Film

Five Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Coyote Ugly’: An Interview With Adam Garcia

Not even its cast members can explain this film's staying power. "Not remotely".

You can try to resist, try and hide from this list, but you know, don’t you know that you, can’t fight the moonlight.

No. You can’t fight it. That’s something every Coyote Ugly fan knows.

From the director of Kangaroo Jack (we’re not kidding) came this post-’90s gem that became a sleepover staple from here into eternity. It was one of a handful of femme-led flicks from that era – like Josie And The Pussycats, Bring It On and Charlie’s Angels – that have gone on to carve a place in our cold, dead hearts.

Yes, we’ve all seen it about a thousand times and promptly know the response to “Do we serve water at this bar?” (“Hell no H20”). But there are a few facts we might have missed.

Coyote Ugly was the Hollywood breakthrough for Australian actor/dancer Adam Garcia. So, 14 years on from the movie’s release — when he appeared on the green carpet of Sydney’s recent Wicked opening, to promote his stint as judge on Dancing With The Stars — we cornered him and made him talk about the film instead.

We’re good like that.

#1: He Started At The Bottom, And Has Been Spoiled Forever

“I was working on Bootmen at the time — was my first film — so I had no idea what I was getting into,” he says. Released in 2000, the film was a classic of that beloved Aussie-working-class-brothers-beat-the-odds-to-become-tapdancing-legends genre. “Bootmen was Australian and small. Then this was like a $US25million dollar movie and they had really good craft service and five make-up people for one person.”

It was the beginning of his Hollywood career, which included everything from starring alongside Drew Barrymore in Riding In Cars With Boys to debuting as Fiyero in Wicked on West End with Idina Menzel. But back in 1999 during the production of Coyote Ugly he was quite the deer in headlights.

“I had just never seen anything like it. So now I can never go back: I must always have multiple make-up artists,” he laughs.

#2: Tyra Banks Is A Chess Master

There was plenty of downtime on the set of the three-month New Jersey shoot, and for primary cast members Maria Bello and Tyra Banks it was an opportune moment to hone their chess skills.

‘They were so good,” Garcia recalls. “Tyra was a master. Maria Bello whipped me in chess, whipped me. Her and Tyra would play chess in between scenes. It was all really good fun.”

#3: You Actually Can’t Fight The Moonlight

You cannot have a thinly veiled girl-power movie without a catchy theme song.

Enter the Taylor Swift of the Nineties, Leanne Rimes, and her frustratingly addictive tune ‘Can’t Fight The Moonlight’. While the track may have become a kitsch karaoke staple for us civilians, it’s just as addictive for Coyote Ugly’s stars.

“The soundtrack was amazing,” admits Garcia. “I mean, ‘Can’t Fight The Moonlight’… I can do a great version of that song. But I will never state that publicly.”

Also: those pants.

#4: John Goodman Does A Cracker Of An Aussie Accent

It was a surprise for Garcia, who worked closely with the character actor during filming. “John Goodman was lovely, but as soon as I got around him he just wanted to do an Australian accent,” he says.

“He’s got a quite good Australian accent too, but then he’d be like, ‘I can’t get out of it, so you have to walk over there’. He is amazing.”

#5: 14 Years On, Garcia Has No Idea Why Coyote Ugly Is Still So Popular

“Not remotely,” he says. “I had no idea in the moment what it would become. None at all. Even at the box office I don’t even think we were number one — we got beaten by another film.”

Three other films actually: The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Space Cowboys and Hollow Man all beat it for the top spot. What the film did have, however, was staying power. Coyote Ugly went on to make over $US113 at the international box office, and raked it in on home video.

“Critically it was ‘meh’, but people just seemed to really like it, which is great,” Garcia says. “It does have a really endearing story about someone struggling to get somewhere who has a dream. I guess in that regard it’s a great film, because people clearly love the story. If it didn’t have a good story, no one would watch it again.”

Adam Garcia is currently serving as a judge on the latest season of Dancing With The Stars, which airs at 7.30pm on Tuesdays, on Channel 7. Let us not mention the Mark Holden clown thing again. Ever.

Maria Lewis is an authority on film and pop culture. She tweets too often from @MovieMazz and can be found at marialewis.com.au