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CITY SLICKERS with Billy Crystal


I have been working with Billy since 1985, so every project is different. He is Hollywood’s version of the Olympic gold medalist of multiple talents. Like Sammy Davis Jr. (a favorite on SNL) he can sing, dance, perform on screen, stage, most importantly, help people laugh and have fun! “City Slickers” and its sequel were both shot on locations. Remember Norman? The calf he saves from drowning! Shooting City Slickers required real horse back riding, roping and included a scene of Billy jumping into ice-cold water to save a kicking, squirming Norman from drowning in Durango, Colorado.

“The Legend of Curly’s Gold” (sequel) was shot in the heat and dust of Moab, Utah.  On location in Utah we set up a mobile 40 foot workout trailer for training before shooting started, before key shoots, and after for flexibility improvement after being in the saddle all day. Training an actor for an action/physical movie role requires 2-3 months or more training specific to the demands of the character. You have to spend time to properly prepare for the action and stunts required! Every actor going into a physical film with a script calling for lots of action scenes has to know their limits and capabilities.

Billy is a former high school and college athlete so he is disciplined. Like a major league player he understands the need for spring training and importance of getting the physical mechanics of his swing perfected before opening day. Like the pros, you too, need a training plan and schedule. Training prep for “City Slickers” or any action movie or television show, performing on stage show or an extended concert tour, begins at least 2-6 months before the shooting begins. Billy’s training included strength training, cardiovascular endurance training, joint flexibility improvement, and skill development training specific to riding horses and roping cows.

One of the unique formats I have used for many years with training Billy is  “proprioception training”. This training engages the mind/body connection and improves the neurological response to enhance balance, increase agility, speed and improve coordination. It engages the brain and connects mind with body movement. Specific to his interest in baseball we use simple catching and throwing drills while increasing speed of movement to engage all 3 planes of movement, speed games with a tennis ball to improve reaction time, and acceleration/deceleration training on the tennis court to train start/stop actions to condition joints for speed changes related to moving faster and slowing down.