The Blues Brothers: Cast List Of This 1980 Comedy Classic Movie
John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Carrie Fisher on the set of 'The Blues Brothers.' Source: IMDB
With young John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Carrie Fisher, The Blues Brothers (1980) was loaded for comedy in its major roles. But the cast list doesn't stop there, and it's not only actors. James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin all play fictional characters and, as you'd expect, sing in the film, which isn't a straight-up musical but does have song-and-dance numbers sprinkled throughout. Add familiar faces and names John Candy, Twiggy, Paul Reubens (later known as Pee Wee Herman) and Frank Oz, and you've got a turn-of-the-'80s celebrity extravaganza, for better or worse. The Blues Brothers might not hold up as well as Animal House (1978), Caddyshack (1980), or Vacation (1983) -- or it might, depending on your taste -- but it's still a fun watch and musical time capsule.
The Blues Brothers did not originate for the silver screen, but rather grew out of a sketch for Saturday Night Live in 1976. Because of the popularity of the sketch, Aykroyd and Belushi decided to form a band called The Blues Brothers. The film evolved from there. Aykroyd took it upon himself to write the script, composing the 324 page draft in six months and presenting it wrapped in the cover for the Los Angeles Yellow Pages.
Where Their Mission Begins
The Blues Brothers opens with John Belushi, as “Joliet” Jake Blues, being released from prison, where he was incarcerated for three years. Dan Aykroyd, Elwood Blues, picks him up in a new vehicle, an old police car that he bought to replace their former car. One of the first places they stop is to visit the woman they call “the penguin,” Sister Mary Stigmata, the nun who runs the orphanage where the brothers grew up, played by Kathleen Freeman. The brothers learn that the orphanage is about to be shut down. Next, they visit the Triple Rock Baptist Church where they listen to a musical sermon by the Reverend Cleophus James, played by James Brown, one of the many cameo appearances in the film. This experience leads Elwood to have an epiphany, after which they begin their “mission from God.” In one small way, the film did hold true to its storyline: in order to get permission to film in Chicago, Belushi donated $200,000 to city orphanages.
Cast List, Including Cameos
In addition to the main cast members, the film featured cameos by a number or big names, including Steven Spielberg.
John Belushi as Jake Blues.
Dan Aykroyd as Ellwood Blues.
Kathleen Freeman as Sister Mary Stigmata.
James Brown as the Reverend Cleophus James.
Cab Calloway, as Curtis, who helps with advertising and performs “Minnie the Moocher.”
Ray Charles as the blind instrument dealer. During this cameo, he performs “Shake a Tail Feather.”
Aretha Franklin as Mrs. Murphy, the wife of Matt Murphy, who performs “Think.”
Carrie Fisher, as the mystery woman who tries to kill Jake.
Henry Gibson as the head Nazi.
John Candy as Burton Mercer, Jake’s parole officer.
John Lee Hooker as Street Slim, who sings “Boom Boom” on Maxwell Street,
Steve Lawrence as Maury Sline, the agent who booked the Blues Brothers before Jake’s stint in jail.
Twiggy as the woman who flirts with Elwood in the gas station.
Frank Oz as the corrections officer.
Jeff Morris as Bob, the owner of Bob’s Country Bunker.
Charles Napier as Tucker McElroy, Winnebago driver and lead singer for the Good Ol’ Boys.
Steven Spielberg as the Cook County Assessor.
Steven Williams as Trooper Mount.
Armand Cerami as Trooper Daniel.
Joe Walsh as prison inmate.
Paul Reubens (Peewee Herman) as waiter.
Chaka Khan as choir soloist.
The Southern California Community Choir.
And The Band Members:
Steve “the Colonel Cropper”—lead guitar
Donald “Duck” Dunn—bass guitar
Murphy Dunne (Murph)—keyboards
Willie “Too Big” Hall—drums
Tom “Bones” Malone—trombone
Matt “Guitar” Murphy—lead guitar
“Mr. Fabulous” Alan Rubin—trumpet
“Blue Lou” Marini--saxophone
The Film Set A Record
While the cast list includes quite a few well-known names, and their outfits inspired immediately recognizable Halloween costumes, there are things you may not know about the movie. For example it set a world record: for the number of cars totaled on the set of the film. That world record, 103, was broken by the sequel to the film. And, of course, the film was made prior to CGI, so the head Nazi’s car had to be dropped from a height of 1200 feet to achieve the effect in the film, a height that gave the FAA pause as they worried that the car might become aerodynamic and crash into buildings.
An On-Screen Romance
Carrie Fisher’s character attempts to kill Jake Blues, but she did strike up a real romance on the set, with Ellwood Blues. Dan Aykroyd proposed to her on the set. The proposal was not overly romantic, as he saved her when she was choking on a brussels sprout just before he popped the question.
The Guards Were Worried About A Real Prison Break
When they filmed the scene where Jake leaves prison, the guards almost shot at the helicopter, assuming that there was a legitimate escape attempt happening. Speaking of “almost,” the final scene of the film almost didn’t happen. Just before filming the scene, Belushi had seen a kid skateboarding on set and asked if he could try it. When he did, he fell off and injured himself. He had to have his knee strapped up and was injected with painkillers.
Some Of The Budget Wasn't For Filming
The film went way over budget; in fact, one scene cost over $3.5 million, which was a tenth of the budget. However, these costs were not just from the filming costs. The set had an unusual addition: a private bar for the cast and crew, as well as their friends. According to Carrie Fisher, the bartenders had a second role: as drug dealers. They had also allotted money to buy cocaine because of Belushi’s habit. At one point, Landis, the director, had to flush Belushi’s stash during a day shoot to ensure he would continue to work. Fans would show up at the set and give Belushi cocaine in hopes that he would party with them. It got so bad that they had to hire a bodyguard to keep the drugs out of Belushi’s hands.
Belushi Got Into More Trouble
This was not the only challenge Belushi created while on set. During filming one day, he wandered off, and the crew had to search for him. They found him on a stranger’s couch, passed out, having raided the fridge.
A Catholic Classic
The set not only had a private bar, but was blessed by Pope John Paul II. The Vatican then declared the film a “Catholic classic” in 2010.
Tags: Aretha Franklin | Cab Calloway | Carrie Fisher | Cast Lists From Popular Movies | Dan Aykroyd | James Brown | John Belushi | Ray Charles | Saturday Night Live | The Blues Brothers
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