“The thing that made his character and made that aspect of the movie work was that you loved him.”
Tim Matheson, who played Eric “Otter” Stratton in 1978’s Animal House, really didn’t care for Stephen Furst when the two men first met just prior to shooting the comedy classic. The problem: The Kent “Flounder” Dorfman actor was just too damn nice. However, the pair would go on to become good friends and work together on a couple of films, including 1984’s Up the Creek. Furst died Saturday at the age of 63. Here, Matheson remembers his beloved Delta Tau Chi brother whom Otter fought for.
It always cracked me up that for two days before we began shooting in the fall of 1977, I really, really didn’t like Stephen. He was irritatingly friendly. It was his first big movie, and he was so excited. He was just like Flounder. And what I came to realize was that he was a method actor. He was playing that character on stage and off. And he was brilliant, very funny and very sweet. The thing that made his character and made that aspect of the movie work was that you loved him.
John Landis always stressed the audience had to like the characters. And the fact that Tommy [Hulce, who played Lawrence “Pinto” Kroger] and Stephen were so damn lovable and sweet gave us a lot of leeway to kill a horse, have sex with the dean’s wife and all the things we did. It was the purity of those parts.
I got to spend more time with him on Up the Creek, where I saw a whole other side of him and have a greater appreciation and friendship with him. He was a proud family man. I honestly don’t remember him ever having a harsh word about anyone.
Otter fought for Flounder to be in the frat because they didn’t discriminate, Anyone could get in. We didn’t want to be like those other guys who wouldn’t have people like us in their club. I think that was the core of the movie.
I will always fondly remember the times we…