Chevy Chase has stories — and sometimes he’s in the mood to tell them.
The notoriously prickly comedian appeared on Bill Maher’s Club Random podcast on Thursday and talked about his long-spanning career, including his days on Saturday Night Live. He was an original cast member — alongside the likes of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd — and “Weekend Update” host, but hopped during season two to do movies. He came back to host the show many times.
Chase, 79, had fresh stories to tell about Aykroyd, having wrapped the film Zombie Town a week earlier. “He’s just wonderful,” he said of his long-time pal. He called him the “resident genius of Saturday Night Live and “the guy who got along with everyone.”
That led to older tales — from during that storied time — involving Belushi, who Chase claims stole his drugs on the set of the NBC sketch show. Belushi appeared on SNL until 1979. He died of a drug overdose in 1982 when he was just 33.
“I’m just remembering John and his f***ing drug problem,” Chase said, “but back then the big drug was cocaine. Obviously John turned out to be coke head, but I had a little jar of cocaine with a little spoon that hung from it. I had it on the piano of the stage. So I’m just playing the piano, the crowd isn’t in yet, and it’s just sitting. After I played just a little bit, it’s gone. Obviously I was looking at my hands at the moment that John swooped in and took it. “No, what are you talking about?”
Chase said a month later he was “invited to dinner at John and [his wife] Judy’s apartment and I see my little vial, empty and washed, just sitting on a shelf by the books.”
Seeing what happened to his friend, he said, “I’m so glad I just put that stuff aside.”
He also spoke about finding out about Belushi’s overdose on March 5, 1982.
“Jayni, my wife, and I were in our house and there was knock on the door,” he said. “I opened the door and there was it seemed like 12 news people. ‘How do you feel about the death of John?’ I didn’t know yet that John Belushi died. It just shocked me. There I was stuck with these people … What a horrible thing.”
the fletch and Vacation star referred to Belushi as one of his “best friends” and said losing him was “awful.”
Chase has spoken about his own substance abuse problems. He went to rehab in 1986 for pain killer addiction. In 2010, he told Esquire, “I never shot things up or freebased. I was pretty low-level when it came to drug abuse. I checked myself into the Betty Ford Clinic after my nose started to hurt.” In 2016, after Community, a TV run that didn’t end well, he checked into a Minnesota addiction center for alcohol abuse. In 2018, he told the Washington Post he was sober.
Earlier this year on CBS Sunday Morning, Chase was asked about his SNL days and his professional rivalry with Belushi. They had worked together before SNL on National Lampoon: Lemmings, had different looks and styles of comedy. Each also thought he was the better of the two. However, Chase’s star rose quicker.
“I got a couple of photos and in the background there’s John giving me the finger,” Chase said. “And he didn’t do it just once.” As for becoming the standout faster, he said he didn’t think it was odd, quipping, “I felt pretty strongly that I was the funniest.” He added that he left the show because he “hated it.”
Despite the rivalry, which was even worked into SNL sketches, Belushi’s wife said in the book Live From New York, “John and Chevy were always antagonistic and friends. It was a love hate kind of thing. They worked together well when they were trying to.”
Chase’s flick with Aykroyd, zombie town, is mystery teen romance based on author RL Stine’s book of the same name, directed by Peter Lepeniotis. It also stars Henry Czerny, Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. It’s expected to premiere in theaters before streaming on Hulu.
He is not, however, appearing in the Community movie.