Here’s one of those stories that you may have missed over the years. It always makes me chuckle, and if all goes to plan, I’ll find a few more short pieces like this over the coming weeks.
The late Patrick Swayze was fond of a practical joke or two on his movie sets – and one in particular lit a fire beneath his director at the time.
Swayze was making the film Red Dawn, for director John Milius. Milius, a man fond of explosives himself, went to answer a call of nature whilst shooting the film. Unbenownst to him, however, Patrick Swayze had got there first.
As the actor recounted in his memoir, The Time Of My Life, “I rigged the toilet in his trailer with charges – M60s, which are like one-eighth-size sticks of dynamite. I packed them into a steel tube to direct the force, so they wouldn’t blow shrapnel everywhere, and taped them under his toilet.”
He duly waiting until Milius sat down and detonated them. “The explosion sent him running out the door in a panic.” Yet Swayze wasn’t done.
“He’d barely gotten the words ‘Swayze, you son of a—’ out of his mouth when I set off a second round of explosives, blowing two garbage cans sky-high and scaring the s**t out of him.”
The pranks on the film kept coming. At one stage, Swayze concealed a bottle rocket launcher in the director’s room, rigging it up to go off when Milius opened the door in the morning. “Dozens of tiny rockets flew at him, driving him back into his room,” Swayze recalled.
Not that John Milius minded. “Day to day, he never knew what might be coming at him – and he loved it.”
For more on John Milius, an enormous character in ’80s filmmaking, do seek out the excellent documentary, Milius.