‘National Lampoon’ Star Beverly D’Angelo Talks About Her Chemistry With Chevy Chase

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Beverly D’Angelo and Chevy Chase co-starred as husband and wife Clark and Ellen Griswald in  National Lampoon’s Vacation film franchise. The actors got so close that by the second movie, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, D’Angelo became known as the Chevy Chase whisperer. In a recent interview with hosts Peter Billingsley and Nick Schenk, D’Angelo revealed the reason behind their great connection in the movie: “Ellen and Clark are born out of the chemistry that Chevy and I have.”

“It’s not like we slip into those roles, but there’s something about our brains that makes it very easy to go into,” she continued. “There’s just something about our chemistry we’re comfortable with; we’re suburban kids, maybe. I don’t know. But whatever it is, it’s our chemistry that made those people.”

Beverly D’Angelo gained Chevy Chase’s support to prove her point while filming  the ‘National Lampoon’ film franchise

National Lampoon
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, from left, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy Chase, 1983, ©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

In the third movie of the franchise, National Lampoon: Christmas Vacation, there is an unscripted scene where Ellen places her hand over Clark’s crotch during a SWAT raid. D’Angelo spoke about what brought about that famous moment.  As things unfolded, Chevy delayed the cast and crew for hours, and while they were waiting, she overheard the director, Jeremiah S. Chechik, saying the reason they were behind schedule was that “all actors were children.”

RELATED: ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ Stars Chevy Chase And Beverly D’Angelo Reunite

Slightly infuriated, D’Angelo decided to prove Jeremiah wrong. “I said to Chevy, ‘Jeremiah doesn’t pay any attention to me at all. He’s never watching what I’m doing,’” she revealed. “I was getting paranoid that I wasn’t turning in a performance. Because I felt like the director would say ‘That was your best.’ I couldn’t connect with him enough.”

National Lampoon
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, from left, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy Chase, 1983. © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

She then suggested to Chevy that to gain Jeremiah’s attention, she had to do something drastic like grabbing Chevy’s crotch. Therefore, she did it, but the scene couldn’t be changed because it was the last shot of the day. Funnily, she justified her action by saying she was in character. “I’ve got my PG story now,” she stated jokingly. “That Ellen Griswold knew that the most sacred thing in the family were the family jewels. So it wasn’t just me being a little brat and seeing what I could get away with.”

Beverly D’Angelo said that “Ellen” was inspired by her mother

Also, the 71-year-old revealed to hosts Billingsley and Schenk that her character was inspired by the love that existed between her parents while growing up. “I grew up witnessing a great love affair, They got married young. They had four kids before my dad was even 29.”

National Lampoon
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, from left, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, 1983, ©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

“My mother was really a traditional woman who put her heart and soul into her husband primarily and her family. She ran the family for him so he could succeed,” D’Angelo disclosed. “And my father was a musician when I was born, and then, by the time I was 15, was a very successful and wealthy broadcast executive because of my mother.”

D’Angelo also detailed that she adapted a popular quote from her mother into her character, “And my mother always said, and I use this always for Ellen Griswold, that as long as it adds up to 100, it doesn’t matter who gives what. Sometimes you have to give one, and sometimes you might even have to give 100, but sometimes you only have to give 99 as long as it all adds up to a whole thing.”

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