‘Risky Business’ Underwear Scene Explained 30 Years Later
Tom Cruise in 'Risky Business' (Photo: Everett)
Before moviegoers caught Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear on screen in "Risky Business," Paul Brickman had it all in his head.
"It was pretty much what you saw — it was in my head," the film's writer-director tells Yahoo! Movies.
The famous scene — and the movie — turns 30 years old on Monday. Released on August 5, 1983, the coming-of-age tale of privileged college-bound teen Joel (Cruise) who earns a degree in the real world from a prostitute (Rebecca De Mornay), became one of the biggest box-office hits of the year, transformed 21-year-old Cruise from a newcomer into a People magazine profile subject, and gave a jolt to Ray-Ban Wayfarers.
But back to the underwear dance.
In a film filled with smart observations, hypnotic visuals, and oft-quoted lines, some safer for work than others (e.g., "Who's the U-boat commander?"), it is the underwear dance, coming 10 minutes into the film, just as Joel's parents have left him home alone in the family's suburban two-story, that defines "Risky Business."
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Brickman saw the scene as key, but no more key really than the film's other scenes.
"Obviously I didn't know it would have the shelf life it seemed to have have," he says. "You never think that."
What Brickman was thinking was that the underwear dance would be his main character's declaration of independence.
"'As rock-'n'-roll blasts through the house, Joel is quite ripped, standing in his Jockey shorts in the middle of the room feeling very free and sexy,'" Brickman says, reading from his script. "'He bops and struts around the room in a manic dance to freedom and privacy and general lewdness.'"
For music, Brickman zeroed in on Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll," a barn burner of a Top 30 radio hit from 1978. "I was just looking for something that was a timeless rock-'n'-roll piece that wouldn't be dated," he says.
In a long-ago interview for Interview magazine, Cruise remembered Brickman giving him the option of finding another tune. "[But] in the end," Cruise said, "nothing beat Bob Seger."