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John Hughes' 1986 teenage comedy "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" premiered in theaters 35 years ago.
The movie follows three high schoolers that ditch class to explore downtown Chicago.
Insider compiled 35 hidden details and fun facts about the beloved cult classic.
Hughes penned the "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" script in only a matter of days.
Hughes, the late creator and director of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," was the mastermind behind popular coming-of-age films like "Sixteen Candles" (1984), "The Breakfast Club" (1985), and "Pretty in Pink" (1986).
He was also known for his ability to churn out scripts at an impressive speed.
In her book, "You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation," author Susannah Gora writes that Hughes pitched the idea for "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" to Paramount Pictures in 1985 with a single line: "Guy takes a day off from school."
Because the Writers Guild of America was about to go on strike, Hughes immediately got to work.
Howard Deutch, the director of Hughes' film "Some Kind of Wonderful," recalled the filmmaker completing the first 50 pages of the script in one night and completing it the following evening.
Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey fell in love while playing on-screen siblings.
Broderick and Grey may have had a tense sibling rivalry in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," but behind the scenes, the costars sparked a real-life romance.
The year after the film was released, however, the then-couple got into a tragic car accident.
While Broderick and Grey were on a vacation in Northern Ireland, the "WarGames" actor's rented BMW swerved into the other lane and collided with a Volvo carrying two women, both of whom died immediately.
Broderick was reportedly hospitalized for four weeks due to a fractured leg and ribs, a collapsed lung, and a concussion. Grey suffered minor injuries, including several ripped ligaments in her neck that caused headaches and spasms for years after the accident.
"It was extremely difficult coming to grips with what happened, but in time I felt better about that terrible experience," he told British magazine Best, adding that "therapy helped."
Grey and Broderick reportedly broke up in 1988. Broderick went on to marry actress Sarah Jessica Parker in 1997. Grey tied the knot to actor and director Clark Gregg in 2001 but divorced him 20 years later.
The actors that played Ferris and Jeanie's parents got married and had two children.
Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett, the actors who played Ferris' doting parents, met while filming the comedy and got married the same year the movie was released.
Like their on-screen characters, Ward and Pickett had two children before they ultimately divorced in 1992.
Most of the ensemble actors were older than their teenage characters.
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is about three rebellious high schoolers that skip a day of dull lectures and sweaty gym classes to explore Chicago's fine dining, culture, and historic sites.
And while the movie successfully captures the adventurous spirit many teens feel in the final weeks of high school, many of the actors starring in the film weren't teens at all.
While Ferris and his best friend Cameron Frye were supposed to be seniors (17 or 18 years old), Broderick was 24 and Alan Ruck was 29 by the time the film was released. Grey, who played Ferris' revenge-hungry little sister Jeanie, was around 26 years old when she shot the movie.
Mia Sara was the only ensemble cast member that was around the same age as her character, Sloane Peterson. The actress was 18 during filming, more or less lining up with the age of the high school junior she portrayed.
The Buellers' house was in California, not Chicago.
Despite being one of the recurring settings in the Chicago-centric story, the Bueller family's house was located in Long Beach, California.
In the audio commentary Hughes released with the 1999 DVD version of the movie, the director said using a home that wasn't actually in the suburbs of Chicago initially "disappointed" him.
It especially irked him that small details, like the Eucalyptus trees scattered around the neighborhood, gave away the fact that the house was nowhere near the Midwest.
The Buellers' house has the same address as Hughes' childhood home.
Hughes and Ferris' childhood homes both had the same address: 2800.
The crew trained two real squirrels to run across a telephone wire outside of Ferris' room.
During Ferris' first monologue, he cracks open the blinds. As the viewer looks at the teenager from the outside-in, they also see a squirrel sitting on a telephone wire in the foreground.
Though the moment is brief, it required a substantial amount of work.
Because the crew was filming on a stage at Paramount, Hughes wanted to bring in live squirrels to make the scene feel more like authentic suburbia. So, they trained two squirrels to run across the wire.
"The first one ran away, just left. He's probably still in that stage. The second one had stage fright and just clung to the wire," he said in his 1999 DVD commentary.
Hughes added, "Everyone always thought it was a fake squirrel, but it was actually a real squirrel. He was just catatonic."
The movie is an ode to Chicago, Hughes' adopted hometown.
Throughout "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," there are shots of downtown Chicago. Hughes said the crew used a helicopter to record the frames.
"It was my city, and I really wanted to show it at its best," he said, later adding, "I really wanted to capture as much of Chicago as I could, not just in the architecture and landscape but the spirit."
Hughes' family moved to a Chicago suburb shortly after he was in seventh grade, and he attended Glenbrook North High School. He set films like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," "Home Alone," and "Sixteen Candles" in the Chicago suburbs.
"I think it's wise for people to concern themselves with the things they know about. I don't consider myself qualified to do a movie about international intrigue - I seldom leave the country," he told Molly Ringwald during a 1986 interview for Seventeen Magazine.
He added, "I'd feel extremely self-conscious writing about something I don't know."
The film's first and final scenes were shot at the end of production.
Both in the beginning and end of the film, Ferris breaks the fourth wall to deliver a monologue straight to the audience.
By the time these scenes were shot at the end of the production schedule, Broderick was already accustomed to playing the mischievous teenager, Hughes said in his 1999 commentary.
"You met him after he'd been playing the part for two months shooting the other sequences, so here in this first piece he was very, very practiced in talking to the camera," he recalled, adding, "He was practiced in the character."
Jeanie was originally a middle child.
In "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Jeanie is determined to spoil her older brother Ferris' plan to feign illness and skip school.
When Hughes first wrote the script, he said in his 1999 commentary that he planned to make Jeanie into a middle child by introducing two younger siblings. He ultimately decided to cap the number of Bueller children at two.
Hughes modeled Ferris' room after his own teenage quarters.
Ferris' bedroom is busy and cluttered, to say the least.
In reality, the seemingly random posters, instruments, and knick-knacks were carefully curated by Hughes, who decorated Ferris' room himself. In his 1999 commentary, he said he took inspiration from his own teenage living quarters.
"It kinda looks like my room in high school. I had every square inch of my room covered with pop music record sleeves and photographs cut out of English pop magazines," Hughes said.
He added, "I thought that his room should really reflect his mind. It should be filled with lots of interesting, unrelated stuff."
There's also a callback to Hughes' 1985 film "The Breakfast Club" in Ferris' bedroom. A poster for Simple Minds, the band behind the movie's closing track "Don't You (Forget About Me)," sits above his drawers.
Ferris' school, Shermer High, also appears in Hughes' 1985 film "The Breakfast Club."
Most of the action in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" happens outside of the classroom, but Shermer High School is still one of the main settings in the film.
The same fictional high school serves as the backdrop for Hughes' 1985 teen film "The Breakfast Club," in which five exceptionally different students spend their Saturday stuck together in detention.
It was Hughes' hand that picked up Cameron's phone.
When Ferris rings his buddy Cameron to formulate a plan for their day in the city, his longtime pal begrudgingly picks up the phone.
Viewers only see Cameron's hand in the frame when he answers — or so they think.
"I needed a really overly dramatic button push. Nobody on the set that day was really getting it right, so after everyone left I did it myself," he explained in his 1999 commentary.
Hughes based Cameron on one of his real high-school friends.
If it were up to Cameron (and not for Ferris), he would have stayed in bed all day wrapped up in his comforter. He's a worrier confident that he's only one illness from death, and Hughes knew someone just like him in high school.
The director said that he based Cameron on a friend he had at their age, calling the classmate a "lost person" whose family "neglected" him.
"He took that as license to really pamper himself," Hughes said in the 1999 commentary. "When he was sick, he actually felt good because it was difficult and tiring to have to invent diseases. When he actually had something real, he was relaxed."
All of the extras in Shermer High scenes are actual high schoolers.
Broderick, Ruck, and Grey are surrounded by real high-school-age students in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," a contrast that Hughes felt was important.
"I wanted to use real high school kids and put the main principal cast — who are all in their 20s — in this world of real kids so that there would be a greater contrast," he said in his 1999 commentary.
The machine in Ferris' room is an E-mu Emulator II.
The early '80s synthesizer was an essential tool in pulling off Ferris' scheme.
While rewatching the movie years later, Hughes said the crew queued up the actual sound effects, which included coughs and snores, so Broderick played the emulator while shooting.
Ruck was impersonating a stage director he worked with when he was pretending to be Sloane's father.
One of the first crucial steps in Ferris' plan, Cameron calls Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), the dean of students, to excuse Sloane from school. The catch? The teenager has to disguise his voice to sound like Sloane's father.
Ruck found inspiration for his over-the-top phone voice by imitating an old stage director's intonation, Hughes recalled.
"It was an in-joke between Matthew and Alan," he said in his 1999 DVD commentary, adding, "I had no idea who they were talking about."
Ruck later told The Ringer that he was impersonating Gene Saks, who he worked with on "Biloxi Blues."
Grace Wheelberg ad-libbed several of her parts, including the pencils coming out of her hair.
The Shermer High School secretary's hair is so densely coated with hairspray that she stores several writing utensils in the updo — a detail that Hughes said was fully improvised.
"I worked with a woman when I was young that kept her pencils in her hair. There was a lot more stuff in there than pencils," he joked in the DVD commentary.
Ben Stein, who played Ferris' economics teacher, wasn't an actor before joining the cast.
Stein, a lawyer and economist that worked as a speechwriter for presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, didn't have much acting experience prior to joining the cast of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Green or not, Stein was an "easy" and "early" choice to play Shermer High School's economics professor, Hughes said in the 1999 commentary. It proved to be a smart choice, as Stein's monotonous roll call and lingering "anyone?" have become some of the film's most recognizable lines.
Hughes said that he didn't give Stein a script but rather asked him to discuss dry topics related to economics. They decided he would talk about the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, a prime example of "adults just making a terrible mess of things," Hughes recalled.
Cameron wore a Detroit Red Wings jersey because Hughes was a fan of the team.
Before moving to a Chicago suburb, Hughes grew up in Michigan as a Detroit Red Wings fan.
"Gordie Howe No. 9 was my hero," the filmmaker said in his DVD commentary.
While creating "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," he put Cameron in Howe's jersey as a tribute to his favorite hockey team and player.
"Hockey is just not a sport that Cameron would be interested in," Hughes noted.
A cameraman got sick while capturing the scene in Sears Tower.
Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane's first stop on their tour of Chicago is Skydeck of the Sears Tower, which has since been renamed the Willis Tower.
Standing on the 103rd floor, the teenagers lean their heads against the glass to get an aerial view of the city beneath them.
In the 1999 DVD commentary, Hughes said crew members had to hold the cameraman over the side to capture the shot of the actors' heads against the glass. Hughes added that the camera person fell ill as a result.
"We used the actual sound of their heads hitting the glass, which is kind of scary," Hughes said. "I don't think you're allowed to do that."
Hughes' son drew the pictures tacked onto the Buellers' refrigerator.
As Rooney sneaks through the Buellers' kitchen, he walks past a portrait of Hughes on the front of the refrigerator. It was drawn by his son, who was 6 years old when the movie was being made.
"One of my more favorite pieces of art," Hughes said in the DVD commentary.
Hughes removed Ferris' comment about traveling to space because of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger accident.
In the original trailer for the film, Ferris made a comment about his plan to be the "first American teenager to go up in the space shuttle."
The promotional material had to be recalled, however, because the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger's fatal launch occurred the night prior to the trailer's release.
Hughes said he had to "recut" and "remix" the film to edit out Ferris' comment.
The number nine appears throughout the film.
Astute viewers may notice the recurring use of the number nine throughout "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." The digit appears on Rooney's computer screen as the number of Ferris' absences and on Cameron's hockey jersey, for example.
Nine also ties back to John Lennon, who fans came to associate with the number after The Beatles member released songs such as "#9 Dream," "One After 909," and "Revolution 9." Hughes previously told Seventeen Magazine that The Beatles "changed" his entire life.
On a more practical level, he said he wove the number throughout the story because it was amusing to hear Rooney say it.
"It's also a funny word. When you say the word 'nine,' it becomes nasal," he explained in his audio commentary, adding, "It sounded very funny coming from him."
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was the first film to be shot in the Art Institute of Chicago.
According to Hughes, the scene shot in the Art Institute of Chicago was extremely "self-indulgent."
As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, he frequently visited the museum and found it to be his own "place of refuge."
"I went there quite a bit. I loved it. I knew all the paintings. I knew the building, and this was a chance for me to go back into this building and show the paintings that were my favorite," he said in the 1999 commentary.
Prior to the "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" sequence filmed in the Art Institute, the interior of the museum had not been used in a film, Hughes said.
Cameron is drawn to the Seurat painting for a reason.
During the high schoolers' outing to the Art Institute, Cameron gravitates toward works that feature mothers and their children.
In particular, there's a Georges Seurat painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," that holds Cameron's attention.
"I always thought this painting was sort of like making a movie — the pointillist style, which when you're very, very close to, you don't have any idea what you've made until you step back from it," Hughes said while narrating the film in 1999.
The filmmaker went on to explain that he chose to alternate between zoomed-in shots of Cameron and the young girl in the painting to demonstrate that the closer he gets to the figure on the canvas, the less he recognizes it due to the pointillist style.
"He fears that the more you look at him, the less you see. There isn't anything there. That's him," Hughes said.
They crashed an actual parade in downtown Chicago.
It just so happened that the first day the "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" cast and crew were scheduled to film the parade scene coincided with a real German-American procession in celebration of Von Steuben Day.
Hughes said the cast and crew inserted their own float into the lineup without getting any approval.
"It was an actual parade which we put our float into unbeknownst to really anybody — all the people on the reviewing stand. Nobody knew what it was," he said in the DVD commentary.
The team spent two days filming the parade sequence, using the second day to take care of any remaining pick-up shots.
There are German references throughout the film.
In the Chicago suburb where Hughes grew up, he said there were many citizens with German ancestry. While fleshing out Ferris' world, he sprinkled in several German cultural references and words.
"I made a lot of little references throughout to 'Danke Shoen.' Whenever we had a chance, we used 'Danke Shoen,'" Hughes said in his DVD commentary, referring to Wayne Newton's 1963 song.
He joked that the tune used to haunt him because he "couldn't get away from it" while studying German language in high school.
He also noted that "Bueller" and "Volbeck" are both German surnames.
Thousands of bystanders joined into the "Twist and Shout" number.
Hughes tapped on local talent to dance along to Ferris' high energy rendition of "Twist and Shout," but many of the extras in the scene were random bystanders that joined in on the festivities.
"People from all over the immediate area showed up and were singing along," Hughes said in the 1999 audio commentary.
He added that "thousands and thousands of people" ended up surrounding the float, presumably thinking the act was part of an actual parade.
The crew actually painted "Save Ferris" on a water tower in the town where Hughes grew up.
While Ferris was busy parading through the streets of downtown Chicago, contemplating art, and catching a ball game at Wrigley Field, the community members in his town were praying for his speedy recovery.
The slogan "Save Ferris" began popping up everywhere, much to Jeanie's dismay. Hughes even managed to paint it on a water tower in Northbrook, the suburb where his family once lived.
"I don't know how they let us do this but they let us paint this on their water tower," he said in the DVD commentary adding, "It was there for a while. A lot of people remember this."
Charlie Sheen's character had a backstory, but it got cut out of the film.
Sheen plays Garth Volbeck, the mysterious boy Jeanie meets at the police station. He's only in the movie as a foil character, but Garth originally had a more extensive backstory.
Hughes said in his 1999 commentary that he omitted the details surrounding Garth's background at the same time that he removed Ferris' comment about going to space.
In the original script, Garth's father owned the tow company that took away Rooney's car. Even though there's no mention of the connection, his last name is still visible on the truck that carries Rooney's vehicle away.
Before working with Sheen, Hughes directed his brother Emilio Estevez in "The Breakfast Club."
Ruck did his own diving stunt, but he initially didn't weigh enough to sink.
In a state of self-pity after the garage attendant ran up the miles on his father's car, Cameron throws himself into the depths of a backyard swimming pool.
Rather than using a stunt double, Ruck filmed the scene himself. At the time, the actor said he weighed too little to sink to the bottom of the pool.
"I was scrawnier than I am now. No muscle mass," he told The Ringer.
The crew solved the issue by strapping a dive belt on Ruck below his t-shirt. "Went right to the bottom," the actor added.
They used a real Ferrari 250 in the movie, but there were also several replicas.
Hughes got his hands on a real 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California, a vehicle that, in different ways, proves to be a token to freedom for both Cameron and Ferris.
However, the sports car was "way too expensive to destroy," so the crew brought in several replicas for the more action-driven scenes.
"They were pretty good replicas. For the tight shots, I really needed a real one, so we brought one into the stage and shot the inserts with it," Hughes explained.
According to Gooding & Company, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California is estimated to cost between $13 million and $15 million.
The crew painted the leaves outside of Cameron's house green since the final car scene was shot in autumn.
It was nearly October when the "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" team got to filming the final car scene. The movie was supposed to take place in the late spring, so the crew had to think of ways to work around the changing leaves surrounding Cameron's house.
"Every day, before we started shooting, we had to paint all these leaves green," Hughes said in his 1999 commentary. "We had to be very careful we didn't knock them off."
The crew picked up every single piece of shattered glass from the ravine below Cameron's house.
The final car scene, in which Mr. Frye's Ferrari crashes through the window, was tricky to orchestrate.
Even though Hughes secured the "absolutely perfect location" in a steel-and-glass house located over a ravine in a wooded area of Highland Park, there were concerns over how well the aged structure would hold up if a replica Ferrari breaks a window.
To avoid destroying all of the windows, the team replaced them with brand new glass. Hughes said that after the car toppled down into the fence below, the town required the crew to remove all of the glass shards from the ravine.
"We did not leave a single piece of glass in there," Hughes said in his audio commentary.
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