How we made: Cool Runnings, the comedy classic about the Jamaica bobsled team

Jon Turteltaub, director

I used to be at movie college prepping my ultimate challenge after I noticed the Jamaican bobsled crew competing on the 1988 Iciness Olympics in Calgary. I be mindful considering: “Those athletes don’t appear to suppose they’re as humorous as everybody else does.” That’s what caught in my head: how frequently do any folks step out of doors what’s simple, and do one thing unbelievable?

Lynn Siefert’s authentic screenplay, Blue Maaga, was once extra dramatic. It was once rewritten through Tommy Swerdlow and Michael Goldberg, each amusing personalities full of skill and self assurance. I heard later from Tommy that he did the rewrite whilst the use of heroin. I used to be at all times this kind of sq.. I used to be clueless about all that stuff.

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The lead actors – Leon Robinson, Doug E Doug, Malik Yoba and Rawle Lewis – had such easiest Jamaican accents that there was once a terror non-Jamaicans wouldn’t perceive them. Jeffrey Katzenberg, then chairman of Walt Disney Studios, was once getting very annoyed and I started to fret he’d hearth me if I couldn’t get them to talk the way in which Sebastian the crab did in The Little Mermaid. However as an alternative of arising with some fancy, directorial reason they must reduce the Jamaican accessory whilst representing the honor in their Caribbean heritage, I simply mumbled: “I’m going to get fired in the event you don’t sound like Sebastian.” They laughed and stored my process, doing so with out compromising their authenticity.

Right through manufacturing I were given to pass one thing off my bucket record: going to a hockey fit with John Sweet. We had been in Calgary and it was once a dream come true. John and I left the sport early so he wouldn’t get mobbed through enthusiasts, but it surely took place anyway. He signed each and every autograph he was once requested for. It took us 20 mins to stroll the 30 metres out of the sector.

The film had some nice titles because it travelled the arena. It was once launched as Chilly Buttocks in Norway, and Rasta Rockett in France. My favorite was once the Italian translation: they referred to as it 4 Under 0, or Quattro Sottozero.

Rewritten as a comedy … Cool Runnings.



Rewritten as a comedy … Cool Runnings. : Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

It intended such a lot to me that the movie was once beloved in Jamaica. I felt I had given the folk there one thing to be in reality pleased with, and one thing they may chuckle about on the similar time. I beloved the road spoken through Malik’s Yul Brenner persona: “We’re other. Other folks at all times terrified of what’s other.” It places a unique spin on hatred – for Yul to have that knowledge displays that his persona skilled this prior to, and his personal anger comes from a inclined position.

After Cool Runnings I now not best were given despatched a large number of identical sports activities screenplays, but additionally each and every circle of relatives film being made. It were given so unhealthy that at one level I won a script referred to as Amanda. With out studying a phrase, I picked up the telephone and mentioned to my agent: “What sort of animal is it, and what’s unsuitable with the child?” There was once a protracted pause prior to the answer got here: “It’s a horse and a mind tumour.”

Doug E Doug, actor, performed Sanka Coffie

I used to be co-producing and starring in a TV display referred to as The place I Reside after I heard concerning the script. The primary try at making the film by no means took place. When it was once rewritten as a comedy, I used to be satisfied to recommit to the challenge, but additionally wary. Comedy is a gentle factor to drag off, and I didn’t need to discuss with any dishonour upon those heroic characters.

Doug E Doug as Sanka Coffie.



Doug E Doug as Sanka Coffie. : Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

Insurance coverage avoided us from racing for actual, however we nonetheless needed to push and board the sled. I don’t know if the opposite guys had been scared, however I unquestionably questioned if we may by chance pass down the ice. I had a few frightened moments mountain climbing in: it was once nearly as uncomfortable because the scene the place I’m at the island, prepping for the Calgary climate through crouching inside of an ice-cream wagon. That’s now not actual frost in my dreads, through the way in which: we used dry ice. And it was once sizzling as Jamaica in that truck.

I’ve been recognised as Sanka each and every waking second of my life. I’m more than happy that millennials and Technology Y – my youngsters – love our little bobsled film such a lot. Just lately, I realized that the Jamaican racers who certified for the 2014 Russian Olympics described themselves as “Cool Runnings: the second one era.” Possibly they had been impressed through the sight of the 4 folks sporting that damaged sled against the end line for the movie’s climax. It was once lovely heavy. All arms had been had to raise it.

On a lighter word, other people frequently inquire from me if I nonetheless have Sanka’s egg. I do. It’s coming quickly to eBay.

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