Horror Classic's Return Features Appearance by David Naughton

Cathedral City resident played iconic role in "An American Werewolf in London"

Jerry Hernandez (left) took the initiative to create a fundraiser event for the Indio Performing Arts Center after talking to actor David Naughton (right).

Jim Powers


David Naughton had never been naked in front of the camera, but it wasn’t until a scene was over that reality took over.

“As a trained actor, when the camera is on, you are in another world and the world you create, even if you’re naked, you’re still within that role,” says Naughton, a Cathedral City resident. “It’s a detachment from what you are doing. But as soon as they cut, you’re a naked guy standing out in the woods, and you have people running to you with blankets.”

Naughton bared his body in his first starring role in what would become a horror classic, “An American Werewolf in London”, directed by John Landis and starring the makeup talents of Rick Baker, who would win an Oscar.

“I don’t know if John or Rick knew if (the makeup) was going to work on film,” Naughton says. “John said he didn’t wanted the werewolf transformation shrouded in darkness. He wanted it to happen in an apartment, in broad daylight. It’s the standard by which so many films are compared when it comes to real makeup versus computer generated.”

The 1981 movie is coming back to the big screen coupled with a special appearance by Naughton starting at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Indio Performing Arts Center (IPAC). The movie begins at 8 p.m.

Proceeds benefit IPAC, which became a Saturday Night movie hangout this summer thanks to the efforts of Inland Empire resident Jerry Hernandez, who created the movie night event and approached Naughton about the fundraiser idea.

See related story: Vast Movie Collection Spurs Indio's Saturday Night Screenings

Naughton spoke with Palm Springs Life about making the movie, which catapulted him from a four-year stint as the “Guy in the Dr. Pepper commercials” to an full-fledged acting career. He currently is beginning his second season as Dr. Millard Whittison on the TV series, “Granite Flats”, which shows on BYUtv on Sunday nights.

When you met director John Landis before ever signing up for the movie, did you feel you needed to make a special impression on him?
“He knew of me from the Dr. Pepper commercials. He was an avid Tab drinker at the time. As he has said, he told me in the process, he was looking for guys who you would feel some affinity for their situation and likeable guys. And he felt if I could come across that way in those 30-second commercials, he felt I had a very good chance to getting the empathy of the audience in what I was going through in his film. I also had studied acting in London, and had toured Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom on a bicycle. He realized I had some history of that area as well. It was the most informal job interview I’ve ever had before or since.”

What was the makeup process like with Rick Baker, a relative unknown at the time?
“We all were unknown at the time. John Landis had hired Rick Baker, who he had worked with when they were younger, in their teens, in their backyard doing makeup for movies. When I got the job, John told me I had to go over to Rick’s shop because he needed me for all of the preliminary makeup. It’s basically a garage. I walk in, and there is this guy with a beard and all these guys in T-shirts and jeans. They asked what part I was playing and I said David, and they said, ‘We feel sorry for you’. I went through some serious stages of makeup. They made molds made of my head, arms and legs, just unheard of stuff that I wasn’t expecting. That was only the beginning of what was a long, arduous task, but which ended up as a payoff in winning Rick his first Oscar.”


Add your comment:
Edit Module
Desert Guide
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Make a Splash

The summer’s best dance pool party, Splash House, is back for its third consecutive year , and we're offering a chance to win free passes to the June 13-14 event with an Instagram contest.

Lee DeWyze Headlines Benefit Concert at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs

Since winning Season 9 of American Idol in 2010, Lee DeWyze has realized the singing competition show "was the greatest first step" in his evolution as a musician.

5 Ways to Escape the Heat

As triple-digit temperatures descend upon the Greater Palm Springs area, here are five places both near and a little far to find shade, cooler temps, and wonderful scenery.

Help us Reach 8,000 "Likes" on Facebook and Win a Dinner for 2

Celebrate the Coachella Valley’s bountiful and eclectic cuisine during Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week by entering to win a dinner for two in our Facebook contest.

Heatwave Welcomes Back Palm Springs POWER, Jonathan Serven

Palm Desert's Jonathan Serven will take a break from his day job as a student-athlete for the Long Beach State University Dirtbags to play his summer ball for the Palm Springs POWER.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couples getaway
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Edit ModuleShow Tags