15 Fun Facts About Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

In the face of a looming mid-1980s writers strike, John Hughes presented Paramount executive Ned Tanen with a one-sentence pitch: "I want to do this movie about a kid who takes a day off from school and ... that's all I know so far." Hughes wrote the script in six days, with one day to spare. The result was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, another classic teen movie set in Hughes’ favorite fictional town of Shermer, Illinois, which was released on June 11, 1986.

1. ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL BELIEVES THAT JOHN HUGHES WANTED HIM TO PLAY FERRIS.

Anthony Michael Hall told Vanity Fair that his relationship with the director ended rather abruptly following their work together on Weird Science, and after Hall had begun working with other directors. But he believed that Hughes wrote the roles of Duckie in Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller for him. For his part, Hughes said Broderick was the actor he had in mind when writing the screenplay. Casting directors Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins only seriously considered one other actor for the part: John Cusack.

2. EMILIO ESTEVEZ TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF CAMERON.

Instead it went to Alan Ruck, who turned 30 years old shortly after the film's release.

3. MATTHEW BRODERICK AND ALAN RUCK WERE FRIENDS BEFORE SHOOTING.

Ruck’s agents convinced producers to let the older actor audition when they pointed out that Ruck and Broderick played two characters who were the same age while performing Biloxi Blues on Broadway (Broderick is about six years younger than Ruck.) The two even shared a trailer on the set of Ferris Bueller; Broderick’s trailer was much bigger than Ruck’s, so Ruck just moved into the star’s place.

4. RUCK’S IMPERSONATION OF SLOANE’S FATHER WAS DESIGNED TO MAKE BRODERICK CRACK.

Ruck was doing Broderick’s impression of their Biloxi Blues director Gene Saks, who would at times get “flabbergasted.” As soon as Saks would walk away, Broderick would do an impression of Saks’s rants.

5. MOLLY RINGWALD WANTED TO PLAY SLOANE.

Hughes allegedly told Molly Ringwald that the part wasn’t big enough for her. Hughes wanted an older actress to play Ferris’s girlfriend, and was surprised to discover that Mia Sara was only 18 years old.

6. LOVE WAS IN THE AIR.

Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey (who played Jeanie, Ferris’s sister) got engaged just before the movie's release. Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris's parents, met on the set of the movie and eventually got married and had two children.

7. BEN STEIN WAS INITIALLY SUPPOSED TO DO HIS LECTURE OFF-CAMERA.

The student extras laughed so hard that Hughes decided to put Ben Stein in front of the camera for his speech on supply-side economics. Stein himself picked the topic after Hughes asked him to speak about something he knew a lot about. Before he became a familiar movie and television presence, Stein—who is also a lawyer—was a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford.

8. ROBERT SMITH OF THE CURE WROTE A SONG FOR THE ART MUSEUM SCENE THAT WAS NEVER USED.

After a disagreement between John Hughes and music supervisor David Anderle, Anderle was taken off the project—and Smith’s instrumental number went with him.

9. HUGHES ALSO MANAGED TO ANNOY PAUL MCCARTNEY.

The ex-Beatle complained that the version of “Twist and Shout” in the movie had too much brass in it.

10. BRODERICK COULDN’T DO MOST OF THE CHOREOGRAPHY HE WAS TAUGHT FOR THE PARADE SCENE.

Broderick hurt his knee earlier running through the neighbors's backyards. The random shot of the construction worker dancing in the film was an actual construction worker caught by one of Hughes’s cameras dancing along to the fun. Jennifer Grey didn’t want to miss out on the action, even though Jeanie wasn’t in the scene, so she showed up disguised as an autograph hound with a bouffant wig.

11. THERE’S A REASON BEHIND CAMERON'S DETROIT RED WINGS JERSEY.

For the first 12 years of his life, John Hughes lived in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and loved the local hockey team. Which is why Cameron wears Detroit gear in a Chicago movie.

12. CHARLIE SHEEN REALLY GOT INTO CHARACTER.

He stayed awake for more than two days to achieve his police station look.

13. THE FERRARI WASN'T REAL.

Though it was a Ferrari that Ferris and his friends "borrowed" from Cameron's dad, they weren't cruising around in the real thing. Three replicas of a Ferrari 250GT California Spyder manufactured by Modena were used instead. Replica or not, one of them was sold for $235,000 in 2013.

14. THE CUBS GAME THAT FERRIS ATTENDS AND THE ONE ON THE TV AT THE PIZZA PLACE WERE DIFFERENT GAMES.

Broderick, Ruck, and Sara attended the September 24, 1985 game between the Montreal Expos and the Cubs. The game being broadcast at the pizza place, where Rooney catches a glimpse of the teens, was the June 5, 1985 Braves/Cubs afternoon matchup (the Braves and Expos wore similar-looking road jerseys that season). In his review of the film, Gene Siskel complained that real Chicago kids prefer to sit in the bleachers.

15. AN EARLY SCREENING OF THE FILM WAS "DISASTROUS."

Broderick, Ruck, and Sara saw the movie a few months before its scheduled premiere and didn’t laugh once; they left thinking they had made a bad movie. Paramount executives were similarly unimpressed and concerned when they saw an early cut. Hughes and editor Paul Hirsch then spent two weeks cutting and pasting it into the movie we know (and love) today.

The Most Successful Entertainment Production in History Might Just Surprise You

Goran Jakus Photography/iStock via Getty Images
Goran Jakus Photography/iStock via Getty Images

Last year, Marvel Studios capped off an unprecedented run of success with Avengers: Endgame, a movie promoted as the culmination of over 10 years of storytelling. The film made $2.8 billion, unseating 2009’s Avatar and knocking 1997’s Titanic down to third place. With nearly $3 billion in ticket sales, you would think Endgame would count as the most successful entertainment production of all time—be it a single movie, book, album, or video game.

It isn’t.

While it earned a staggering amount of money, Endgame is hobbled by the fact that theatrical runs last just a few weeks or months. To really roll in the dough, it helps to have a combination of high ticket prices and a show that runs almost in perpetuity. That’s why it’s another Disney production, the Broadway adaption of The Lion King, that can make a credible claim to being the most financially rewarding entertainment effort of all time. Since debuting in 1997, the stage show has grossed $9.1 billion. (The 1994 film, 2019 live action remake, and merchandising aren’t included in that total. If they were, the number rises to $11.6 billion.)

A theater sign for 'The Lion King' is pictured in New York City in March 2003
Mario Tama, Getty Images

The musical, adapted by Julie Taymor, follows the story of the animated original, with lion cub Simba learning to accept his role as king of the Serengeti Plains. It’s estimated the show has been mounted 25 times globally in nine different languages, with more than 100 million people purchasing a ticket to see it.

Does that make Endgame a distant second? Not quite. Another long-running musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, has grossed more than $6 billion since its 1988 debut. The 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto 5 cleared $6 billion in 2018. And if one were to account for inflation, 1939’s Gone with the Wind made $3.44 billion.

The Lion King does have one asterisk, however. If inflation is taken into consideration, then 1978’s arcade classic Space Invaders comes out the winner. The popular coin-op game—which was later ported over to the Atari 2600—was a smash hit. By 1983, it had made $3.8 billion. Accounting for inflation, it earned $13.9 billion. What’s even more impressive is that unlike big-ticket movies and stage shows, Space Invaders did it one quarter at a time.

20 Best Docuseries You Can Stream Right Now

A still from Netflix's The Devil Next Door (2019).
A still from Netflix's The Devil Next Door (2019).
Netflix

If your main interests are true crime and cooking, you’re in the middle of a Renaissance Age. The Michelangelos of nonfiction are consistently bringing stellar storytelling to twisty tales of murder and mayhem as well as luxurious shots of food prepared by the most creative culinary minds.

But these aren’t the only genres that documentary series are tackling. There’s a host of history, arts, travel, and more at your streaming fingertips. When you want to take a break from puzzling out who’s been wrongfully imprisoned, that is.

Here are the 20 best docuseries to watch right now, so start streaming.

1. Making a Murderer (2015-)

One of the major true crime phenomenons of 2015 was 10 years in the making. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos uncovered the unthinkable story of Steven Avery, a man wrongfully convicted of sexual assault who was later convicted of murdering a different woman, Teresa Halbach. Not just a magnifying glass on the justice system and a potential small town conspiracy, it’s also a display of how stories can successfully get our blood boiling. Three years after the docuseries became a surprise hit for Netflix, it returned for a second season in 2018.

Where to watch it: Netflix

2. The Staircase (2004-2018)

In 2001, author Michael Peterson reported to police that his wife, Kathleen, had died after falling down a set of stairs, but police didn’t buy the story and charged him with her murder. Before the current true crime boom, before Serial and all the rest, there was The StaircaseJean-Xavier de Lestrade’s Peabody Award-winning docuseries following Peterson’s winding court case. The mystery at the heart of the trial and the unparalleled access Lestrade had to Peterson’s defense make this a must-see. And Netflix's addition of new episodes in 2018 led to a resurgence in interest in this mind-boggling case (with armchair detectives even positing that an owl was the real killer).

Where to watch it: Netflix

3. Flint Town (2018)

If your heart is broken by what’s going on in Flint, Michigan, be prepared to have that pain magnified and complicated. The filmmakers behind this provocative series were embedded with police in Flint to offer us a glimpse at the area’s local struggles and national attention from November 2015 through early 2017.

Where to watch it: Netflix

4. The Jinx (2015)

After the massive success of Serial in 2014, a one-two punch of true crime docuseries landed the following year. The first was the immensely captivating study of power, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, which chronicled the bizarre, tangled web of the real estate mogul who was suspected of several murders. The show, which could be measured in jaw-drops per hour, both registered real life and uniquely affected it.

Where to watch it: HBO Now and Hulu

5. Wild Wild Country (2018)

What happens when an Indian guru with thousands of American followers sets up shop near a small town in Oregon with the intent to create a commune? Incredibly sourced, this documentary touches on every major civic issue—from religious liberty to voting rights. When you choose a side, be prepared to switch. Multiple times.

Where to watch it: Netflix

6. Wormwood (2017)

Documentary titan Errol Morris turns his keen eye to a CIA project that’s as famous as it is unknown—MKUltra. A Cold War-era mind control experiment. LSD and hypnosis. The mysterious death of a scientist. His son’s 60-year search for answers. Morris brings his incisive eye to the hunt.

Where to watch it: Netflix

7. Five Came Back (2017)

Based on Mark Harris’s superlative book, this historical doc features filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro discussing the WWII-era work of predecessors John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. Also narrated by Meryl Streep, it looks at how the war shaped the directors and how they shaped the war. As a bonus, Netflix has the war-time documentaries featured in the film available to stream.

Where to watch it: Netflix

8. The Devil Next Door (2019)

In 1980s Cleveland, John Demjanjuk was living a quiet life as a grandfather and auto worker. Suddenly, he was being extradited to Israel over accusations he was once notorious Nazi concentration camp monster Ivan the Terrible. As Demjanjuk mounts a defense, the trial captivates a country—but was he really the monster? This riveting series will have you guessing until the very end.

Where to watch it: Netflix

9. Ugly Delicious (2018-)

David Chang, the host of the first season of The Mind of a Chef, has returned with a cultural mash-up disguised as a foodie show. What does it mean for pizza to be “authentic”? What do Korea and the American South have in common? With his casual charm in tow, Chang and a variety of special guests explore people the food we love to eat as an artifact that brings us all together.

Where to watch it: Netflix

10. Evil Genius (2018)

At approximately 2:20 p.m. on August 28, 2003, Brian Wells—a pizza deliveryman—walked into a PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania, and handed a note to a teller demanding $250,000 in cash. Wells had a bomb, which was strapped to his body via a metal neck collar, and a loaded shotgun that was fashioned to look like a walking cane. Approximately 12 minutes later, Wells strolled out of the bank with $8702 in cash, then made his way to the McDonald’s next door, where he retrieved a detailed note that told him where to go and what to do next. Within 15 minutes, Wells would be arrested. At 3:18 p.m.—less than an hour after he first entered the bank—the bomb locked around Wells’s neck detonated as police watched (and waited for the bomb squad), killing the 46-year-old in broad daylight. The bizarre incident was just the beginning of Evil Genius, which documents the peculiar case that would eventually entangle a range of unusual suspects, including Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, and has had armchair detectives—and the FBI—questioning whether Wells was in on the bank robbery, or a genuine victim, for more than a decade.

Where to watch it: Netflix

11. The Confession Tapes (2019)

A spare room. One or two detectives. A weary suspect. That's the set-up for this series that lets archival footage of police interrogations tell its own arresting stories.

Where to watch it: Netflix

12. Our Planet (2019)

Be amazed at the sensational vistas and eclectic wildlife with this beautifully-photographed trek through some of nature's most astounding sights—and the environmental perils that affect them. David Attenborough narrates.

Where to watch it: Netflix

13. The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009)

The cheapest way to visit Yosemite, Yellowstone, Muir Woods, and more. This Emmy-winning, six-part series is both a travelogue and a history lesson in conservation that takes up the argument of why these beautiful places should be preserved: to quote President Theodore Roosevelt, “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

Where to watch it: Amazon

14. The Innocent Man (2018)

After two brutal murders in 1980s Oklahoma, four men are convicted of the crimes. All of them maintain their innocence, causing observers to question whether they were guilty or themselves victims of police coercion. This drama is based on John Grisham's 2006 book of the same name; Grisham executive produces.

Where to watch it: Netflix

15. Last Chance U (2016-)

Far more than a sports documentary, the story of the players at East Mississippi Community College will have you rooting for personal victories as much as the points on the scoreboard. Many of the outstanding players on the squad lost spots at Division I schools because of disciplinary infractions or failing academics, so they’re seeking redemption in a program that wants them to return to the big-name schools. Later seasons switch focus to a team out of Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas.

Where to watch it: Netflix

16. Vice (2013-)

The series is known for asking tough questions that need immediate answers and giving viewers a street-level view of everything from killing cancer to juvenile justice reform. Its confrontational style of gonzo provocation won’t be everyone’s cup of spiked tea, but it’s filling an important gap that used to be filled by major network investigative journalists. When they let their subjects—from child soldiers suffering PTSD after fighting for ISIS to coal miners in Appalachia—tell their stories, nonfiction magic happens. The first six seasons are available on HBO, with a seventh airing on Showtime in 2020.

Where to watch it: HBO Go

17. Chef's Table (2015-)

From David Gelb, the documentarian behind Jiro Dreams of Sushi, this doc series is a backstage pass to the kitchens of the world’s most elite chefs. The teams at Osteria Francescana, Blue Hill, Alinea, Pujol, and more open their doors to share their process, culinary creativity, and, of course, dozens of delicious courses. There's no shame in licking your screen.

Where to watch it: Netflix

18. The Toys That Made Us (2017-)

Who knew the origin of classic toy lines could be so dramatic? This series puts the spotlight on the creative friction that led to some of the most iconic playthings of the 20th century, from Transformers to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Where to watch it: Netflix

19. The Eighties (2016)

CNN's series highlighting the pop culture of the neon-colored decade boasts familiar talking heads like Tom Hanks and enough nostalgia to keep you afloat for weeks. The network's The Seventies and The Nineties are also available.

Where to watch it: Netflix

20. Bobby Kennedy for President (2018)

This four-part series utilizes a wealth of footage, including unseen personal videos, to share the tragic story of Robert F. Kennedy’s run for president in the context of an era riven by racial strife. Watching this socio-political memorial told by many who were there (including Marian Wright and Congressman John Lewis), it will be impossible not to draw connections to the current day and wonder: What if?

Where to watch it: Netflix

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER