Why Christie Brinkley was happy to reprise her iconic Vacation role for The Goldbergs season premiere
After passing through the gates and traveling down Main Street, past the many shops full of merchandise, collectibles, and iconic Mouse ears, and just beyond the wafting aroma of churros and corndogs, a crowd gathers near Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. It’s not an unusual sight — the park’s many princesses, Mickey and Minnie, Goofy, and more are often spotted there taking photos with visitors.
But on this warm August morning, they’ve spotted another beauty near the castle’s entrance: Christie Brinkley.
The 65-year-old supermodel, businesswoman, author, and actress (and would be Dancing With the Stars contestant before suffering an injury during rehearsals) is surrounded by a TV crew and the stars of ABC’s The Goldbergs, there to film the final scenes of the comedy’s season 7 premiere (Sept. 25), which pays tribute to National Lampoon’s Vacation. When the titular family decides to take a little road trip from their home outside Philadelphia to Anaheim, Calif., some 2,700 miles away, they have their fair share of complications, just like the Griswolds in the classic 1983 movie. And just like Clark, Ellen, Rusty, and Audrey, the
girl woman in the red Ferrari passes by Beverly, Murray, and the rest of the fam in their station wagon. When she makes eye contact, plays with her hair, and blows that familiar, flirty kiss, Beverly quickly makes it clear her husband can’t be lured in like Clark Griswold. But she doesn’t have her eye on Murray.
“I am hooking up with a member of the family,” Brinkley tells EW, laughing, referring not to Murray but Beverly’s dad Pops (George Segal). “Wait till you see the car scene. He was so hilarious in that.”
Brinkley says she’s asked a lot to reprise the role, but she’s only done it a few times: in the 1997 Vacation sequel Vegas Vacation, as well as Vacation-inspired DirecTV and Infiniti commercials. This opportunity, though, she couldn’t pass up.
“I think this is a really good reprisal right here, and I think it fits because both families have that same dynamic,” Brinkley explains. “In fact, when they wanted me to do the [2015 remake], they said, ‘They’ll open the door and it’ll be you and Chevy together,’ and I said, ‘Oh, no! No, no, no, you guys would ruin everything because what we loved about the first movie was the fact that they can argue, they can carry on, but at the bottom of everything they stick together and they’re a family. You can’t break up that family.’ So I think that there are so many similarities in that family — they’re overcoming obstacles and they don’t want to admit how much they love each other but they love each other so much.”
So Brinkley is back behind the wheel of the iconic car with the “LUV ME” license plate, and for the first time in the 35-plus year history of the character, “Girl In The Red Ferrari” finally has a name: Aleah Welsh.
“Now she has a name, which means maybe we can bring her back because we have a name,” series star Wendi McLendon-Covey (Beverly Goldberg), who has long campaigned for this episode, proposes. “So maybe Aleah Welsh has to do a book signing at a mall, maybe…. Maybe Bev brings some shrimp parm to the mall and tries to lure her into being one of Adam’s home movies.”
But for now, it’s all about Aleah and Pops. After the Goldbergs find themselves (temporarily) stranded in the desert — think “ROAD CLOSED” sign and an airborne station wagon — the new couple go off on a little adventure of their own.
“I’ve really enjoyed this week… it’s great fun. And my part was really easy,” Brinkley modestly admits, laughing. “And here we are with all these really great people. It’s paying tribute to a film that’s thirtysomething years old now, and … the whole thing is just a bowl full of wonderful.”
Season 7 of The Goldbergs premieres Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.