In December, we met up with Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd at Harrah’s Resort outside of San Diego, California, following a Blues Brothers performance with The Sacred Hearts band. They’ll be gracing our February Entertainment Issue cover — subscribe or find a dispensary near you to get the full scoop.
For now, whet your appetite with some conversations we had about “Saturday Night Live,” aliens and Aykroyd’s directorial debut, “Nothing But Trouble,” which we simply couldn’t fit into our cover story. (But don’t worry, there’s more alien talk in the cover, story, too. There was alotof alien talk. But that’s what happens when I’m in charge of asking the questions and a UFO enthusiast like Aykroyd is kind enough to indulge me.) Hit it!
Casting SNL with the Blues Brothers
When pressed to give their dream “Saturday Night Live” cast line-ups, including members from any year, living or dead, Jim Belushi has an immediate answer for me: “1976. That cast was the best cast in all of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and it included Mr. Bill Murray. That’s the dream cast, don’t you think?”
The 1976 crew also included his brother, John, as well as Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase and Gilda Radner, to name a few.
Aykroyd reflects for a moment, then answers, pausing between responses: “Well, outside of that one, I would say … Phil Hartman, Chris Farley … Jan Hooks … and then I love the women today — Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and, of course, Kristen Wiig—”
“Tina Fey!” adds Belushi.
“That’d be a pretty good cast right there,” agrees Aykroyd.
Aykroyd on Aliens
Besides Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge, Aykroyd is perhaps the most well-known celebrity supporter of the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, and appeared in the 2005 documentary “Dan Aykroyd Unplugged on UFOs.”
I tell him about my history with sleep paralysis, also known as hypnagogic paralysis, and my interest in UFO-deniers blaming sightings on the phenomenon. Nonbelievers often claim that many, if not all, extraterrestrial experiences are a mere trick of the mind.
“I think in some cases it’s hypnagogic paralysis,” muses Aykroyd, “and people … just can’t move because they’re so tired and paralyzed, but I think that if you look — there’s a lot of cases where it’s genuine — genuine interface. And [aliens are] basically using a device to shut down your neurotransmitters and make you sleep. And they have the technology to do that. So I would say some are real, and some are just sleep paralysis … I was with a guy yesterday who told me about his experience, where he had the little creatures come in, and float him through the wall … I’ve never had that, thank god.”
One of the members of our entourage cuts in, wondering if most alien contact happens at nighttime. Aykroyd’s demeanor is that of a president during a fireside chat. He’s happy to answer, giving reflective pauses throughout: “Well … Lonnie Zamora was wide awake when he pulled his patrol car up to a craft and saw two creatures get out … Herb Schirmer, Nebraska highway patrolman, same thing … Voronezh, Russia … 700 people saw two different craft[s], two different types of creatures come down, and they were awake.”
The Cult Status of “Nothing But Trouble”
I tell Aykroyd I’m a big “Nothing But Trouble” fan. The 1991 commercial-flop-turned-cult-classic starred himself, Chevy Chase, John Candy and Demi Moore; critics panned the horror-comedy upon release, but in some circles it’s now upheld as an underrated gem.
“Oh, really?” he laughs. “Okay. Alright. That’s, uh — young people like that movie.” He’s clearly bemused.
Belushi cuts in: “Which one?”
“The film that ended my directing career,” Aykroyd quips.
“I [heard] the greatest quote from Bill Murray,” offers Belushi. “He said, ‘Directing a film is like stacking worms to the moon.’”
Aykroyd laughs: “Yeah, yeah.”
Belushi continues: “Actors, when they direct a film, they go, ‘Man —’”
“You don’t want to do it again,” Aykroyd finishes for him. “It was a little dark,” he admits of the film, “but it does hold up as a serviceable comedy. There’s some great moves in that movie, there really are.”
But they opened against “Silence of the Lambs” and “Sleeping with the Enemy,” he notes, adding, “And we opened the day of Desert Storm,” leading to poor box office numbers. “It lives on in video, and other forms—”
“And with Katie!” laughs Belushi, gesturing towards me.
For more with Belushi and Aykroyd, including their hopes for the Blues Brothers’ future, their perspectives on comedy today and Belushi’s foray into the cannabis world, be sure to pick up a copy of our February Entertainment issue.