Searching for the ex-wife and son of the drug dealer obsessed with finding them again, LAPD detective John Kimble goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in Oregon when his partner falls ill. Through his strange tactics he becomes a trusted adult figure to the kids and staff in director Ivan Reitman's second collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger (two years earlier, they had found success with Twins). In honor of its 25th anniversary, here are some facts about Kindergarten Cop that are not a tumor.
1. BILL MURRAY, PATRICK SWAYZE, AND DANNY DEVITO TURNED DOWN PLAYING KIMBLE.
2. PENELOPE ANN MILLER HAD DOUBTS.
Miller (Big Top Pee-wee, Carlito’s Way) initially thought, “Am I doing the right thing for my career to be in this movie?” She elaborated further in an interview with The A.V. Club: “I just had done theater, and I had just come off of working with Robert De Niro on Awakenings (1990), and I just was like … Arnold Schwarzenegger? He’s, like, the barbarian movies and stuff.” She ended up taking the part of Joyce Palmieri/Rachel Crisp and thought the movie turned out well.
3. IT WAS SHOT IN ASTORIA, OREGON.
Reitman liked the look of the town, appreciating its foggy and rainy atmosphere. For nine days, most of the kindergarten through fourth grade students at John Jacob Astor Elementary School were paid $35 a day to appear as extras. The Goonies (1985) was shot down the road from the school. The classroom scenes were filmed on a Universal soundstage in Los Angeles, however, so that Schwarzenegger could be near his family.
4. ARNOLD NEEDED HIS GYM.
Not wanting to deviate from his daily workout routine, Schwarzenegger insisted that a gym be assembled for his use in Astoria.
5. SCHWARZENEGGER WANTED REITMAN TO DIRECT BECAUSE HE HAD A WAY WITH KIDS.
Schwarzenegger trusted Reitman to help him deal with the kids, and said it was why he “insisted” on him directing the movie. Arnold got through to them by doing jumping jacks with the kids.
6. REITMAN HAD SOME TROUBLE DIRECTING THE KIDS.
"After the first day of filming I was in a sweat," the director told the Los Angeles Times. "My shirt was all wet, my voice was hoarse, and I had this really panicked look in my eyes. So I developed the five Reitman rules of filmmaking—listen, act natural, know your character, don't look in the camera, and discipline." He described the experience as “really tough.”
7. SOME OF THE KIDS WENT ON TO ACT IN OTHER PROMINENT ROLES.
Odette Annable (Cloverfield, House) played Rosa, the girl who answered Arnold’s question of “Who is your daddy and what does he do?” in Spanish, based off of her first ever audition. She was so young she didn’t really know she was making a movie. Adam Wylie, who played Larry, went on to play Brad Langford on Gilmore Girls. Ross Malinger, who starred as Harvey, played Tom Hanks' son Jonah in Sleepless in Seattle in 1993.
8. IVAN REITMAN’S NOW-FAMOUS SON WAS IN IT, TOO.
Four-time Oscar nominee Jason Reitman has followed in his father's footsteps, directing Juno (2007), Up in the Air (2009), and Young Adult (2011). His role as “Kissing Boy” in Kindergarten Cop marked his first kiss in real life, too. “It was really embarrassing,” the younger Reitman said. “My kissing was half as bad as my acting. I doubt she knew it was my first kiss. Her name was Tiffany.”
9. SCHWARZENEGGER GAVE A SURPRISE COMMENCEMENT SPEECH TO THE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL.
Astoria High School's 1990 graduating class was treated to some of the famous actor’s words while he was in town filming.
10. HE WAS A BIT OF A HYPOCRITE OVER FERRETS.
In the movie, Kimble recruits a ferret to be the class mascot. In California, owning a ferret has been illegal since the 1930s. In 2004, the state passed a bill dropping the ban. It was then vetoed by the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
11. MILLER TAUGHT SCHWARZENEGGER HOW TO KISS ON CAMERA.
She instructed him to grab and hold her before going in for the kiss, otherwise it would look like they were “swallowing each other up.”
12. STEPHEN ROOT WAS CUT OUT OF THE FILM.
The prolific character actor (Jimmy James on NewsRadio, the voice of Bill on King of the Hill, Milton in Office Space) played a sheriff in a scene that was taken out. He was also cut out of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004).
13. IF SCHWARZENEGGER HADN'T MADE THE FILM, HUMMER VEHICLES MIGHT NEVER HAVE BECOME AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC.
Schwarzenegger first saw a convoy of military Humvees drive by on the Astoria, Oregon set. Schwarzenegger had to meet the executives of the military contractor responsible for the vehicles personally, and sign waivers, to acquire one of his own. He gradually convinced the company to design the vehicle for the civilian market, and got his way in 1992.
14. A LOCAL SCHOOL TRIP TO SEE THE MOVIE WAS CANCELED.
John Jacob Astor Elementary School principal Judy Bigby initially planned to take all 400 of her students to the movie. She screened the film first and changed her mind, finding it too violent for them (it was rated PG-13). An Astoria 9-year-old who saw the movie was quoted in People Magazine saying he thought the movie was “pretty good,” carefully adding, “Not to make Mrs. Bigby sound bad, but I would call it more comedy than violent."
15. SCHWARZENEGGER FELT THE VIOLENCE WAS COSTLY.
He estimated that the controversy cost the film about $25 million in box office receipts. “It should have reached the exact same audience as Twins, which made over $110 million; Kindergarten Cop made $85 million,” he told Interview magazine.
16. BUT IT’S HIS FAVORITE OF HIS FILMS.
Schwarzenegger told James Corden as much on a 2015 episode of The Late Late Show.
17. A DIRECT-TO-DVD SEQUEL STARRING DOLPH LUNDGREN IS COMING SOON.
In the upcoming feature, a flash drive goes missing from witness protection and ends up in a kindergarten class, and Lundgren is the cop responsible for tracking it down. It was shot in Vancouver.