In the late seventies and early eighties, Chevy Chase was the height
of cool. He was the original break-out star of Saturday Night Live
which was the hip show to watch and not an institution like it is
today. When he went into movies, Chase was hailed as the next Cary
Grant. But despite appearing in a few durable comedies, Chase has
failed to live up to the promise he showed early in his career. These
days, he is known for his tirades more than his comedy.
What the hell happened?
Chase got his start as a writer. He was part of a comedy ensemble
called, Channel One and wrote for the Smothers Brothers TV show in the
early 70s. In 1973, he became a cast member on The National Lampoon
Radio Hour which also featured John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill
Murray. Chase also worked with Belushi in the Off Broadway revue,
Lemmings, which was a send-up of musical counter-culture.
In 1974, Chase appeared in the sketch comedy film, The Groove Tube.
The Groove Tube was written and directed by Ken Shapiro who was co-
founder of Channel One.
The Groove Tube was made on a meager $200,000 budget which made it
Chase was discovered by Lorne Michaels one day while standing in line
to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Chase was cutting up.
Michaels took notice and ended up hiring Chase as a writer – not a
performer – for his new show, Saturday Night.
Chase convinced Michaels to allow him to appear on the show. He did
the opening segment in which he would take a prat fall before
announcing “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night”.
Chase was also the first host of Weekend Update, a role which allowed
him to say his name on television every week. Chase started the
segment by saying, “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not.” It became a
popular catch phrase while subtly pointing out that Chase was probably
cooler than you.
The original cast of Saturday Night Live included comedy legends like
Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner. But Chase quickly ascended as
the break-out star. Many in the cast (especially Belushi who was not
used to being upstaged) resented Chase’s sudden stardom. It didn’t
help that Chase was a coked-up jerk with a gigantic ego. He was known
for being a “put-down artist”, ordering everyone around and bragging
about his rising fame.
“He likes to focus attention on himself,” said Dan Aykroyd, one of the
few SNL cast members who remained friends with Chase over the years.
It was a friendship that was able to survive all the focus on him that
first year as a huge star. I’m pretty easy to get along with. I’m
from Canada. We know how to bend backwards and forwards towards
In 1975, Chase was so popular that there was talk of renaming Saturday
Night Live the Chevy Chase Show. New York magazine ran a cover story
hailing Chase as “the funniest man in America”. And an NBC exec
referred to him as “the first real potential successor to Johnny
Carson.” There were rumors Chase would guest host for Carson on the
Chase dismissed talk of taking over the Tonight Show saying “I’d never
be tied down for five years interviewing TV personalities.” Ironic
considering Chase would eventually host a late night talk show of his
own. Carson responded to Chase’s claims by saying he “couldn’t ad-lib
a fart after a baked-bean dinner.”
Chase’s contract as a writer for SNL was only for one year. After the
first season, Chase decided not to return to Saturday Night Live. He
fired his manager, Bernie Brillstein, who also represented Lorne
Michaels and signed with the powerful William Morris agency.
Michaels, who had been close with Chase, felt betrayed by the way
Chase left the show without notice.
These days, Chase claims that he left Saturday Night Live for love.
He was dating model Jacqueline Carlin at the time. According to
Chase, she demanded that he move out to Hollywood if he wanted to
continue seeing her. But staff writer Tom Davis claims that at the
time, Chase told him he was leaving the show for “money – lots of
Chase moved out west and immediately married Carlin. The couple
divorced after 17 turbulent months. Carlin filed for divorce citing
threats of violence. Meanwhile, Chase was appearing in his own prime
time specials on NBC.
During Saturday Night Live’s second season, Chase returned as a host.
When he did, he insisted on taking the Weekend Update segment back
from Jane Curtain who had been hosting the bit since he left the
show. Chase claimed this upset Curtain, but she insisted that “Chevy
was expecting a reaction he wasn’t getting from me.”
Chase’s return did get a reaction from Bill Murray who had replaced
Chase on the cast in the show’s second season. Belushi, served as an
instigator telling Murray that Chase was looking to get his old job
back. Murray confronted Chase and a fight ensued moments before the
show was about to start. Laraine Newman recalled:
“I don’t know if Chevy provoked it or not,” says cast member Laraine
Newman. “But it culminated with Billy saying to Chevy, ‘Why don’t you
fuck your wife once in a while? She needs it.’ And I don’t even
remember who threw the first punch, Billy or Chevy. But it was ugly.”
National Lampoon’s Animal House was originally written with the cast
of Saturday Night Live in mind. The role of “Otter” (which was played
by Tim Matheson) was written for Chase. However, director John Landis
wasn’t interested in making Animal House a Saturday Night Live movie.
So when he met with Chase about the role, he subtly tried to dissuade
him from taking the part.
Landis told Chase that one of the benefits of Animal House was that it
was an ensemble, so Chase wouldn’t have to carry the weight of the
film’s success on his own. He was counting on Chase’s ego to prevent
him from signing on to an ensemble cast. And sure enough, Chase bowed
out for a starring role in another 1978 comedy.
Instead, Chase starred opposite Goldie Hawn in Foul Play.
Foul Play was a mix of genres. It was part thriller, part romantic
comedy. Chase proved an extremely charismatic leading man opposite
America’s Sweetheart, Hawn. Hawn played an innocent girl next door
type who got involved in an extremely complicated murder plot. Chase
played the goofy police detective who protected her.
Reviews for Foul Play were mixed to positive. Chase was hailed as a
comedic and romantic leading man. Chase and Hawn were both nominated
for Golden Globes and the movie was a hit at the box office. It was
popular enough to inspire a short-lived TV series starring Barry
Bostwick and Deborah Raffin.
In 1980, Chase starred in three movies. The first was Oh Heavenly Dog
which co-starred Benji. For those too young to remember, Benji was a
Chase played another private investigator. The twist is that Chase’s
character is killed while investigating a case. In order to earn his
way into heaven, Chase is reincarnated as an adorable pooch. For the
rest of the movie, Chase provided a voice over while Benji solved the
case and spied on Jane Seymour in the bathtub.
Oh Heavenly Dog got bad reviews and flopped at the box office.
A couple of weeks later, Chase appeared as part of the ensemble cast
in Harold Ramis’ comedy classic, Caddyshack.
Originally, the young caddies played by Michael O’Keefe and Scott
Colomby were central to the film. But Ramis directed the film with a
highly improvisational style. Co-star Bill Murray’s role was entirely
improvised. Chase and Rodney Dangerfield also did quite a bit of
improvisation much to the dismay of co-star Ted Knight who was
legitimately frustrated by this method.
As Ramis filmed, the focus of the movie shifted from the young caddies
to the eccentric members of the club. It’s no surprise given that the
cast was loaded with comic talent. Who wants to watch Michael O’Keefe
when you can watch Chase, Murray, Dangerfield and Knight at their
Caddyshack received mixed to positive reviews at the time. But it was
a hit at the box office and remains one of the most quotable movies of
all time. So it’s got that going for it – which is nice.
Chase reuinted with Goldie Hawn in Neil Simon’s screwball comedy,
Seems Like Old Times.
Chase played a man who was forced to rob a bank. Now a fugitive, he
seeks help from his ex-wife, a public defender played by Hawn. The
always-reliable Charles Grodin played Hawn’s new husband and district
attorney who loathes Chase’s character.
The film was inspired by The Talk of the Town, a 1942 comedy which
starred Cary Grant. Reviews were mixed to positive. The movie fell
short of Foul Play’s box office. But it actually out-performed
In addition to starring in three movies that year, Chase released a
self-titled album with novelty and cover versions of songs by Randy
Newman, Barry White, Bob Marley, the Beatles, Donna Summer, Tennessee
Ernie Ford, The Troggs, and the Sugarhill Gang.
Weird Al, he is not.
As is usually the case, the vanity album came at the peak of Chase’s
career. That’s when celebs are able to get away with recording a
cover of “I Shot the Sheriff” while looking like a smug douchebag on
the album cover. I won’t say it was all downhill from here. Chase
still had a few highlights left in his career. But he would never
have a year like 1980 again.
In 1981, Chase starred opposite Carrie Fisher in the Wizard of Oz
spoof, Under the Rainbow.
The film takes place during the making of The Wizard of Oz. Fisher’s
character is in charge of wrangling all of the actors and extras who
are coming into town to play the Munchkins. She gets caught up in
international intrigue involving a diminutive Nazi agent played by
Billy Barty (who was also a bad guy in Foul Play).
The intent was clearly to make a Foul Play for families. But the
movies one joke is that little people are funny. Your enjoyment of
the movie will depend largely on how much you agree with that
statement. I saw this movie on cable as a kid and the only thing I
remember is that Princess Leia stripped down to her undies.
Remember, this is pre-Return of the Jedi gold bikini. At the time, it
was a pretty big deal.
Despite the allure of seeing Leia in a bra, Under the Rainbow got
terrible reviews and bombed at the box office.
Later that year, Chase reunited with his old friend and Groove Tube
director, Ken Shapiro for the comedy, Modern Problems.
Chase played a guy who is doused in radioactive waste and somehow
acquires telekinetic powers. He uses them to get revenge on his
rivals. It’s like Carrie played for laughs. Except Carrie was
Chase had a near-death experience while filming a dream sequence for
Modern Problems. He was wearing landing lights as he dreamed he was
an airplane. The wiring was faulty and Chase was rendered
Once again, the reviews were terrible and the movie bombed. Chase was
0 for 2 in 1981.
Chase rebounded in 1983 by reuniting with his Caddyshack director,
Harold Ramis, for National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Chase played hapless dad, Clark Griswold who just wants to show his
family some fun at America’s favorite family fun-park, Wally World.
The movie struck a chord with audiences and launched a franchise which
is still going today. Reviews were mostly positive and the movie was
Later that year, Chase starred opposite Sigourney Weaver and Gregory
Hines in the comedy, Deal of the Century.
Chase played a smooth-talking arms dealer trying to sell weapons to a
South American dictator. The movie was directed by William Friedkin,
director of such comedy classics as The Exorcist, Cruising and To Live
and Die in L.A.
Returning to form, Deal of the Century was panned by critics and
tanked at the box office.
In 1985, Chase starred in Fletch, based on the mystery novel by
Chase singles Fletch out as his best movie because director Michael
Ritchie gave him free reign to do whatever he wanted. Chase even goes
so far as to take credit for directing the comedic elements of the
movie. I’m not sure that wearing an afro wig should have earned Chase
a directing credit, but I will give Fletch credit for blending comedic
elements with a good mystery. It is among the best of Chase’s career.
Reviews for Fletch were positive and the movie was a hit. It is
mostly downhill from here.
Later that year, Chase returned to the Vacationn franchise in the
sequel, National Lampoon’s European Vacation.
As the name implies, the sequel saw the Griswolds win a trip to
Europe. Anthony Michael Hall, who played son Rusty in the original,
was too big of a star in the mid-eighties so he did not reprise his
role. This set a precedent for rotating kids in every subsequent
Ramis also passed on the sequel and was replaced by Fast Times at
Ridgemont High director, Amy Heckerling. Like a lot of sequels, this
one had diminishing returns.
In spite of bad reviews, European Vacation was a hit at the box
Later that year, Chase reunited with the one Saturday Night Live cast
member who would return his calls, Dan Aykroyd, in Spies Like Us.
Spies was inspired by the old Hope-Crosby Road to… movies. Bob Hope
even cameos in the movie. Aykroyd and Chase played spies who were so
bad at their jobs that they are used by their agency as decoys. In
spite of their ineptitude, they manage to save the world and Chase (in
the Crosby role) gets the girl (Aykroyd’s real-life wife, Donna
Spies was directed by John Landis who had intentionally talked Chase
out of starring in National Lampoon’s Animal House a few years before.
Spies Like Us got mostly bad reviews. It was a hit at the box office
and has developed a cult following.
In 1985, Chase returned to Saturday Night Live as a host. He
reportedly went out of his way to antagonize everyone in his path. He
made fun of Robert Downey Jr.’s father saying, “Didn’t your father
used to be a successful director? Whatever happened to him? Boy, he
sure died, you know, he sure went to hell.”
But Chase was just getting warmed up. He was especially hateful to
Terry Sweeney, the show’s first openly gay cast member. Chase
suggested doing a sketch where they weigh Sweeney every week to see if
he had AIDS. Lorne Michaels forced Chase to go to Sweeney’s office
and apologize in person which Sweeney says made Chase furious.
In 1986, Chase worked with Landis again. He starred alongside Steve
Martin and Martin Short in The Three Amigos.
The Three Amigos was written by Chase’s old friend, Lorne Michaels,
Steve MArtin (with whom Chase played poker) and song writer Randy
Newman. Originally, the movie was written for Martin, Dan Aykroyd and
John Belushi. When Belushi died, Aykroyd dropped out and several
other actors were considered. At one point, Stephen Spielberg was
considering directing with Martin, Bill Murray and Robin Williams
Eventually, Short and Chase joined the cast. All three “amigos”
played poker together with Johnny Carson in the Hollywood Gourmet
Reviews for Three Amigos were mixed and the movie did so-so at the box
office. It has become a cult hit over the years.
Also in 1986, Chase appeared in the video for Paul Simon’s hit song,
You Can Call Me Al.
Simon didn’t like his original music video which was a performance of
the song on Saturday Night Live. Lorne Michaels came up with the idea
for a new video in which Chase lip synchs the lyrics while Simon looks
on bored. Chase learned the lyrics on the car ride to the recording
studio which is pretty painfully obvious. And also typical of his
comic style which involves zero preparation.
When I was a kid, I thought this video (and Chase’s mugging) was
hysterical. Watching it today, it’s not nearly as funny as I remember
it. Frankly, the funniest part is Simon’s stone-faced expression and
the difference in height between the two men.
In 1988, Chase starred in the comedy, Funny Farm.
Chase played a sports writer who moves out to the country to write a
novel. Comic hijinks ensue including but not limited to Chase eating
Reviews were mixed to negative. But Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel
championed the film. In spite of the endorsement of America’s
favorite film critics, Funny Farm was not a hit.
Later that year, Chase appeared in Caddyshack 2. He was the only
member of the original cast to reprise his role.
Harold Ramis, director of the original Caddyshack, was enticed to
contribute to the script for the sequel. He described where things
“ The studio begged me. They said, “Hey, we’ve got a great idea: ‘The
Shack is Back!’” And I said “No, I don’t think so.” But they said that
Rodney [Dangerfield] really wanted to do it, and we could build it
around Rodney. Rodney said, “Come on, do it.” Then the classic
argument came up which says that if you don’t do it, someone will, and
it will be really bad. So I worked on a script with my partner Peter
Torokvei, consulting with Rodney all the time.
Then Rodney got into a fight with the studio and backed out. We had
some success with Back to School, which I produced and wrote, and we
were working with the same director, Alan Metter. When Rodney pulled
out, I pulled out, and then they fired Alan and got someone else.
I got a call from Jon Peters saying, “Come with us to New York; we’re
going to see Jackie Mason!” I said, “Ooh, don’t do this. Why don’t we
let it die?” And he said, “No, it’ll be great.” But I didn’t go, and
they got other writers to finish it. I tried to take my name off that
one, but they said if I took my name off, it would come out in the
trades and I would hurt the film.”
Mason was substituted for Dangerfield. Dan Aykroyd was substituted
for Bill Murray. And all the jokes were replaced with TV sit-com
crap. Reviews were terrible and the movie bombed.
In 1989, Chase continued to relive past glories. First, he starred in
a Fletch sequel, Fletch Lives.
Gregory McDonald had written nine Fletch books by 1989. (He wrote two
more in the nineties). Unlike the original movie, which stayed fairly
faithful to McDonald’s book, the sequel was not based on one of the
books. And it showed. Part of what made the first film work was the
blend of humor with a solid mystery. The sequel is a pale imitation.
Reviews were mixed to negative, but the movie did reasonably well at
the box office.
Later that year, Chase returned to the Vacation franchise again for
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Christmas Vacation is a pretty radical departure from the original.
Where the first Vacation was rated R, this sequel was PG-13. In this
film, the family never leaves home. Instead, they host relatives for
the holidays. The kids are recast once again with Juliette Lewis
playing Audrey who is now inexplicably older than her brother.
Reviews for Christmas Vacation were generally positive. The movie
opened at number two at the box office but eventually rose to number
one. It grossed roughly the same amount as the original Vacation
which was less impressive given inflation. But after years of playing
on cable every Christmas, it has become an annual tradition for many.
In 1991, Chase reuinted with Dan Aykroyd for Aykroyd’s directorial
debut, Nothing But Trouble.
Aykroyd wrote the script with his brother. As writer, director and co-
star, Aykroyd had free reign to make as weird of a movie as he
wanted. And he took full advantage of that opportunity making a movie
that was less funny than off-putting. Chase co-starred opposite Demi
Moore as a couple that gets into legal trouble with an eccentric judge
played by Aykroyd.
Nothing But Trouble had a toxic reputation before it was even
released. The reviews were terrible and the movie flopped.
In 1992, Chase starred opposite Darryl Hannah in John Carpenter’s
comic thriller, Memoirs of an Invisible Man.
The movie was loosely based on a novel of the same name. Chase played
a stock analyst who is turned invisible in a freak accident.
Afterwards, he is pursued by the CIA who want to use him as an
Originally, Ivan Reitman was attached to direct. But Chase and
Reitman couldn’t get along. Reitman left the project and was replaced
by horror auteur, John Carpenter. Carpenter was interested in
changing things up by making a comedy. Unfortunately for him, Chase
was also looking to change things up by NOT making a comedy. He
insisted on downplaying the comedic elements.
Not surprisingly, this resulted in the movie having an uneven tone.
The film got bad reviews and flopped at the box office.
In 1993, Chase returned to television. Years before, there was talk
that Saturday Night Live might turn into the Chevy Chase Show. Fox
was interested in breaking into the competitive late night arena, so
they approached Chase to host a Carson-style talk fest.
Chase’s Foul Play and Seems Like Old Times co-star, Goldie Hawn was
his first guest. Chase proved Johnny Carson right. As an
interviewer, Chase was stiff, nervous and clearly unprepared. Hawn
and Chase were friends and yet, their conversation couldn’t be more
awkward… or less funny. It never got any better.
After only five weeks on the air, The Chevy Chase Show was cancelled.
It was less of a cancellation than a mercy killing really. But the
damage was done. Even Chase’s most ardent fans admitted that Chase
had lost it. He wasn’t funny any more.
In 1994, Chase reunited with Michael Ritchie, director of both Fletch
films, for the comedy Cops & Robbersons.
Chase played an ordinary guy whose home is invaded by a police stake-
out. Jack Palance played a tough-as-nails cop who butts heads with
Chase over the course of the investigation.
Reviews were bad and the movie flopped.
In 1995, Chase returned to family comedy with Disney’s Man of the
TV kid star, Jonathan Taylor Thomas made his big screen debut in Man
of the House. Chase played his potential step-dad. There’s a plot
involving a manhunt and blah blah blah.
It was another critically reviled flop for Chase.
During the 1996-97 season of Saturday Night Live, Chase returned to
host the show again. Tim Meadows described working with Chase:
“When he was here, it was like just watching a car accident over and
over again just watching him deal with people.”
Will Ferrell called Chase “a little snobbish” and prone to yelling at
people. Ferrell said that Chase told a female writer “maybe you could
give me a handjob later.” Ferrell continued:
“I don’t know if he was on something or what. If he took too many
back pills that day or something.”
Desperate, Chase returned to the Vacation well for Vegas Vacation in
Vegas Vacation was the first film in the series to be rated PG. It
was also the only film in the series not to feature the National
Lampoon name in the title. Finally, it is the only Vacation film I
have never sat through.
Reviews were negative and the box office was so-so.
Over the years, Chase has been involved with several unproduced
Vacation films. Following working with Eric Idle on European
Vacation, the duo started working on a script for Australian
Vacation. But the both eventually abandoned the project. In the 90s,
Australian Vacation was revisited as a potential fifth film in the
As recently as 2011, Chase was talking about an idea he had been
developing with co-star Beverly D’Angelo. Swiss Family Griswold would
have had the Griswold clan stranded on a desert island after a fire
breaks out on a cruise ship. On the island, they would run into Randy
Quaid’s Cousin Eddie who had been left on the island by a Survivor-
type game show.
Chase and D’Angelo reprised their roles in advertisements for HomeAway
and Old Navy. A Vacation reboot is in the works with Ed Helms
starring as a now-grown Rusty. Chase and D’Angelo are expected to
appear in cameos.
By 1998, Chase was basically doing cameo appearances in other people’s
movies. He played a gambling addicted-heart surgeon in Dirty Work.
Dirty Work was Norm Macdonald’s bid at a movie career. MacDonald was
the latest SNL star to take up the mantle of Chase’s Weekend Update
desk. It was also the directorial debut of Bob Saget after he left
the popular series, America’s Funniest Home Videos.
The movie was intended to be nasty, but critics found it mean-
spirited. Reviews were terrible and the movie bombed.
Around this time, Chase met with director Kevin Smith. Smith had been
approached by Universal. Smith suggesting revisiting the Fletch
series. According to Smith, Universal didn’t even realize they owned
the rights any more. But they were open to Smith rebooting the
Smith pushed to keep Chase in the role even though he claims Universal
wasn’t thrilled with the idea. Smith convinced producer Brian Grazer
to give Chase a chance. He set up a meeting with Chase to discuss Son
At the lunch, Chevy went on to claim he invented every funny thing
that ever happened in the history of not just comedy, but also the
known world… You ever sat down with somebody who claimed
responsibility for stuff he did AND didn’t do? It’s really off-
Smith got busy with Dogma and other projects and put Son of Fletch on
hold. Eventually, he pulled out of the project and Universal shut it
down. Chase was furious and has talked trash about Smith ever since.
Years later, Chase ranted about his meeting with Smith:
Smith invited me to lunch about 5 or 6 years ago to talk to me about
doing another Fletch movie: with me obviously, playing Fletch. He was
ebullient about it; about working with me; and said he was writing it
as we spoke. After that lunch, he never took or returned a call from
me. After 2 years, I was called by Alan Greisman, producer of the
Fletch films, saying, “Kevin doesn’t want to do it.” PERIOD! So I
waited for three friggin’ years to hear from someone else that Mr.
Kevin Smith was, for all practical purposes, lying to me to begin with
– having written nothing – rudely deceiving me, and all with no
apparent concern for how easily (facile) one can hurt another human
being and his family…he can shove it up his hole.
In 2000, Chase appeared in the kiddie flick, Snow Day. Chase and
Chris Elliott were there to assure parents the movie wouldn’t be too
Despite mostly negative reviews, Snow Day was a modest hit at the box
Around this time, Kevin Smith revisited the idea of making another
Fletch movie. Universal was no longer involved. Smith discovered
that the rights to MacDonald’s prequel novel, Fletch Won, were
available and he convinced Harvey Weinstein to option the book.
Weinstein did so on the condition that Chase not return as Fletch.
Because the movie would be a prequel, Smith wanted to cast his friend,
Jason Lee, as a young Fletch. Perfect casting, in my opinion. In
spite of his bad experience with Chase, he was open to the idea of
casting him in a framing device. But Weinstein felt like Lee wasn’t a
big enough star at the time. Later, when Lee became a star on My Name
is Earl, he was considered too old for the part. So Fletch Won never
happened with or without Chase.
It was also the last mainstream movie Chase would star in. In 2002,
Chase had a cameo appearance in the Jack Black comedy, Orange County.
He appeared in direct-to-video comedies like Funny Money (which co-
starred Penelope Ann Miller) and Stay Cool which starred Winona Ryder.
In 2010, Chase had an extended cameo in the 80′s comedy, Hot Tub Time
Machine starring John Cusack.
The movie had a premise every bit as ridiculous as its name. A bunch
of guys get into a hot tub which transports them back to the 80′s.
Chase plays a mysterious (and possibly supernatural) hot tub repairman
who helps the guys return to the present day.
Reviews for Hot Tub Time Machine were mostly positive. While the
movie was not a big hit at the box office, it performed well on video.
As Chase’s movie career slipped into a coma, he returned once again to
television. In 2006, Chase appeared in a guest spot on Law & Order.
He played a Mel Gibson-inspired celebrity who makes racial slurs when
he gets in trouble with a DUI.
In 2009, Chase played another villain on the cult TV show, Chuck.
Chase appeared on three episodes that season.
Also in 2009, Chase was cast as a regular in the NBC sitcom,
Since that time, Chase has butted heads with pretty much anyone
associated with the show. Primarily, he publicly feuded with show
creator Dan Harmon.
The show premiered to mixed to positive reviews. While it was never a
big hit in the ratings, it has developed a small but loyal cult
following. In the show’s second season, Community grew into a
All the while, Chase and Harmon feuded. The conflict played out very
publicly. Chase’s involvement in the show was always in doubt.
Eventually, Harmon was fired as show-runner. Not long after Harmon’s
departure, Chase left Community.
So, what the hell happened?
The most obvious problem is that Chase was a notorious asshole for
years. Bill Murray once said:
“When you become famous, you’ve got like a year or two where you act
like a real asshole. You can’t help yourself. It happens to
everybody. You’ve got like two years to pull it together — or it’s
He didn’t name Chase specifically, but many believe that is who Murray
was referring to.
When Chase’s career started slipping, many in Hollywood smiled
broadly. While Chase certainly had friends, there were plenty of
enemies who were all too happy to watch him go down in flames.
The bigger issue is that Chase was never really an actor. In his
prime, he was a good-looking, charismatic guy who was talented at prat-
falls and mugging. It made him perfectly suited for the anything-goes
style comedy of early Saturday Night Live.
In the rush of success, Chase got a big head. People were telling him
he could do anything and he believed the hype. He was compared to
legends like Cary Grant and Johnny Carson. But he was ill-equipped to
fill either of their shoes.
Chase’s star rose too far too fast. A fall from those heights was
inevitable. It didn’t help that he burned so many bridges on the way
up. And judging from his recent behavior, he hasn’t learned an
Like Bill Murray said, it’s permanent.