We met up with Leif at the 2005 Grease 2 cast Reunion in Burbank, Ca. It was a rainy day in Southern California but everyone was so happy to be together again, it was like the sun was shining down in the middle of Spring!
Do you recall any specific scenes or musical numbers that were cut from the movie that you wish were left in?
Of course, all the scenes that tell the back stories of Delores and Davey. She wants to be a Pink Lady, so she keeps pestering Davey. He will have nothing to do with her because she hasn’t “developed” in the critical areas. This conflict starts in the bowling alley, that’s why she says. “This bra is killing me.” Finally, at the carnival, Delores enhances her natural state with toilet tissue and Davey is satisfied. They become a couple. Davey is no longer chick-less and Delores is finally a Pink Lady.
Goose and Rhonda had an amusing back story, too. I don’t remember the details, but it was Goose who opened a door and banged her on the nose.
Davey had his scene with Michael where he exchanged money for homework assignments. It occurred right after the “Reproduction” number. It was a quick, funny scene because Davey (just like his T-bird buddies before him) threatens Michael that he can’t tell anyone about their arrangement, because he has a… Before Davey can finish his sentence, Michael interrupts with, “You gotta rep to protect”. This was a charming moment for Michael Carrington’s character.
Do you have any keepsakes or mementos that you were able to keep from the filming of Grease 2?
No, just the pictures that I’ve shared with Amy. I had stuff — Rydell varsity jacket, bowling shoes, bowling bag, script, and other things. I gave them away to fans, so hopefully it’s all out there somewhere.
Was there any other actor in the film that this shoot created a special bond with? If so, who and do you still hang out with them?
We rehearsed for one month and filmed for three additional months. By that time we were all pretty close friends. I was very fond of my fellow T-Birds. We worked so closely together (and I mean that literally as well as emotionally. All four of us we almost always squeezed into the same shot.)
Being the youngest of the four, I was like their little, annoying brother. I drove them crazy but they were very protective and helpful. They did do their share of teasing and tormenting me; I loved every minute of it.
Adrian (Johnny) was our leader on and off camera. He was compassionate, giving, and extremely talented.
Peter (DiMucci) was very witty, sophisticated, and an incredible mimic. He came from New York City to film the movie, which was very cosmopolitan to me at that time. He was very dedicated and serious about the craft of acting (probably more so than the rest of the T-Birds).
Chris (Goose) was my hero. He really was like a big brother to me. My affection for him was immense. We drove down to the set everyday. Paramount rewarded us monetarily for carpooling and, being struggling actors, Chris and I took advantage of that situation. I remember Chris drove some little foreign sports car that was always breaking down, so I did most of the driving. I would try to convince him to split to the cost of gasoline, but that cheap SOB never gave me gas money. He always said that Paramount was paying for my gas and so he didn’t have to. (Now, is that a big brother trick or what!?). Chris was incredibly talented. He and I used to love to sing and harmonize together. He loved to have fun.
I had already seen “Fame” and I was completed in awe of Maureen Teefy. I just loved her. It’s difficult not to love her; she’s a delightful, talented, witty, charming woman. We became buddies very quickly.
To me Lorna (Paulette) represented a vision of Hollywood that mesmerized and baffled me. She was fabulous, witty, and wonderful. She was so dear to me. After filming concluded, she took me as her date to the premier of some Richard Prior movie. It was so glamorous and filled with Hollywood stars I was dizzy with excitement. So much so, that when we left, I escorted Lorna into some one else’s Mercedes and we drove away. We were four blocks away before we realized that we weren’t in the Volvo I had borrowed for the festivities!
Michelle (Stephanie) was also one of my favorites. She was darling. I felt like she was my big sister. She was so dedicated, so fascinated by the craft of acting, and so committed to doing a great job. We used to rehearse her lines in her dressing room for hours. Back then, I was noted for my sloppy eating habits (I still am) Michelle thought it was so gross that I used to dip my cheeseburger into a pool of ketchup. If you’ll watch carefully, she does that very thing in the diner scene. She thought it was just trashy enough for Stephanie.
Pammy (Delores) was the apple of my eye. I turned 21 during the filming of Grease 2. Pam turned 15. I was an immature, frivolous young man; Pam was wise beyond her years. Emotionally we were a perfect match! We had such a hilarious time together. Pam was so caring and open. She was so appealing. Everyone was head over heals for her. She was also extremely funny. Pam, Chris, Peter and I would regale the entire crew and cast with off-color jokes we acted out. She was also an adroit impersonator. She and Peter created an entire corral of wacky characters.
Was there a special moment or funny circumstance during the filming of Grease 2 that sticks out in your mind?
I do remember that on my birthday, Chris and Adrian blindfolded me and walked me out into a parking lot (we were filming the interiors of the Bowling Alley). They took the blindfold off and there were scores of cast and crew members with pies. They pelted me! I was covered in whipped cream. Did I mention I was annoying?
Where were you when you learned you had won your role for Grease 2?
In addition for auditioning for the part of “Davey”, I had also auditioned to be one of the featured dancers. They told me that I had the gotten cast as one of the featured dancers, but they were still considering me for “Davey”. About the fifth or sixth time I went in, they had cast Michelle and Maxwell, and they were trying on different Johnnies, Paulette, Gooses, et cetera. They were attempting to build a complimentary cast. I think this hell went on for two days. I was pleased in the knowledge that I was going to be dancing in the movie, but at the same time I was so nervous because I wanted the part so much. Matt Lattanzi was the other finalist for the role of Davey. I had convinced myself that he would get it because he was dating (or married to) Olivia Newton John. In the end, they gave me the part of “Davey” and Matt was cast as “Brad”. Good news for everybody.
What song did you perform for your audition for Grease 2 and which role did you audition for?
Ballad: Since I Don’t Have you.
Up-Tempo: Just Let Me Hear Some Of That Rock n’ Roll Music.
What other role would you have liked to have played?
None. Davey fit me like a glove.
When you were making Grease 2, did you ever imagine it would reach the cult status that it has?
Not, at all. When we were filming it, I thought it would be a big hit. After all, it was the sequel to Grease. Then when it didn’t do well at the box office, I thought it would pass out of everyone’s memory in a year or two.
What is your favorite musical number in Grease 2?
I enjoyed filming all the numbers. If I had to chose one,
I think “Back to School” would be my favorite musical number.
What was your favorite line you delivered in the filming of Grease 2?
I remember having trouble with, “That’s the dude who popped Balmudo!” in the gas station scene. Chris kept teasing me and saying that it sounded like I was saying, “That’s the doo-doo popped Balmudo”. After that, every time I did the line, we’d laugh.
When was the last time you watched ‘Grease 2’?
I got a DVD of it for a Christmas present this year. I showed it to a few friends at work.
Since Grease 2, what are some of your happiest accomplishments?
ACTING: I worked a lot after Grease 2, almost always playing nerdy but sweet guys who never got any – really challenging stuff! Luckily, I was cast in an After School Special, “The Woman Who Willed A Miracle” that was based on a man who was an idiot savant. I played that man from 16 into adulthood. I worked with Cloris Leachman, who played my foster mother with such magnificence, and M. Emmett Walsh, who played my foster father. He is a wonderfully talented actor. The show won a daytime Emmy and is quite inspiring. If you ever see it, take the time to watch it. It’s quite good.
FUNDRAISING: I’ve had so many amazing moments in my work as an AIDS fundraiser and activist. I worked for 12 years with the firm that created and produced AIDS Walks and AIDS Dance-a-thon all over the country. When I left that firm, we had raised over $100 million for people with AIDS.
At the Robin Hood Foundation, I worked on the Library Initiative, which built state-of-the-art libraries in elementary schools in the neediest districts of New York City. There’s nothing like watching a child’s face light up when they walk into a beautiful, pristine library and start devouring books!
ANIMATION: I’ve worked on a number of animated films (in production management); My favorite is Disney’s “Tarzan”.
Thank you Leif for all your hard work in helping make www.Grease2.net a success!
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