[INTERVIEW] Revisiting The 70s & 80s With Caddyshack’s Cindy Morgan For Retro Expo

Few films live up to the test of time like Caddyshack. Actress Cindy Morgan was lucky enough to be cast in the movie for her first major role. Playing Lacey Underall, the teenage bombshell split the spotlight with names like Billy Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, and Chevy Chase.

Cindy Morgan will be appearing today at Retro Expo in Plano. The convention offers a huge variety of collectibles and also allows fans to meet with some of their favorite actors. For more information and tickets, click here. Also, in lieu of the event, we wanted to throw things back a bit with the actress. See what she had to say about her time filming Caddyshack and Tron

Obviously, your biggest breakout role was on Caddy Shack. And really, your first role, too. Everybody on set is essentially a comic genius. How were you able to keep it together?

I've got a picture that literally just turned up that I will send you. On set, you're actually working. Even when you're doing a job that you really enjoy, you've got to be aware and you've got to be alert. You can have fun. We definitely had more than our share, obviously. That's sort of legendary. The photo gives you a good idea of what it was like all day, every day.

I just got it.

What do you think?

I think it’s epic.

That's on a calm day. That's me sitting next to Chevy. We weren't holding hands. I think he was telling me to pull his finger. And then there's Rodney on the other side, just hanging out. Rodney was pretty nervous because nobody was laughing when he was doing his jokes. You can't laugh because then that goes on soundtrack, so that's just part of doing it. I came from a broadcast background. I did five years in radio and television, and then I started getting paid, which was lucky, to write news when I was in college.

Having a paying job straight out of school, that's a good place to start. I did graveyard shifts and did the weather really, really badly in Rockford, Illinois. When I say badly, I switched the oceans! I pointed to the Atlantic and said it was the Pacific. I figured, just keep talking. That's all that really matters. There are a lot of things I ended up doing, like morning drive in Chicago. In that case, there are a lot of things that need to be done specifically on time, federal regulations and stuff like that.

So, when I got to the set, I thought, "Oh, great. This is going to be the most organized job, by the book and no questions. I will just go in there and plug into a great system." Well, it wasn't a great system, but I don't know how to explain it. It was Animal House on a golf course! Everybody was doing whatever and it got to the point where the script really didn't matter; it was more of a guideline. In the morning, you would just come home from whatever party you had been at or wake up and just roll through hair, makeup, and wardrobe and go outside because you never knew if you were in the shot or not.

It was amazing, what was happening. Bill Murray didn't even have any lines originally. That gopher was not in any of the principal photography when we were shooting. Did you know that?

No, actually I didn't. I just knew that they shot those scenes later in California.

Everybody was having a really good time, if you know what I mean. Because of that, a lot of times things didn't follow through. There were a lot of holes. There were brilliant little seeds with a lot of improvising but the storyline was missing. There was no connecting thought. So, after the fact, they shot the gopher sequence and it became about Phil chasing the gopher. That's what happened.

Like you said, so much of it was adlib, too. Which actor do you think came up with the most random line?

Bill Murray. With everything coming out of his mouth, I was left asking, "What was he saying?"

I was walking by the clubhouse, the one in that picture. And Harold Ramis said, "Hey, hang out over here. You're going to want to see this." So, I said, "Okay." I'm looking at the clubhouse, which is about 20 yards away, a little too far to hear what Bill was saying. I'm looking at him and he's got a golf club out, hacking at some flowers. I'm asking myself, "How is he going to ever match that shot? What's going on here?" Then, you see what you saw in the film. It would just pop into his head to do something and there it was.

Rodney, on the other hand, was doing his nightclub act, which kind of aggravated Ted Knight to no end because he had lines and he had no intention to playing straight man Rodney. That wasn't going to happen. Their chemistry is palpable. They really did have what you thought going on. And Chevy, well, here's an example of the adlibbing. In the scene with the tequila where he's playing on the piano and singing "I was born to love you", take a really good look at my eyes. When you do, you can see exactly where I figure out we were filming a scene. This wasn't discussed, wasn't rehearsed, and it wasn't in the script. Harold said, "Just sit down over there and tell Chevy to sing you a love song." I said, "Why?" He said, "Just do it. Just do it." I had no idea. You can see where I figure they're doing it. I thought, "Aha! There's a camera. There's the lights on. I'll be all right. You guys want to play? Let's play." So, yeah, you had better have been ready. Yes, it was fun. Yes, we were having the best time possible. However, you had to pay attention or you had to go home.

In your love scene with Chevy Chase, you've mentioned that you were actually in the middle of an argument with him. Do you remember what the argument was about?

We locked horns; that was it. He said a couple of things. I said a couple of things. He came back. I came back. He said, "Make her apologize." I said, "No, you heard what he said!" Harold Ramis was in the position of playing camp counselor between the two of us. Chevy came back and said, "It was a fair fight. I appreciate that." It wasn't one of those sneaky backstabbing things. The chemistry that was good because love and hate are closer than you think. At least some was going on over there. He came back and said, "Fine, I'll shoot two masters.”

Well, that meant I had better have it right every single time, because you don't know what he's going to do. Some of the lines were in the script, some weren't. I was just following along. Some of what he said, he was just kind of trying to knock me off camera. And I'm like, "I'm not going anywhere, pal. I'm going to stay right here." Afterwards, it was a lot of fun. It's so cool to be part of something like this.

Rodney Dangerfield was actually a mentor of yours. What do you think drew him to you?

Probably just that I was there doing my job. For me, it was a job. Yeah, there was a lot of fun. There was a lot going on. But when they said, camera and lights, I was right where I belonged. Five years in broadcasting, doing things live, really gets you in shape for doing things when you've got all the time in the world. You're ready and aware. Gosh. Whoever's handling Rodney's account just followed my page and I just saw that he mentored Robin Williams.

I actually took an improv class taught by a guy named Harvey Lembeck. Michael Lembeck, his son, is still a director. Anyway, Harvey did my first acting class ever. I did radio and television, but I wasn't an actor. I had to get rid of some habits like my disc jockey voice. Also, I always went for the joke. Can you tell that I do all the talking? When you're on air by yourself for 4 hours, you do all the talking. Harvey would yell at me and say, "Morgan, stop it right there!" You're the straight, stop going for the joke." What that meant was that I was supposed to be helping to set up the joke, not going for the key punchline or trying to steer the scene away. Thank God he did that because just try steering a scene away from Chevy, it's not a good idea. In the improvisation class, there were three classes of 24. I was in the lowest class, but lucky to be there. In the master's class were Penny Marshall, John Ritter, and Robin Williams. He was mentoring Robin. He just liked to see things work. He just liked to see things happen.

Did he give you any advice that's stuck with you to this day?

I think it was more of his energy. It's just like, "Get in there and start slugging away." It's not so much advice as an exchange of information. He would ask questions like, "Hey, am I doing okay? This is my first movie." And I said, "Yeah, Rodney, you're stealing it." We sat and talked sometimes, as you can see in that picture.

Some people can't stand watching their own work. You've obviously seen Caddyshack. Do you have any regrets about your first time filming in that movie?

They threw me into the deep end. Literally. I can't dive. I could barely swim and I'm legally blind without my contact lenses. That film was shot in 1979 when contact lenses were hard lenses, so I couldn't wear them going up that ladder and off that board or a doctor would be taking them out. So, I had to do that blind, literally. That was the first shot. Do it again? I don't know how I did it then. I don't know how the hell that happened, but it did and I'm really glad to be part of it.

Was it strange for you doing a movie like Caddyshack as your first major role and then have Disney's calling you for all of the sudden?

It wasn't until 10 or 15 years ago that people went, "Is that you in both movies?" Yeah, just a whole different thing. Tronwas Disney's first attempt at digital animation. It was the first CGI mainstream film, so nobody knew what they were doing. Everybody thinks it was just green screen. I'd worked with green screen when I was doing the weather. This is different. Everything was shot in black and white, and where the animation was put in was done after the fact. It's really hard to describe it. Imagine a Costco size warehouse, completely black, with nothing in it.

You'd have to run from this point to this point, and you can't look at your mark. You'd have to hit it dead on. You'd have to say your line and then keep going. I didn't know what I was saying most of the time. I did work as a tech, but this was brand new information. The most important thing was to believe the reality of it. I really get along great with Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner, so that's where the fun came from. We got along well, we were in it together, and we figured it out.

I remember one time we were basically on a little riser in the middle. It was like a Costco painted black with a black riser in the middle of it and a banquet table painted black on top of that. The director goes, "Okay, today we're flying the Solar sailer across the Game Sea. Cindy, you're flying it. Go." Finally, that's when I said, "All right, that's it. I just got to ask you, what the heck are you talking about? There's no Solar Sailer. There's no Game Sea. There's nothing here. There's nothing to do!" He said, "Just do anything and the animators will put it in later." So, in my mind, I saw soundboard that was flying the ship.

Did the final product match what you imagined while you were taking those scenes?

No, it was like a seizure induced acid trip or something. It was surprising but now I love it. I'm very fond of both actually.

You mentioned the second film Tron: Legacy, which, unfortunately, you didn't play a part in. Did you feel snubbed at the time?

I wasn't in the meetings when whatever was decided by whomever. But the thing is, once somebody makes a decision they have to stick to it. Otherwise, they look like they made a mistake. What was really nice was the fan backing when that came up. I was getting a lot of questions about why I wasn't in the film? I said, "Well, I wasn't invited." All of a sudden, there's little articles that started showing up and then the press picked it up. I was actually done a big favor because nobody was controlling my promotion. I was doing it myself. It was pretty cool and still is to this day. Legacywas different kind of film. I was in the first one, and I had trouble putting it together with the second one.

You actually did some costume promo for the second movie. Was it weird not being a part of the movie but being a costume face for it?

I think that they were making up their minds as they were going along. That happens a lot of times. So, things just keep happening. For example, the conventions that I now get to be a part of, like Retro Expo.

That’s right. You will be appearing at the Retro Expo this weekend at the Plano Convention Center.

They never made a Yori action figure. But because of the attention, one of the toy makers made the action figure that matches the ones in the set and it's going to be there for the first time at Retro Expo.

I didn't know that! It's kind of weird that they didn't have your action figure, considering you're one of the main characters in the original movie.

That's one of the things that bugged me. I guess they thought, "She's a girl. She can't throw a disc.”

Of course, you're referring to the online fan base that created the "Yori Lives" movement. At one point, there was talk about possibly doing a third movie.

They're still talking about it. Disney owns the property, so they've got that there in the vaults to bring out whenever they choose.

So, you'd be ready for that if it were to come about?

Oh, yeah. I still have my Union membership. I'm ready.

Disney World actually has a Tron ride that they're building. Are you planning on making a trip once it's done?

Well, let's see. I live in Florida. That's in Florida. There's a train that runs between those two places. So, yeah, I'm just waiting for them to pick up the phone and give me a call.

In lieu of Retro Expo this weekend, I have to ask you a convention question. You've done lots of conventions and you get to meet all kinds of fans. What is your strangest fan encounter?

Jeez. I want you to be able to sleep at night, so let's put it this way. One of the coolest things that ever happens is that Caddyshack appeals a lot to first responders and folks in the military. I put up a thank you post for Veteran's Day just a couple of days ago and a couple of guys posted and said, "Thank you for thanking us and we're also thanking you for Caddy Shack because in a lot of cases, that would be a go to film to watch to reduce the stress, refocus up, and get a good night's sleep." Laughter is an amazing gift.

That is awesome.

Yeah, it really is a lovely thing. So, that's one of the nicest things that ever happened. And of course, I supported the military doing an event in 2005. This is when things started getting a little crazy. The Illinois National Guard was called up. I'm from Chicago and I was doing an event in Chicago. Somebody from their organization or affiliate approached me and said, "Would you do a fundraiser for the Illinois families of the Illinois military?" The body armor had to be purchased by the families.

I said, "Yeah, of course I'll do it." It wasn't a big money maker because a few people didn't deliver on a few things but I stuck with it. I didn't let it go. It got the word out on television and radio that this wasn't about politics. This wasn't about war or being against it. This was about taking care of our own people. That's the bottom line. Then I would follow that up by saying, "This is Chicago. You want to have a fight? We've got a lot of nice bars you can go to for that. In the meantime, let's support these men and women. Let's support our military." For that reason, it was a success

Well, thank you so much for taking your time to talk with me today. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to seeing you this weekend at Retro Expo.

Of course!