There have been a lot of questions and a lot of controversy surrounding former SNL cast member Chevy Chase. Most recently he baffled viewers by appearing on Saturday Night Live overweight and sweating, which may be linked to an unknown disease. But before that, Chevy Chase reluctantly starred alongside Joel McHale on the popular show Community, wherein Chase and McHale rarely got along. And for that reason, it’s especially strange to learn this week that Joel McHale will actually be portraying Chevy Chase in an original Netflix movie.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie will be a somewhat serious telling of the story about the origins of National Lampoon, a humor magazine that went on to produce multiple comedy films. The most famous of these is National Lampoon’s Vacation, which starred Chevy Chase in his heyday. Though Joel McHale isn’t guaranteed to play Chevy Chase, the final negotiations are taking place.
The Netflix National Lampoon movie has been reportedly described as a “tragic tale” due to the unfortunate demise of the magazine’s co-founder Douglas Kenney who will be played by comedian Will Forte. Though Kenney found success with the company’s films, he soon became afflicted with drug and alcohol addiction and died by falling off a Hawaii cliff for reasons still undetermined.
Kenney’s most notable work is co-writing the 1980 comedy Caddyshack, which starred Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and many others. Chevy Chase and Douglas Kenney were reportedly close friends, and Kenney and Chase were actually together in Hawaii when the former died. This strange mystery could leave a lot of possibilities for the writers of the Netflix movie, depending how deep they want to go into speculations surrounding the co-founder’s death.
Alongside Joel McHale as Chevy Chase, the movie will also star Domnhall Gleeson (of Star Wars and Ex Machina fame) as another National Lampoon co-founder, Henry Beard. David Wain is slated to direct, and the list of producers includes Ed Helms, Peter Principato, Jonathan Stern, Ben Ormand, Ted Hamm, and Sean McKittrick.
The script will be based on the 2006 book A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever by Josh Karp, according to Split Sider. While Chevy Chase does play a central role in the sad tale, the book mostly serves as a biography of National Lampoon itself and its co-founder Doug Kenney. This could mean Will Forte will be taking a lead role in the Netflix film adaptation.
But all eyes will truly be on Joel McHale, because he will not only be playing an iconic comedian that much of the world grew up watching, but he’ll also be playing someone who is still alive. And if Chevy Chase’s disapproval of modern entertainment is any indication, he may not be happy with seeing himself impersonated on screen. Especially since Chevy Chase and Joel McHale had a great deal of bad blood between them before Chase left Community.
According to Salon, Joel McHale claimed Chevy Chase would “physically try to fight” him, as well as using the “n-word” frequently on set and claiming he could do so because Richard Pryor gave him permission. Chevy Chase is also quoted as saying Community was the “lowest form of television,” despite the show nearly reviving his career.
Needless to say, Joel McHale playing Chevy Chase is an interesting and bold casting decision that could pay off or result in disaster.
The Netflix original National Lampoon film is scheduled to start shooting this month (April) with a budget somewhere between $15 to $20 million.
Are you interested in seeing Joel McHale portray his former co-star Chevy Chase when the film is finished?
[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez and Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images]