like "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" or Arnold's "I'll be back" -- which at this point in time, we know he won't be. But that has nothing to do with 'Point Break' so let's move on.
20-YEAR SPOILER ALERT: Your character meets a grim end in a shoot-out with the Ex-Presidents gang. What's the key to having a memorable death scene?
Don't think. Audiences are going to see you thinking. When you're thinking of what you're doing in a scene, there ain't no scene happening, it's just you floundering. That was so fast, that death scene, getting shot, and I know what to do. I know exactly what to do. And I had fun doing it. Keanu came out to look at me and one time I put some blood capsules in my mouth and when he rolls me over I went "blech!" and blood threw out of my mouth and Kathryn said "No, I don't want to see that."
I love that movie like I just did it, and the memories of it are in my forehead all the time. Because it was so much fun, so much laughing and hooting and hollering and playing football and skydiving and surfing and chasing Presidents -- Ex-Presidents. Chasing them through the yards, having Patrick light a gas station on fire with a match and a gas nozzle. And he was Regan! Think about that!
I want to tell you this, there was rumors about this, but there was no castrations on 'Point Break.' And there was no circumcisions either, clearly it was above-the-board cop-FBI-Ex-President-surfer-skydivers. And what ingredients. All those ingredients to make an incredible cake that Kathryn Bigelow baked, and people are still eating it.
I didn't realize that was even a rumor. But why do you think young audiences keep discovering the movie?
Cause it's action packed. It's adventurous, it's unpredictable, it comes with surprises. It's always moving, and there's something funny in it, every time you look around. Except it might not seem funny to you, but when you look again, it's going to be funny. Like when Keanu is chasing Patrick down and Patrick jumps on him and shows him his face without the mask – and that's when Keanu has the chance to shoot him, but he didn't -- he shot in the air. Bam! Bam! Bam!
Watch the classic chase scene between Johnny Utah and Bodhi
'Point Break' has always been one of those movies that is connected to sequel or remake rumors. What do you think of those ideas?
It's a rumor, I have nothing to say. That's what they do these days, they make sequels and they don't enhance the first showing. And Patrick's gone. Nevermind the sequel. No sequels! You have sequels in life; you eat breakfast, you eat lunch, you eat dinner, you go to the bathroom, you go to sleep -- those are sequels. You don't need a movie sequel, your own life is filled with sequels. In fact, I'd like to know the source of where the word sequel came from; could be "sequence," could be "see squeals." You know "sequel" is "see squeally." That's another tip.
Have you ever attempted to sky-dive in real life?
Patrick Swayze would not leave me alone at the wrap party. He would come up to me and say "Buse, let me take you sky-diving. You got a chute on your back, you're okay, you're perfectly safe, and it will open, and you will have the best feelings you've ever had." And I said "okay, let me think about that and I'll go over here." And I turn around and -- whoop! -- right there in front of me: "Gary, you got to go sky-diving, you got to go with me to Paris Valley! We'll get sky-divers for you, you'll go out of the plane on your own, it will be an accelerated free-fall, you got to go!" I said, "Patrick, let me go to the bathroom." He says "okay." I come out of the bathroom, go hide in another corner of the room, hear "Gary! Sky-diving!" So finally I said, "The only way to get you shut up is to agree with you, so I give you my word of honor, I'm going sky-diving."
I showed up at his house at 4AM in Sunland, and we went to Paris Valley, and he sat by me and said "See this attorney, he's going to tell you how many ways you're going to die and how they're not responsible for that -- just dismiss that and put your initials on all these paragraphs." Okay, I did that. Then I went to ground school for six hours, where you learn how to jump out of a plane, the posture you have, what the signals are –- like if they hit their head on their helmet, it means "relax and smile." Well try to think of that when you're falling at 120 miles an hour. But as Patrick said, and it's true, you don't feel like you're falling. You feel like you're under the propeller of a huge airplane and you're just floating in air, but you're actually falling at 120 miles an hour.
When the chute opened, I fell 9,000 feet in 55 seconds, and that's when I pulled my ripcord. Wham! Whoosh! My crotch got crunched by all those little harnesses and became a new fixture of body injections and body placements. Funny little package you got when those harnesses are grabbing your below-the-waist plumbing. And I felt on top of the world -- I felt like I wanted to do it right away again -- And the video cameraman who jumped with me, had the camera on my face as we jumped. And my face looked like the fifth face on Mt. Rushmore.
I did eight sky-dives altogether and I said "well, okay this has been a good tour, I'm on my way elsewhere." It was great and god bless Patrick, he's a kindred spirit, brother of mine and we got along like get-alongers do.