CATEGORIES Movie NewsSo many of us associate lovable actor Sean Astin with Samwise Gamgee of "The Lord of the Rings" fame, that we forget he was the lead child actor in '80s classic "The Goonies." Remember his adorable awkwardness and brace-face?
Moviefone caught up with Astin as he was heading to Toronto for Comic-Con, and we spoke about why "The Goonies" has never become uncool, whether Sloth was ever scary to him and being a child star in the '80s. Oh, and we also discussed that little "LOTR" trilogy.
Moviefone: This is great. I watched "The Goonies" all the time when I was growing up. Sean Astin: Tell your parents I said sorry.
No way! They loved it too. I bet you watch with your kids. I do, and they love it. Except I have to say, they are a bit scared of Sloth.
We all were! [Laughs] Oh, I know. My kids say things like, "Oh, Dad, you were so cute."
Were you afraid of Sloth on set? No, he was great. First of all, the late great John Matuszak, who played Sloth, was this hulking giant of a man, but so sweet and so gentle. He would sit and talk with [the kids] for hours. He was one of the prime victims of early special-effects makeup. That prosthetic makeup that they put on him took four or five hours. They had the little electronics in his ears to make them go back and forth, and they had the eye remote control -- and he suffered for hours to get that stuff looking right. Mostly, you just rooted for the thing to work, or else the poor guy would have to sit for another 90 minutes while they fixed it. We loved Sloth on set.
Can you believe it's almost been 30 years since you shot "Goonies"? I'll tell you what's even harder to believe than that: so many people still love it so much! That's even crazier to me. You get older, time passes, I've got kids -- and one's 16, and that's four years older than me when I made the movie. When people come up to you and show you their tattoo of the pirate ship, or of Sloth, or the shirt that they've saved from the summer it came out, it's a little heart-warming and shocking.
A lot of movies from the '80s became jokes. "Goonies" is cheesy and campy, but it never became a joke. It certainly has campy qualities, but it's just amazing because generation after generation keeps discovering it and liking it. What are you going to do? It's a pretty special phenomenon. Surely they'll do a sequel. It has to happen. There's no question.
What was it like being a child star in the '80s? That was like prime time for movie child stars. It was happening alongside me, all that stuff. I kind of had a normal life, with school and sports, all the things a normal kid had in their childhood. Now and then, I'd go to a movie premiere, or I'd get a job and go shoot a movie, and then come back. Probably because my parents are famous actors, it didn't seem like it was that big a deal. It seemed like the way it was supposed to be.
So it seemed natural, almost. Well, I mean ... I had a place. Being the star of a Spielberg movie gives you a place at the table in that world. I would go to auditions, and I'd be auditioning against River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, and the big actors of the time. I was in that group, but lots of the others were getting into the party scene and making mistakes, but I was fortunate enough not to get into that stuff.
And you worked with Corey Feldman on "Goonies," he went off the rails there for a bit. Corey really did damage to himself. What's impressive is how he's re-invented himself and made himself healthy, whole, and he's proud of his career. That is a miracle based on how low he'd gotten at that one point in his life.
How fondly do you look back on shooting the movie? Or do you look back and think, "Oh God, millions of people are seeing me with braces!" Well, those two things aren't mutually exclusive! [Laughs] I got those braces on after I got the part. When I got them on, I don't know if they talked to the company ... because when I started the movie, I showed up on set with braces. I've never asked the filmmakers or my parents, but I remember thinking what a bummer it was to have those for the film. But it totally worked with the character, so it's fine.
It felt like a playground in my backyard, so it's like trying to describe what your backyard was like to people. People come up to me and say, "I used to play Goonies all the time in the forest behind my house!" I don't know how to take that, but I assume it's a good thing!
I'm jealous. You should be. Cuz it was awesome! [Laughs]
And you were also (obviously) in another awesome movie franchise - "Lord of the Rings." Again, despite the amount of time that has passed, it's still so massive and pervasive in culture. Did you know, when you were filming, that this was going to be such a major beast of a movie? Well, here's the thing: the answer is yes, but you weren't 100 percent sure. You knew it was going to be massive, but anything could have happened. If 9/11 had happened three months later, who knows? [The movie was released on December 10, 2001.] I think the movie came along at the best time, a couple months after people had mourned ... they needed to escape into a world that dealt with good and evil. If it had happened closer to it, it could have derailed the zeitgeist, the collective excitement that happened. But the way it happened and the money that flowed in from it actually paved the way for the second and third movies to be made with that same kind of epic scale. If it hadn't happened that way, they wouldn't have been made with that epic scope.
Just like with "Goonies," you look back on "LOTR" fondly as well, right? One-hundred percent. It was harder for me than I wish it was. I was so heavy and I had to put on so much weight for the part, it was difficult. It made my experience a bit more physically arduous, and there were little things that made it tougher for me. It was the most important professional experience and one of the biggest spiritual experiences I've ever had.
Are you still pals with the guys from "LOTR"? I love all of them, and they love me, but we don't see each other that much. I've seen Billy [Boyd] a little bit, but I haven't seen the rest of the gang for some time now. That's the way it goes; I'm married, I have three kids, we're doing our own things. We never seem to bump into each other. To me, it feels like we just finished those movies five minutes ago.
You can meet Sean Astin at Toronto Comic-Con this weekend.