Phase9 Entertainment


Here's a fun Q&A with Herbie the car (don't take it too seriously)

Herbie, the free-wheelin' Volkswagen bug with a mind of his own, was one of the biggest stars of the Seventies, as adept at action as comedy. Now in one of the most eagerly awaited comebacks in movie history, Herbie is returning to the big screen in HERBIE: FULLY LOADED. The film co-stars Hollywood It-Girl Lindsay Lohan and finds she and Herbie teaming up to do a little race car driving. In his first interview in 25 years, the famously reclusive Herbie talked to us about why he went into retirement, why he's back and his Oscar hopes for next year.

Hello Herbie. Can you tell us something about the plot of your new film, HERBIE: FULLY LOADED? Is it a comedy? A romance? An adventure film?

Yes. I think I bring a mixture of comedy, action, and romance to any part I play. In the film, I try to help a recent college graduate-played by Lindsay Lohan-achieve her dreams of becoming a Nascar driver. I don't want to give away any of the twists and turns, but needless to say, there's a surprise around every corner.

Of course, this isn't your first film. Will you tell younger filmgoers about the last time you were up on the big screen.

I got my first starring role in the original LOVE BUG movie back in 1968. I was just a kid then. I've done four feature films total. I'd tell the kids to go out and buy the newly released box set of movies to see some of my earlier work. Whether it was foiling a jewelry heist in HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CAROL or saving an old lady from greedy real estate developers in HERBIE RIDES AGAIN, in all of my films I've tried to help people in one way or another.

It's been a long time since that film. Why did you turn your back on Hollywood?

I love acting, but after my last feature in 1980, I really needed to put the brakes on for a little while. Those were crazy days in Hollywood. My schedule was so hectic, I was going through two or three quarts of oil a week to keep up with the pace. My mechanics were worried I was going to blow a tire and spin out of control.

You must have got a lot of offers in the intervening years?

My agents certainly weren't happy with the decision to take some time off. I was offered everything from a crime-fighting TV series with David Hasselhoff to some time travel movie starring Michael J Fox. I have no regrets though.

And what did you do during your retirement?

I really kept a low profile during my self-imposed hiatus. But I wasn't just spinning my wheels. I did the normal everyday things I never got to experience when I was in the spotlight: spent a lot of time reading (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, On The Road, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), cleaning my garage, and watching lots of VH1. I'll come right out and answer the big question everyone has been wondering: Yes, I did have some work done. Some body work here and there kept me looking young. And with the changing emissions standards, I also needed improvements under the hood.

So why come back now? Was Disney very persuasive? Was there something special about this script or your co-stars?

Around the time I was starting to get bored, I ran into Disney's Motion Picture Group topper Nina Jacobson in the supermarket parking lot one day. She pitched me the idea, and I read the script and loved it. Plus I needed the money. It's not cheap to keep looking this good. I thought if Travolta could make a comeback, why not me?

Can you tell us a little bit more about your co-star in HERBIE: FULLY LOADED, Lindsay Lohan. She's become quite the Hollywood "It" girl, hasn't she?

I've been a huge fan of Lindsay's ever since I saw PARENT TRAP at the drive-in a few years ago. I thought the idea of combining the biggest star of the 1960s and 70s with one of today's most talented leading young ladies, would make for an irresistible hit.

Do you think she was intimidated to be working with you? How did you break the ice?

Frankly, I think I was more nervous to be working with her. Lindsay's a total pro. I hadn't been on a movie set in a long time. Plus, I'm no spring chicken anymore. Memorizing that script wasn't easy. On the first day of shooting, I accidentally ran out of gas. Totally embarrassing! But Lindsay brought me an air freshener, and that really put us at ease.

Lindsay has a love interest in this film? How about you?

I don't want to give away any big secrets, but let's just say it's hard to imagine a car as sleek and well-built as me not having a love interest.

HERBIE: FULLY LOADED is directed by Angela Robinson. What do you look for in a director and what's special about Angela?

Angela was, by far, the best director I've ever worked with. She had a great vision for the movie and was very approachable on set. Most importantly, she promised to only shoot my good side.

Did you get the chance to improvise at all or do you like to keep to the script as written?

I always like to keep the actors on their toes. Sometimes it's fun to turn right, when the script says left, or throw it in reverse instead of going forward.

Which other actors inspire you?

I was inspired to work with Michael Keaton. I've been a huge fan of his ever since GUNG HO. Other than that, the actors you'd expect help keep my engine revving: The Mystery Machine Van from Scooby Doo, the Batmobile, and the Ferrari from Magnum PI.

Do you prefer the more dramatic scenes in the movie or the action sequences?

I'm generally a fan of the action sequences. It's great to put my pedal to the medal and really show how fast and powerful I am. In this movie, it was great to get on the track with some very talented race car drivers.

There are a lot of action scenes in the movie and a lot of stunts. Do you do your own stunts or do you have a double for those scenes?

I do my own stunts, although sometimes I prefer them to use a body double for shots of my bumper.

Are there any scenes you're particularly proud of or were particularly challenging for you?

Race car driving was some of the more challenging work I've ever done. It took months of training and preparation for the scenes. When you're driving close to 200 miles per hour, you've got to be prepared. Plus, I'm a method actor. So to get into character, I spent lots of time on track hanging out with the other cars. Just trying to get inside their engines, understand how they think.

A lot of your fans wonder if the Herbie we see up on screen is the real you. Is Herbie a character you play or are you playing yourself?

No matter what, as an actor, I think you always bring a little bit of yourself to the character you play. I love helping others achieve their dreams, but I also have a bit of a mischievous streak to me as well.

Can you tell us a little about your private life? Do you live in Hollywood?

I prefer not to comment. I try to keep my private life private.

How has Hollywood changed in the years you've been away?

The people are mainly the same, but traffic is brutal. Also, since I'm claustrophobic, I don't like that there are more parking garages and fewer open air lots these days.

Have you seen the finished film and what was your reaction?

I usually don't like to watch myself on screen, but I did force myself to see this one and I have to honestly say it's the best work I've ever done. I couldn't be happier. The movie has great laughs, tremendous action, and some real emotion. They should start to get my parking spot ready at the Oscars next year.

Any thoughts on a sequel?

Since I had such a great time, I really hope I get the opportunity to do a follow-up to FULLY LOADED. I just hope Disney is saving their money, because my sequel salary isn't going to be cheap.

And how about a different sort of role altogether? Do you think the public would accept you in a non-action film?

Don't typecast this bug. I'm just getting started.

Question & Answer Text Copyright Buena Vista International