In the 1980s, teen movies thrived by providing laughs, love, heartbreak, and sometimes a werewolf basketball player. But what happened behind the scenes of your favorite 80s teen classic?
Feuding actors, script changes, near-miss casting choices – a lot went down that you don’t know about. Here’s a list of some of the juiciest behind the scenes facts, with some hot gossip on the side.
The Breakfast Club
In another universe, this teen classic would have been totally different. First, the janitor role was offered to Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters), who wanted to do a Russian accent for comedic relief. Director John Hughes and other executives thought it would be too distracting for the serious tone of the film.
Another change was to the script. The film was originally racier, including a topless scene involving the school’s swimming instructor, and a scene involving the male students and an aerobics class filled with middle-aged women.
That’s not all. Read on to see why Judd Nelson was almost fired from the movie!
Pretty In Pink
James Spader’s performance as Steff in Pretty In Pink was very good. Almost too good. During his audition for the role, Spader was so into character that the producers thought he was a real-life jerk. So much so that they almost didn’t cast him.
On top of that, the movie wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Molly Ringwald’s taste in music. After filming Sixteen Candles, Ringwald told John Hughes to write a movie based on the song, “Pretty In Pink.” Hughes proceed to write the film after that conversation.
Yet the entire film would’ve been different if Jon Cryer hadn’t been cast as Duckie. Read on to know why.
A lot went into the casting of the movie Heathers. At one point there was this young guy at the table read of the script that played J.D. but didn’t get the role. That young guy turned out to be Brad Pitt.
The movie was also difficult for Shannen Doherty. Due to her conservative upbringing, she had a hard time swearing on camera. Giving the number of f-bombs in this movie, this caused other members of the cast to giggle between takes.
License to Drive
The film starring The Two Coreys almost starred a Corey and a Ben. Ben Affleck auditioned for the role of Les Anderson, but it ultimately went to Corey Haim. Affleck would move on to winning Oscars and being Batman, so he’s doing fine.
Oddly enough, Corey Haim was also trying to get his driver’s license during filming, just like his character in the movie. The plot revolves Haim driving a Cadillac, but there were nine Caddys purchased for the film. There must have been a lot of on-set joyriding.
Tom Cruise really wanted to help sell the fact he was a teenager in Risky Business, even though he was in his 20s. Cruise worked out to shed 14 pounds, then immediately stopped and ate fatty foods to “get a layer of baby fat” to appear younger.
Cruise also deserves credit for the most iconic scene in the movie. The entire dance sequence in his underwear, complete with slide, was entirely improvised by Cruise. Cruise even dusted the floor himself so he could slide into frame!
Weird Science asks, “What would happen if two teens made a robot girlfriend?” Yet there was a moment where Ilan Mitchell-Smith got too into character. During a kissing scene with Kelly LeBrock, he actually stuck his tongue into her mouth. After the take, LeBrock told him, “I’ll kick your ass” if he did it again.
If you’re an 80s teen movie super fan and thought the school looked familiar, that’s because you’ve seen it before. The film was shot at Niles East High School, the same school as Sixteen Candles and Risky Business.
The role of Jake in Sixteen Candles almost didn’t go to Michael Schoeffling. Viggo Mortenson (Lord of the Rings) impressed many with his audition but didn’t get the part. Reportedly, Molly Ringwald was especially impressed with Viggo’s kissing skills.
The movie also couldn’t have its cake and eat it too. The heavily frosted birthday cake used in the final scene was made of cardboard. How did not catch on fire from all of those lit candles?
Wait until you find out why and how John Hughes wrote this movie, later on in the list.
This modern romance tale was praised for John Cusack and Ione Skye’s performances, but the two lovers were almost played by Robert Downey Jr. and Jennifer Connolly. The roles were reportedly offered to the actors but they had turned them down.
That’s not the only potential change. The memorable scene where Lloyd lifts up his boombox to play Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” was almost an entirely different song! Before choosing Gabriel’s song, Billy Idol’s “To Be a Lover” was considered.
Keep reading to learn about Eric Stoltz’s role on the other side of the camera.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Fast Times at Ridgemont High was not just a coming-of-age film for viewers, but an important film for several actors, too. It ended up being the first movie roles for Hollywood stars Forrest Whittaker and Nicolas Cage. Jennifer Jason-Leigh also took a job at a real Perry’s Pizza in order to get into character.
This was also an important movie for Amy Heckerling, who made her directorial debut with Fast Times. Originally, David Lynch was approached to direct the movie. Lynch turned it down, saying that he typically doesn’t direct teen comedies and it should go to someone better suited for that style.
Read on to learn more about Sean Penn’s on-set antics on Fast Times.
The modern-day wolfman tale surprisingly took only 21 days to shoot, but not without problems. In spite of having two weeks of basketball training, Michael J. Fox couldn’t dunk to save his life. Luckily, those basketball scenes were shot with a double, Jeff Glosser, disguised under wolf makeup and fur.
While werewolves playing b-ball was made up, the don’t-try-this-at-home van surfing scene was derived from real life. Teen Wolf co-creator Jeph Loeb would go on “urban surfing” adventures as a college student. Upon reflection, Loeb called urban surfing “incredibly stupid.”
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Jennifer Grey and Matthew Broderick played sister and brother. Behind the scenes, however, romance was in the air between them. The two would date during filming and reportedly got engaged before they parted ways.
Also, Ferrari fans fret not. Ferris didn’t really destroy an actual 1963 Ferrari California Spyder. That was a replica created by a specialized car maker at a fraction of the cost. Destroying a legitimate one would have cost over $300,000 back then.
A little later in the list, we’ll share the odd circumstances that got Ben Stein into the movie.
Footloose shared the love of dance to 1980s teens. However, many of the cast members had trouble displaying that love. The scene were Chris Penn’s character Willard learning how to dance was real. Penn didn’t know how to dance so he was learning as the character.
Kevin Bacon also needed an assist showing off his character’s dance moves. On top of Bacon’s actual moves, he also had two dance doubles, two gymnastics doubles, and a stunt double in order to flesh out all of the dance sequences.
St. Elmo’s Fire
Showcasing several members of the “Brat Pack,” St. Elmo’s Fire was a staple in an 80s teen’s pop culture diet. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a bump during production, specifically a baby bump. Mare Winningham ironically played the virgin Wendy Beamish while pregnant with her third child.
There was also a behind-the-scenes battle over the title of the film. Columbia Pictures sent the writers, the director, and the producer a 35-page memo explaining why they hated the film title. The creative team ultimately won out, clearly.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan than Alex Winters and Keanu Reeves, but the two actors thought otherwise. Upon being hired for the movie, Winters thought he was playing Ted, and Reeves believed he was cast as Bill!
Even the title Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was a change of plans. The original title of the script was Bill & Ted’s Time Van, with the characters traveling through time in a van rather than the now-iconic phone booth. Changes were made after Back to the Future used a car for their time-traveling film.
The Breakfast Club
Judd Nelson was nearly fired from the set of The Breakfast Club. John Hughes was reportedly frustrated with Nelson constantly picking on Molly Ringwald and missing his mark during scenes. The entire cast had to calm Hughes down and convince him to keep Nelson on the movie.
Nelson’s other antics didn’t help matters. He stayed in character throughout the entire production, even providing his own switchblade that he brought to set. Unsurprisingly, this caused concern on set. After filming was finished, Hughes swore that he’d never work with Nelson ever again.
Better Off Dead
Casting of the John Cusack classic almost didn’t have John Cusack at all. Director Savage Steve Holland fought producers to get Cusack the lead role in the movie. At the time, the producers thought Cusack was too much of a nerd to portray a leading man.
That’s not the only casting story from the making of Better Off Dead. At his audition, young Damien Slade wore a leather jacket and delivered lines “like a serial killer with no intention of being funny.” If you don’t remember, he played the paperboy.
Pretty In Pink
The casting of Jon Cryer for the role of Duckie in Pretty In Pink changed the course of the film as a whole. Originally, director Howard Deutch wanted Anthony Michael-Hall to play Duckie while Molly Ringwald championed Robert Downey Jr. for the part. Cryer ultimately got cast.
Cryer’s casting had a giant impact on the movie, including changing the ending! The film originally had Andie and Duckie get together, but test audiences hated it. The film then changed to the ending we know today. Poor Jon Cryer.
Back to the Future
The time-traveling trilogy could have looked different in our timeline if other choices were made. The Delorean was only picked because its gullwing doors had a futuristic look. Doc Brown had a pet chimpanzee until the head of Universal said, “No movie with a chimpanzee ever made any money.”
Biff Tannen himself, Tom Wilson, might wish he went back in time to turn down the role. To this day, Wilson carries business cards that answer the most common questions he is asked about the movie. Wilson also sings a song he wrote that answers Back to the Future fan questions at comedy shows.
Find out the real reason why Back to the Future got made later on in the list.
All the Right Moves
There was some tension behind the scenes of the teen football drama All the Right Moves. Lea Thompson was asked to do two topless scenes, but didn’t feel right about them given the script. Her costar, Tom Cruise, talked the producers down to one nude scene.
That’s not the only support Cruise provided. During the agreed-upon topless scene, Cruise insisted that he be nude as well. “If she has to be naked, I’ll be naked, too,” Cruise said. Everyone, find yourself a supportive person like Tom Cruise in your life.
Some Kind of Wonderful
Casting Some Kind of Wonderful was some kind of awful for director Howard Deutch. First, Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, and Michael J. Fox turned down roles. Each one stated that they already did similar movies in the recent past and wanted something different.
Eric Stoltz got into the movie, but had to get his long hair cut. He grew it out since his character was a rebel but Paramount told him to get it “cleaned up.”
Lea Thompson only took a role because Howard the Duck bombed at the box office, but read further to see why doing Some Kind of Wonderful changed her life.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Sean Penn’s role of Spiccoli is so memorable on Fast Times at Ridgemont High that even the cast and crew couldn’t forget it if they tried. Penn was so into character that he outright refused to answer to his real name during production. He even brought Spiccoli’s trademark checkerboard Vans shoes to the set himself, not from the wardrobe department.
Penn would reach out to his coworkers after shooting was completed. After he wrapped, he gave the director and each of his co-stars a ceremonial shoe as a gift. With each shoe he added a note introducing himself, saying, “My name is Sean.”
Can’t Buy Me Love
It’s true that love cannot be bought, but rights to songs must be bought. In order to keep the title Can’t Buy Me Love, Disney had to pay $100,000 to Michael Jackson so the movie could share the name with the classic Beatles tune.
You also may have missed actor Seth Green in the film. Green was 13-years-old at the time, in a transitioning between his child actor and adult actor years. Green has stated he’s shocked that anyone remembers him being in the movie as he doesn’t look like his typical self.
Nicolas Cage’s casting in Valley Girl was incredibly beneficial to his career. During filming, Cage was living his car trying to get acting gigs. As a credit to his talent, director Martha Coolidge cast him without knowing that he was related to Francis Ford Coppola.
While he was given the role, steps had to be taken so Cage would appear younger. For the beach scene, Cage shaved his chest down to a V-shape in order to appear closer to teenager than a grown man.
Say Anything was an important film for Eric Stoltz. Not just because he had a role as Valhere, but because he got his first Hollywood production job. Along with working as an actor, Stoltz worked as a production assistant for the movie, getting coffee and doing the grunt work to learn about what happens behind the camera.
The movie has impacted Stoltz’s life in other ways, too. To this day, people at parties give him their keys much like what happens to his character in the film. So if you’re ever at a party with Eric Stoltz, he’s got your back.
Revenge of the Nerds
The story of how the nerds got back at the jocks almost didn’t get shot on a college campus. Greek fraternity officials originally protested the movie being shot on campus, after being depicted poorly in the hit comedy Animal House. After reassurance by the producers, filming proceeded.
Then there was Booger. Curtis Armstrong, who played the gross nerd, was unable to belch on command, so a sound engineer created a seven-second long belch mixed with the sound of an amorous camel to create Booger’s bellowing burp.
Back to the Future
How does someone come up with an idea like Back to the Future? Well, according to writer Bob Gale, the concept of the time-traveling franchise started from a small place. Namely, reading his father’s high school yearbook.
Looking at pictures of his father as a high schooler made Gale wonder if he traveled back in time, would he be friends with his father if they were the same age. Gale then started writing a draft of the script. The script was rejected 40 different times until it finally got traction.
A lot went into the making of Real Genius compared to other films about teenage whiz kids. For the popcorn scene, director Martha Coolidge had an entire house built from scratch in order to get 140 tons of popcorn to properly explode out of the doors and windows.
Real Genius isn’t just a title either. In order to make the plot more realistic, Coolidge brought in consultants from CalTech, MIT, and the military to ensure the use and science behind the laser was authentic. The movie was innovative as well, being the first film to be promoted on the then-small Internet.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The scene of Ben Stein as a high school teacher saying “Bueller, Bueller…” wouldn’t have happened if John Hughes wasn’t a Republican. A former speechwriter for Richard Nixon, Stein and Hughes met through friends and bonded as two of the few Republicans working in the film industry.
Upon visiting Hughes on set, Stein auditioned for the teacher role. Stein improvised at the audition by reciting an economics lecture he had done in the past. This got him the part and the lecture he did was included in the film.
Some Kind of Wonderful
Lea Thompson didn’t want to do Some Kind of Wonderful, but felt it would be good for her career. Little did she know it’d be good for her love life as well. During production, director Howard Deutch formed a crush on Thompson.
The museum scene in the movie showcased one portrait of Thompson for the story, but in real life Deutch paid for 10 paintings of her, hoping to find a portrait that enamored him like the real Thompson. The two dated after filming and have been married since 1989.
The creation of Sixteen Candles feels like a movie itself. Director and writer John Hughes did wrote the entire first draft of the script over a Fourth of July weekend. What motivated him to write up a movie so quickly? Molly Ringwald’s headshot photo.
Mixed in with other headshots of other actors, Hughes noticed Ringwald’s photo on the desk, pinned it to the wall and proceeded to write Sixteen Candles based on it. He wrote the entire movie for Molly Ringwald before they even met.
The Weirdest Skills Actors Learned For a Movie
Being an actor isn’t as easy as you’d think. Aside from memorizing lines, some actors needed to learn specific skills, like martial arts, flying a plane, or even mastering a made-up language!
Check out what weird skills actors had to learn to make your favorite movie.
30 Huge Wardrobe Malfunctions in Famous Movies
Making a movie can be difficult, and mistakes are frequently made. Especially with costumes. Whether it was a wardrobe malfunction, a modern piece of clothing revealed in a period piece, or an outfit that’s just plain wrong, there have been several screw-ups that have been left in movies. Did your favorite clothing mishap make the list?
Classic Movie Moments You Won’t Believe Were Improvised
It’s hard to believe that some of our favorite movie moments weren’t planned out from the start. But you’d be surprised to learn how many unforgettable scenes were made up on the spot.
How many of these endlessly quotable lines and rewatchable scenes did you know were completely improvised?