David Letterman’s Airplane! audition

David Letterman's Airplane! audition ......

Made over forty years ago Airplane! remains one of the greatest comedy films ever. Absolutely rem packed with jokes both verbal and visual multiple re-watches still reveal jokes often in the back ground and it turned Leslie Neilsen from a respected straight actor into one of the great comic actors of all time able to deliver the most ludicrous lines in a deadpan manner that amplified the joke ten fold.  Robert Hays stars in the lead role of Ted Stryker a passenger who has to pilot the airplane to safety when the pilots die from food poisoning but what’s little known is David Letterman’s Airplane! audition for the same role.

An extract from a new book about the making of the film  has co-director Jeff Zucker saying about Letterman, “He wasn’t an actor, but he was funny. And he looked great onscreen—like, leading-man good looks. But the thing about David is, he’s just really uncomfortable with the whole idea of acting. I think it all seems too phony to him, like he’s bullshitting. It just wasn’t him.

Letterman himself has been open about his Airplane audition saying, “I liked those guys, and when I saw the movie, it was just delightful, and I was delighted to see it knowing that I didn’t have to look at myself. Because that would’ve ruined it. If not the whole movie, it certainly would’ve ruined it for me. [In my audition], I get out there, and they had set up a cockpit for the aircraft with chairs. I had a chair, and there was another chair where the copilot would be. We did the scene once, and then they came in and gave me some notes, and then we did it maybe two more times. And I kept saying all along, ‘I can’t act, I can’t act, I can’t act,’ and then one of them came to me after the audition and said, ‘You’re right: you can’t act!’,

He added, ‘It was all so good-natured that I just laughed my way back to the car,” he adds. “I never felt any sense of disappointment, because from the very beginning I told them, ‘I can’t act.’ And then I was right, and we all ended up parting as friends. So it was a good time.

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Here’s David Letterman’s Airplane! audition ……


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