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Interview with Lee Tergesen
and Michael Manasseri
on the set of "Weird Science"

Interview conducted by Tiffany M. Dufoe

Tiffany: I am speaking today to Michael Manasseri who plays Wyatt and Lee Tergesen who plays Chett on the hit USA Network series Weird Science. Together they are the Donnelly brothers and we are going to find out if television blood is really thicker then water. Hello there guys.

Michael: Hey, T-i-f-f-a-n-y!

Lee: Hello Tiffany. How are you doing?

Tiffany: I'm fine, I'm glad to be talking to you both today.

Lee: Where are you?

Tiffany: I'm in Florida.

Lee: Yeah.

Tiffany: Now that we have our small talk out of the way let me express that our readers are very excited to be able to hear what goes on behind the scenes of Weird Science.

Michael: Ah shucks!

Lee: We're honored that you wanted to talk to us.

Tiffany: I am sure that our readers does not miss an episode of Weird Science. I know for a fact that I have only missed 3 shows since the series started.

Lee: Hopefully they were the episodes I wasn't in. By the way who is your favorite character? Chett, right?

Tiffany: Wow, it sounds like you guys compete in real life also, just like the Donnelly brothers on the show. I had better be safe by saying that I like all of the characters on the show.

Lee: Oh, come on now.

Michael: Oh, she's good!

Tiffany: Your series is based on a 1985 John Hughes movie that starred Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton, and Ian Michael Smith. It seems that you have brought new life to the characters of Wyatt and Chett.

Michael: Well, thank you.

Tiffany: Was either of you a fan of the 1985 movie "Weird Science"?

Michael: I was. When I was growing up it was one of my favorite movies.

Lee: You know I'm afraid that you won't be able to tell our voices apart so, Michael will talk the way he's been talking and I'm going to talk in this low raspy voice like this. OK?

Michael: Quit interrupting Lee.

Tiffany: How many times did you guys see the movie "Weird Science"?

Lee: Twice. (In a low raspy voice)

Michael: Cut that out Lee! Now getting back to Tiffany's question, yeah I've seen it four or five times.

Tiffany: Did the original movie help you to prepare for your role in the television series?

Michael: Actually, I made a point of not watching the movie at all while I was auditioning for the job because I wanted to bring my own point of view to the character. I really didn't want to copy the Ian Michael Smith Wyatt that much.

Tiffany: Have you ever met Anthony Michael Hall who played the original Gary or Ian Michael Smith?

Michael: I used to live in New York which is where I am from and I actually knew both of them for a little while. So, yeah.

Lee: Well, at the first read through for "Wayne's World" Bill Paxton read for the Rob Lowe character -- so I met him then. Later on we were shooting at Universal Studios where he was working on "Apollo 13" across the way. He came looking for me on the Weird Science set. In the movie he played the original Chet Donnelly.

Michael: Yeah he came by the set one day.

Lee: I wasn't working that day so I didn't see him but later on I had a chance to talk to him. He's a good guy but he's not as funny as I am.

Michael: (cough cough)

Tiffany: While your show has been compared to I Dream of Jeannie I noticed that you like to spoof other well known series such as the Twilight Zone. In your "Sci-Fi Zoned" episode, Lee did a great impersonation of Twilight Zone host Rod Serling.

Lee: Oh, thanks. Yeah it was fun. I've been a big fan of the Twilight Zone for a while so Rod Serling sort of came natural you know.

Tiffany: While portraying Rod Serling was a little out of character for Lee, I was wondering if there is any of your own personality in the characters of Wyatt and Chett?

Lee: Who's that for? Both of us?

Michael: Take it Lee, go.

Lee: Um, I don't know. Chett is a part of me but more like the psycho part of me unleashed...You know, the stupid part of me.

Michael: With me, I was a lot like Wyatt when I was a kid. I was kind of a brainy kid and kind of a nerd.

Lee: Well your still pretty much of a kid.

Michael: Hey! Shhhh Lee! I was really shy and every thing and I guess I've out grown that shyness quite a bit. I can relate to Wyatt a lot from when I was younger though.

Tiffany: Michael, in Weird Science you portray a high school student attending Farber High. Are you older in real life then the character you portray?

Michael: Not much!

Tiffany: How old are you?

Lee: Let's see now...

Michael: Let's say I'm over 23.

Tiffany: Our readers might find it to be an interesting bit of trivia to know that Farber High in Weird Science was actually used as the clock tower where Doc Brown generated enough electricity to propel his DeLorean, "Back to the Future." Michael, were your high school days in real life similar to that of Wyatt's?

Michael: Yes, they were actually. I was into computers and I was a....

Lee: (interrupts) Overachiever!

Michael: Yeah, I was an overachiever. Straight A's and I was kind of a goody-goody. Then I turned 18 and all that changed!

Lee: And he's giving you permission to change when you turn 18, just like he did.

Tiffany: In the series Chett is portrayed as a macho military school drop out who constantly gives his brother Wyatt a hard time. Do you think that Chett loves Wyatt even though he gives him a hard time?

Lee: Um, yeah. You know it was like when I was growing up with my brother. We were about five years a part which is sort of what the age difference is between Wyatt and Chett. When I was 14 and my brother was 19 the things we were interested in were different so that there caused conflict. He thought that what I thought was cool was actually bogus. We conflicted so we used to beat up on each other, but you know there is a love that you have for your brother that goes beyond physical punishment.

Tiffany: Lee, did you beat up on your brother, or did your older brother actually beat up on you?

Lee: I was younger, so he used to beat up on me. I took lessons from him on how to play Chett. My brother was quite sadistic, but now that I'm about 4 inches taller then him and I start to beat him up he yells, "Quit it!"

Tiffany: Michael, did you ever beat up on your brother?

Michael: Yeah, all the time. He was a year younger then me so it was a pretty even match. So I either beat him or he beats me up and we called it a day.

Tiffany: Now that we know how you got along with your own brothers in real life, how do you get along with your television brother?

Lee: We all hate each other! Uh, we all get along well on the set.

Michael: Yeah I agree, the whole cast gets along well.

Lee: It's a fun show to do you know because it's really fantastical.

Michael: Fantastical? Is that a word Lee?

Lee: I don't know. I'm feeling really Pippi Longstocking today.

Michael: No, we really do get along great because we all have a good time together.

Tiffany: Will we ever see Chett and Wyatt sticking up for each other without insults and wise cracks between them?

Lee: Wow, I don't think so.

Michael: Never!

Lee: Playful banter is what Wyatt and Chett's relationship is built on.

Tiffany: I can remember one particular episode where Wyatt and Chett was actually on the same team. The episode was called "Men in Tights," and Wyatt and Chett had to wrestle WWF pros.

Michael: At the beginning of the show Chett takes Gary and I to a professional wrestling match. Right in the middle of it Chet and I get zapped by Lisa and we become professional wrestlers. So for the whole show we become Uncle Slam and Paul Severe and run around in little spandex outfits kicking butt.

Lee: Michael's is little, mine is the average size. (laughs)

Michael: Ignore Lee screaming in pain.

Lee: Ouch ouch!!

Tiffany: Did you have to use real wrestling moves in the making of this episode?

Lee: On the first day we started working with our stunt doubles and a pro wrestling coordinator and we thought it was a good idea to let the stunt men do most of the work.

Michael: Yeah, one of the pro wrestlers in the show was a guy named King Kong Bundy. He was a big guy, really big!

Tiffany: Have you ever done your own stunts?

Michael: Some.

Lee: As long as it doesn't get to intense, we do most of them.

Tiffany: Have either of you ever gotten injured doing a stunt?

Lee: You know, we're really not allowed to talk about that because there is some stuff under litigation. No, I'm kidding! Nothing serious. Your always going to get banged up a little bit if your jumping around and falling down.

Michael: Minor stuff.

Lee: But we're happy to have our jobs.

Tiffany: Do you have any input on the writing of the scripts?

Lee: We basically write them all ourselves! (laughs) No, any input we have is usually small stuff that comes up on the set. I had suggested that I wanted to do some scenes in an air duct and that ended up in a script. It was the episode where we were abducted by aliens and held captive in their space ship. I don't know if my suggestion had any connection but I did mention a similar scene. I
remember suggesting that I wanted to be a super hero in an episode and two of the writers had already started developing a script about Chett as the Star Spangled Butt Kicker. So, you know we were thinking of the same thing.

Michael: If we have any ideas the producers and writers let us go to them and pitch our suggestions. Sometimes they will end up in the script and sometimes they won't but by now they have a really good grasp of our characters. So most of the stuff you see is actually written and not ad-libbed.

Tiffany: You ended your third season with a spoof on the famous James Bond 007 movies. Tell us about it.

Michael: Well, Gary and I end up being like super spies, kind of like James Bond.

Lee: (interrupts) Well, Gary and Wyatt and Chett!

Michael: Chett's actually a better spy than both of us. He's really a super, super spy.

Lee: You see what a suck-up he is? You see how he was sucking-up? First he wasn't including me and now, "Oh he's a super, super spy!"

Michael: Shut up Lee! Lee shut up!

Tiffany: Can you tell us about your favorite episodes that used heavy or bizarre make-up?

Michael: Sure. We did a show called "Tell it to Lisa," where Lisa divides in half. One of the Lisas is Wyatt's and she's into studying and doesn't want to get into any trouble and the other Lisa is Gary's Lisa and she's a wild party animal. She turns John Mallory Asher (Gary) and I into trolls. So that episode was about three hours of make-up and putting on the troll costume. We walked around on our knees all day feeling like green fat ugly troll people.

Tiffany: What about you Lee?

Lee: Did you see the episode where I was the abominable snowman?

Tiffany: Yes.

Lee: Yeah, that was hell. (laughs)

Tiffany: Was it hot?

Lee: Yes, it was very hot. It was like wearing six fur coats!

Tiffany: How long did you have to wear it?

Lee: All week long! They would take me out of it off and on to cool me down a little bit but I guess the longest I was in it was like three or four hours.

Tiffany: How long did it take you to get into your hairy suit?

Lee: A couple of hours.

Michael: We come to work pretty early so when we have to do the heavy make-up we usually have to get in around five o'clock in the morning. We start shooting around 7:30 so it takes a good two to three hours to get the make-up on.

Tiffany: Is it difficult to be funny in the series while wearing character make-up?

Michael: Actually it's easier.

Lee: Yeah, in some ways it's harder and in some ways it's easier. It's easier in the sense that it's a funny looking thing you know, so it's got the instant reaction that it's funny. But then a lot of times like with the abominable snowman there was a lot of my face that couldn't be seen. I had to think of other things to do or ways of moving my face.

Michael: I would agree with that.

Tiffany: Gary and Wyatt have done a pretty good job at hiding the genie that they created with Wyatt's computer from his older brother Chet. What do you think would happen if Chett ever discovered that Lisa had magic powers and could grant wishes?

Lee: Chett would dominate the world. If you saw the episode "Rock Hard Chett" where I become the Butt Kicker, you would know that deep down Chett has a higher sort of hero idea of himself. He has this sort of heroic attitude and I think that a lot of the stuff that he would do would be to live out his fantasies. You know, like being a general and that kind of stuff.

Tiffany: What would Wyatt do if Lisa only granted wishes for Chett rather than Gary and Wyatt?

Lee: He would cry like a little girl, because suddenly he wouldn't be in the episodes so often. Suddenly the student would be the teacher and the teacher would be the student.

Michael: Yeah I think that would be it. Every time Chett discovers Lisa, we end up erasing his memory anyway. I don't know if Wyatt really trusts Chett with this kind of power. I think Wyatt really loves Chett and if he did find out Wyatt would try to make Chett do good with the power.

Lee: Yeah, and the thing is our characters have slowly begun to be more close then they were at the beginning of the series. In our first episodes we hated each other and now more time has elapsed and more things have happened where we've realized that there is a bond between us and we do respect each other.

Tiffany: How do you like working with Vanessa Angel who plays Lisa on the show?

Lee: Well let's see.

Michael: For me she's actually like my beautiful big sister. She's a really terrific person, very sweet and we have a good time.

Lee: What's your favorite kind of ice cream, Tiffany?

Tiffany: Chocolate I guess.

Lee: How do you feel about it?

Tiffany: I like it.

Lee: That's how I feel about Vanessa.

Tiffany: Michael, in your spoof of the Friday the 13th movies you did a kissing scene with Vanessa.

Michael: Oh, that particular scene, yes.

Tiffany: Lee also did a kissing scene with Vanessa in the soap opera spoof.

Lee: Yes.

Michael: She said I was a better kisser!

Lee: Yeah, I'm sure you believe that!

Tiffany: Was it embarrassing doing the kissing scenes with Vanessa?

Michael: Not for me!

Lee: No, not when you have to put out the kind of cash I had to put out to get that script written. You got to get over the embarrassment you know.

Tiffany: Do you and Vanessa break up a lot during scenes like that?

Lee: Well that happens a lot... all of the time.

Michael: Yeah.

Lee: Cause we're idiots!

Tiffany: Are either of you fans of science fiction?

Michael: Yeah, I like sci-fi a little bit. Especially William Gibson in

Lee: I was a big Star Trek fan when I was a kid and I still am.

Michael: I'm a big Star Wars fan.

Lee: Yeah, Star Wars and Lost in Space. Of course the original Star Trek was a big one for me.

Tiffany: I think it would be really funny to see an episode where Chett plays Mr. Spock. One of my favorite episodes is called "Swallow 13," and I understand the idea of Gary, Wyatt, and Lisa entering Chett's blood stream in a miniaturized shuttle craft was taken from an old sci-fi movie?

Lee: Yeah, I was into those really weird 60's sci-fi things like "Fantastic Voyage" and stuff like that. Do you know what "Fantastic Voyage" is?

Tiffany: I've never seen it, but I've heard about it.

Lee: It's this movie where they like shrink this shuttle down to miniature size and inject it into this persons body in order to go in and cure some disease. It was excellent. The "Swallow 13" episode was based on that movie. You can rent it and watch it the same day you rent "Wayne's World."

Tiffany: By the way, speaking of a major plug Lee happens to have been in both "Wayne's World" and "Wayne's World 2". What role did you play in these films?

Lee: Well let me tell you. I played the role of Terry the cameraman who was in the back seat of the car for Bohemian Rhapsody. I was the guy who... did you see the movie?

Tiffany: No I haven't had a chance to see it.

Lee: What is up with that? Your the only person who hasn't seen it!

Tiffany: No, actually my family hasn't seen it either.

Lee: Who?

Tiffany: My family.

Lee: What is wrong with your family?

Tiffany: Well, we haven't had a chance to see it yet.

Lee: You guys don't like a good laugh? A good family laugh?

Tiffany: No...

Lee: No, you don't? That's why you watch Weird Science right, because it's something to laugh at.

Tiffany: When you made Wayne's World what was it like working with Dana Carvey and Mike Myers?

Lee: Dana Carvey is one of the funniest guys I've ever met. He's one of those people who can always make you laugh. On screen he's funny and off screen he's a lot of fun to be around.

Tiffany: Michael, I know your movie debut was in a film called "License to Drive" and you had roles in the TV series Wings and Peaceable Kingdom, but I want to know what it was like working with Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell on the set of Quantum Leap?

Michael: It was great, very good. Actually that was one of my favorite science fiction shows -- to go back to your previous question -- and I had always wanted to be on it. After it had been on for four years I finally got the chance to go in and try out for it and I did the show. I think I did the second to the last episode. I really didn't work with Dean but I worked with Scott. He was terrific, I had a great time. So that was kind of like a little dream of mine because I always wanted to be on that show.

Tiffany: Now that you are entering your fifth season can you give our readers a clue on what we will see in the new USA Network episodes of Weird Science?

Lee: There might be something with girls in it! That's the only hint I'm going to give you. Hee-hee-hee. Ain't I evil!

Michael: You're bad Lee!


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