Coeds expect him to try and coax them into bed.
Guys want him to break out his toga and slam a few beers in the
name of fraternity brotherhood.
Older women look forward to running into him at the supermarket
picking through the produce section.
Actor Tim Matheson knows what it’s like to be linked with an
admired and beloved character in a wildly successful motion picture.
The John Burroughs High School graduate achieved movie stardom in
1978 with “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” Matheson played the role
of Eric “Otter” Stratton, a fast-talking, over-sexed, womanizing
preppy who ran roughshod over a band of hoodlum fraternity brothers
belonging to Delta House at Faber College, where “Knowledge Is Good.”
Twenty-five years after bringing Otter to life, Matheson said
people expect him to be exactly like the character, and truly believe
he must have been a drunken party boy in high school and college.
However, Matheson -- in Hollywood on Thursday for an “Animal
House” reunion to kick off the 25th anniversary DVD release of the
movie -- is nothing like Eric Stratton.
“In high school I really wasn’t a big guy on campus,” said
Matheson, who graduated from Burroughs in 1965. “At Burroughs I felt
like the odd man out.
“I was like a nerdy little kid, and they didn’t have any idea in
the world what to do with me. People didn’t know what category to put
me into. I was by no means a stud.”
Matheson said things didn’t get any better for him when he
attended Cal State Northridge.
“College was like high school with ashtrays,” he said. “It was
terrifying for me and it was really horrible. I lasted for just about
With a movie and television career that spans 43 years, Matheson,
55, admits he got the show-business bug at a young age.
“I grew up in Burbank and I used to sneak onto the back lot of
Disney and the studios,” said Matheson, who started his own
production company in 1985 at Burbank Studios. “My paper route
circled Disney, so I knew all the ways in.
“I was so fascinated with the whole business. I was really taken
by the mystery of Hollywood and the excitement about the business. I
was convinced that once I got on the set, somehow that would get me
into show business. But it didn’t, obviously.”
Decades removed from the original release of the 1960s college
spoof, Landis said he is proud “Animal House” has become a cultural
classic. And the director knows the reasons why.
“This movie does have a genuinely wonderful screenplay and it is
brilliantly cast,” Landis said at Thursday’s event. “The movie has
such strong characters, like Tim Matheson’s character, and that’s one
of the things that has made it popular, and successful.”
At the event, Matheson and Landis were reunited with cast members,
writers and producers of the movie. The gathering culminated with a
parade down Hollywood Boulevard reminiscent of the movie’s dramatic
conclusion. Joining Matheson on the infamous Faber cake float were
Stephen Furst (Flounder), James Widdoes (Hoover), Peter Riegert
(Boon) and Martha Smith (Babs).