Imagine you’re waiting for your turn at an audition, only to discover that the person auditioning before you is River Phoenix. Sean Astin was that unfortunate person. He realized his chances were slim when he walked into the room and saw the filmmakers beside themselves with emotion.
Phoenix had just auditioned, and everyone was in tears. He had nailed the audition. Astin was doubly impressed when he finally saw the film. It confirmed what he already knew, that Phoenix was the right actor for the part.
The Rob Reiner and Stephen King Friendship
Rob Reiner seemingly achieved the impossible as a director. He reinstated Stephen King’s trust in Hollywood! Well, him – specifically. Other directors wouldn’t do. Some relationships in life just don’t work while others endure.
For Stephen King and Rob Reiner, it was like kindred souls had met. The two shared an incredible rapport both during the film and after it. King agreed to sell the rights to "Misery" (1990) only if Reiner directed the movie. In the years that followed, Reiner produced several Stephen King adaptations.
The Curious Case of Teddy’s Clothes
Fans with a keen (or fashion) eye will have already caught on to this bit in the film. Vern, Chris, and Gordie wear the same clothes throughout the movie. But Teddy? Teddy somehow finds the time to change into different t-shirts and very nice ones too!
We first see him in a shirt with a beautiful design. When the boys meet for the journey, Teddy finds the time to change into a green shirt. The road ahead might be full of peril, but Teddy shows up dressed up regardless.
Cossie Fish Isn’t Real
The film’s meta-narrative is a treasure of stories. Among them is when Teddy mentions the mysterious Cossie fish. Vern tells the story of a kid named Ray Bower who allegedly died in the Harlow woods. Teddy chimes in, saying he knows the Harlow back road since his dad would fish for Cossies nearby.
Cossie fish don’t exist. It’s a clever play on the British word for bathing costumes or “cossies.” That’s what they called one-piece bathing suits in the 1950s. Did Teddy know what the word meant? We’ll never know.
The Song That Sparked Controversy
Anyone who grew up in the ‘80s and watched the film will know “The Ballad of Palladin.” Written by Johnny Western, Sam Rolfe, and Richard Boone – it’s an uplifting ditty for our four heroes on their journey. The ballad is also the ending theme song to “Have Gun – Will Travel” (1957). The track may have been the perfect choice for the film, but the producers never secured the songwriter’s permission to use it.
Johnny Western filed a lawsuit suing the producers and won. Western eventually became the proverbial man with a (smoking) gun in his own song.