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T.J. HOOKER PRESSROOM : TJ-HOOKER.COM EXCLUSIVE!
Interview with PHILIP WEYLAND, William Shatner's T.J. Hooker Stand-in & Dialogue Coach

PHIL WEYLAND:
"IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST TIMES I EVER HAD"
William Shatner's Stand-In and Dialogue Coach Talks to TJ-Hooker.com

by TJ-Hooker.com's 4Adam30
Exclusive to TJ-Hooker.com

PART ONE

Philip Weyland - Biography
Philip Weyland with Heather Locklear in Hawaii on the set of the T.J. Hooker 2-hour movie "Blood Sport"

After attending college at Texas Tech in the mid '60s, Philip Weyland became involved in the then-thriving dinner theatre circuit. He joined Lubbock, Texas' Hayloft Dinner Theatre, the pet project of G.W. Bailey (Sgt. Rizzo of TV's "M*A*S*H"). At the Hayloft, Phil both acted and directed, serving as technical director and children's theater director. It was there that he worked with several big name stars, ranging from Andy Devine, Nancy Kulp (Miss Hathaway from "The Beverly Hillbillies") to Star Trek's DeForest Kelley. After leaving the Hayloft for Dallas and eventually L.A., Phil was contacted by DeForest Kelley with a job offer to work as his stand-in on 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," and later on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. From there, Phil was able to land the job as Shatner's stand-in and dialogue coach on nearly the entire run of T.J. Hooker (barring the first mini-season). He also can be seen in several episodes of the show, playing an LCPD officer in "The Obsession" and performing stunt work in the 2-hour Hooker blockbuster "Blood Sport." His day to day involvement with Shatner has provided him with a wealth of stories from the set.

Since his days on Hooker, Phil has been involved in a number of projects, including acting as Luke Perry's stand-in on Beverly Hills, 90210 (on which he also had some roles), acting and standing in on Matlock from 1989-1992, performing stunts in Predator 2, playing a customer in Tango & Cash, and portraying the eponymous "Dr. Weyland" in Steven Segal's "Hard to Kill." He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he spoke to TJ-Hooker.com's 4Adam30 in a recent phone interview.

Speaking to Philip Weyland, you really get a sense of what it must have been like on the T.J. Hooker set. He can't help but rave about his time on the show: "Hooker really was terrific . . . it was one of the best times I ever had. It was fun. I was at the right age, it was the right kind of show at the right time. It was a great crew, great camera people, the other actors were terrific, I mean Heather's a doll, and Adrian, Jimmy Darren, Richard Herd . . . all those people are marvelous, absolutely marvelous." But life as a stand-in wasn't always rosy for Phil: "When you're standing in, you know, you've gotta run across the roof, and the roof is hot, and the tar is melting, and they see how it looks and they say 'Okay, fine!'"

WHAT DOES A STAND-IN DO?

Shatner wasn't the only animal Phil had to stand in for

Speaking of being a stand-in, just what exactly is it that a stand-in does? Phil explained the differences between stand-ins, photo doubles and stunt doubles: "When you rehearse a scene, the actors are there, they rehearse with the director, and the crew is all around watching. When they're through rehearsing, the actors are going to go away, the director's going to go away, and then the crew is going to set up the scene, which means they have to light it; if the camera has to move, they have to lay down track; sometimes it can get pretty complicated. You're not gonna have an actor under hot lights and get cranky, because . . . they're the money. And that's who you want happy. So you have stand-ins."

Stand-ins can represent anything from people to animals or inanimate objects. "The stand-ins don't have to look specifically like the [actor]. There's a [T.J. Hooker] episode with an orangutan . . . it was the one from one of those Clint Eastwood movies [ed. note: Clyde the orangutan appeared in "Every Which Way But Loose" (1978) and "Any Which Way You Can" (1980)]. I stood in for the orangutan!" Photo doubles, on the other hand, need to look like the actor, much like a stunt double: "Bill used to use [a photo double] a lot once he started to direct."

HOW DOES ONE BECOME A DIALOGUE COACH AND STAND-IN ON T.J. HOOKER?

When we posed this question to Phil, we had no idea what to expect. Immediately, we found out about his DeForest Kelley connection and how Phil was "drafted" into stand-in duty on the Star Trek films. However, when it came to T.J. Hooker, Phil was in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

". . . of course I'd done a couple of the [Star Trek] movies and Bill knew who I was, so there was no problem there."

"I'm not sure whether they had done the first four episodes or not at that time [after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan]. I had nothing to do with those. There was a fellow who was standing in for Bill on the movies . . . nice guy, his name was Joel Marston. Rock Hudson was doing a series at that time [ed. note: "The Devlin Connection," 1982], which was going to conflict with the actual first season of T.J. Hooker. The first [episode of Hooker] they filmed was "Bigfoot," I'm not sure which one came on first. And Joel said 'Look, I can't start the Hooker season [because of his upcoming work on The Devlin Connection]. I'm gonna check with Bill and see if he wouldn't mind if you stood in for him.' And of course I'd done a couple of the [Star Trek]movies and Bill knew who I was, so there was no problem there."

"Now here's where the problem was. Bill Shatner wanted a dialogue coach, and the company wanted one person to be his dialogue coach and his stand-in. And what I did as dialog coach was I'd run lines with Bill in the morning when he came in, and during the day if there were any changes, I'd receive the changes. They wouldn't go to him, they'd go to me. I'd tell him about them, I'd run the scenes. He didn't need anybody to help him, though, he was really, really quick with lines. But the reason he wanted a dialogue coach was he wanted somebody to keep track of those changes – and boy, those changes came fast and furious later on. We had all sorts of colors of pages; some would come two or three times a day! As a matter of fact, one time it was late in the morning, and some new pages came down for a scene – and we'd already shot it! And they said forget it, you know, move on! They were writing constantly!"

Shatner on the T.J. Hooker set (photo ©2001 the collection of Philip Weyland)

Joel Marston, Shatner's old stand-in, had asked Phil to prove to Columbia Pictures Television that one person could not fulfill the duties of both dialogue coach and stand-in. Phil pulled it off by being slightly devious at times: "There really was no way one person could do both jobs, because Bill would say, 'I want to run some lines' and I'd have to say 'I can't because I have to go stand-in for your next scene.' Now the Director of Photography is thinking 'Why is this guy not here, he's hired to stand in for Bill!' So there was one time about four weeks into the shooting, when I was standing around with Bill, and the cameraman walks up to us and I said 'Gee, you know, I'm really sorry I haven't been there for you to stand-in, but, you know, they also hired me to run lines with Bill.' And Bill was sort of aware of this but also unaware, you know, and he said 'Really? You mean you're supposed to be doing two – oh no,' he said, 'We can't have that!'" So when Joel came back, he became the full-time dialogue coach while Phil took over as the stand-in. However, after two years of Hooker, Joel had heart bypass surgery and left the show, and Phil took over as Shatner's dialogue coach for the remainder of T.J. Hooker. From there, his involvement grew to include all of Shatner's big screen appearances as Captain Kirk (including his swan song in "Star Trek: Generations").

BUT WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WORK WITH WILLIAM SHATNER?

At the start of the third year of T.J. Hooker, Phil landed the job of Shatner's dialogue coach. Even though he was well-acquainted with Phil, Shatner had just spent two years running lines with his long-running dialogue coach Joel. Would Phil be able to fill his shoes? "It was the first night that I had the job. Bill really wanted to make sure that I was gonna be there. And he started yelling! He was walking ahead of me, I was about eight paces behind him, and he said 'I need my line, I need to know what I'm going to say here!' And Bill never – I mean very rarely, I mean I could count on one hand the number of times I saw him vocally upset. And I was right behind him and I said, 'Bill, I've got your lines right here, what do you need to know?' He went 'Oh!' [in a quiet voice] He's very quiet, except when he's telling his jokes [laughs]. But he said 'Oh! You're right here,' and I said 'Oh yes, and I will always be right here, don't you worry.' And from that time on, I was the dialogue coach."

"Bill never – I mean very rarely, I mean I could count on one hand the number of times I saw him vocally upset."

During the period that Phil was Shatner's dialogue coach he ". . . spent a lot more time with Bill than anyone else in the whole world, including his wife. He's a quick study. All it was [for me] was coordinating. He was in nearly every single scene, I mean, he carried that show, and after awhile that really wears on you."

Shatner was a diligent worker on the set of T.J. Hooker, always doing his best to stay prepared. "Our relationship was strictly professional. [Bill] would work three or four days ahead of time, so that when that day came, he would already have gone over them several times, so when it came time to shoot he would only have to think about the scene, not think about the lines."

Knowing that Shatner needed to feel secure with his dialogue coach, Phil made sure that he was always available for Bill, no matter how many or how few lines he had for a particular scene. "There was one time when he had to make a move from the Burbank Studios into Hollywood, it was just for a small scene. I think his line was something like 'Hold it right there!' [laughs] and I went along! And one of the other people, I can't remember who, said 'What are you doing? Why are you going?' I said 'Look . . . if he says anything, I got to be there! I don't care if it's one word, two words or a hundred words! I gotta be there.' They said 'Well that's crazy, all he says is "hold it!"' So we went, and they lit it, and they set it up, and I'm standing there, and I think it was the second unit, I think they had just done a car chase, and what happens there is the second unit team does the car chase with the stunt people, and then, you bring in the main actors to finish it up, you know, drag 'em out of the car and arrest 'em. And [Bill] was there, getting ready to do the scene, and he turned around and he said "Now, what do I say here?" And I said 'You say "hold it"' and he said 'Okay.' . . . by god, I was glad I was there [laughs]."

Yup, that's Bill Shatner on the wing of a plane . . . but it might not have been had the network gotten their way

Something that always helped T.J. Hooker seem more believable was the fact that Hooker was often shown performing precarious stunts–and the audience could tell that it actually was William Shatner putting his own life on the line. By all means, this was not something dreamed up by the folks at the front office – Shatner himself insisted on doing many of his own stunts, even if it meant shutting down production to get his way. "There's a scene in the opening credits [ed. note: for the first and second season - see our videos page] where Hooker climbs onto the wing of a propellor plane. He wanted to do some of the sequences in close, with the plane and the propellor. And they said, 'No no no, you can't do this, we need your stunt double' and he said 'No no no, I can do this! It's not that dangerous, it's just a matter of knowing what you're doing,' and they said 'No no no, we have strict instructions that you are not to be anywhere near this plane. You can't do it!' And he said 'Well, I can do it, and I will do it, and I'll be in my trailer until you get it fixed.' So he went in his trailer. And he was not going to film anymore, until they gave him permission to do the scene the way he wanted to, which meant getting a little too close to the blades, you know, and it's a great shot, I mean, they use it in the opening credits! That would not have been there if he had not protested and gone to his trailer and waited until they got permission for him to do it from the front office."

"[Bill] was dedicated, he was curious – he loved to do things, he was excited, he wanted to do stunts."

"There was another time when he wanted to – he and Romano were in a car, and they bust through a wall in the squad car. And he wanted to do it. And of course, it's all that balsa wood crap that they put up there so he's obviously not driving through a real wall! He said 'I wanna do it' and they said, 'Nope, you can't do it!' And he said, 'Well, all right, then I'll be in my trailer!' And he went back to his trailer and they had to go through the same thing."

Shatner insisted on doing stunts, and he also made sure he was well-trained by the police technical advisors, especially when it came to the tonfa (or "magnognock") – the night stick that Hooker and Romano are often seen brandishing during their scuffles with street scum. "Bill spent a great deal of time out there learning how to do that," Phil says,"and he became pretty proficient with it! He was dedicated, he was curious – he loved to do things, he was excited, he wanted to do stunts – and he didn't do any of the stunts that he thought he could possibly get injured badly on, that was not the point . . . but he felt that if he could do it, and it could add to the scene, then he saw no reason why he shouldn't do it. And it added a great deal to the show."

PRETENSIONS OF GREATNESS? NOT ON THIS SHOW!

Phil also truly believes in Shatner's innate ability to triumph over less than dynamic material. "Bill had a talent, and here's what Bill's talent was . . . We all understood what the series was, and what the scripts were supposed to be, and what the kind of show it was. You know, it was action, and it was a little bit corny, a little bit fun, and havin' a good time, and a little bit serious, but it was TV. That was the end of the era of Charlie's Angels, and all that kind of action stuff," he says. "Even though there were many scenes that Bill was VERY serious about and did a terrific job of 'serious' acting, no one was kidding themselves that they were doing 'Great Television,' that was never the point, it was entertainment always. And [Bill] understood this, and everybody else understood that, and anybody that reviewed it as something that was anything other than that, was silly. It was a specific kind of formula television, and on your web site, you know, you have The Formula. Right? Okay. Well, that was the formula! But – life is a formula! You get up in the morning, and you go to bed at night, you have lunch . . . and it's how you do the formula differently that makes a difference! You don't wanna have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch, and for dinner once in awhile you'd like to have a lobster. But you're not gonna have lobster every night. It's all about permutations of the formula!"

ON TO PART TWO!





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