About The Production
Principal photography on "Rat Race" began in August, 2000 in Calgary, in the western Canadian province of Alberta, just north of Montana. The first two weeks of filming took place in a variety of locations in and around Calgary, primarily on Calgary's scenic highways which doubled for the three states that compose the racers' journey:
Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.
The desert scenes were shot in Drumheller, which was a perfect match for the terrain of Las Vegas and Silver City, Nevada. In addition, the scenes with Cuba and the Lucy's were shot in the rolling hills at the foot of the Canadian Rockies.
Continuing with tradition, Jerry Zucker's mother, Charlotte, plays one of the Lucy's in this
sequence. "It started with the very first film, which was 'Airplane,"' recalls Mrs. Zucker. "And ever since then, I've decided that's the way the kids got back at me, at their mother, by making me do stuff like this. And I love it!"
"She's in every movie," adds son Jerry Zucker. "It's like the Alfred Hitchcock signature. Instead of me, it's mom."
For eight weeks the production continued in Calgary at the Currie Barracks, a former Canadian Forces military base that now serves the local film, television and commercial production community. Utilizing two aircraft hangars that have been converted into soundstages, as well as the army gymnasium, the crew filmed many of the film's interior scenes such as the Venetian Hotel suites and conference room, as well as numerous driving scenes using green screen and rear screen projection techniques.
In late September, the production traveled back to the United States and set up in Las Vegas, Nevada. After a few days of filming at Las Vegas's MeCarran International Airport, the crew relocated to The Venetian Hotel Resort-Casino, one of the grandest hotels on the Vegas Strip, which recreates the intricacies of Venice, Italy's architecture and decorative arts. In "Rat Race," fictional casino tycoon Donald Sinclair, portrayed by John Cleese, owns the Venetian. The crew utilized most of the interiors and exteriors of the luxurious resort including its lobby area, the 120,000-square-foot casino and the extravagant exteriors, all of which pulsate with the vigor and excitement of life in Renaissance Venice.
Following two weeks in Las Vegas, the production traveled five hours north to the small mining town of Ely, Nevada. Ely, an active gold and copper mining town, is also home to the Fly Depot, a historic turn-of-the-century train station in the center of town. The Ely Depot, operated by the Nevada Northern Railway Historical Operating Museum, portrays the fictional Silver City train station where the $2 million is stashed in a station locker.
Following Ely, production moved to Southern California where the final six weeks of production occurred primarily in the Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles, Palmdale, Rosamond, Acton, Santa Clarita and Newhall. Additional sites included Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley and El Mirage Dry Lake.
After giving her daughter up for adoption as a baby, Vera Baker (Whoopi Goldberg) decides it's time to finally meet her, so she's arranged a reunion at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Little do they know the about the adventure that they are about to embark.
"I just want to have fun," says Goldberg. "I would pretty much stop anything I was doing to
work with Jerry. He is the quintessential director. And he's funny. And that's also rare in a comedy director; when you find one that's actually funny."
Lanai Chapman, a television and voiceover actress and relative newcomer to feature films plays Vera's daughter, Merrill. Chapman was thrilled with the opportunity to work with Whoopi Goldberg.
"Merrill comes to Las Vegas to meet her birth mother for the very first time" explains Chapman. "Together we set off on this trek across<
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