Dick Van Dyke stars along with his son Barry and grandson Shane in the upcoming Hallmark Channel movie Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses which premiers August 18. The three previously worked together on episodes of Diagnosis Murder. This is the third film in the Murder 101 series. "Initially I think the plan was to do four in a year in the first year," explains Barry. The plan got sidetracked when Dick went off to film Night at the Museum. The Murder 101 films star Dick as criminology professor Dr. Jonathan Maxwell.
This new film is truly a family affair. "I am proud mostly of the human beings they've grown up to be," Dick says about his two co-stars. "I love them both, and they're both gentlemen and the greatest guys I know, and they're such fun to work with. We have become the three stooges. We clown around. We read each other's minds, and it's just falling off a log, working together (again). It's so much fun." And Barry chimes in, "It's a whole motivating factor to go to work. I've worked with my dad so long I've forgotten what it's like to work with anybody else. And Shane, I've worked with a little bit. My best experiences and my most fond memories and my learning experiences have been with my family, and it's what motivates me to work these days." He adds, "I have four children. Shane is the second oldest, and they're all my best friends. We're together constantly and we drag him out as much as he'll go out," he says while pointing to his father.
About his famous family, twenty-seven year old Shane comments, "It certainly has opened doors for me. I mean, I wouldn't be here today, and I wouldn't be in the position I am if it weren't for both of these guys. They definitely have opened a lot of doors for me. If you look at it that way, it's definitely had its advantages." He grins as he talks about his grandfather. "I have nephews and nieces that are little children - that still look up to him and watch Mary Poppins and all the old shows and are still in amazement by him." Who wouldn't be?
And Shane was bitten by the acting bug the very first time he stepped in front of the camera. "The very first day on the first episode I ever did on Diagnosis Murder, I came home that day and I said this is what I want to do. I just had so much fun working with them and so much fun on the set and just enjoyed doing the work so much that that was just it for me. I mean, to me there's no better job. It's just a blast. I love doing it."
Dick Van Dyke is a legendary entertainer. The Dick Van Dyke Show, which aired from 1961-1966, will forever be recognized as one of the best in the genre. His Diagnosis Murder television series, which ran from 1993-2001, was a big departure for fans of his sitcom. And the Murder 101 films continue in the mystery genre. "I was not a murder mystery fan at all," admits Van Dyke. "I really didn't watch them. And I got hooked. Once we started Diagnosis Murder, all of a sudden I started watching Murder, She Wrote and all those. I had never been a murder mystery fan until we started this show."
In Murder 101 Dick is one of the good guys, however he grins when he talks about some of his other roles. "Ben Stiller called me and asked me to read the script (for Night at the Museum), and it was one of the best family movies that's come along in a long time. I said I have to be in it, and fortunately I got to play a bad guy, which I hardly ever get to do. I was the villain, and I really had fun," Van Dyke says with a big smile. "And it was a nuthouse with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson and Robin Williams. It was craziness, but I thought it was a really cute movie." He thinks back with fondness at some of his other bad guy roles. "I got to be the bad guy on (a Columbo) and on a Matlock too. I was the killer. And a woman walked up to me in the supermarket and hit me with her purse. 'Why did you [play] the bad guy?'" she asked him scornfully.
Even though he is and will always be remembered as Rob Petrie, Dick Van Dyke has proven time and time again that he is just as good a dramatic actor as he is a comic one. This man has talent oozing out of every pore.
The patriarch of the family is very pleased to be doing what he's doing these days and very happy to be continuing his film series with his family. "The reason I've been with Hallmark Channel primarily is because they're one of the few networks that do family entertainment," confides Dick. "And I admire them so greatly for that. And that's why I'm over there, because any family can sit down with the kids and watch anything on Hallmark and then not worry about it. And I think there ought to be more of them."