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‘We were just incredibly lucky that Griffin is with us’: Griffin Dunne barely missed suffering fatal injuries while filming ‘After Hours’

‘It came this close to his head.’

Photo by John Nacion/Getty Images

Renowned actor and film producer Amy Robinson shared a startling revelation about her co-star Griffin Dunne, detailing how he narrowly escaped a life-threatening situation while filming Martin Scorsese’s 1985 sleeper hit After Hours.

In an interview with IndieWire, Robinson spoke about the complexity of shooting parts of the film, which she starred in and co-produced. She recalled the iconic scene when Kiki Bridges (Linda Fiorentino) tosses a key from her apartment window to Paul Hackett (Dunne). The budget constraints led to a risky situation:

“The key drop is the classic story. Griffin mentioned our trepidatious camera crew. We theoretically couldn’t afford a crane. They made a platform with a hole in it for the camera and it went up on the top of that building where Kiki lived, and they were dropping it on the street with mountain-climbing ropes, and it was going to come down right over Griffin’s head and not hit him and kill him. That’s how we were going to shoot the key drop, and we did.”

After one take, Robinson realized that Dunne’s life was in danger.

“The ropes were smoking, and the thing came down. I was actually sitting next to Marty [Scorsese], I said, ‘We can’t do that again. That’s really dangerous. We can’t do it. It came this close to his head.’ Marty said, ‘I think you’re right,’ which was unusual. We went to dailies, and it didn’t work. He was not happy with the shot. Bob Colesberry was able to find a little money in the budget and was able to buy a crane, or rent a crane, for a couple of hours and then we were able to do the key drop shot. We all know about accidents on sets, and we were just incredibly lucky that Griffin is with us.”

Back in 1973, Scorcese had cast Robinson in her first acting role as the female lead alongside Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets. Eventually, she teamed up with Griffin Dunne and began a film-producing journey with Chilly Scenes of Winter, starring John Heard, in 1979. Their next project, Baby, It’s You, starring Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano, followed in 1983. 

In 1985, Robinson and Dunne started Double Play Productions and got to work on their next project, Martin Scorcese’s black comedy After Hours. The duo starred in the film alongside a stellar cast that included Arquette, Fiorentino, John Heard, and Cheech and Chong.

Upon the release of After Hours in 1985, it received widespread critical acclaim. The dedication and risks yielded impressive rewards. The movie triumphed at the Independent Spirit Awards, taking home statuettes for Best Feature and Best Director. It’s crowning glory came when Scorsese won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director. Today, the film remains a cult classic. And thanks to Robinson’s keen eye, Griffin Dunne is still alive and well.

After Hours is streaming on Apple TV.

About the author

Manya Seisay

Manya is a Contributing Writer for We Got This Covered, who explores diverse topics, including entertainment, gaming, and new technologies.