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Exclusive: Turbo Time with Daniel Riordan!

'Tis the season to put those cookies down and watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way! Towards the end of the movie, Arnold puts on the suit from everyone's favorite TV and toy character, Turbo Man! It turns out that Arnold is the impostor Turbo Man and the REAL one is played by actor Daniel Riordan! TheArnoldFans had a great opportunity to sit with Daniel over a couple beers to have a nice in-depth interview with Turbo Man himself! So get ready, Arnold fans; it's Turbo time!

TheArnoldFans: Next year is going to be the 20 year anniversary of "Jingle All the Way"

TurboMan / Daniel Riordan: Yeah, it's hard to believe!

TheArnoldFans: How do you think it holds up today and how often do you watch it?

Riordan: I watch it whenever I'm going through my cable menu and I see it. I tend to tune in, especially if it's at the beginning, because I'm in the first couple of minutes. That's my strongest moment! So I tend to watch it, you know, once or twice a year. I think the last time I actually sat down and watched most of it, or all of it, was last Christmas, and I think it holds up really, really well. The movie is charming and I think that the 1990's have a real vibe that have a certain slice of Americana. It's pre-9/11 and it feels like pre-9/11. I never though 9/11 would be that much of a demarkation, but it really is because you kind of see at that time, it was people who were working and it just seemed to be a kind of late twentieth century apex of good fun. For me personally, it was a great time.

TAFs: It was a little more cheesy back then, too.

Riordan: A little more cheesy and a little, I mean, the movie is, you know, I'm really good friends with Brian Levant, the Director. He brought me on because I'd done "Captain Zoom [in Outer Space]". He did "Captain Zoom". I have a great story about how I got the part.

TAFs: Definitely - that was actually going to be one of my questions!

Riordan: Yeah, if I can skip ahead, if I may? So I had just gotten married to my lovely wife Holly and we were on a - we met on "Captain Zoom" in 1995 and it was February of 1996 - went to Morocco (after the wedding) for about a month. We'd been on a camel track in the eastern Sahara, really out of touch and I'd been doing a lot of publicity and PR work for the studio concerning "Captain Zoom". They asked me to keep in touch and I hadn't been for a few weeks, so I called, we had just gotten back and I was in a casbah. I had to find a pay phone and this was before cell phones, and I called the studio. I called Brian's office, in particular, and they were flipping out, "Thank God you called! Brian's been looking for you, you're all over the the world honey mooning. He has a part for you - he wants you to play TurboMan! He's made the studio wait and he's made all these people bide their time, but he wants you and that's it. He only wants you and we need to get you back here for a fitting."

Riordan: They said that, and "so, this is what you're gonna do. Tomorrow, you're gonna go from the western edge the Sahara, Morocco, you're gonna come over the Atlas mountains by dawn, you're gonna drive as fast as you can, to Marrakesh. You're gonna get on a first class British Airways flight to London, and from there, you're gonna come to LA. The time difference is such that it will be the middle of the night. We'll have a crew standing by to do a mold of your body to make the muscle suit that you will see at TurboMan. Arnold had the same thing done." We both had body molds and they did this kind of foam suit over it, or a rubber suit, and they need your body mold to do it in wax, then they cast it, and they build the costume on top of that. It was perfect.

Riordan: So the next morning, we raced to Marrakesh, got on a plane, went to London, and then, there was no connecting flight to LA! They screwed up, so I stayed in London overnight in this beautiful hotel called Brown's Hotel. It was a palatial, beautiful old hotel. We came back to LA and sure enough, in the middle of the night, there was a limousine waiting at the airport. They dashed me off to Paramount, and there was a crew of 10 to 12 guys standing by in the middle of the night, at 3 o'clock in the morning. Did this number on me and they limo-ed me back to my house, I was still living in my same house in Venice. The next morning, I flew out again, to Marrakesh to pick up my honey moon! They were so apologetic about it, that they had to break up my honeymoon, but I mean, flying British Airways first class is a holiday unto itself. It wasn't that painful.

TAFs: So Brian had waited, but did you know who the studio had considered for other actors.

Riordan: I have no idea! I know that there was a little bit of resentment because they were made to wait and it was funny because I had done to NYU with Chris Columbus and I had been in his senior thesis film. So I knew Chris - we weren't great friends, but we knew each other. His company, they were directing obviously, waiting on me, and Brian was producing while Chris was directing. No wait, it was the other way around - Brian directed! I was confused - so Chris was pro ducting, but I remember that he was on the set all the time and because he's usually the Director, you could see he was itching to direct, but we got along famously. Everything was cool.

TAFs: Is that right? Did you guys smoke any cigars together?

Riordan: I remember everybody had a clip on glass ashtray on their chairs because of Arnold - everyone took up cigars because of the smoking, so it was the height of the cigar thing. That's actually when I started smoking them, as well.

TAFs: Did you actually ever meet Arnold, on that set?

Riordan: Oh yeah, quite a few times!

TAFs: And why was it necessary that you and Arnold were on the set at the same time?

Riordan: When they were doing green screen, the flying sequences, it was all at the same time and they were set up for it, so they'd bring us in kind of on top of each other. There were long days on the set, so we'd all sort of cross over to the make up trailer. He was a very nice, very approachable guy. Very down to Earth. He loves to give you shit! Arnold's thing, he's kind of like, he's not vicious in any way, not bullying in any way, but he just gives you shit. If you can take it, he likes you. If you can't take it, that's your problem! I love it. He used to say to me, "Never complain - never explain" that was his wrap you know?

Riordan: One time, I came up to him when we were doing green screen work on the set, and I said, these metal picks on your hips to pivot you on the metal wires when we're flying and even though they're fitted for wearing underneath these rubber suits, they hurt! After a while, they really dig into your hip bones and it's extremely uncomfortable. I was in my suit and he was in his suit, and he was in a cadre of ten people worshipping Arnold, and he came up to me and I said, "Arnold, don't these picks kill you?" He gave me that Arnold smile and said, "Well, I guess it's because you have womanly hips!" I remember he was roaring with laughter. I don't know if I should say the rest of this-how G rating is this interview?

TAFs: Please, do tell!

Riordan: So I was like, "Really? Maybe it's because I have such a large man hook that I need that kind of support! I see you have very narrow hips." He just smiled, he just had this little grin, and then he went, "Touché." Everyone else had fallen silent, because it's like "oh my God, he said something back to Arnold!" But the guy was totally cool. I always admired him for that. He could get as good as he gave. If you could come back, he was more than happy to receive.

TAFs: He gave me a cigar one time, he said "let me get you a pipe, because I know you came unprepared" because he knows I'm without a lighter or anything.

Riordan: Yeah, he's funny, that way.

TAFs: How uncomfortable was that suit, just in the desert, where was that shot?

Riordan: Out in Vasquez Rocks (Sierra Pelona Mountains of northern Los Angeles County) and if you look it up, it's a classic location. It's a million Westerns. It started back in the teens (early 1900's), in the silent (film) era. With these unusual rock formations, you know, so "Star Trek" used to film up there, and a lot of Westerns were done out there. It's used a lot - they still use them. It was named Vasquez Rocks because it was a bandit named Vasquez and that's where he hid out, literally, in the 1860's or so. I think he was also killed there, so it became known as where they hunted him down.

Riordan continued: It's an unusual rock formation and it was extremely hot, and what they did was, they were very clever - they built the suit in such a way that they had these vests underneath that race car drivers use. They're very thin membrane vests that are filled with small, plastic tubing that's tightly coiled, back and forth, and they run cold water through it. So when they run it, it's like this cold water right up against your body and it was amazing. The sensation was fantastic.

TAFs: Was it in the helmet also?

Riordan: No, just on your torso. But yeah, it was pretty hot! I had an amazing time and I worked with some really great people. I mean, Laraine Newman, Harvey Korman, and my good buddy Richard Moll. So, we were all like a movie within a movie! We had our own world going on. So we came back and kind of shot a lot of stuff with Arnold when we were on the sound stages. We shot a lot of stuff they didn't use in the movie. I was supposed to be like a news guy, a Clark Kent thing, where I turn into TurboMan.

TAFs: So, where was that done?

Riordan: That was Paramount. There were shots of me as a newscaster - I'd get the news in the vans, or reading about a disaster - you'd see me dash off the set and change in a bathroom.

TAFs: Did you do that?

Riordan: Yeah, we shot all that! We shot all of it - they just don't use it. They cut it.

TAFs: But all these deleted scenes, I don't understand why they wouldn't use it in the special edition DVD.

Riordan: Did you see the special edition: all that stuff I did up front?

TAFs: Yeah! I loved it.

Riordan: That was hysterical! I thought that was so funny. When I got my costume back, there was shredded stuff. I'm looking for mail, getting hit with the mail. I loved it. It was brilliant.

TAFs: That was very well done. I'd love to see that on a weekly reality series.

Riordan: So anyway, Richard Moll and I had become really good friends. That's how I got into voiceover work, from that movie. Because Richard was doing voiceovers. We were both at SBV Commercial (Talent) Agency, and he said "You have a great voice - do you want to do voice work?" He said, "Do you ever do voiceover?" and I said no.

TAFs: Yeah, you have a radio voice. 

Riordan: He asked who did I work with and I said SBV. He said, "So do I, and I do voiceover over there. Why only do on-camera commercials? Let me talk to them." So sure enough, I went over there and booked my very first gig.

TAFs: You brought up that great TurboMan update from the DVD, and I wanna know where is TurboMan NOW, and where do you think he's gonna be ten years from now?

Riordan: Ha! You'd think, based on the stuff we saw-

TAFs: Like, if I were wearing that suit right now, how do you think TurboMan would be doing right now?

Riordan: I wonder if he'd just be sleeping in a tent.


TAFs: Do you think he's be saving kids (kittens?) ?

Riordan: Yeah, he'd be doing birthday parties. Saving balloon animals. Yeah, I could see him- probably, what would happen, it's really interesting, if you were going to project all of that, is he gets a second life by getting involved with some tech company. Doing a web series, or they realize that there's enough of them who grew up with him that now they're all like these billionaires, and they just wanna do the Tarantino thing, like bring back their idols. Make them successful again, and now he becomes the face of some new app, like "TurboApp! When you wanna go Turbo, you-", maybe do some Geico commercials. I guess I can see him do quasi-mockeryof his former status. Still promoting.

TAFs: Doing a lot of Comic Cons, I'm sure.

Riordan: Yeah, exactly. Anything for a buck.

TAFs: Did you get to keep anything from the set? The costumes, the props, any momentos that you can recall?

Riordan: Did I? Yes, I have a TurboMan doll.

TAFs: Nice! Now are we talking Walmart ones, or one that was actually used in the film?

Riordan: I'm not sure. It's the one that I got from Brian-

TAFs: So it's probably a pretty nice exclusive.

Riordan: Didn't open the packaging, I never touched it, blah blah. It's In my office. I have a bunch of stuff. I have a ray gun in a package from "Captain Zoom." I used to have the fangs of my Duras character, but I made the mistake of telling the make up guy one time that I had them, after I already had been given them. A junior guy was like, "no you gotta give those back" - Michael Westmark gave them to me. But anyway yeah, I do have that, and then there were the cool discs, but I didn't get to keep any of those.

Riordan continued: Brian loves all that stuff, so he was really involved with the design of the costume. You know, the IronMan costume is almost a direct rip off! I saw "Iron Man" and I was like, "wait a second." The colors and everything - that's TurboMan!

TAFs: Well, Iron Man the comic book technically came first, but definitely a good argument that as far as the movie suit goes, it was kind of ripping off TurboMan.

Riordan: And it was a great costume. They really put a lot of effort into making it look right. I mean, when they flew me on that crane out in the desert, they really flew me up. I'm afraid of heights. I went as high as the mountains, about 60 feet. I went all the way up! And we went fast!

TAFs: You're afraid of heights?

Riordan: Yeah. I'm not thrilled, but TurboMan's fine. He just sails right around. I'm sorry to burst a lot of bubbles, but I gotta tell you, the best part for me was working with Harvey Korman. He and I became pals, and this is interesting and full circle with Arnold, now. Harvey used to always want to meet for lunch at this Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills where Arnold used to eat every day.

TAFs: Cafe Roma? Arnold eats there all the time.

Riordan: Cafe Roma! Oh my God. He still eats there occasionally. He used to eat there daily, and this was before he was Governor. He was in this weird spot between TurboMan and being Governor. I don't know, if you look back at his life, there's this weird-

TAFs: Yeah, he was always talking about getting into politics for that time.

Riordan: He would spend a lot of time at that restaurant, like every day, hob-nobbing, and I used to meet Harvey there. He loved that place, and they have a great Italian lunch buffet. They had really good red sauce, it was actually really good, but it was a lot of oldsters and Arnold was really, you know, sitting at his table, smoking a cigar, a little outdoor spot so he could smoke. I remembered that. He's surrounded by all these older producers and writers who are all retired. 

Riordan: I used to meet Harvey there and I was a huge fan. I mean, at one point, we were- I don't know if this is relevant to all this, but we were out in the desert, about to do a scene, and they said "Dan, come over here!" Wayne and Harvey were sitting off to the side, they had tilted one of those shading things, they were sitting in their chairs, and they said "we just wanted to tell you you're really, really funny."

TAFs: Were you dressed up?

Riordan: Yeah, I'm totally in costume. I had just shot something. As soon as I was done, they called me over there. I said "wow, that means so much to me. Laraine, I grew up with you! Harvey, I grew up with you on Carol Burnett. Laraine, you were in my college years on SNL. To hear from the two of you that you think I'm funny, when I worship both of you forever, that was really cool." And then Richard Moll was a great guy, we became really good pals.

TAFs: What part did he take in this?

Riordan: He played the President. In the movie within the movie, where TurboMan saves the day. Harvey Korman is the President, Laraine is the First Lady, and Richard Moll is the evil guy (Dementor). With his flying fist.

TAFs: I remember Harvey, but I gotta see it again.

Riordan: Brian was like Tarantino that way. He loved all those people. He wanted to use everyone he loved, so he loved all of them, including me. So he brought us all into it. Those are my great memories of TurboMan when I was with a stellar cast for this little tiny movie within a movie!

TAFs: Did you get any work out time with Arnold, or did he ever make fun of your muscles, being that kind of guy-

Riordan: Other than that story I told you, no he was obviously in extremely good shape. I was taller, 6' 5", so he was cool. What I do remember is he had an on-set masseuse, because I had SAG insurance, we'd basically be on the set on this table, they would come to the trailer and give you an amazing massage. You just had to sign a piece of paper and it was taken care of. But he (the masseuse) was so enamored with Arnold, it was hard to get him away long enough to give me a massage! He has that effect on a lot of people. He's very center-of-attention, very cock of the walk, but I found him to be a nice guy. Straight forward, like he was never aloof, in that way you might think of a movie star, negatively. He was, he's just present and he doesn't care about anything. If that's a form of aloof-ness, but actually a decent guy that was nice to meet.

TAFs: What's his name, from "Revenge of the Nerds," Booger, he plays Booster? I'm sure he wasn't Booster during your filming, right? It was probably someone else because they never showed him.

Riordan: Right.

TAFs: I would just to know who that was, because then everyone can be like "Everyone hates Booster!" like in the movie, too.

Riordan: The thing is, Brian intentionally made Booster the worst character ever, but this was all Brian! He's like Mister Merchandising. His house out in, out near Malibu, Agora (Hills), is filled with American eclecticism. Every kind of imaginable toy, figurine, so he loved all that stuff. You know, that reminds me, I haven't called and spoken to him in a while! I will do so.

TAF: I actually spoke to him for a couple of minutes at Comic Con. He was promoting a Scooby Doo he directed-

Riordan: I worked on that, too.

TAFs: Oh did you?

Riordan: I did the voice of the evil guy. I did the VO.

TAFs: I forget, was that one theatrical or released for DVD?

Riordan: I think that was theatrical release. I play the evil hooded character, I came to the set and Brian is really into super heroes, all that merchandising, all that kind of look and feel of the toys. The costume, and that's his touchstone. He really got into making sure that Booster was everything that you could detest. It was supposed to be funny - the pink, shaggy, you know, really?! I mean, forget it.

TAFs: The googley eyes.

Riordan:: It was supposed to be horrifically cheesy, nothing cool. It was intentional.

TAFs: There was another good piece of merchandise. It was a promo from the 76 gas station, the TurboMan Time Racer. Did you ever know about that one?

Riordan: Never.

TAFs: That was exclusive. Could only get it at that brand of gas station and it was you, TurboMan, sitting in these little cars with a remote control, too. I got that one.

Riordan: Wow!

TAFs: I was also going to ask if you went to the Hollywood premiere? Or was it only in San Francisco?

Riordan: No, the premiere was in Minneapolis. I went to that one and I was the Grand Marshall of the parade that announced TurboMan, the movie "Jingle all the Way," in the Mall of America. So this was all in the mall. I was in the costume.

TAFs: Was there any footage of this? I meant to ask, do you have any great still pictures that I can work with.

Riordan: I have one picture from the whole thing, and that's me and Harvey where I'm in costume. I'm like this, and he's like this, so we were arm-in-arm. A color photograph.

TAFs: So why wasn't he filmed there, that day?

Riordan: Because that was in Minneapolis. And I was in costume because I was the Grand Marshall, to the point the press thought I was some local hire. They kept wanting to push me out of the pictures when they were shooting the cast. They'd be like "yeah yeah yeah, okay buddy" and they thought I was like the clown. It was actually impressive - they flew me out there, we all stayed in the same hotel, and-

TAFs: So there was a premiere there, and they actually showed the movie in the mall? And I take it Arnold spoke all of maybe a few words before the film?

Riordan: He did, and you know who else was really into it, was, who was the guy who played the short guy, used to be in the 1960's on that show, the Western.

TAFs: Yeah, the cop!

Riordan: What's his name? I mean, I was kind of a big fan because I used to watch that.

TAFs: Are you aware there is a "Jingle all the Way 2," that they made one that stars Larry the Cable Guy?

Riordan:I had no idea.

TAFs: It was direct to DVD and they were all on the hunt for this rare teddy bear for his little daughter.

Riordan: How funny. Oh my God.

TAFs: It's something I can't, you know, watch because I'm a big toy collector myself, I got the TurboMan doll for myself, and for me, that's half the fun of that movie is the TurboMan!

Riordan: And that's all Brian. He was really keenly aware of all that stuff.

TAFs: I totally identify with the hunt for that exclusive, hard to find thing. I've been there as collector. I totally related to that story.

Riordan: It's the McGuffin that you can actually hold. The thing Hitchcock always talks about in the movie that you gotta have. Whatever, it doesn't matter. It's the thing that keeps everything going. But in this case, you actually get to articulate it and hold it in your hand.

TAFs: So the San Francisco I went to, it was on the Pier pretty much. Arnold and the mystery guy whose name we can't remember right now, the Cop, he was there. Sinbad was there. Most of this was hosted at a local Planet Hollywood.

Riordan: That's where we all hung out.

TAFs: Oh, you were there, too?

Riordan: Arnold had some sort of connection to them, at that time. It's funny you brought that up. In the Mall of America, when we had the premiere, at the dinner, James Belushi was there. I sat at the table there with him and his wife, but after the parade and the premiere, we all partied at the Planet Hollywood. And Arnold, he was out until like 3 in the morning, and that was their hang out. They shot a lot there. I only shout out here (in LA), but they brought me out there to do the premiere and be the Grand Marshall in the parade, on golf carts.

TAFs: How many people would you say were in that parade?

Riordan: Maybe 50, a hundred. They had me, dancing characters, they had local high school bands. They just built it up. It was a big PR thing. I remember the people sitting there, the locals, and Brian's going "more more more! Come on, Dan!" Right next to me, and the people there are just like "really? who cares?" It's weird and it was gigantic, this thing. It was winter, I remember we all stayed at this hotel, so we all-

TAFs: Do you remember the nice after party in the mall?

Riordan: Yeah, that was in the Planet Hollywood. It was good food and we kind of chatted it up.

TAFs: Did you finally get out of the costume at Planet Hollywood?

Riordan: Thank God! They actually didn't have anyone to help me get out of it, so it was horrible. I was just in the stairwell trying to get out of this thing. Some PA girl, she split because she didn't wanna be around or whatever. The whole thing was a little awkward, to tell you the truth. I was the only one in costume. It was a little humiliating, but I was there for whatever.

Riordan continued: When Brian would ask me to do something, anything, I'd do it. I'd do it to this day, if he asked me to do it. I love Brian. He really, with "Captain Zoom," it came out of nowhere. We became very close. We did a lot of projects over a year, so by the time TurboMan came around, we knew each other very, very well.

TAFs: At Planet Hollywood, at the premiere in San Francisco, I remember there was actually a TurboMan who flew in on a real jetpack. Like, we heard this incredibly loud, annoying noise, so ear-shattering. We looked up and it was TurboMan, flying in. He goes and lands backstage, and then from around the corner, a different TurboMan came out to say a few words. I thought that was you, but I guess not, if you weren't there at that one.

Riordan: No, I missed that one.

TAFs: Can you recall, still, some of your TurboMan catch phrases? Kind of a quiz.

Riordan:: "It's TurboTime!"

TAFs: There was another second one that was pretty funny. The one the doll says.

Riordan: Oh, what was the other one? I came up, by the way, that was mine. That was me.

TAFs: Did they ask you how you think you should do it?

Riordan: Brian and I worked on that together. He, number one, Brian was a fan, so was like "dude, do your thing." He knew I'd get into it. So I just did it and he was like "that was it!" That was my contribution. I had the line, but how you say the line at the super hero, life off moment. What was the other catchphrase? You said you knew it?

TAFs: "You can always count on me!"

Riordan: Oh yeah, the line with the two fingers (to the forehead). That was also me. i have that on my reel, at the end of my reel.

TAFs: Your audition reel.

Riordan: Yeah, yeah! Which really isn't used much anymore.

TAFs: One more Arnold question - why do you think he's admired by millions?

Riordan: He's bad ass. He's the guy whose always gonna come out on top. You look at the dude and you know, people love heroes. This guy, you look at him, and he's gonna win. He's physically impressing, and then he's very cocky, very sure of himself, and he has that very weird accent, which makes him very distinguishable. He owns it.

Riordan: To fully answer your question, I think people are drawn to confidence. They admire it, they feel safe around it, it's calming. He's very centered. He's not questioning. He's in charge. He's unflappable, and in a world of confusion, fear and mediocrity, he provides a welcome respite. Kind of a guiding light. That's why I would say he's so popular. He's like that in person, too.

After chatting a bit about Conan, TAF brought up the Conan TV series.

Riordan: I was on that one! I was an extra on that one. It was kind of bizarre job because I played a fictional, like a surreal being. I actually had an elephant head over my head.

TAFs: Did you think it looked stupid, or it looked cool?

Riordan: Kind of cool. I was like, you know, like what was it, Garnac? An actual Indian God that has an elephant head. That was the look of it, and it was so funny, I remember the Director saying "you know, actually, we could have just had anyone wears this."

TAFs: I asked you earlier about out projects you're working on - could you rehash to our audience what you have coming up and what we have to look forward to?

Riordan: I'm doing a lot of games, a lot of big games coming out. I just came out in the new "Evolve" as (William) Cabot, the Captain of the ship. There's been several "Evolve" games, but I'm in the latest version and I should be recording more for the next one. In terms of games, I also came out in "Resident Evil," I play the evil doctor. Also, "The Order: 1886" I'm in that.

Riordan continued: I'm in "New Girl," the TV show. I'm in an independent movie, it's very funny,  called "Route 30 Three." A very funny bit I do, if you get a chance to see it, it's great. It's actually making the film festival circuit right now, getting great reviews. I also did a movie with Kaley Cuoco, from "Big Bang Theory," the main girl. I did one with her called "Author's Anonymous" that came out last year, I think you can rent that one now. I played her older lover, I'm like a famous writer. Also just doing a lot of voiceover and just shooting stuff all the time. It's just a matter of seeing what we do next.

Thank you Daniel for the interview and for signing my TurboMan doll! I knew I could always count on you!





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