Dana Carvey was filming the famous Turtle Club scene in Master of Disguise when the World Trade Center was attacked.
Dana Carvey has finally spoken on the infamous 9/11 rumor surrounding his cult classic 2002 comedy, The Master of Disguise. For years the rumor has plagued the film’s behind-the-scenes trivia section of IMDb, with many fans laboring under the delusion that Carvey was dressed in a comically ridiculous turtle suit during the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, creating an absurd juxtaposition between the grim nature of the attack and the absurdist nature of the film. Carvey has finally broken his silence on the subject during a recent episode of his podcast Fly on the Wall, which he hosts with fellow Saturday Night Live alumni David Spade, though the truth is not quite as dramatic as users on the internet would have you believe.
As shared on Twitter by production assistant Robert Wyatt Duncan, who has worked on such projects as Better Call Saul and the upcoming Christopher Nolan film Oppenheimer, Dana Carvey has finally addressed the rumor on the mic. In the clip, Carvey recalls reading the exaggerated story online over the past few years, prompting him to clear the air. According to the rumor mill, Carvey was fully dressed in the turtle hair, makeup, and costume while actively shooting scenes for the film as the towers were struck.
The truth, as Dana Carvey and David Spade were quick to point out, is that Dana Carvey was, in fact, wearing a bald cap and beak-like prosthetics on his face when he received the news of the attack, but that his wardrobe was removed beforehand in order to lead the cast and crew in a prayer for the victims and their families before taking a respectful production break to finish the film. The Master of Disguise features Carvey in several ridiculous suits and prosthetics, as he disguises his look and behavior to mimic such iconic characters as Al Pacino’s Tony Montana, Robert Shaw’s Quint from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, and even then United States president, George W. Bush.
The film follows Dana Carvey’s hilariously named character, Pistachio Disguisey, as he embarks upon a mission to save his family while relying on his unparalleled skills as an expert disguise artist. During the infamous scene in question, Pistachio attempts to sneak into a gentlemen’s club called The Turtle Club in order to gain information about the antagonist’s whereabouts. In highly comedic fashion, the dimwitted Pistachio accidentally arrives at the conclusion that the smartest way to enter the club undetected is not to appear as a dapper and distinguished gentleman, but as a humanoid turtle man, like some amphibious cosplayer.
At the time of the 9/11 attacks, sitting president George W. Bush became the subject of a number of comedically charged jabs regarding a video of him learning the information while presenting at a reading engagement for young children. In hindsight, the president’s muted response was likely a calm and measured gut reaction in the face of such an unbelievable tragedy, but critics were quick to jump on his failure to immediately leap from his chair as a disregard for the weight of the information. Of course, it could have been worse; he could have been like Dana Carvey, midway through delivering a ridiculous turtle pun and using poor CGI imagery to bite a man’s nose off before spitting it back into the man’s face.
In the end, Dana Carvey was in fact, turtley enough for the Turtle Club.