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Saddling Up The Hogs
WILD HOGS would ultimately attract a cast made up of four remarkably diverse yet distinctly compelling Hollywood stars: the popular comedian Tim Allen, whose work has traversed from no-limits stand-up to hit family films; the Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee John Travolta, who has been seen in some of the most monumental films of our times, from "Saturday Night Fever” to "Pulp Fiction”; the major comic star Martin Lawrence, who began as a groundbreaking young stand-up performer and went on to become the star of such blockbuster franchises as "Big Momma's House” and "Bad Boys”; and William H. Macy, the oft-lauded Oscar® nominee who is a prolific star of prestigious film, television and theater projects.

"It was beyond our wildest dreams to attract a cast like this all together in one movie,” says director Walt Becker.

From the beginning, the filmmakers knew they wanted a quartet of stars who could hold their own with each other, and proceeded from there. "We always approached the film as an ensemble piece,” says Mike Tollin. "We didn't want it to be one big star and three supporting actors, so we came up with the notion of going after these four world-class actors—and they all responded exactly the way we hoped.”

Tollin adds: "They created not only great characters but a great dynamic between the characters where you really feel like these guys have been friends all their lives.”

Tim Allen joined up in the role of Doug, the dentist who is sick of being "just a dentist” and a man in search of something that will catalyze a change in his life. His character has both some of the most thoughtful and some of the most outright slapstick scenes in the film.

"Having Tim in this role was a thrill because he's one of those actors where you put him in the part and he makes what's on the page at least ten times as funny,” says Becker.

Allen, who had just done several family films in a row, was especially attracted to the idea of working at long last with a cast past pubescence. "The thought of working with four adult males was inspiring. I hadn't really done an adult film since ‘Galaxy Quest,'” he explains.

He also felt an immediate connection with all the Hogs. "These guys feel a little stuck because they never did everything they wanted to do with their lives—and now they're trying to change all that,” Allen says. "My character, Doug, is a little anal and a little fed up— in some ways like me, in some ways not like me—but in the course of the film, he learns to stand up for himself.”

And then, of course, there was the undeniable lure of the Harleys themselves. "I've ridden bikes before but mostly sport bikes and English bikes, like Triumphs and BSAs, but this is the first time I've ever really spent time on a Fat Boy,” he muses. "I like to customize cars, and I even had the chance to customize my own bike for the film, so that was a lot of fun.”

Most of all, Allen was drawn by the chance to work with three major stars so unique unto themselves. He observes: "Martin is such a soulful, calm, nice guy, and plus he's a comic, so we have that same brotherhood. Macy's a theater pro who is so skilled and knowledgeable, but he's also got a great sense of humor. And Travolta is just the funniest, most genuine guy around. And when you put the four of us on bikes, it's hysterical.”

For John Travolta, who, in an eclectic career, has moved fluidly from comedy to drama to icon and back again, the role of Woody would allow him to do a little bit of everything—even dance. As a lifelong motorcycle fan, he was initially compelled by the story's concept. "I couldn't believe someone hadn't already done this story, because motorcycles have become one of the most common hobbies in the U.S.,” he notes. "The idea grabbed me right away.”

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