[Photo courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment]
Those involved just worked hard and hoped for the best, said Albert, who for the past year has served as chairman of the Harold Ramis Film School, a Chicago-based Second City school founded in 2016.
Starting as consultant, Albert steadily became more involved in the school both because of its need as the only film school of its kind worldwide and the way it honors Ramis, whom he first met as a hand puppet for the gopher, among other duties, on the set of “Caddyshack.”
“Even though I was the lowest man on the totem pole, he would ask me what I thought, and if I had a good idea, he’d take it,” he said. “That’s the way he was with everyone. I loved that collaboration. We had this great 20-something-year run together.”
Living in California, Albert hasn’t been back to Woodstock since filming 25 years ago, but said he intends to return now that his children are grown.
“If someone would have said, ‘In 25 years somebody would be interviewing you about ‘Groundhog Day’ I’d say, ‘Get out of here,’ ” he said.
The movie resonates, he said, because it’s both funny and illuminating. “I think people would like to believe that guy, whether it’s their boss or a relative who’s stern or self-centered or whatever their weakness in personality is, they like to think that person can change and learn and become a better person,” he said.
“Certainly right now in our country I think the idea of people transforming and becoming better and kinder, I think is an important sort of thing to have out there. I’d like to believe that’s one of the things people embrace about the movie.”
Tobolowsky has been asked to speak to groups of seniors in assisted living who watch the movie for encouragement, to religious groups, as part of 12-step program meetings, even to the Oakland Raiders, who used the movie during training.
It’s a film about getting it right, Tobolowsky said. “If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you will fail.”
The day essentially became an uncredited character in the movie, he said.
Ramis wasn’t sure if he wanted the film set in a rainy, sunny, snowy or gloomy day so Tobolowsky and Murray filmed their scenes in every type of weather.
“In the end, Harold Ramis chose the gloomy day,” he said.
Only one scene doesn’t follow that pattern, and that’s the one between Murray and the groundhog. (The animal bit Murray twice, by the way, according to reports.) That scene started gloomy, but then the sun came out, Tobolowsky said. “They only had the groundhog for like two hours so they had to continue shooting,” he said.