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