“Black Sheep” was intended as a slapstick comedy, firmly in the wheelhouse of both Spade and the freshly-hot commodity Farley. But the latter was tired of being the butt of weight-based gags and eager to show off his characterization skills — it would become a point of creative contention between the longtime friends, who would in turn battle with the director over her frequent head-butting with the screenwriter. Tom Farley’s “The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts,” reveals that Wolf was fired three times and eventually banned from the set.
Spheeris got the gig based on her handling of “Wayne’s World,” the most fruitful “SNL” picture to date. Add in Gary Busey and “Animal House” alumni Tim Matheson and Bruce McGill among the cast and the same screenwriter behind “Tommy Boy,” and the movie had all the makings of a hit laugh-fest – “We all had it down,” Spade lamented to Uproxx. He continued:
“Penelope told us right off the bat that she didn’t love ‘Tommy Boy’ and that she knew how to make Chris and me funny. That’s where someone should have pulled the plug. Then she ripped forty pages out of our script and said she would fix them with her writer. Fred and she had a few bad meetings and he was essentially kicked off the project from then on.
For her part, Spheeris acknowledges Paramount’s desperation and hints at a cynicism towards the goofball comedy from the jump. In Tom Farley’s biography of his late brother, the “Suburbia” director admitted that the $2.75 million payday was what appealed to her. “I hate to sound crass, but I did it for the money,” she’s quoted. In retrospect, “Black Sheep” is an elegiac story, one that waves farewell at a comedy team that was only warming up before Farley’s sudden death.