Sean Astin Recalls His Favorite Moment on ‘The Goonies’


The Big Picture

  • Sean Astin reflects on his favorite moments while filming The Goonies and the memorable interactions he had with director Richard Donner.
  • The film is remembered as an iconic 80s adventure and part of the “kids on bikes” genre, evoking the spirit of films like E.T.
  • Donner’s methods and Spielberg’s involvement contributed to the fun atmosphere on set, and Donner’s impact on the film made him “the biggest Goonie of them all.”

Before he was Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings or Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger in Rudy, Sean Astin broke onto the film scene in 1985 with his feature film debut, The Goonies. Playing the leader of the titular group of kids, he spearheaded an adventure including a young Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Kerri Green, Corey Feldman, and recent Academy Award winner Ke Huy Quan among others to find the ancient pirate treasure of One-Eyed Willy while facing danger from a crime family and a property development company. Astin reflected on the film during a panel hosted by Collider’s Arezou Amin at Fan Expo in San Francisco when he was asked about his favorite moment while filming. While he found the project as a whole to be memorable, he recalled the interactions with the late director Richard Donner that were burned into his mind forever.

“I mean, there’s so many moments I remember, there’s so many times in my life where I can’t remember stuff,” he responded to the question. “I see something, ‘Oh my gosh, I like, blocked that part out of my brain somehow.’ But I remember a lot of The Goonies and you know, every day was some other really cool thing.” The film is remembered as an 80s staple for how adventurous it was, evoking the classic “kids on bikes” genre including films like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Stand By Me, and more modern entries like Stranger Things. Regarding Donner, Astin specifically said the director’s plan for him to tell the story of One-Eyed Willy was one of the coolest memories among many:

“There was one moment where they’d given, they had written a speech for the Fratellis to describe One-Eyed Willy and the Armada… and it wasn’t like playing the way they wanted to, so Dick Donner, the director – passed away a couple years ago now, man time goes so fast – so he brought me outside of the studio. This is the Warner Bros. lot, Stage 20 or something. He said, ‘Alright, I’m gonna tell you a story, I want you to listen, and when I’m finished, I want you to tell the story back to me. Alright?’ Probably the way all acting should be done [Laughs]. And he told me the story and, I told it back to him, he said ‘ok, let’s go.’ We went into the attic set and we sat down and he had the cameras already ready and we just started rolling and I told the story of One-Eyed Willy. And, it’s like awesome. So it’s a little kid, wonder, and everything else. That’s… there’s a thousand of those kind of memories.”

‘The Goonies’ Cast and Crew Had Fun Aboard the Amblin Entertainment Production

Donner’s methods of keeping the childlike wonder in The Goonies intact reflect the fun everyone on board seemed to have in the film. Adding to the magic was legendary director Steven Spielberg, who helped produce the film and served as an assistant director through his Amblin Entertainment banner. Spielberg notoriously helped facilitate some fun with the cast, too. Earlier this year, writer Todd Spence shared the video of the prank Spielberg pulled on Donner by flying out the young cast to see the director in Hawaii as he was resting after spending so much time and effort on the production.

Beyond The Goonies, Donner had an impressive resume behind the camera, including the original Christopher Reeve Superman film, The Omen, and the Lethal Weapon franchise. Upon his death in 2021, however, the director was described as “the biggest Goonie of them all,” reflecting the impact he had on the family film. At the time, Astin said of him, “What I perceived in him, as a 12-year-old kid, is that he cared. I love that he cared.” It’s fitting, then, that one of his most treasured memories involved the director who made it all possible.

The Goonies is currently available to stream on Prime Video. Stay tuned here at Collider for more of our coverage from Fan Expo in San Francisco.


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