Sixteen Candles was the first in John Hughes' series of iconic 1980s teen movies which depicted the unfairness of having to go through puberty while attempting to graduate high school with a bunch of other people experiencing the same exact thing. Hughes may have been a couple of decades past his high school years when he wrote the movie, but he managed to accurately capture the teen experience. Here are 16 things you might not know about the film, which was released 32 years ago today—making it officially twice as old as its protagonist.
1. HUGHES WAS INSPIRED BY MOLLY RINGWALD BEFORE HE EVEN MET HER.
After writing the screenplays for Mr. Mom and National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes' agents at ICM gave him a stack of photos of young actors. "I was in that stack," Ringwald recalled to Entertainment Weekly in January. ''He flipped through and saw one he liked and put it on his bulletin board." Hughes, who was known for writing while chain-smoking and blaring music, wrote the Sixteen Candles script over a single Fourth of July weekend.
2. VIGGO MORTENSEN ALMOST GOT THE ROLE OF JAKE RYAN.
Mortensen and Ringwald kissed during the audition, which made the future The Lord of the Rings star Ringwald's pick to play her love interest. “He made me weak in the knees," she told Access Hollywood. "He really did.” When the two co-starred in the movie Fresh Horses, Mortensen told Ringwald that he always thought he didn’t get the job because of his kissing.
3. JAKE RYAN WAS 23 YEARS OLD.
Michael Schoeffling, who beat Mortensen out for the part of Jake, was 23 years old during filming, unlike Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, who were both 15. Though Sixteen Candles made him one of Hollywood’s most in-demand young stars, Schoeffling left the business completely following 1991’s Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. By most accounts, he moved to Virginia with his wife and kids, where he works as a carpenter. Haviland Morris, who played Jake's girlfriend Caroline, also left the business—sort of. Though she does still act on occasion, she works as a real estate agent in New York City.
4. HUGHES WROTE FARMER TED SPECIFICALLY FOR ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL.
Based on his performance in Vacation, Hughes felt that Hall would be perfect for “The Geek/Farmer Ted” character, so he wrote the role specifically for the young actor.
5. SKOKIE, ILLINOIS WASN’T FUN FOR RINGWALD AND HALL.
The two underage thespians had nothing to do when filming wrapped on weekends and some of their fellow castmates abandoned them to go to bars. At their Skokie hotel however, the two crashed a Bat Mitzvah to help pass the time.
6. LONG DUK DONG WAS PLAYED BY A 28-YEAR-OLD UTAH-BORN ACTOR WHO ONLY SPOKE ENGLISH.
Gedde Watanabe’s Japanese-American parents settled in Ogden, Utah. Watanabe went into his Long Duk Dong audition in character, borrowing the thick accent of his Korean friend. Watanabe eventually admitted to Hughes at the table read that the accent wasn’t real. While he was scared that he would be fired for the deception, Hughes simply laughed.
7. THE GONG NOISE WAS NOT IN THE SCRIPT.
Watanabe claimed that the sound effect was added in post-production, and quipped that “somebody must’ve had a few beers.” He was also surprised that his performance would be deemed racist by several Asian-American groups. "It took me a while to understand that," he told NPR. "In fact, I was working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I was accosted a couple of times by a couple of women who were just really irate and angry. They asked, 'How could you do a role like that?' But it's funny, too, because at the same time I laugh at the character. It's an odd animal."
8. JOHN AND JOAN CUSACK’S ROLES WERE ESSENTIALLY CONSOLATION PRIZES.
The Cusacks were initially prominently cast in The Breakfast Club, with John cast as Bender (eventually played by Judd Nelson) and Joan set to play Allison (Ally Sheedy.) But Universal thought Hughes’ other finished screenplay, Sixteen Candles, was more commercial, and therefore should be made first. With John as Farmer Ted’s buddy Bryce and Joan as Geek Girl #1, a.k.a. the girl in the neck brace, Sixteen Candles was the second of (currently) 10 movies in which the siblings have appeared in together.
9. THERE WERE MORE FAMOUS FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE FILM.
When Ginny, Sam’s sister whose pending marriage takes the attention away from Sam’s sixteenth birthday, sits down in the church scene, she does so next to John and Jim Belushi’s mother Agnes. The reverend is played by actor Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill’s older brother.
10. IT WAS ONE HOT SCHOOL DANCE.
The gym in which the school dance was filmed didn't have air conditioning due to a lack of funds, so it was over 100 degrees during the filming. The same goes for Sam’s bedroom, as the set was built inside the high school gymnasium. At least Ringwald got to decorate her character’s room with items from her own dwelling.
11. SOME OF THE LICENSE PLATE NUMBERS WERE EASTER EGGS.
Sam’s grandparents’ license plate read V 58 for “Vacation ‘58,” the National Lampoon Magazine story by John Hughes which led to the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation. Jake Ryan’s Porsche had the plate number 21850, for John Hughes’ birthday of February 18, 1950. For what it’s worth, Molly Ringwald’s birthday is also February 18th.
12. JAKE’S FATHER’S ROLLS-ROYCE IS WORTH MORE THAN $66,000 TODAY.
The 1974 Corniche, which Farmer Ted uses to drive drunk Caroline Mulford home, was John Hughes’ father’s friend’s car. Naturally.
13. MOLLY RINGWALD’S MOTHER HAD A SAY IN THE SCRIPT.
In the initial script, Sam’s father ends his heart-to-heart with his daughter by flat out asking what happened to her underwear (she gave it to Farmer Ted.) Molly’s mother pointed out that it was weird for a girl’s father to ask that. Hughes agreed that it was creepy and changed the line.
14. A DELETED SCENE IS ONLY IN THE TELEVISED VERSION.
Not in the theatrical cut, the VHS copies, or even as a DVD extra, a scene set in the school cafeteria fills an additional minute of time.
15. THE BIRTHDAY CAKE AT THE END ISN’T WHAT IT SEEMS.
It turns out Jake is a bit of a cheapskate. The cake he gave Sam was made of cardboard.
16. MOLLY RINGWALD WAS INTERESTED IN DOING A SEQUEL.
After rejecting various pitches through the years, Ringwald said in 2005 that she read a 32 Candles script that she liked and had an interest in starring in. For better or worse, we still wait.