Belushi and his best pal Dan Aykroyd began filming the now-classic musical comedy in July, 1979, but as Vanity Fair writer Ned Zeman reveals in a new expose, the tragic star was so hooked on cocaine, the project almost never got made.
The writer explains, “Production is falling behind, and fast, and the trend is largely attributable to Belushi, who stays out until all hours. Usually he can be found at his speakeasy. Sometimes he can’t be found at all. Except by cocaine, which finds him everywhere. Friends, fans, and hangers-on literally throw it at him. They slip vials into his bands and pockets.
“Weeks went by, but things only got worse, prompting studio boss Ned Tanen to nearly pull the plug on the movie due to the high cost of production delays caused by Belushi’s benders.”
The piece continues, “He (Belushi) has become a blessed wreck, thanks mostly to his spiraling (and ultimately lethal) addiction to cocaine. On days when coke gets the best of Belushi, production stalls. And when production stalls, money burns… Tanen’s options are none. They can’t use a double… Nobody can double Belushi. They can’t shut down production and wait for Belushi to go through rehab. Belushi won’t go. Even if he does go, the ensuing costs and media madness (would be catastrophic).”
And director John Landis recalls it was a miracle the actor, who died of an accidental drug overdose only two years after The Blues Brothers was released, lived long enough to see the film through: “John was f**ked up… It became a battle to keep him alive and keep him working on the movie.”