‘Dukes of Hazzard’: John Schneider, Tom Wopat Told Hilarious Stories of ‘Riding’ in Front of Green Screen

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by George Napolitano/FilmMagic)

John Schneider and Tom Wopat — Bo and Luke Duke, respectively — said The Dukes of Hazzard was high-octane fun TV, but filming was a lot less exciting.

The cast got back together to film commentary for The Dukes of Hazzard season 3 DVD release. And they opened up about filming those famous chase scenes. While the audience got quick cuts and big jumps, those Duke Boys got days in front of a rear-screen projector.

“We used to spend days together in the car — rear screen projection they call it — where we would be pretending to drive along in the car. ‘God, lookout, Bo. Here comes Roscoe!'” Wopat said, mimicking a line of the direction they’d receive. As their actions would have to match what was on the projector.

Or the director would yell out “Jump!” and they would pretend The General Lee had just left the ground. And just like they would have 40 years before, both of the men jumped in their chairs. Though, they were a bit rusty and messed up their timing in their recreation.

It wasn’t always like this, they said. But filming them actually driving was too costly and time-consuming so the production crew switched to the projector. When they were allowed to do their own stunts, as it were, things tended to go wrong.

For instance, there was an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard where Bo and Luke ride a horse together. The audience saw them jump a fence and race to the farm. But the audience missed out on them both slowly sliding off of the saddle when the director said cut.

How Many General Lees Did Show Go Through?

In an interview with Studio 10, John Schneider estimated The Dukes of Hazzard went through hundreds of the famous orange Dodge Chargers. The reason is that Dodge didn’t build the cars to hit a ramp at 60 mph and fly through the air.

“We went through — my conservative estimate is 329 — 150 shows, two cars a show, and leave a little room for error,” Schneider said. “When they landed they didn’t land well. … They kind of came apart.”

Come apart is a polite way to say practically explode.

“When you hit the ramp, the damage is already done,” Schneider said. “You hit the ramp, the radiator usually gets pushed back. The fan comes through the radiator. That stops. You’ve still got your foot on the gas, you blow a head gasket, you blow the motor, and then you hit the ground.”

By the end of The Dukes of Hazzard, there was a General Lee graveyard where the show kept the broken and damaged cars, he said. That way, they could cannibalize the broken-down cars to keep the working ones moving.