Dan Aykroyd Visits Hollywood Palms in Naperville (October 19)
Posted October 19, 2014
by Kristen Kucharski, Glancer Magazine
Hollywood Palms of Naperville has once again brought the big name stars to the western
suburbs hosting Dan Aykroyd for an all-day appearance and interpersonal meet-n-greet
with hundreds of fans. The accomplished actor, singer, comedian, director, screenwriter, and let’s not forget…..husband of 30 years and father of three, spoke with Glancer Magazine during an on-stage interview in front of a theater full of Blues Brothers and Ghostbuster enthusiasts.
Aykroyd’s accomplishments include a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, an Oscar nomination; Primetime Emmy nominations and wins, and many other accolades but shared that he is most proud of creating the world’s purest vodka, Crystal Head Vodka, and receiving a Gold Medal for Excellent Taste in Moscow, Russia. “We had a number one TV show, a number one record, number one films, and a number one vodka, and it’s all with great collaborators and team members and friends; to receive that award was really, really gratifying,” Aykroyd shared.
“I am working with great people and that’s how you get success in life - finding people who are smarter than you to take you where you want to go.” Aykroyd has found continued success in the Blues Brothers with ongoing performances of The Official Blues Brothers Revue featuring a live re-creation of the original Jake and Elwood Blues performing all of the original Blues Brothers tunes, just as you would have seen on “Saturday Night Live” or in the movie. He performs with Jim Belushi. “He’s Brother Z in the show and I’m Elwood,” Aykroyd said. “He’s the legacy and I’m the blood.” The pair travels with a group of Texas California musicians who are all Grammy winners and will be playing in New York this November.
As far as his acting career, he says he has had his time and is excited to support the new generation in the entertainment industry from movies to music. He is personally involved with the BluesMobile Radio Show, now in their 27th year of production. “It’s an opportunity for me to get new artists out there, to sell them, add tickets to their shows, and tell people about their live performances and records, and also to venerate the real veterans that are still out there,” he adds. “If you’ve got a CD and you’re in a Blues band, send it to me and I will put you on the radio.” Aykroyd displayed overall humble appreciation for his blessed life and hopes to see more tolerance and compassion in the world. - Kristen Kucharski
***FUN FACT ABOUT DAN AYKROYD***
During the filming of the Blues Brothers movie, an extra on set was from Naperville and dated Dan Aykroyd for a while. Her first name was Denise – no last name revealed!
COMPLETE Q & A INTERVIEW
1. You are an accomplished actor, singer, comedian, director, screenwriter, and let’s not forget…..a husband of 30 years and father of three. After all of your accomplishments, including a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as an Oscar nomination; Primetime Emmy nominations and wins, and many other accolades - could there possibly be anything still left on your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list because I don’t see the bucket in my future at least for the next few decades. My mom is 96 and my dad is 92; and of course, I am doing my best to screw up those genetics but anyway….I expect to be around…but honestly, of all those things that you mentioned, the most thrilling thing for me in the past two years was the fact that we made this vodka (Crystal Head Vodka) and the Russians gave us an award. Out of all the things I have ever done - to win a vodka award in Moscow and that’s it…that just does it for me. That really was gratifying because it’s a hands-on thing. I didn’t do all that alone – everything you just mentioned came with collaboration. You don’t do all that alone. It’s all teamwork. We had a number one TV show, a number one record, number one films, and number one vodka, and it’s all with great collaborators and team members and friends. I just wanted to do something that was better and to receive that award was really, really gratifying. I am working with really great people and that’s how you get success in life - finding people who are smarter than you to take you where you want to go.
2. The Blues Brothers is still going strong with ongoing performances of The Official Blues Brothers Revue featuring a live re-creation of the original Jake and Elwood Blues performing all of the original Blues Brothers tunes, just like we would have seen on “Saturday Night Live” or in the movie. What is your personal involvement in this current show?
Well I travel with a gentleman who you may know as James Belushi. A great Chicagoan. A great alpha American, Illinois male. He’s my partner and we travel the world. He’s Brother Z in the show and I’m Elwood. He’s the legacy and I’m the blood. We are playing in New York in November. We travel with a group of Texas California musicians, not the original ones from the movie, but they are all great, all of them are Grammy winners. We have Johnny Lee Shell (Bonnie Raitt’s guitar player); we have J.J. Holliday (Bob Dylan’s guitar player); we have a lady who sang with 5th Dimension and Rod Steward; we have Texicali Horns who were named by Stevie Ray Vaughan; we have Tony Brownigal who’s Taj Mahal’s drummers and head of the Phantom Blues Band. All of the band members are all Grammy winners, all producers, brilliant, brilliant people. Recently, we opened the San Antonio Performing Arts Center and it was a triumphant night….we filled the house, black tie, and it was quite neat that people were coming up to see the music after so long and bringing children too. There are kids coming to see it now, so we have an active concert schedule and we are playing in November and expect more gigs in the coming year.
3. What is your personal involvement with The BluesMobile Radio Show
Yes, we’re in our twenty-seventh year of production and we are on Westwood One Radio. It’s an opportunity for me to get new artists out there, to sell them, add tickets to their shows, and tell people about their live performances and records, and also to venerate the real veterans that are still out there. I was on Jimmy Fallon recently with Bobby Rush. Bobby Rush was a Chicago policeman in the 50s and he went on to a career where he’s had over 300 records. He’s 80 years old, still touring; he’s one of the last members of what they call the chitlin circuit down in the states….all these juke joints where James Brown used to play and B.B. King. Little Richard doesn’t go out anymore, James is gone, B.B. King is infirm and not touring as much as he used to and so Bobby Rush is the last one. The BluesMobile Radio Hour enables me to play sell his music, tell people he’s still out there and then I get to talk about people like this lady from Croatia, Ana Popovic, who plays the blues, as well as, Joanne Shaw Taylor; these tremendous, really great women guitar players who I’m promoting these days. So, the BluesMobile Radio – if you’ve got a CD and you’re in a Blues band, send it to me and I will put you on the radio and by the way, legally, it’s free.
4. It was reported that you were working on a script for comedy that would also star Chevy Chase. Can you share any details of what we might expect in the near future from this script or other movies you will be featured in? (what’s next for Dan Akroyd.....)
I’m pretty much done with the writing and pretty much done with films, I must tell you. I had 30 years in this business and to say to me, go and make another movie, it would be like saying to Gordie Howe, go play more hockey. I’ve done it and now it’s time for the new generation. I love it. Melissa McCarthy, Will Ferrell, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig…it’s their time now…we had our time…you saw that…that’s it…..that was our time. It’s not time for me to go on and make more movies or write more scripts. It’s time for the young to have their voice and my job now is to simply support them and support my community and so I don’t think you are going too much of me in terms of the entertainment business. I was in the movie, “Get on Up” this summer, which unfortunately disappeared and came out against all of the kids movies, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and that, and it just got wiped out. Had they saved it till October, I firmly believe it would have been a success and been an adult movie that people would have come and seen when the kids all went back to school, but it’s coming out on DVD and Netflix, and blu ray – the James Brown story, I have a small part in that and likely that’s probably going to be my last appearance for a while unless Mr. Spielberg calls and says I need you to do something, then…..I will work for something like that. I’ve got other things in my life – I’ve got a growing family of girls who are into their own careers now, I have a marriage of 30 years to maintain, then I’ve got the vodka. Vodka’s taken me around the world and I’ve got a lot of work to do there. I love my community. I don’t look back without anything but respect for my fellow actors, writers, and directors and producers. I am very grateful for the life I have. I have no regrets and no bitterness at all.
5. If given the chance, would you go back and undo or redo anything in your career or personal life?
Well I was a little harsh with some people in the business. When you’re producing and doing a movie…look, you know, General Patton didn’t get to Berlin by being soft and so executives in the field, which I was at the time – I wish I would have been a little gentler with some people that maybe I had to let go if people weren’t doing their jobs. On a film set, if someone’s not doing their job, they are fired immediately, and I’m sorry that some of that went down. I wish I could have been more understanding and more gracious with how the termination may have been done, but film units run….well in my day it was $150,000 a day to run a film unit of about 100 people. Now a day, it is a quarter million dollars a day, so you know, you can’t have someone who’s not doing their job or doesn’t want to do their job – you’ve got to get rid of them. I was a little harsh and I regret some of those terminations.
6. You were diagnosed with Tourette’s at 12 and with Asperger’s later in life – how do either of these affect your life today at 62 years old?
Actually no – I was never diagnosed. I read a lot of medical journals myself and I was treated for a nervous tension at 12 years old – I went to a psychologist. Over the years, I’ve looked at my condition and I self-diagnosed…I’ve got a touch of this. I’m not officially medically diagnosed, but I look at it and I go, yeah that’s a sign of Asperger’s/Tourette’s. Just reading and seeing other people, I realized I have a touch of that – so I recognized it, but don’t formally acknowledge it. But people come up to me – there was a young man today that his father said his boy had Asperger’s – bright, handsome young man and I asked him if he had artistic qualities and the guy said he was a writer. My cousin who lives in London is married to a guy who has Asperger’s and he is one of the most brilliant engineers in the world and very successful. There are people that make it happen.
7. You are the founder of Crystal Head Vodka. What inspired your desire to create one of the world’s purest vodkas?
I didn’t like what I heard was in a lot of lesser priced vodkas, less expensive vodkas…they add glycerin, which is used in the production of soap and shampoo….now they don’t put these things in enough to kill you or hurt you, but glycerin is the common additive in many alcoholic beverages, but I figured, why not do a vodka without it. If you had the choice, and you wanted to make a martini, why not have no glycerin in it. Also, they add citrus oil; that’s called a limonene - a caustic cleanser in its raw form. I thought also, if a bar tender had the choice to make a screwdriver with a vodka without citrus oil in it, because he’s adding orange juice or grapefruit juice, why not have a vodka that doesn’t have citrus oil. The other thing they put in is added sugar and you don’t need any more sugar in alcohol. So we just decided to do something pure and cleaner, and then we won that award and we are doing really well overseas with it now.
8. Beyond vodka and your title of Sheriff Deputy as a part of the Hinds County Sherriff Department’s reserve unit in Mississippi – which most people probably didn’t know about you…..what else can you share about your lesser known accomplishments or biggest hopes and dreams?
I don’t know if I had any lesser known accomplishments other than my family and what goes on there. My hopes and dreams are the following: I hope that we can grow tolerance in the world and understanding and I hope we can look and see people who are different than we are, as the same. I hope that we can go into life with more love for each other and a universal type of love. I hope that everyone in this room and everyone that I come into contact with just feels grateful for where we are and where we were brought up and where we are living. We are so fortunate to be living in the western world. We won the lottery here. You think of all the other places we could live but here. We are in a great country, in a great state, in a great suburb, near a great city, so I’m hoping we just acknowledge it and have a realization that things aren’t that bad, with a little more tolerance and understanding for those that seem different but have a gift that the world can take advantage of.
9. In your opinion, what is the best advice you have given to your three daughters over the years to help them grow as individuals and succeed at finding happiness in life?
That we are all the same, that we are all equal and that the guy who’s pushing the shopping cart with a bag full of cans with no home is exactly like me; and by the grace of God, I might have gone there. We have to have compassion for our fellow man – that those who have been given much, much will be required. Those are the words of the Christ and I live by them every day and so do my daughters.
10. Do you have a personal connection to Naperville? Since you have been in town – where have you eaten and what do you like most about the western suburbs?
On the Blues Brothers movie there was a lady that was working as an actress and she was from Naperville and we dated for a while. I was single back then. She was a lovely girl. I believe her name was Denise and I won’t say the last name. I was 27 back then and she was maybe 19 so that was okay back then. I had to drive her home a few times. I drove her home in a marked Chicago police car. As far as food and drink – I love going to House of Blues, not even the Foundation Room but The Porch Restaurant there, we convey the best Louisiana cuisine on the planet other than Louisiana. So, whenever you go to the House of Blues, you are getting the best of Louisiana food.