This article was first published in Empire Magazine Issue #240 (June 2009).
"Hip hop! Hip hop! What are we waiting for? Move it!" Director Richard Donner is attempting to marshal the unruly ensemble cast of The Goonies, his mock-exasperated catchphrase eliciting chuckles, as always, from the movie's stars. But this isn't a flashback to a kid-ridden Burbank backlot circa summer 1984; instead, it's March 17, 2009, and we're in a top-secret Hollywood location, where a Goonies reunion is in full swing.
It's been close to a decade since the gang were last together and emotions are running high. First to arrive were Corey Feldman and Sean Astin, bear-hugging before introducing their children, Xen and Alexandra, to each other. Ke Quan and his wife are quietly geeking out over the fact that James Cameron is in the building. Josh Brolin and Kerri Green - whose characters get together in the 24 year-old movie - sit to one side, beaming as they swap stories. Jeff Cohen, former Truffle-Shuffler and now a high-flying entertainment lawyer, looks most un-Chunk-like as he talks shop with Steven Spielberg. Feldman hands out CD promos of his new rock album. And Broadway star Martha Plimpton surveys the whole scene before announcing, "Well, this is surreal..."
The Goonies may be the ultimate '80s nostalgia flick, a rowdy thrill-ride that plays like Stand By Me via Indiana Jones (and, in Feldman and Quan, features stars from both). Taking in diabolical booby-traps, lumpy-headed monsters, white-knuckle water chutes and Joey Pants, it's a Spielberg-devised concoction which follows a lovable rabble of kids from Astoria, Oregon, as they find a map to pirate treasure and embark on the adventure of their lives. Thanks to Donner's direction, a Chris Columbus script and the leads' fizzy chemistry, on release it captured youngsters' imaginations around the globe. Those youngsters are now, like the film's child stars, all grown up, but they haven't forgotten the time when The Goonies put a spell on them.
With a little help from Donner - "Hip hop! Hip hop!" - it's time to corral everyone into a circle of seats for talk of past, present and future. There are crucial issues to be addressed, after all, like the One-Eyed Willy innuendo, an erased octopus and those unkillable rumours of a sequel...
How does it feel to be back together again?
Corey Feldman (Mouth): This is amazing. And the crazy thing is, everybody's the same. Everyone looks like they walked off the set five minutes ago.
Ke Quan (Data): The last time we all got together was for the DVD commentary, but that was without Steven, so this time we've got everyone. It's very nice to catch up, but also very surreal. When we were together we were 11 or 12. Now we're all married and have kids and stuff.
Kerri Green (Andy): I was so afraid that when we showed up, you Empire guys would have the costumes and be like, "Can you put these back on?" (Laughs) I shaved my legs, just in case!
The Goonies is one of the best-loved movies of the '80s. Why do you think it's endured?
Sean Astin (Mikey): Because it's like a song or a smell that takes people right back to where they were in 1985.
Richard Donner (director): It's true.
Astin: Ten thousand people have said to me over the last 20 years that The Goonies represents an era in their lives.
Donner: An error?
Martha Plimpton (Stef): Both!
Josh Brolin (Brand): It captures the point-of-view of a kid better than any other movie. So when kids watch it, they go, "Oh, this is a movie that some other kid made."
Donner: A very loud one.
Brolin: And then the parents watch it and slam right into full regression. It's great, man.
Donner: It's the most memorable film I've ever been involved with, dammit. There's nowhere I go that people don't talk about it.
Feldman: It's the Willy Wonka of our generation.
Jeff Cohen (Chunk): I believe it has legs because it shows kids behaving the way kids do. That's why we talk over each other and curse. My first word in the movie is a swearword - probably my third, fifth and seventh words too!
Clockwise from top-left: Sean Astin (Mikey), director Richard Donner and Ke Quan (Data).
What are your most vivid memories of making it?
Quan: Steven and Dick didn't let us see the pirate ship before we did that scene. So for the shot where we find it, we all turned around to see this huge, beautiful ship at the end of the stage, with an ocean-like pool of water in front. That sight will stay with me forever.
Feldman: The water slide was great fun, flying out of that chute. But the best part for me was the camaraderie. Hanging out with six other kids all the time‚ it was just like summer camp. Playing the Indiana Jones and Food Fight arcade games, ransacking Steven and Dick's offices... Saturdays were my favourite days because the lot was empty and me and Sean would ride around on our bicycles.
Astin: I remember the song that Rhoda Fine, our teacher, wrote for us: The Goondock Rock. (Singing) "Goondock, Goondock..."
Cohen and Astin: "Goondock Rock!"
Plimpton: Oh, that's right!
Cohen: "That's the key to unlock the mystery!"
Astin: It went on for, like, 4,000 stanzas.
Feldman: I smoked far too many things in the '80s to remember that.
Plimpton: My memories? I recall, uh, trying to kill Corey one day...
Brolin: I remember this.
Plimpton: I started to wail on him.
Brolin: You were really angry.
Feldman: Do you remember what the fight was about?
Plimpton: I was sitting at the typewriter doing my homework - it was 1984, after all - and you came over and started annoying me. I said, "Leave me alone, Corey!" and you said, "Leave me alone, Corey!" You were repeating every single thing I said.
Donner: He did things like that.
Plimpton: Then I got up from the typewriter and got you on the floor and started smashing your head on it, shouting, "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!" and you were laughing hysterically.
Feldman: Side-note: it was the first time a woman had ever gotten on top of me.
Kerri Green (Andy).
Was Corey the naughtiest?
Brolin: Oh, definitely. (Everyone loudly agrees)
Donner: But there was no controlling anyone. I mean, there was no control on set.
Cohen: Poor Dick, we drove him insane. His hair was dark brown before we started.
Donner: (Tugging on hair) It was real!
Cohen: He was a saint with all of us, though. He'd always say, "Aw, you goddamn kids!"
Donner: I never said, "Goddamn kids!"
Cohen: I think you did, Dick.
Donner: I said, "You fucking kids!"
Cohen: I stand corrected. (Laughter)
Plimpton: We were like one giant, many-armed child.
Feldman: The Una-Goonie. We travelled as one.
Donner: A mass of appendages. You yelled at one, they'd all cry.
Brolin: You were the one who was crying when we went to Hawaii. There was a moment where it was like you'd taken acid.
Donner: You know the story? The last week of the shoot, these kids - who if you hugged one, you hugged them all - suddenly start cutting me out. We have a wrap party and nobody even looks at me. I thought, "Okay, they're professional kids, the movie's over, they don't need me anymore." I felt totally isolated. So I go to Hawaii with my wife and as I'm walking across the lawn, suddenly I see, coming up off the beach, this one (points at Brolin). He's looking past me and I turn around and they're all there. Steven had flown them out as a surprise. I couldn't believe it.
Brolin: Tears started coming down and we were all so happy.
Feldman: Then we had a cook-out with Alice Cooper.
Brolin: Do you remember the shirt he had on, with the alien coming out?
Cohen: That shirt was awesome.
Feldman: And that was the first time you played us the Cyndi Lauper single, on Ke's little boombox.
Astin: Shooting that music video was bizarre. We were all catatonic with tiredness.
Donner: Didn't you do it on the boat?
Plimpton: Yeah. With all those wrestlers. André The Giant!
Feldman: And Rowdy Roddy Piper. Interesting notation, everybody - I just did a movie that had a cameo by The Iron Sheik. He hasn't changed at all. He's still bitter and angry.
Plimpton: Just like me. Did anyone bring any wine?
Corey Feldman (Mouth)
Weren't there other celebrity encounters while making the movie?
Feldman: Well, we had a lot of cool visitors. Pee-Wee's Big adventure was shooting across the lot, so Tim Burton and Paul Reubens would come over. Dan Aykroyd too. Harrison Ford actually came and climbed around the caves with us at one point. Michael Jackson and his whole family were there quite a bit. It was the happening, you know? One downside was, I became friends with Michael and was wearing a Prince T-shirt every day.
Plimpton: That was the coolest T-shirt ever!
Feldman: I had to keep saying, "Sorry, man, sorry!" But Ke had it the toughest because he had to wear all of this crap.
Quan: Oh, yeah.
Feldman: The Pinchers of Peril!
Brolin: The boxing glove!
Astin: Slick shoes!
Quan: It's a lot of fun to watch the gadgets work on screen, but at the time it was very technical. It usually required me to stand very still for 15 to 20 minutes while the special-effects guys set the gadget up. But Data's stuff was cool. I have a fear of heights, so I'd love to have Pinchers of Peril in real life.
Brolin: How about my outfit? I wonder if it was myself or the wardrobe lady who said, "You know what? The shorts should go over the sweatpants."
There's a notorious deleted scene on the DVD in which you guys tangle with a rubbery-looking giant octopus...
Donner: What octopus?
Brolin: What octopus?
Donner: I guess the company that was using the water tank before us had stupidly left an octopus in there.
Astin: And they weren't feeding it.
Quan: At the time it looked very real. I was genuinely scared doing that scene. In the final scene I ad-libbed the line, "Oh, the octopus was really scary!" But in the film there was no octopus and they kept that line. So the audience was wondering, "What the hell is he talking about?!"
Astin: (pointing at Donner) It shows the filmmaker's contempt for the audience!
Feldman: When they did a Disney cut for The Disney Channel they put it back in.
Donner: And the gorillas.
Green: The gorillas? I don't remember that.
Feldman: There was the whole bit in the original script about the Fratelli brothers stealing gorilla costumes and dressing up.
Donner: No, it was a travelling circus. Two gorillas escaping from a trailer...
Astin: Don't start a thing with gorillas! It'll be 20 years of questions from people about gorillas now! There were leeches - there were no gorillas!
Donner: We had leeches?
Clockwise from left: Jeff Cohen (Chunk), Martha Plimpton (Stef) and Josh Brolin (Brand).
What do you think your Goonies characters would be doing today?
Brolin: Wow. If they were still in Astoria, Oregon, they'd be drinking.
Astin: There's a thriving arts scene there, bro. I was just there - it's all good.
Feldman: Mouth would be a lawyer.
Donner: He would be the mayor.
Astin: I think Mikey would have a diving company.
Quan: Data would still be living with his parents, spending all his time in the basement, trying to get his gadgets to work.
Plimpton: Stef would have a babysitting company.
Green: Andy would still be in her mini-skirt, with a cigarette and martini, waiting for him (gestures at Brolin) to come home!
And finally, it has to be asked: will there be a Goonies 2?
Donner: We tried, for a long time. Steven and I had many meetings with writers but nothing stuck. It seemed disrespectful. But hopefully you'll see it on Broadway as a musical.
Green: Martha sings!
Donner: I know. Let's see what you can do.
Plimpton: I like to finish with my arms in the air. (Brolin and Plimpton lift their arms and warble)
Brolin: So we can look forward to a song about (pirate captain) One-Eyed Willy. You can take that any way you want.
Donner: That Willy thing was innocent! Do you remember when we went to England with publicity on this thing? I got everyone telling me, "You've got to change One-Eyed Willy's name! You can't call him that!"
Brolin: "The Goonies are searching for One-Eyed Willy..." Now you gotta do Free One-Eyed Willy.
Feldman: So I guess the answer about the sequel is that there's always hope.
Donner: No. No hope. (Laughter)
Astin: A year from now, ten years from now, 50 years from now, I'm absolutely convinced there'll be one. We'll figure it out.
Feldman: It could be all about the octopus.
Brolin: And the gorillas.
Feldman: Can we do a Shakespearean version of Goonies? "Where art thou, One-Eyed Willy?"
Astin: A sequel could be great. It could be shitty. You never know. But the original is the thing it is and no-one can ever change it.
Plimpton: It's iconic.
Plimpton: There's no question. It will never... it will never...
Green: Say it.
Plimpton: I'm not going to say it.
Feldman: Say it!
Donner: Say what? What are you going to say?
Plimpton: (Whispering) That it'll never... die.
Everyone shouting together: GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE!
This article was first published in Empire Magazine Issue #240 (June 2009).