In a recent interview with the humble and extremely gracious Bill Allen, a comparison of his leading role as “Cru Jones” in the revolutionary BMX movie, RAD (1986), to his supporting “Dad” role as Tim Cooper in the evolutionary BMX movie, Heroes of Dirt (2015), was entwined with some interesting facts about his life in Hollywood which he details in his book, My RAD Career.
Starting out with “How has Heroes of Dirt been received?” Mr. Allen made it abundantly clear this much anticipated and long awaited movie reaches audiences on a far deeper level than RAD did. Audience reviews of the movie have been “excellent” according to Allen. The movie met with multiple struggles over several years including a delayed release which afforded an added ending not previously conceived at the beginning.
The making of Heroes of Dirt brought back fond memories of days past on the set of RAD as emerging BMX stars mingle with veterans of the sport; however, Mr. Allen notes that even though movies within the BMX genre have RAD to thank for opening doors and changing a generation of bike enthusiasts, Heroes of Dirt was really made possible through the exerted efforts of the courageous, talented, and close-knit community of BMX athletes and their dedicated fans (some of whom are behind the camera in this new film). The veteran generation growing up in the era of RAD has given rise to a new generation of BMX enthusiasts who follow this arduous sport.
Shifting gears a little, Bill Allen answered the question of “How does Heroes of Dirt compare to RAD?” stating the movies are as different as his roles in each. In RAD (1986), Allen played the leading role of Cru Jones with very little experience as a BMX competitor whose stunt double allowed his performance on the screen to be realistic. He claimed carrying a film is difficult to which he gives accolades to Joel Moody (Phineas Cooper) in this evolution of the BMX genre attributing the film success to this young actor’s athleticism as an actual BMX biker who does his own stunts including some new created in the movie process.
One of the greatest departures for Allen is in the underlying storylines. He describes RAD (1986) as being an “endless summer Disney” pop culture film whose entertainment factor was a love story among action-packed stunts whereas Heroes of Dirt (2015) is considered to be an “edgy, hip, and rougher” new age film aligning with street attitudes and mentoring where BMX serves as the stage for maturation.
Bill Allen is a talented actor with a long history of rubbing elbows with many notable individuals from award-winning directors, like Hal Needham and Oliver Stone, to actors who came to the attention of Hollywood at the right time to skyrocket to fame – such as George Clooney, Michael J. Fox, Tom Cruise, and Lou Diamond Phillips. His role in RAD created a place or him among the Hollywood famed if only to inspire those aspiring to be actors as he claims his introduction to the world of acting came from being cast as the lead in a 1982 movie about a jockey (And They’re Off) which never was released but earned him his SAG card and paved the road to the silver screen. Surprisingly, it was the first movie for friend and fellow “Danger Boy” George Clooney as well! Interestingly, a movie about horse racing with the same title starring Sean Astin and Cheri Oteri was released in 2011.
Allen may not have hit the Hollywood big time as some of his friends but this has not kept him from being iconic in his own right. He is the face of Cru Jones and is proud to be the heroic ambassador of BMX on and off the screen as noted with the words “For a lot of people, the [BMX biker professional] illusion worked just as planned, and the focus, for right or wrong, falls on me as the ‘face’ of RAD, to carry on the legacy or ignore the tidal wave it set off” (excerpt from My RAD Career). Not taking this notoriety lightly, Mr. Allen continues to promote the sport and perhaps looks forward to a future movie which places him back on the bike…stay tuned!
Images courtesy of Bill Allen (myradcareer.com) and IMDb