The first time in my life I can remember being completely influenced by a movie was after watching the 1993 cult classic – Airborne. I call it a cult classic even though the film has for what ever reason never obtained the cult-like following to justify it being a cult film. After explaining what Airborne is to a friend, they always instantly remember the infamous Devil’s Backbone race scene. For what ever reason, even though the film is loved and adored by many, the internet has yet to find a way to honor this cinematic gem.
Airborne introduced a character like no other, Mitchell Goosen. Mitchell Goosen was a California born and raised 16-year old kid who loved to surf and roller blade. After his parents, who are two zoologists, were given a grant to work in Australia, Mitchell unfortunately learned that he would have to live the next 6 months with his aunt and uncle in the cold unforgiving land of Cincinnati, Ohio. Luckily, Mitchell was not alone moving to Cincinnati and he was reunited with his hardcore cousin Wiley. As the outcast at his new school, Mitchell finds himself on the wrong side of the high school hockey players and both Mitchell and Wiley endure weeks of hazing and torture.
Even though growing up, I felt more like Wiley, I always strived to be like Mitchell Goosen. He was the coolest uncool guy in the school. The girls loved him and the guys hated him. He was different but did not need to conform to what Cincinnati-culture dictated was cool. Just a young kid with a positive outlook on life. Even though Jack and his hockey team targeted and bullied both Mitchell and Wiley, Mitchell never sunk to Jack’s level or found it necessary to prove himself. If only more of the world could strive to be like Mitch…
Those who have not recently watched Airborne do not even realize that Seth Green starred as Mitchell’s cousin/roommate Wiley and that Jack Black starred as the hockey team’s goalie, Augie. “Did he just call you a piece of underwear?” Jack, played by Chris Conrad went on to even play Johnny Cage in the sequel to Mortal Kombat and Gloria, Wiley’s could be new girlfriend is played by Alanna Ubach and easily recognized from her role as Naomi in Waiting…
Looking back at the film which is now over 20 years old, the question is, what is up with Mitchell Goosen now-a-days? Unfortunately we were never blessed with a sequel to Airborne so we do not know what sort of legacy he went on to live. We did however catch up with Shane McDermott, the man who brought the Mitchell Goosen character to life:
How did you land the lead role in Airborne?
Originally from Texas, I moved to NYC at age 11 and began working as a Ford Model. As the years passed, I transitioned to acting, starting with commercial work and then TV. Best agent in NYC, Claudia Black, organized the audition. I spent a few hours with Stephen McEveety / executive producer and Rob Bowman / director discussing the movie and the Mitchell Goosen character. I then took Rob to some of the best rollerblade spots in NYC, and the deal was done.
Were you actually any good at Rollerblading?
I could skate… I was 16 years old and fearless… living in NYC, rollerblading to auditions in the city streets.
Did you do your own stunts?
No, they were done by The Chris Edwards: fearless, humble, and a man who helped make inline skating what it is today. My ability to skate helped make his stunts look a little more authentic, he took on the dangerous stuff.
Do you still Rollerblade?
These days I run.
Do people ever recognize you from the character Mitchell Goosen?
Not so much these days… It may be that I am 20+ years older. Every day… Mitchell Goosen was an inspiration to many including myself.
I see that after Airborne, you appeared in an episode of Law & Order and episodes of All My Children… why did you no longer pursue acting after that?
It was time to move on, I wanted a family and simpler life… this I found in Galveston Texas.
Do you ever plan to make a return to acting?
If the offer presents itself… I may need some acting lessons.
Which actors in the film did you have the most fun/closest relationship with?
Seth Green….To this day, I think Seth is the funniest person on earth, talented, professional, and a great guy all around.
Do you still keep in touch with any of the actors?
Not so much… I am closer with the cast from my first TV show… Swans Crossing.
Were there any major changes to the script/deleted scenes that you wanted to see in the final edit?
We had some scenes deleted the final product was superbly directed, shot and edited. Of all the work that I’ve done, I am the most proud of Airborne. Its cult classic status is a testament to its quality.
How long did it take to film Airborne?
3 month in Cincinnati / 2 weeks in California and re-shoots took a month.
What are you up to now-a-days?
I do not surf as often as when I moved to Galveston Texas here many years ago…I am now a runner. Galveston has been good to me; I met my wonderful wife and a 3 week old son… my first child (Mitchell #2…Ha) and live a good life painting, renovating / selling real estate and being very active in local politics. I am currently running for the Navigation District and working aggressively to get young adults registered to vote. Something I recommend all your readers to do – GO VOTE. We need you guys to participate!
Anything else you would like to say?
Just wanted to thank all the fans of Airborne… it’s you guys that have kept the film and its positive message alive and I thank you for that.
By: Pat Hanavan