16 Breezy Facts About Cool Runnings
Loosely based on the unlikely true story of the Jamaican bobsled team that participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics, Jon Turteltaub's Cool Runnings’s legacy endures more than two decades years later. Here are some facts about the beloved 1993 film that will make you feel the rhythm and the rhyme.
1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY A DRAMA CALLED BLUE MAAGA.
Director Brian Gibson was attached to direct Blue Maaga, which is Jamaican slang for “in a state of great distress and starvation.” The serious sports drama was eventually changed to much more of a comedy.
2. TWO DIRECTORS LEFT THE PROJECT.
Jeremiah Chechik left to helm Benny & Joon, then Gibson dropped out for What’s Love Got to Do With It. Which is how Jon Turteltaub ended up behind the camera.
3. TUPAC SHAKUR, JEFFREY WRIGHT AND CUBA GOODING JR. ALL AUDITIONED.
Malik Yoba (who played Yul Brenner) was surprised that Wright, an actor he respected, didn’t get a role. Tupac also auditioned. Gooding Jr. was lined up at one point, with Jerry Maguire three years away.
4. IT WAS MALIK YOBA’S FIRST ROLE.
He got the part despite not having an agent or even a head shot. He has kept busy in the years since, most recently on the hit show Empire.
5. YOBA WROTE THE THEME SONG.
It’s officially titled “Jamaican Bobsledding Chant.” He pretended he was improvising the song on the spot at his audition; he had written it earlier. It led to a record deal.
6. RAWLE D. LEWIS WAS THE READER AT THE AUDITIONS.
Lewis was originally hired just to read lines with the auditioning actors, which was supposed to be a one-day gig. He ended up with the part of Junior Bevil. Years later, Lewis admitted to lying on his resume about having plenty of acting experience in his native Trinidad.
7. JOHN CANDY WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO MAKE THE FILM.
Candy took a pay cut, as he really wanted to play the role of the coach Irv. He told the cast he knew the film was going to be big, and that Disney didn't know what they had. Candy was right (more on that later).
8. CANDY PICKED MUSIC FOR EACH OF HIS FELLOW CAST MEMBERS.
Candy invited his co-stars to dinner and played a song for each member of the bobsled team that he felt best represented their characters. Doug E. Doug just remembered that he picked a Rolling Stones song for Sanka. Cool Runnings was sadly the last film featuring Candy that came out before his passing in 1994. Wagons East was a few months later, and Canadian Bacon came out the following year.
9. DOUG E. DOUG CHEATED ON HIS TRAINING.
10. SANKA’S LUCKY EGGS WERE RUBBER.
Doug E. Doug still has them.
11. THE CAST PROTESTED AGAINST A SCENE.
Turteltaub got upset when the cast staged a "mini protest" over putting a spliff in a snowman’s mouth. Doug admitted they were all taking themselves very seriously at the time, however, he thinks Turtleaub would agree the movie did fine without the scene.
12. A SANKA SEX SCENE WAS CUT FROM THE SCRIPT.
Tommy Swerdlow, one of the three credited writers for Cool Runnings, shared in a Reddit AMA that he "originally had Sanka having sex with Scandinavian ski bunnies until they made me take it out."
13. DISNEY WANTED A SEBASTIAN THE CRAB JAMAICAN ACCENT.
Studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg insisted to Turteltaub that the Jamaican accents being used were difficult to understand. "He told me that unless I got the guys to speak English like Sebastian the crab from [The] Little Mermaid, I’ll basically never work at Disney ever again," the director recalled. A studio note given to Leon was to speak like a “Jamaican Aladdin.”
14. THE REAL LIFE BOBSLEDDERS MADE A DEAL WITH THE FILMMAKERS.
Nothing negative would come out of the mouths of the former Olympians If Cool Runnings wasn’t derogatory about the team or their country. One of the original bobsledders gave the cast a thumbs up after he witnessed the filming of one of their scenes.
15. THEY DID NOT REENACT THE CRASH.
The four-man team in the Olympics crashed. The televised footage of the incident was used instead.
16. DOUG E. DOUG UNDERESTIMATED THE BOX OFFICE.
He guessed it would make $50 million. Cool Runnings earned more than $68 million in the United States alone, and grossed over $154.8 million worldwide. Rawle D. Lewis was more optimistic and ultimately accurate: he said it would make “$60 to 70 million” in America.