About The Production
Filming of Patch Adams began in February 1998 at soundstages on Treasure Island in San Francisco
Filming of Patch Adams began in February 1998 at soundstages
on Treasure Island in San Francisco. The 20,000 square-foot hospital
set, designed by production designer Linda DeScenna, served as
the backdrop for Patch's medical school training, doubling for
the Virginia Medical University. The production then moved to
Asheville, North Carolina in late April to shoot on the grounds
of the historic Biltmore Estate, an 8,000 acre setting for the
Gesundheit Institute. The production's final location was the
University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, which was used as
a double for VMU for exterior locations. Shooting wrapped on June
Patch Adams' journey, from med school to Gesundheit to the big
screen, has been a long, strange trip. His difficulty in raising
funds for the institute finally prompted him to go public with
his story and author a book, opening a floodgate of magazine articles,
news stories and movie offers. Left feeling cold by one Hollywood
producer's hard-sell seduction, which included limousines, fancy
hotels and promise of big bucks, he turned to producer Mike Farrell,
well-known for his portrayal of B.J. Hunnicutt in the series M*A*S*H
and a partner with Marvin Minoff in Farrell/Minoff Productions.
"Please don't make it a goofy doctor," pleaded Patch,
although "I am a goofy guy." He was adamant that Farrell
understand his comedy antics are by design and that he is very
serious about his cause and his desire to be a provider of hope
Farrell, who had met Patch years before during a trip to Russia,
was enthused about the book and brought in producer Barry Kemp,
who had a production deal at Universal. After developing a script,
they approached director Tom Shadyac, who was fresh off several
hit comedies and looking for a new slant in material.
"I thought it was a fascinating story that talked about a
theme that is very close to me, which is how humor can be used
as a tool in healing," says Shadyac. "I was interested
in doing a comedy that had a reality-based tone and a dramatic
story. I really wanted make the film -- if we could get Robin
They got him. Robin Williams and the president of his Blue Wolf
production company, Marsha Williams ("Mrs. Doubtfire"),
loved the story. Marsha was brought in to produce with Charles
Newirth ("Forrest Gump").
The next step, which promised to be unpredictable and perhaps
memorable, was bringing together the two extremely dynamic personalities
of Robin Williams and Patch Adams.
Describes Shadyac, "There was an instant symbiotic relationship
between them. Patch is one of the most well-read people I've ever
met. So is Robin, he can reference anything. They immediately
had a book reference banter going on. And they both like to clown.
I couldn't get them away from each other."
Patch recalls meeting Williams "on the set of a movie he
was finishing. He went to clown with me in a hospital. I felt
I had met a brother. I don't meet a lot of people whose lives
are so full of generosity, compassion and humor, and with him
it was an instant feeling that that's how he is."
Sharing Patch's love for children, Williams and the entire production
worked closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to fulfill the
fantasies of several children who were at the time undergoing
treatment for cancer. The children appear with Williams in scenes
at the pediatric ward, bringing a power, dignity and grace to
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