Friday, September 18, 2015

The Story Behind The Breaking Away Reunion Story

When I first saw Dennis Christopher, he was dressed in dark pants, a white long-sleeve shirt with a vest and Converse sneakers.

He was slim with a scruffy beard as he sauntered merrily into an empty ballroom at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, where I was poised (and nervous) about interviewing him along with fellow actor pals Dennis Quaid and Jackie Earle Haley for their Breaking Away reunion at the Interbike trade show.

For a mili-second, he looked like a fixie-riding hipster, who probably drank super hoppy IPAs. But that moment came and went quickly and the scenes of Christopher from 36 years ago came zooming back in my memory bank.

He was not a hipster but a young man named Dave Stoller of Bloomington, Indiana, who shaved his legs, raced on a Masi and fell in love with a sorority co-ed at Indiana University.

We quickly engaged in the interview I was doing for this story on the Breaking Away reunion for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

But the interview quickly morphed into a wonderful conversation between a reporter who returned to 1979 when the movie debuted and a lovely man who adored the opportunity to chat with strangers about their love affair with a movie that won an Academy Award for its screenplay writer, Steve Tesich, and a Golden Globe for best motion picture.

I loved the way Christopher and Haley, who played pint-sized, long-haired, body-building Moocher, embraced and the genuine mutual affection between the two.

Then Quaid walked in, and the hunky one gave Christopher a bear hug. The three easily chatted and talked like three 50-something buds catching up at a high school reunion.

Christopher went on to appear in 40 big-screen and TV movies, but he's most known for playing Dave Stollar. I cover a lot of the movie's plot in the Review-Journal story, so I won't repeat it here.

But Christopher said he loved playing Dave because of the subtle comedic lines and that the smorgasbord of sub-plots in the movies allowed viewers to pick and choose whatever story line resonated with them.

There was the townie v university, son v father, local racer v Italian racers themes woven together with a subtle, humorous and clever touches.

Christopher called it a throwback movie and said today's movies "jostle" the film-goer.

I hope you enjoy the RJ story.  

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