15 Infamous Facts About ¡Three Amigos!

YouTube
YouTube

Directed by John Landis with a script by Steve Martin, Randy Newman, and Lorne Michaels, the film follows a goofy group of silent movie cowboys who are mistaken for real heroes by a small Mexican village. To this day, ¡Three Amigos! is one of the most infamous (which we all know means "more than famous") films of the 1980s. It was named one of the Top 100 comedies by both Time Out and Bravo, and is celebrated as a unique collaboration between some of the greatest comedians of all time. There's a lot to learn about "those darn amigos," so here's a plethora of facts about the comedy classic.

1. STEVE MARTIN LEARNED THE ROPE TRICKS HE DID IN THE MOVIE WHILE WORKING AT DISNEYLAND AS A TEENAGER.

Martin worked there part-time from age 10 to 18, first selling guidebooks then hawking spinning lassos in Frontierland, according to D3. "The ropes were hard to sell," Martin explained. "I had to wear a Western costume, cowboy shirt, hat. I did a little bit of that in ¡Three Amigos!"

2. ALL BUT ONE OF THE MOVIES, ACTORS, AND INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS MENTIONED IN THE FILM ARE FAKE.

The film is full of fake movie references, from Harry Flugleman (played by Joe Mantegna), the amigos’ fictional producer, to fake films like Amigos! Amigos! Amigos! and Little Neddy Grab Your Gun. There’s only one scene where a real star of the silent film era is mentioned: When he’s bragging to some of the Santo Poco villagers about his film career, Ned Nederlander (Martin Short) name drops actress Dorothy Gish, telling the confused villagers about the time Gish visited him on set. Today, that name would probably go over about as well with audiences as it did for the fictional villagers. Though she’s largely forgotten today, Dorothy Gish was an actress and director from the silent movie era, as well as the less famous sister of Oscar-nominated actress Lillian Gish.

3. RANDY NEWMAN PLAYED THE SINGING BUSH.

Well, technically, the Singing Bush was played by a bush, but Newman provided its voice. His voice was digitally altered for the role. In an interview with Movies.com, director John Landis explained that he’d considered several different ways of portraying the singing bush—including animating it, or somehow showing its lips moving—but ultimately decided to make the bush more naturalistic, and just let Newman’s singing take over the scene.

4. IT WAS MARTIN SHORT'S FIRST MOVIE ROLE.

Short had been doing sketch comedy—including on Saturday Night Live and SCTV—for years before he landed the part, but ¡Three Amigos! was his breakout film role. He went on to work with Steve Martin in two more films: Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride Part II (1995).

5. THE ACTOR WHO PLAYED EL GUAPO WAS IN A 1970 MOVIE CALLED TRES AMIGOS.

The Spanish language adventure comedy is largely forgotten today, but Alfonso Arau not only went on to play “El Guapo” in ¡Three Amigos!, he also appeared as the villain, Herrera, in Sam Peckinpah’s classic Western The Wild Bunch (1969).

6. JOHN LANDIS'S FAVORITE MOMENT WHILE SHOOTING WAS AN ARGUMENT WITH CHEVY CHASE.

Landis told Movies.com, “Probably the funniest moment for me when shooting was when I had the Three Amigos on horseback in the desert and I was shooting while they were wearing those ridiculous outfits and after having been shooting for three weeks, Chevy objected to a line of dialogue and he said, 'I don't think I should say this.' And, remember, Chevy plays a character named Dusty Bottoms. So I said, 'Well, why not?' He said, 'Because my character would have to be a moron to say this.' All I could think was, What movie has Chevy been making? So I said, 'OK, I'll give it to Marty because it's a laugh.' Then Chevy said, 'I'll say it!' It's one of my favorite moments with an actor.”

7. SEVERAL FILMS THAT CAME OUT AFTER ¡THREE AMIGOS! SHARED ITS PREMISE.

Like ¡Three Amigos!, films like Galaxy Quest (1999) and Tropic Thunder (2008) have featured movie stars accidentally ending up in real danger. Vulture outlined the many similarities between Tropic Thunder and ¡Three Amigos!, which include everything from similar catchphrases and movie star cameos (Tom Cruise plays Jewish film producer Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder while Joe Mantegna plays Jewish film producer Harry Flugleman in ¡Three Amigos!) to characters eating bats when they’re short on food. Galaxy Quest meanwhile featured a group of washed up sci-fi stars who end up cavorting with real aliens.

Referring to the spate of movies that borrow from the ¡Three Amigos! premise, John Landis said, “They completely ripped it off! The first Pixar movie about the ants, A Bug's Life, took the same plot. It's amazing how often the plot has been used. If Galaxy Quest weren't so funny, it would probably bother me more.”

8. WHILE PROMOTING THE FILM ON DAVID LETTERMAN, STEVE MARTIN INTRODUCED A SERIES OF THREE AMIGOS SOUVENIRS OF INCREASING RIDICULOUSNESS.

These included: Three Amigos rubber cement, holy water (“blessed by the Three Amigos”), turkey basters (in sizes ranging from “Martin Short” to “Steve Martin”), the “Egg McMigo” breakfast sandwich, and Three Amigos contraceptive foam.

9. STEVE MARTIN DEVELOPED TINNITUS WHILE SHOOTING THE FILM.

While shooting a pistol fight in the film, Steve Martin developed tinnitus—a constant ringing in the ears which sometimes fades over time. In Martin’s case, the condition turned out to be permanent: regarding his experience with tinnitus, he explains, “You just get used to it. Or you go insane.”

10. ROGER EBERT GAVE IT ONE STAR.

He called it "too confident, too relaxed, too clever to be really funny," and complained that the performers were underutilized—particularly Chevy Chase who “hardly seems in the movie at all." He also argued that the film lacked the energy of Landis’s earlier comedy, Animal House.

11. IT TOOK SIX YEARS TO GET THE FILM INTO PRODUCTION.

It was originally going to be called The Three Caballeros. Steve Martin, who came up with the original idea, was talking about it in interviews as early as 1980, but it took a long time to find a director willing to make it.

12. FRAN DRESCHER WAS IN THE ORIGINAL FILM, BUT WAS CUT BECAUSE OF TIME ISSUES.

Before she was The Nanny, Drescher had a small part in ¡Three Amigos! as a shallow movie star in the Hollywood segment of the film. Though the film was eventually re-released with deleted scenes, Drescher’s footage didn’t appear—it seems to have been lost entirely over the years.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG ALMOST DIRECTED THE FILM.

Spielberg considered making the film in the early 1980s with Martin, Robin Williams, and Bill Murray as the leads. Ultimately, he decided to make E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) instead.

14. JOHN BELUSHI, DAN AYKROYD, AND RICK MORANIS WERE ALL CONSIDERED FOR AMIGOS PARTS, TOO.

Martin had initially imagined co-starring in the film alongside Belushi and Aykroyd. It’s unclear what happened—perhaps the film just took too long to make it into production. Next, Spielberg had expressed interest in casting Murray and Williams alongside Martin, but when he dropped out of the project, the idea went with him. Finally, Landis considered casting Rick Moranis as the third amigo—but only if his first choice, Martin Short, was unavailable. Splitsider notes that many of these actors were collaborating with each other around this time: Moranis, Murray, and Aykroyd all appeared in 1984’s Ghostbusters together, while Belushi and Aykroyd famously co-starred in 1980's The Blues Brothers and 1981's Neighbors.

15. A NOVELIZATION OF THE FILM WAS PUBLISHED, WRITTEN BY LEONORE FLEISCHER.

It was an official adaptation of the original screenplay, and was even promoted in the film’s credits. Fleischer has written a number of film novelizations, mostly for classroom use, including the novelization of the Academy Award-winning 1988 film Rain Man.

15 Convenient Products That Are Perfect for Summer

First Colonial/Lunatec/Safe Touch
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10 Fascinating Facts About Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars in Fleabag.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars in Fleabag.
Amazon Studios

In just two short seasons, British sitcom Fleabag has made a lasting mark on television. The series centers around Fleabag, a 30-year-old Londoner—played by the effortlessly funny Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also created the show—who is caught up living a life of late nights filled with booze and promiscuity in the wake of her mother’s death.

At first Fleabag appeared to be a simple half-hour comedy following the often naughty exploits of its quirky main character. Yet, as the series progressed, it quickly proved itself to be a truly masterful piece of work with each episode adding more complicated layers and darker themes to which many viewers can relate. Here are some facts about the groundbreaking comedy.

1. Fleabag began as a one-woman stage play.

It’s hard to imagine what Fleabag might look like if it were stripped of all its chaotic characters and performed as a solo show, but that’s exactly how it started. Before there was a TV show, creator/star Phoebe Waller-Bridge staged Fleabag as a one-woman play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 2013. The title character addressed the audience in an hour-long, sexcapade-filled monologue, which was generally met with praise by theater critics. The TV show was created soon after, and originally premiered on BBC Three in July 2016.

2. The title of the show refers to more than just the main character.

The title Fleabag comes from a nickname given to Phoebe Waller-Bridge by her family. “It was my family nickname as far back as I can remember,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2019. Speaking to This Morning in April 2020, Waller-Bridge also revealed a deeper meaning for the name choice (which is never actually spoken in the show).

“A fleabag motel is something that's a bit rough around the edges,” Waller-Bridge explained. "I wanted to call her that because I wanted her persona and her outside aesthetic to give the impression that she was completely in control of her life, when actually, underneath, she's not."

3. Phoebe Waller-Bridge co-founded a theater company before penning Fleabag.


L to R: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Vicky Jones, and Tuppence Middleton at London's Soho Theatre.
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

In 2007, several years before Fleabag was born, Waller-Bridge was fed up with not being able to find work, despite having graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art two years earlier. So she co-founded her own theater company, DryWhite, with her best friend Vicky Jones. DryWhite paved the way for Waller-Bridge’s 2008 debut stage performance in Roaring Trade at London’s Soho Theatre, which led to two other successful plays—Crashing and, of course, Fleabag—both of which were created by and starred Waller-Bridge, and both of which were turned into television series. DryWhite is still going strong today, bringing fresh talent out in new productions every year.

4. Isobel Waller-Bridge, Phoebe's sister, composed the Fleabag soundtrack.

The badass guitar chords played after every episode of Fleabag are composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge, Phoebe’s very talented sister. Isobel earned a bachelor's degree in Music at Edinburgh University followed by a master's degree at King's College London then additional study at the Royal Academy of Music.

Isobel has firmly established herself in the music world. Like her sister, Isobel has received several awards, including Best Composer at the Underwire Film Festival. She also composed the chorused background music for Fleabag’s second season, which perfectly fit the religious theme. Her impressive work can be heard on her SoundCloud.

5. The fourth wall breaks in Fleabag aren’t just there for comedic effect.

Fleabag’s hilarious fourth wall breaks actually serve a deeper purpose for the character, which is realized by the end of season 1. Fleabag, who is deeply suppressing grief from the loss of her mother and best friend, uses these breaks to escape her troubled reality.

By season 2, the fourth wall breaks became less of a crutch as the character became more engaged in her real life and even fell in love. By the end of the show (spoiler!), Fleabag retires from the audience altogether as she decides to face her reality going forward.

6. The “Hot Priest” role was written specifically for Andrew Scott.

Waller-Bridge worked with Irish actor Andrew Scott years before she cast him to play the role of The Priest—a.k.a. “The Hot Priest”—in Fleabag’s second season. Speaking to IndieWire in 2019, Waller-Bridge praised Scott’s acting style, saying, “there’s something really dangerous about how truthful he is as an actor … he just comes with so much complexity that your characters instantly become interesting.” Waller-Bridge wrote the part once Scott agreed to it and their perfectly tragicomic love story was born.

7. Had Andrew Scott turned the part down, a second season of Fleabag might never have happened.

Waller-Bridge was so set on getting Andrew Scott to sign on to play The Priest that she admitted a second season might not have happened if he had said no. She told IndieWire:

"Religion was already a theme in my mind from very, very early on, but I didn’t know how to distill that until I had decided on The Priest. I worried it would be too much of an obvious sort of comedy idea, that Fleabag, who you can’t imagine has ever stepped foot in a church before, that she should come up against a man of the cloth. It seems almost too comedic, too sitcom.

"But then the moment I imagined Andrew Scott in that role, and making this man complex and three-dimensional, and sort of a match for Fleabag, then I was like ‘I’ve got the show now.’ It’s all about these two and how they affect each other’s lives. I called him up before I’d even written it to see if he’d be interested in doing it, and I pitched him the idea because I think if he’d said no, I don’t know if I would have actually been able to write that part."

8. The Priest notices something about Fleabag that no other character in the show is able to see.

Andrew Scott in Fleabag (2016)
Andrew Scott stars in Fleabag.
Amazon Studios

Fleabag often breaks the fourth wall mid-conversation with characters to address the audience, until she is eventually caught in the act of doing it by The Priest—much to her, and the viewer's, surprise. Whenever things get too intense for Fleabag, she switches off, which is something the Priest notices almost right away. In a 2019 interview with IndieWire, Waller-Bridge discussed the significance of this moment between the two characters: “[S]peaking to the audience concerns the theme of loneliness, and I think that he’s able to recognize that because he’s actually able to see her.”

9. Fleabag had an alternate ending.

In 2019, Waller-Bridge revealed to The Guardian that there was an alternate ending for Fleabag, but she remained tight-lipped on what it was. At the beginning of season 2, Fleabag tells audiences this is “a love story” which, despite ending rather tragically, remains hopeful by the end as Fleabag leaves audiences behind to move forward in her own life. So Waller-Bridge can keep her alternate ending—the one viewers saw was perfect.

10. No, there will not be a third season of Fleabag.

Sian Clifford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in 'Fleabag'
Sian Clifford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag.
Hal Shinnie/Amazon Studios

Though Fleabag dominated the most recent awards season, winning two Golden Globes (including Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy) and six Emmy Awards (including Outstanding Comedy Series), Waller-Bridge has made it clear that there will not be a third season. Even after the second season won so many awards, Waller-Bridge said, “I haven’t changed my mind about season 3. It feels more and more about being the right decision. [These awards shows] are just beautiful goodbyes."