Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Cool Runnings’ Star Reflects on John Candy’s ‘Sadness and Anger’ Around His Career

‘Cool Runnings’ Star Reflects on John Candy’s ‘Sadness and Anger’ Around His Career

John Candy’s Cool Runnings castmates once remembered the late comedian as one of the “most delightful” people they’d ever worked with. But they shared that under his kindness, he was dealing with a lot of “sadness and anger.”

The Disney production went down as a cult classic and as one of Candy’s most legendary movies. So when its 30th anniversary rolled around in October, Cool Runnings director Jon Turteltaub and stars Malik Yoba, Rawle D. Lewis, and Just Leon remembered their time with the legendary actor. 

“It’s a bit clichéd that the funny guy might not be the happy guy,” Turteltaub told CBR. “But there’s a little truth to that. John was a fun, happy person, but if you got really deep, there was a lot of sadness and anger under there.”

Turtletaub recalled the first day he met John Candy. Being in the presence of the Hollywood great made him giddy and embarrassed, and Candy humbly handled the situation with grace. 

“John was maybe the most delightful actor I’ve ever been around,” he said. “I was a complete moron when I first met him; I couldn’t stop giggling at everything he said. I thought: ‘[I’m] not behaving like a director who’s in charge, [I’m] acting like a child who just met his hero’ – and that went on for weeks.”

Leon and Lewis added that Candy felt grateful for the chance to play in the movie, and he was quick to help the lesser-known actors learn the ropes on set saying, “‘This is your movie. I’m just here to help it along.’” 

John Candy Needlessly Pushed Himself to Stay Relevant in Hollywood

But while he was doing his best to be a positive force, he was struggling with depression, depression, and burnout that he dealt with alone. 

Yoba immediately recognized that John Candy was highly motivated by perfection. At the time of filming, he had “never taken a vacation in his professional career,” which spanned over 2 decades. The reason he refused to take a break was because he was terrified he’d “lose his place in Hollywood.”

“That always stuck with me,” said Yoba. “At that time, he was probably the biggest he had ever been in his life. And I recall he had a trainer on set with him, and he was really struggling to lose weight. He was very insecure about his place in the Hollywood ecosystem. Most people would never imagine that would be the case for the great John Candy – but it was.”

The star was further troubled by worry about “how he was perceived by people.” Turtletaub noted it was widely known that John Candy was a people pleasure, and he hated thinking others didn’t like him. That fear spread through his personal and professional life, and he often overextended himself trying to make everyone happy. 

“That eats away at a person,” he added. 

John Candy passed away from a heart attack on March 4, 1994, only five months after Cool Runnings was released.