We had a budget in the movie for cocaine for night shoots,” Dan Aykroyd tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Ned Zeman of the careening, madcap production of John Landis’s 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers, in which he starred alongside John Belushi. “Everyone did it, including me. Never to excess, and not ever to where I wanted to buy it or have it. [But] John, he just loved what it did. It sort of brought him alive at night—that superpower feeling where you start to talk and converse and figure you can solve all the world’s problems.” From the impulsive and inspired 1979 movie pitch (“John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brothers, how about it?”), through the torturous journey of a project by turns musical, comedy, buddy movie, and bloated vanity project, Zeman chronicles the triumph of a film (and its stars) that often seemed beyond salvation.
In the feature, which appears in the January issue of V.F., Zeman uncovers the wild antics alternately plaguing and fueling the production: