Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Filming of the "Groundhog Day" Movie-- Part 2: A Fall and a Hog

About that fall from the tower.

There was one part of the movie where Phil Connors repeatedly committed suicide and one of the most striking was his fall out of the tower, which was filmed at the Woodstock Opera House (Pennsylvanian Hotel in the film).  This is also where Rita stayed and is featured in one of the face slaps where Phil then opens the door for her.

Of course, Bill Murray did not take the plunge.  It was done by stuntman.Rick Le Fevour of Woodstock (who was at the Saturday movie site walk).  He is part of Midwest Stunts based in Chicago and has appeared in and coordinated many stunts in movies, including the "Batman" franchise ones.

He says "Groundhog Day" was a rare chance to work close to home.  The bell tower stunt was tricky because he is usually leaping violently after an explosion or running.  This stunt required a slow, easy fall.  Filming took place on a cold day and he was just wearing pajamas and a robe.

Bill Murray actually fell a few feet from a makeshift padded platform from a different tower opening.  Le Fevour fell ten feet from the main opening into an air bag.

he also coordinated and performed stunts in the chase scenes filmed in Bull Valley and Union after Phil Connors decides that the only way to get out of February 2nd was to kill the groundhog.

When Murray was in the shot, the groundhog was nibbling on his fingers and he wore protective gloves. (I've heard the woodchuck actually bit Murray).  When Le Fevour was in the shot, the groundhog was in his lap, which had no protection.  "he was running around on my leg.  I was just praying he didn't bite me."  I can sure imagine why.

Groundhogs Can Bite.  --RoadDog

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