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20 Things You May Not Know About 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

Discover all the secrets behind 'Ferris' as we celebrate the film's 30th anniversary.


Some films have so much personality they can never be forgotten. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is one of those. Written and directed by the late John Hughes, the movie is memorable for a thousand other reasons as well. But it's the personality that sticks with people. Matthew Broderick's performance as Ferris is all-time stuff, the type of role that changes lives. Ferris isn't just a movie character, he's a friend. Over the course of the movie, you get to know him and are inevitably charmed by him. He's one of the greatest comedic movie characters ever.

Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of Ferris. It's a milestone, but more, a time to reflect back on the film that was so influential for an entire generation. Pepsi may have trademarked the "choice of a new generation" phrase, but the real voice of teens in the '80s and '90s was Ferris Bueller. He hated going to school and loved having fun with his best friend and best girl. What kid can't relate to that? Now, we can look back on the movie 30 years later and remember it as we always have. But every movie has secrets, so let's celebrate the anniversary by digging into the production and discovering some things we never knew.

1. Hughes wrote the script for Ferris in six days and changed little of it during shooting. Hughes was known for using his first drafts on movies, something unheard of in the industry.

2. Rob Lowe, John Cusack, Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Michael J. Fox were all considered for the role of Ferris Bueller.

20 Things You May Not Know About 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

3. Mia Sara beat out Hughes regular Molly Ringwald (Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club) for the role of Sloane Peterson because, according to the director, she had "elegance."

4. Alan Ruck, who plays Cameron, was 29-years-old during filming. Broderick was 22, Sara was 19.

5. Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who play Ferris' parents, fell in love on set and married in real life after shooting wrapped.

6. Broderick improvised the clarinet "recital" scene in his room. He claimed he could play it and proceeded to destroy everyone's ear drums.

7. Most people know Ferris' boring economics teacher is played by Ben Stein, the lawyer and former presidential speech writer who would go on to have a successful entertainment career as an actor and host of Win Ben Stein's Money. But not everyone knows Stein is an actual economics expert, hence the TV show, and all his lines in Ferris were improvised (except for the "Bueller" roll call). Hughes asked Stein to simply give a real lecture.

8. Edie McClurg portrays Ed Rooney's secretary, Grace, with an old hairstyle from the '60s because "Grace felt she looked best in the [1960s] and kept her look from that era." She told Vanity Fair she did the hairstyle herself and it was Hughes who asked her how many pencils she could fit in it. She could slip in three before a pencil fell out so that was the origin of Grace finding pencils in her hair.

20 Things You May Not Know About 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

9. The hand that presses the speaker button on Cameron's phone when he's lying in bed sick belongs to Hughes. Ruck wasn't doing it the way the director wanted so he shot the close-up himself.

10. The Ferrari seen in the film isn't an actual Ferrari. Renting one was too expensive for the production so three replicas were made using MG chassis and fiberglass bodies.

11. Sara revealed that Broderick was actually tickling her feet to get her to laugh in the taxi. 

12. After working together on Weird Science, Hughes offered Bill Paxton the role of the garage attendant but the actor turned it down, saying it was too small. Hughes never offered him a role again.

13. Charlie Sheen, recommended by Jennifer Grey after they made Red Dawn together, prepared for his drugged-out cameo by staying awake for two days beforehand. His character was actually supposed to have a larger role. He was named Garth Volbeck and he and his family were a bigger part of the original script. The tow truck that takes away Rooney's car is Volbeck's Wrecking Service.

14. Most of the character's license plates are titles of Hughes' other films. Mrs. Bueller's is VCTN (National Lampoon's Vacation); Mr. Bueller's is MMOM (Mr. Mom); Jeannie's is TBC (The Breakfast Club); and Rooney's is 4FBDO (Ferris Bueller's Day Off). The exception is the Ferrari's plate, which reads NRVOUS.

20 Things You May Not Know About 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

15. McClurg improvised two of her best moments. When Grace says "He's a righteous dude," and when she impersonates Rooney on the phone.

16. The line Ferris says in the bathroom at the French restaurant about Cameron's house being very pretty and very cold was originally given to Allison in The Breakfast Club regarding her home life, but wasn't used in that film.

17. During the parade, several of the people seen dancing (including the construction worker and the window washer) originally had nothing to do with the film. They were simply dancing to the music. Hughes loved them and kept them

18. Broderick and Grey played rival siblings in Ferris, but they began a relationship during or shortly after filming. A year later, they were engaged. But things would turn tragic for both actors when they were vacationing in Ireland. With Broderick behind the wheel, the couple's car was involved in a car accident that would claim the life of a mother and daughter in the other car. 

19. Ferris laments not having his own car, but does have a computer—which wouldn't have been cheap. Also, his synthesizer cost around $8,000 at the time.

20. The idea of a sequel had been around for years with Ferris in college or on the job somewhere, but nothing ever materialized. Broderick has said the film doesn't need a sequel, that Ferris was about a specific time and place that we'd all like to revisit and it didn't need updating. Amen.

20 Things You May Not Know About 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'
Joshua Budich

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