Chevy Chase Once Revealed the ‘Christmas Vacation’ Scene That ‘Scared the Living Daylights Out of’ Him
Chevy Chase is the undisputed star of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The 1989 comedy centers around his character, Clark Griswold, trying to give his family the best Christmas ever. The only problem is that one thing after another goes wrong.
‘Christmas Vacation’ filmed in Colorado during a snowstorm
Although Christmas Vacation takes place in the Chicago area — John Hughes wrote the screenplay and he was known for setting movies in the Windy City — the movie wasn’t actually filmed there. Instead of shooting on location in the Midwest, Christmas Vacation shot in Burbank, California at the Warner Bros. studios.
However, for a number of the outdoor scenes, Christmas Vacation filmed on location in Colorado. As the movie’s director Jeremiah S. Chechik told Rolling Stone in 2014, the cast and crew arrived there to see no snow.
“We went away for 10 days to Breckenridge, Colorado because at that time of year they traditionally had the biggest snowfall,” Checknik said. “We show up — and there is no snow. We are freaking out day after day, so we set up a convoy of trucks to haul in snow to Breckenridge for those first scenes in the movie.”
Then came the real snow.
“There were a lot of logistical issues and just as these trucks were rolling up, it finally started to snow and continued…and continued,” he said. “It snowed something like 10 feet in three days. It became near impossible to actually shoot because there was so much snow.”
From what Juliette Lewis (Audrey Griswold) remembered, they had to take snowcats just to get to their filming location.
Chevy Chase was ‘scared’ to film Clark Griswold’s sledding scene
While filming on location in Colorado, the cast of Christmas Vacation shot the movie’s sledding scene. In the memorable scene, Clark tested out a new product on his saucer sled that made it extremely slippery.
Because of it, he ended up zooming down the hill and going through trees before dodging traffic and coming to a stop in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Sledding may sound like a fun activity for an actor to do on camera but in this instance, it frightened Chase.
“There was enough snow on that hill to put me in a fu**ing sled that sped down going about 100 miles an hour. Jesus Christ! It scared the living daylights out of me,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014.
“I wasn’t that far from the trees and the pathway in the snow had already been made, but it was a bi**h. I kept on going faster and faster,” he said with a laugh. “I guess it didn’t occur to them to put brakes.”
“My heels were red by the end of it,” he added.
Apart from the scene itself, there was also the cold that came along with the snow. The cast huddled in tents around heaters to stay warm in between scenes.
‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ is 1 of the most popular holiday movies in America
For many, the holiday season means an annual viewing — or two or three — of Christmas Vacation. More than 30 years after its premiere, the film is still popular. In fact, a 2019 study of the best Christmas movies found that Christmas Vacation is considered the seventh most popular holiday film in the U.S. behind The Polar Express in sixth.
Even though Christmas Vacation is the third installment in the National Lampoon’s series featuring Chase, it’s likely the most widely known.
Christmas Vacation isn’t on Netflix. However, fans can see the Griswold family tackle Christmas on TV.