14 Surprising Facts About Say Anything…

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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.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

17 Facts About Airplane! On Its 40th Anniversary

Julie Hagerty and Robert Hays (with Otto) in Airplane! (1980).
Julie Hagerty and Robert Hays (with Otto) in Airplane! (1980).
Paramount Home Entertainment

Shot on a budget of $3.5 million, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker wrote and directed Airplane!, a movie intended to parody the onslaught of disaster movies that graced movie theater screens in the 1970s. The comedy classic, which arrived in theaters on July 2, 1980, ended up making more than $83.4 million in theaters in the United States alone, and resurrecting a few acting careers in the process. Here are some things you might not have known about the comedy classic on its 40th anniversary.

1. Airplane! was almost a direct parody of the 1957 movie Zero Hour!

Shorewood, Wisconsin childhood friends Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker grew up and moved to Los Angeles, where they were responsible for the sketch comedy troupe Kentucky Fried Theater. The trio made a habit of recording late-night television, looking for commercials to make fun of for their video and film parodies, which is how they discovered Zero Hour!, which also featured a protagonist named Ted Stryker (in Airplane! it's Ted Striker). In order to make sure the camera angles and lighting on Airplane! were matching those of Zero Hour!, the trio always had the movie queued up on set. Yes, the three filmmakers did buy the rights to their semi source material.

2. Universal thought Airplane! was too similar to their Airport franchise.

Universal released four plane disaster movies in the seventies: Airport in 1970; Airport 1975 (confusingly in 1974); Airport ‘77; and The Concorde ... Airport ‘79. Helen Reddy portrayed Sister Ruth in Airport 1975 and was game to play Sister Angelina in Airplane! before Universal stepped in and threatened to sue. Instead, the role went to Maureen McGovern, who sang the Oscar-winning theme songs to The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno—two movies that were also “disaster” movies, albeit ones not involving a plane.

3. David Letterman, Sigourney Weaver, and other future stars auditioned for Airplane!

In early conversations regarding Airplane!, Paramount Studios suggested Dom DeLuise for what would eventually become Leslie Nielsen’s role, and Barry Manilow for the role of Ted Striker, but they were never asked to audition.

4. Chevy Chase was mistakenly announced as the star of Airplane!.

Chevy Chase was erroneously announced as the star of Airplane! in a 1979 news item in The Hollywood Reporter.

5. The role of Roger Murdock was written with Pete Rose in mind.

Pete Rose was busy playing baseball when Airplane! was shot in August, so they cast Kareem Abdul-Jabbar instead.

6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got a pretty swanky carpet out of his Airplane! gig.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Peter Graves, and Rossie Harris in Airplane! (1980)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rossie Harris, and Peter Graves in Airplane! (1980).
Paramount Home Entertainment

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s agent insisted on an extra $5000 to the original offer of a $30,000 salary so that the basketball legend could purchase an oriental rug he'd had his eye on.

7. Peter Graves thought the Airplane! script was "tasteless trash."

Peter Graves eventually found the humor in the film, including the pedophilia jokes, and agreed to play Captain Oveur. Graves's wife was glad he took the role; she laughed throughout the premiere screening.

8. No, the child actor playing young Joey didn't know what Peter Graves was actually saying.

Rossie Harris was only 9 years old when he played the role of Joey, so did not understand the humor in Turkish prisons, gladiator movies, or any of Oveur’s other comments. But by the time he turned 10 and saw the movie, Harris had apparently figured it out.

9. Airplane! marked Ethel Merman's final film appearance.

"The undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy stage” played a disturbed soldier who believed he was Ethel Merman. Merman passed away in 1984.

10. Michael Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul was in Airplane!.

Jonathan Banks plays air traffic controller Gunderson.

11. Airplane!'s three-director setup caused legal problems.

The Directors Guild of America ruled that Abrahams and the two Zuckers couldn’t all be credited for directing a movie, nor be credited under the single “fictitious name of Abrahams N. Zuckers.” A DGA rep was on set to make sure that only Jerry Zucker spoke to the actors. What he saw was Jerry Zucker next to the camera, who would then go to a nearby trailer where the other two were watching the takes on a video feed, and come back to give notes to the actors after conferring with his partners. A DGA executive board eventually gave the three one-time rights to all share the credit.

12. A BIT ABOUT BLIND POLISH AIRLINE PILOTS WAS WRITTEN AND FILMED.

Blind singer José Feliciano, and lookalikes of blind singers Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, played Polish airline co-pilots. The Polish-American League protested, and it was determined by the writer-directors that the idea wasn’t funny enough to stay in the movie.

13. Robert Hays was starring in a TV show at the same time he was filming Airplane!

Robert Hays, the actor who played Ted Striker, had to race back and forth between the sets of Angie and Airplane! for two very busy weeks. The theme song to Angie was performed by the one and only Maureen McGovern.

14. Robert Hays was—and is—a licensed pilot.

He can even fly the ones with four engines.

15. Leslie Nielsen had a lot of fun with his fart machine.

Leslie Nielsen sold portable fart machines for $7 apiece on set, causing a brief epidemic of fart noises emanating from most of the cast and crew and delaying production. When they were shooting Hays’s close-up, Nielsen used the machine after every other word of his line, “Mr. Striker, can you land this plane?”

16. Stephen Stucker came up with all of Johnny's lines.

Lloyd Bridges and Stephen Stucker in Airplane! (1980)
Stephen Stucker and Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! (1980).
Paramount Home Entertainment

Stephen Stucker was a member of the Kentucky Fried Theater. His line “Me John, Big Tree” was part of an old riff he used to do, which continued with him going down on his knees and putting an ear to the ground to hear when a wagon train was arriving.

17. The original rough cut of Airplane! was 115 minutes long.

After screenings at three college campuses and two theaters, the film was cut down to 88 minutes.