Frank Jasper’s Vision Quest: Bridging Multiple Generations by Al Fontes (Q&A Interview)

Iconic scene – Vision Quest 1985

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Al Fontes – Editor

The character from the 1985 movie Vision Quest, that resonated with the audience for the last three and a half decades, planted a seed in Frank Jasper’s life that today has brought him full circle back to his character Brian Shute.  While attending Eastern Washington University working on a degree in Sports Medicine, which included pre-med studies, energy medicine and athletic training, Frank was approached by his friend Rick Thiefault about an opportunity to participate in a new movie as an opposing wrestler to the main character played by actor Matthew Modine. Frank had the physical traits (6’ tall with a muscular frame) that the Casting Director was looking for to fill the role. Initially, Frank had no interest in trying out for the role. After much convincing and encouragement by his friend Rick, and given the fact that he could make some extra money, he decided he would give it a try and audition.

Game day! When Frank initially met the Casting Director, he did not expect to have a speaking role for the character of Brian Shute. He perceived that he would only be an extra in many of the wrestling scenes. Having no prior experience, Frank was very nervous, especially when he realized that he had to memorize several lines for the audition. With a little practice and some encouragement by the Casting Director to be more intense, Frank got through the first phase of the audition process. He was then informed that the Director of the movie, Harold Becker, wanted to meet him in person and observe a follow-up audition.  The first words to come out of the Director’s mouth were, “you know the lines now?,” as he took the script from his hands. This did not help Frank’s nerves, but he followed through with the task at hand.

Several additional auditions had followed, one of which required wrestling a live match for Hall-of-Fame Coach Cash Stone, the wrestling consultant for the movie. At this point, they had narrowed their search down to two candidates. One being an experienced actor from Hollywood and Frank, an unknown college student. Although Frank was an experienced wrestler, the actor challenging him for the role also had wrestling experience. Having gone through a few practices prior to this challenge match, Frank was sore and in a lot of pain, but this did not deter him from the test. Being a former wrestler, he understood the hardships of the sport and that he had to be resilient in the face of adversity. The two of them then wrestled for the director, producers, and crew. When it was all said and done, Frank was offered the part of Brian Shute.

Fast forward two and a half weeks after landing the part of Brian Shute, Frank is on set filming the scene where he steps out of his school’s bus with an intense look on his face in anticipation of his grand finale match against rival Lowden Swain of Thompson High School played by Matthew Modine. Having worked very hard to lose 25 pounds in order to be closer to Matthew’s weight, Frank delved into this new job opportunity with the attitude that he was going to be in the best shape possible and perform to the best of his ability. It was at this point in his life that a seed was planted that three decades later would bring him full circle to the movie role that has become the iconic figure in the cult classic movie.

My part I article/Q&A interview (see Wrestler, Actor, Doctor: A Look at Vision Quest’s Frank Jasper) published on May 20, 2017, was focused primarily about the life of Frank Jasper after his once in a life opportunity to act in a role that has resonated with many in the wrestling circles. It also touched on his reconnection with the wrestling community as well as his goals moving forward. More recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Frank about his journey thus far, his accomplishments with the wrestling community, newly established goals, and how his full circle return has bridged multiple generations in the sport of wrestling. Below is my Q&A interview with Frank. Enjoy!

Frank with Coach Marc Kavanagh (Livermore HS) at the Pat Lovell Memorial Classic

Attending the Red Carpet movie premiere of “American Wrestler” in Los Angeles

Q&A INTERVIEW WITH FRANK JASPER

Since its premiere in the mid-1980s, the movie Vision Quest has become a timeless cult classic in the wrestling community. Take me back to the moment you were first approached about trying out for the part of Brian Shute? What were your initial thoughts?

I was just another student at Eastern Washington University (EWU) in the Athletic Training program and was assigned to the Wrestling team. At the moment, I was studying one of my medical texts and sitting on a bench in the wrestling room, when an EWU wrestler (Rick), that was already an extra in the movie came and sat down beside me and started talking about the movie he was working on and how great that they were paying him to wrestle! Then he mentioned that they were still looking for someone around 6-foot-tall with a muscular build that could wrestle! That’s you, he says pointing a finger at me as he just figured that out as it came out of his mouth. I was not interested, but he just kept reiterating how nice the casting director was and how much fun it had been so far. “Please just give her a call,” was his last words as he shoved a piece of paper with the casting directors name and phone number into my hand. After considering what I had been doing for money to pay for my education (Bouncer at a Country Western Bar, Logger on a road building crew, etc.), I thought this could be cool, I can make some money and watch how a movie gets made, sounds like a “win-win” to me! Rick did not tell me some key things about the role, such as that they were 2 1/2 weeks from starting to shoot. That the role had been cast twice before and neither person worked out. That this character had lines (good thing I didn’t know that) and that the character was the antagonist to the main character! I would not have even considered it knowing these facts! So, let’s say the power of ignorance was very helpful in this particular situation.

Did you audition for any other movie parts prior to Vision Quest?

Never even crossed my mind to audition for anything!

Please tell us about the audition process? Did you have any perceptions prior to participating in the process?

In the spring of 1983, I was in my third year at EWU when a Hollywood production company came to Spokane to film Vision Quest, the movie version of the Terry Davis book of the same name.

As I had mentioned prior, I was a pre-med student carrying a full academic load. I had been accepted into the athletic training program, and when I wasn’t in class, studying, or working with athletes, I was bodybuilding.

Working with a cast and crew of amazing professionals really helped a guy who had never acted before rise to the occasion.

Frank Jasper

Shortly after the crew arrived in Spokane, a friend of mine told me about an audition that was being held at a local hotel. He said they were looking for a six-foot, muscular guy who could wrestle, and that I should go.  After quite a bit of hounding on my friend’s part I decided to check it out.

I arrived at the hotel that day thinking I was trying out to be an extra – a guy who would just be in the background. It was not until I was given sides (lines to read) and introduced to Harold Becker, the director, that I realized I was auditioning for a major role.

After several more meetings, one of which included wrestling for coach Cash Stone, the consultant for the film, they had narrowed their search down to two guys, an actor from Hollywood and me, an unknown college student. The two of us then wrestled for the director, producers a
nd crew. When the match was over, I was offered the part of Brian Shute.

Working with a cast and crew of amazing professionals really helped a guy who had never acted before rise to the occasion. Mathew Modine, who played Louden Swain, is the nicest, most genuine and generous guy you’ll ever meet.  Harold Becker, the brilliant director, taught me, guided and supported me – he seemed to understand that the only place I felt comfortable was on the mat.

THE BY-PRODUCT OF PLAYING THE SHUTE CHARACTER

Frank with his wife Sanda

Playing the character Brian Shute in the film Vision Quest has given me much more than the unique experience of being part of a major motion picture; it also created a turning point in my life.
 
My involvement in Vision Quest took me to California, which became my home. I met and married the love of my life, Sanda, who is my partner in both career and life. I completed my education in the healing arts, specializing in functional and sports medicine. Today I am part of a wonderful community of family, friends and colleagues.
 
It is both surprising and humbling that over the 30 years since its release, there are young wrestlers around the world who continue to be inspired by Vision Quest. To have been a part of such an enduring film continues to be a great honor. 

In 2015 I was asked to attend a 30th anniversary screening of Vision Quest and be part of a Q & A with fans afterwards. It was at that time that Sanda and I decided to find a way to join the effort to help grow the sport of wrestling. Working in Holistic Health Care, we help people in their pursuit of health, fitness and wellbeing not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. In a similar way, the sport of wrestling entails physical fitness while also building strength of character and integrity – a strong body and mind, steady emotions and an unwavering spirit. Recognizing the common threads in these very different pursuits, we decided to create Shute Shirts and make it more than just a place to get great tee shirts.

So besides the shirts that we designed, on this site you will find articles & interviews as well as photos from the movie along with recent photos from different wrestling events. In “Health & Training Tips,” I share with you what I have learned over the years since Vision Quest. Often there will be insights from Sanda as well. Her work in helping people become more empowered by overcoming their fears can be an important aspect in achieving success in any training program.


It is once again an honor and a pleasure to be reconnected with wrestlers and fans of Vision Quest everywhere!

This is from the “about” section on my website, we can go into specifics about the audition process in a conversation

How did you prepare for the role once you were cast for the part of Brian Shute?

How did I prepare? I starved myself (or as wrestlers call it, I cut some weight) for two and half weeks and lost 25 lbs. I was asked to lose some weight to look closer to Mathew’s size. Which thank god wasn’t 168 pounds! I was light headed, had no endurance, was extremely irritable and got a bloody nose while shooting that had to be cauterized on set in order to stop it so we could continue filming! Yes, every symptom that Mathew’s character had that was written into the script I had to deal with! Somewhat ironic, yes? What was not experienced by his character was the intense pain I felt, especially in my delts, as they were being catabolized for energy. I had gone from a totally bulking bodybuilding diet in which I was consuming massive amounts of food at every meal (like 5 plates of food in one sitting) down to just two small meals a day, second one being around midday and consisting of salad and plain tuna and a squeeze of lemon for dressing! I would then throw on sweats and a hoodie and get on a stationary bike for an hour. Excuse me while I bite this guy! Sorry Mr. Hendrix for slaughtering that line! I remember showing up every couple of days to wardrobe and they would have to take in the yellow tank top that I wore in the stadium scene each time, a little more!

What challenges did you face?

The biggest challenge was to maintain that weight and look for 10 weeks! But I had made a commitment to give this project 100% of my effort and then I could walk away satisfied even though I was not a professional actor I was determined to be professional in all areas of preparation for my part.

What was the best part of filming the movie?

The Stadium scene was so cool. You just knew this was going to be memorable. I had no idea what they were saying prior to stepping into the stadium and yelling down to me. So, when I saw the final version when they walk thru the tunnel and have their exchange then into the light and the stadium to come upon this beast training with log on his back! Crazy just crazy!  And of course, the final wrestling match was crazy cool – there were over 1500 extras that created an exciting and energizing atmosphere! That was just awesome!

During the filming of the wrestling scenes, how many of the extras were actual wrestlers or actors?

Everybody that was on Mathew’s team were local wrestlers. The guy Mathew wrestled was from Pasco, Washington. In the final wrestling match, they bused in people from Coeur D’Alene and surrounding areas to be the crowd of over 1500 people. Most of them had signed up threw a local charity and donated their time to be extras. We shot between 12 and 14 hours for several days during that time. My hats off to all those that came and participated on the long and grueling days of filming!

How did you feel watching the movie for the first time at the movie premier? What did you think about the movie?

I loved the pacing, Mathew’s character choices, Linda’s tough sexy attitude, how the movie peered behind the scenes into the wrestling room to give that sweaty, tough, somewhat stinky glimpse into what it takes to be a wrestler. So much more to say…

If given the opportunity, would you consider taking an acting role in another movie?

I would love to do some more acting. When I first arrived in LA, I started taking acting classes 5 nights a week from 6pm to 12 or 1am in the morning. I truly loved the work and I miss it. I am currently looking for an acting class to reactivate that passion.

During our first interview in 2017, we discussed your active involvement with the wrestling community, nutrition, and exercise training. Can you touch on how that experience has been thus far?

Extraordinary experience so far! The wrestling community has been very open and inquisitive about my training, nutrition, sleep and hydration recommendations!

Having established an open dialogue with the wrestling community about training, nutrition, sleep and hydration, do you have future plans to expand this dialogue?

I continue to do appearances and share training, diet and lifestyle choices for optimal performance! I am looking to include more speaking engagements on these topics this next season. I will always be looking for ways to be a positive influence and ambassador for this incredible sport!  

To date, you have attended a Beat the Streets event at Time Square, the 2016 World Cup in Los Angeles, a United States Wrestling Foundation Gala in LA, as well as other wrestling events and tournaments throughout the country. What other event(s) of interest have you experienced? Please explain!

Besides the events you just mentioned, I have had the privilege to help raise money for a wrestling family who’s father donated part of his Liver to a coworker’s husband, that event was held in Michigan! And most recently I was invited to be a part of a Native American sweat ceremony on the Navajo reservation! It was an amazing experience! We all need rituals that help us reset, reconnect and prepare us for the next adventure!

How many states have you traveled thus far. What is your goal?

I have been to several states and some twice already but what I would love to do is hit each state at least once!  To share what I have learned about nutrition, hydration, sleep/recovery, and training for optimal performance! And continue to support wrestling whenever possible!

In addition to your “Shute” T-shirts, what other merchandise is now available for fans?

Vision Quest Singlets, Hoover singlets, Thompson High singlets, warm up top and back pack, a new Shute shirt design with Lego Characters.

Do you have any plans to expand your Shute brand?

I am still astonished that Vision Quest is still as popular today as it was in ’85. I continue hear from past and present wrestlers from all walks of life how it inspired them in some way to be the best they could be, to do things once not conceived of, to reach for a dream they only imagined possible! It has gotten some soldiers thru terrible and challenging times. It has been the reason some became wrestlers in the first place, then coaches later! It has inspired 3 generations and counting in a positive way! I love that I am a part of that positive energy going out into the world. So, I will continue to support and inspire and educate thru the Shute brand whenever and where ever I can have an impact. For as long as possible. Shute shirts has partnered with Supreme Singlets and most recently 3XGear – two very cool apparel companies to expand the brand. And I am in talks with another to create a Shute collection!

Lowden Meets the Shute – The Defining Moment…

Frank Jasper aka, “Shute” reconnecting with the next generation
Displaying the new Vision Quest singlet
Frank bridging the next generation of wrestlers
Frank with 5x World & Olympic Champion Jordan Burroughs
Frank with “Oakland” Screenwriter, Andrew Koponen
Frank autographing a wrestler’s shoe
Frank with Paul Garcia, Co-Founder of Team Fluffy

For Holistic Health Care advice, contact Frank and Sanda Jasper
Contact Frank Jasper at Shute Shirts.com

Published May 20, 2017