No scene in late 1980s cinema is more iconic than Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) holding a boombox over his head with the song “In Your Eyes” blasting in an attempt to win his girlfriend back. Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut was released on April 14, 1989, and even though it only made a small profit at the box office, it has since become a Hollywood classic. Here are 14 facts about Say Anything...
1. CAMERON CROWE BASED THE SCRIPT ON A REAL-LIFE HEARTBREAK.
Until Say Anything…, Crowe hadn’t written a love story. He told the San Diego Union Tribune that the movie’s “a love story for people who don’t say I love you” and in 2009 told the Los Angeles Times that, “It’s a very personal movie, and it reminds me of falling in love, falling out of love, and falling back in love with life and all the unexpected glories and pain that happen along the way.”
The “personal” part references his first love and heartbreak: “She fell for me, and I fell for her, but not at the same time,” Crowe said. “And yes, I used to drive by her house late at night, listening to music, feeling like a sap and somehow heroic at the same time. She was already with someone new, but I was going to wave the flag of our great love, even if I was the only one at the ceremony."
2. JOHN CUSACK WAS AGAINST STARRING IN ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE.
After starring in a string of teen flicks, Cusack was ready to move on to adult roles. “He told me he never wanted to graduate again in a film,” Crowe said about why Cusack was reluctant to take the part. “He said he had graduated, like, six times already. We used to pull out the graduation gown, and he’d go ‘Aaaaaaarrrrgghh.’”
With a little coaxing from John Mahoney, Cusack read the script and liked it, calling Lloyd a “great American character.” “He’s somewhat eccentric,” Cusack relayed in the film’s production notes. “He isn’t a tunnel-versioned urban teen preoccupied with sex, school, and his job. I realized I would never be 20 again so I might as well cap off that phase of my career on a positive note. I’m glad I took the part.”
3. LLOYD DOBLER WAS BASED ON CROWE’S NEIGHBOR.
The writer-director was having issues writing the leading man, but became inspired when he met his Alabama neighbor, Lowell Marchant. “He was this friendly guy with a crew cut who just wanted to meet everybody he could,” Crowe told Entertainment Weekly. “He knocked on the door and said, ‘Hello, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Lowell Marchant. I am a kickboxer, and I’ll be living here for a little bit. Are you aware of the sport kickboxing? It is now a major sport covered by ESPN.’ I’d tell [executive producer James L. Brooks], ‘The character’s not coming, and there’s this f***ing guy down the way who keeps knocking on the door and he’s a kickboxer.’ And Jim’s looking at me like, ‘And you’re wondering what to write?’”
4. IONE SKYE WAS THE OPPOSITE OF DIANE COURT.
The actress had trouble identifying with the A-student Diane Court because she wasn’t like that. “I wasn’t a good student,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I grew up with my mother, not my father. I kind of had a wild childhood. Even the father stealing money from old people, I was saying to Cameron, ‘I can’t access why this would upset me.’ That didn’t seem bad to me at the time.” Skye’s real-life father is famed Scottish musician Donovan. Two years after the movie came out, Skye married Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz; the couple divorced in 1999.
5. THEY MADE THE DAD GUILTY TO BE DIFFERENT FROM PRETTY IN PINK.
Crowe told Entertainment Weekly he had a difficult time casting the father: Rob Reiner was the first choice but wasn’t acting at the time. “We just kept hearing about John Mahoney, and then he came in and was so disarmingly charming and looked like William Holden. A lot of people, even actors coming up for the part, wanted to know, ‘Why does the father have to be guilty?’ The answer was, without the father being guilty it’s Pretty in Pink.” Mahoney said he took the part because “the character just utterly fascinated me. I’ve played killers, but I don’t think I’ve ever played a character so remorselessly amoral like that.”
6. THE COREY CHARACTER IS BASED ON A COREY WHO WAS OBSESSED WITH A GUY NAMED JOE.
Crowe told Entertainment Weekly that Lloyd’s bestie Corey Flood (Lili Taylor) was named after a Corey from Philadelphia who had a relationship with Joe. “She was always talking about this guy and she sent me a tape that had a whole bunch of songs and she said, ‘A lot of them are about Joe.’” Four years after the movie wrapped, Lili Taylor met the real Corey. “And she was still talking about Joe,” she told EW. Taylor also mentioned how strangers on the street will run into her and ask her to sing “Joe Lies.” “I don’t really want to do that, you know? On the street! But it struck a chord with people. And I appreciate it.”
7. CUSACK KICKBOXES IN REAL LIFE.
After learning the “sport of the future” for the movie, Cusack continued training and has a level six black belt in Ukidokan kickboxing. Martial arts fighter Benny “The Jet” Urquidez has fought with, and trained, Cusack. “He’s got the kind of control that I can put a cigarette in my mouth and he can kick it right out without hitting me,” Urquidez told the New York Daily News. In an interview with Details, Cusack revealed, “I like fighting so much because it’s not passive-aggressive. If you want to fight, let’s fight. I appreciate the honesty of it.”
8. THE PRODUCERS CREATED THE ROLE OF REBECCA JUST FOR PAMELA ADLON.
According to an interview with The A.V. Club, the Louie actress auditioned to play D.C., which went to Amy Brooks. Adlon said the producers created her character “because they liked what I did, which was wonderful, but I really didn’t have much to do.” She also said, “I call Say Anything… the best movie I’ve done, even though I’m in it for two seconds.”
9. A DELETED SCENE INVOLVES A QUESTIONABLE STUDENT-TEACHER RELATIONSHIP.
Crowe posted a deleted scene from the film on his website in which a teacher, Mr. Deegan, creepily hits on Diane Court. The teacher casually tells Diane “I’d like to see you sometime” and “I was always smiling at you.” “I just thought you were a nice, happy guy,” she responds. He then attempts to kiss her. After she steps away he says to her, “I wish you were older.” It seems pretty obvious why this scene was cut.
10. PEOPLE STILL GIVE ERIC STOLTZ THEIR KEYS.
The actor played the keymaster during a grad party scene, and his one duty was to collect everybody’s keys at the beginning of the party and distribute them at the end. “I still have people come up to me at parties and hand me their keys,” he reminisced to Moviehole. In addition to playing a small role in the movie, Stoltz also worked as a production assistant on set.
11. THE ROCK BAND SAY ANYTHING NAMED THEMSELVES AFTER THE MOVIE BECAUSE THEY RELATED TO LLOYD.
It’s no coincidence the L.A.-based group has the same name as the movie. Lead singer Max Bemis told MTV, “Say Anything… was one of my favorite movies when I was growing up because I’ve always been like a goofy, sincere but not a total dweeb type of a character, and I think that relates to the perspective that a lot of the songs are written from. I just thought it was a cool name for a band.”
12. CUSACK ALMOST RECREATED THE BOOMBOX SCENE AT A PETER GABRIEL CONCERT.
Before Peter Gabriel sang “In Your Eyes” at his 2012 Hollywood Bowl show, he invited a special guest onstage. Cusack walked onstage carrying a boombox, handed it to Gabriel, and bowed down in deference. Gabriel briefly lifted the boombox over his head, and then sang the song.
13. A SITCOM VERSION OF SAY ANYTHING… WAS IN THE WORKS, UNTIL CROWE PUT A STOP TO IT.
In 2014, Fox gave the green light for producers to adapt the movie into a single-camera TV sitcom that would take place 10 years after the film’s events, but they apparently didn’t bother to ask Crowe for his blessing. Once Crowe found out about it, he tweeted his dismay about the project and said, “I have no involvement … except in trying to stop it.” Cusack also cried foul about the project; the backlash prevailed and the project was canceled.
14. CROWE HAS CONSIDERED WRITING A SEQUEL TO THE FILM.
In an interview with Film School Rejects, Crowe admitted he would like to revisit Dobler and work with Cusack again. “I only mentioned it to [Cusack] once,” Crowe said. “In the spirit of the Truffaut movies, where Antoine Doinel would come back and be in a different context, I really did think that Lloyd could be worth revisiting in maybe a completely different context. So, I don’t know. I guess it would be a spiritual follow-up. I don’t know how strict of a sequel it would be. I don’t know which characters would appear or reappear. It just feels like a character I could still write for.” Cusack told the ladies of The View he’d be up for doing a sequel if Crowe asked him.