When I was a kid, we had a recorded copy of The Goonies that I would play nonstop. Here was a movie where kids, not that much older than me, were having the adventure of a lifetime setting off — and setting up — booby traps, running from crooks, and searching for the legendary treasure of pirate One-Eyed Willy. Needless to say, I was hooked.
And what wasn’t to be hooked about? The Goonies was not only directed by the great Richard Donner (The Omen, Lethal Weapon) but it was also written by Chris Colombus, who would go on to direct his own classics like Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire. Oh, and it was based off a story created by the film’s executive producer, Steven Spielberg.
So it was with much pleasure that I was able to chat via email with Mark Marshall, who just so happened to be Spielberg’s personal assistant at the time that The Goonies was shot. According to Marshall — who is now a post-production supervisor — he visited the Astoria, Ore., set after meeting Donner during casting, and convinced him to let him visit the set while on his vacation. However, Marshall ending up staying for the entire duration of the location shoot (which lasted about three weeks) and received a credit in the film as “2nd Unit Production Office Assistant,” which he later learned was a “reward for believing in the film, courtesy of Steven, Kathy Kennedy, and Frank Marshall,” all of whom were founding members of Amblin Entertainment.
“While most of us felt that making Goonies was a special experience, I honestly don’t think that anyone, other than perhaps Steven Spielberg, and maybe Richard Donner, had an inkling of the iconic film it would become for millions of kids who grew up in the ’80s,” Marshall told BuzzFeed this week. “However, I can attest that the spirit of adventure and true friendships that form the core of the story were certainly present in the ’60s when I was a child. When people find out that I am associated with the movie, they get so excited and tell me what it meant to them. That is really precious to me; I can only imagine how many cast members experience the same thing on a much larger scale!”
While on set, Marshall — who would later go on to work on such films as Radio Flyer and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — was able to capture many candid pics of the cast and crew. He said that everyone had an “incredible sense of family” and that “many of us are in contact to this day. We have attended weddings, celebrated births (and birthdays), mourned those who have passed from us, and shared triumphs and heartbreaks. And that’s what families do.”
Yet, like with most families, everyone needs a break now and then, especially when you’ve been directing kids for weeks, as Richard Donner was. But there was no way he was getting off that easy. “One day toward the end of production, Jeff B. Cohen (Chunk) came to the set dressed in shorts, flip-flops, and a Hawaiian shirt. He was carrying a suitcase with a sign that said ‘Maui or bust’ on it,” said Marshall. “He was trying to get a reaction from Dick Donner, who, at that time, was a confirmed bachelor with a vacation house in Hawaii. Although Dick had come to love those kids, after six months, he was ready to escape to Hawaii and relax. Later that morning, Jeff showed his outfit to Steven. Steven called me over and told me he wanted to play a practical joke on Donner. He wanted to send all the kids and a parent or guardian, the kids’ two on-set teachers, and Anne Ramsey, Robert Davi, and Joe Pantoliano to Hawaii to surprise Dick. The practical joke became kind of an industry legend.”
“You should have seen Donner’s face,” Marshall continued. “I think he literally went into shock! And when Anne, Joey, and Robert came up from the beach in a pile, a re-creation of the end of the movie. Dick’s knees buckled and he crumpled to the ground laughing his famous full-throated laugh! I can still hear it!”
Marshall picked 13 behind-the-scenes photos from The Goonies and talked to BuzzFeed about working on the now iconic film and the stories behind these never-before-seen images.
“This is one of my favorite photos of Sean Astin,” said Marshall. “I took this while at a luau in Hawaii. One of the staff was giving hula lessons, and Sean decided to give it a try. He was, and still is, fearless, curious, and driven, with a beautiful soul and a heart as deep as the Goonies’ wishing well.”
“This is Keith Walker, who portrayed Mikey and Brand’s father, Mr. Walsh. Keith had a lot of free time during the location shoot, which he used to explore the city of Astoria and the surrounding area. It was on one of those jaunts that Keith, a screenwriter, came up with an idea for a film: an incorrigible adolescent runaway has a chance encounter with an incorrigible adolescent killer whale in a Northwestern aquatic park. Sadly Keith passed away in December 1996, but he lived to see his work, Free Willy, make it to the screen, produced by none other than Richard Donner.”
“This photo of Corey Feldman was also taken in Hawaii. Corey almost didn’t make it, but we were all glad he did. I’ve known Corey for almost 30 years, and the two things that continue to impress me are his loyalty and his complete recall of every event in his life since the age of 3. I can’t remember if I turned off the stove.”
“Josh Brolin resting in his trailer between camera setups. Goonies was Josh’s first film. Who knew he would go on to become JOSH BROLIN?! On this film, though, he was just one of the ‘kids.’ Sorry, Josh!”
“This photo of Ke was taken on a cold, windy October day at Ecola State Park just south of Astoria. The Lighthouse Restaurant was built at that location, and Donner was filming the kids’ reaction to distant gunshots. Although Ke was already 13 at the time this picture was taken, he looked so much younger! Today, he looks 13.”
“This is my favorite photo of Martha, and it too was taken in Honolulu, during a catamaran ride. She was listening to some unknown music to complement the magnificent vistas all around us. By the way, the woman pointing to something off camera is Martha’s mother, Shelly.”
“Richard Donner, the director of Goonies, was blessed with a booming basso profundo voice, which he knows how to use to great effect. Dick is also the sweetest bear of a man I hope you will all be fortunate enough to meet one day. Cast and crews adore him, and he has earned deep respect in the industry because of his commanding nature, his body of work, and his deep loyalty to friends. When I first met Dick at a casting session for the film, I told him he was the man responsible for the nightmares I suffered as a child. He directed perhaps the greatest Twilight Zone episode ever: ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.’ I still can’t sleep with the curtains open. Dick acted as if it was one of the best compliments he’d ever received!”
“Setting up for a shot inside the Walsh house in Astoria, Ore. Almost 30 years later, that house is one of the most visited sites in the Pacific Northwest. Whoever owns the house today is very kind in letting fans stand outside their home and take photos, do the Truffle Shuffle, or just soak in the Walsh-ness of it all.”
“Kerri Green, Ilyse Reutlinger, Jeff B., and Eydie Cohen. I like this photo because I think it demonstrates the ease that cast and crew felt working and being together. We really were one big family, having fun together on set and off. And no one could make me laugh like Jeff B.!”
“This is Jeff Cohen’s mother, Elaine, and sister, Eydie. Elaine was mother central on location, and Eydie provided the laughs and entertainment. Long after the film had run its course in theaters, the Cohens remained a presence in our lives, inviting those without families, or friends merely wanting to socialize, to dinners at their house. It was a warm, safe, and, of course, funny place to be.”
“This photo was taken next to a logging ship we toured as part of a class field trip. The four adults at right are Kerri Green’s mother, Roberta, teachers Jack Tice and Rhoda Fine, and location manager Tony Amatullo. I’m in the center.”
“The last photo is Mama Fratelli herself, played by the incomparable Anne Ramsey,” said Marshall. “I love the look of both bemusement and pretend menace on her face in this picture. In reality, she was as sweet and gentle offscreen as she was nasty and threatening on-screen. She had a full-throated, smoky laugh and attended many of Elaine Cohen’s holiday gatherings with her husband and soulmate, character actor Logan Ramsey. Annie developed throat cancer and left us in August 1988. Twenty-five years on, I still miss her.”