As we continue to celebrate the work of John Hughes, who died Thursday at the age of 59, you start realizing how much of your life has been spent watching his films. Enough to recite entire scenes and to recall the tiniest detail. (I used to practice writing the word “No” like Molly Ringwald did on that questionnaire in Sixteen Candles — with three exclamation points, underlined three times. Anything you’d like to cop to?). As well as I know his films, though, I don’t know a lot of trivia about them. And I’d like to. So here’s what I propose: I share my favorite tidbits, you share yours.
In 2006, I had a chance to chat with Jon Cryer when Pretty in Pink‘s 20th anniversary was feted with the release of an Everything’s Duckie Edition DVD. Some trivia-filled highlights:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: On the DVD, director Howard Deutch says Duckie’s full-blown dance to ”Try a Little Tenderness” evolved after he saw you impersonate Mick Jagger doing ”Start Me Up.” Where did he see this, and why isn’t that on the DVD?
JON CRYER: That was at my audition. [Laughs] I said, ”I read the part in the script where Duckie’s supposed to come into the record store and do a dance. But I do both Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson singing ‘State of Shock,’ actually.” It was meant to be comedic, trust me. I performed a chunk of it for him, and he thought it was very funny. And he was like, ”Just do ‘Start Me Up,”’ because I think the Michael Jackson portion was just too ridiculous for him. Then we couldn’t get the rights to ”Start Me Up” anyway. It was Howie who found the Otis Redding song. Nobody really anticipated that I was gonna go to town on it the way that I did. Although, I completely blame Howie, because he got me together with Kenny Ortega the night before [we shot the scene]. And getting together with a seriously world-class choreographer, you’re gonna come up with something.
What was your reaction when you first heard you’d be reshooting the movie’s ending? [In John Hughes' original script, Andie stayed with Duckie at the prom, and they danced to David Bowie's ''Heroes.'' Test audiences booed.]
I was disappointed. You sorta go, ”Oh, guess I’m not the leading man.” But I think it was kind of appropriate. Duckie always thought he was the leading man, and that was his fatal flaw. I got it at the time. I understood that John was trying to do something about crossing class lines and felt that with the ending as it was, it was sort of saying, ”You know what? Class lines aren’t worth crossing.” And he didn’t want to send that message.
Did you know Robert Downey Jr. was also up for the role of Duckie?
I didn’t know at the time. He and I went to the same summer camp, so our paths occasionally crossed in New York, and I knew what a lovely guy he was even then. I knew Fisher Stevens was up for it, because he and I were hopping from show to show: He was doing Torch Song and I was doing Brighton Beach, and then I was doing Torch Song and he was doing Brighton Beach. There was this whole cottage industry of young male actors who were, basically, either understudying for or taking roles from Matthew Broderick at the time. And knowing that Fisher was a really tremendously gifted guy, I thought, Oh, I’m in trouble.
Charlie Sheen was considered for the role of Blane [originally scripted as a square-jawed jock]. How would the film have been different had he been cast?
That’s news to me. Wow. I think what girls loved about Andrew was that he seemed like the thinking girl’s sex symbol. And Charlie was not that. There was always something a little dangerous about him. Then it would have been a choice between the darker guy, who you can sense has a sensitive side, and the geek, who’s been your friend forever. I would always have been the geek who’s your friend. I will never be the dark guy with a sensitive side, as much as I yearn to be.
On the DVD, Deutch admits Hughes had to convince him to hire James Spader, because Spader was that obnoxious when auditioning for Steff.
He was just in character at the audition. He was perfectly friendly and lovely to work with. Sometimes the person is that character, and then sometimes they’re just good at the character. Directors have to make that call.
You do a great impersonation of Spader on the DVD.
”You’re a bitch.” He’s great. Frankly, I think he steals the movie. He did all kinds of things — like, he wanted to know exactly when the [school] bell was going to ring so he could point up. It was all great.
You came up with the ”candy machine” line [when Duckie's shoved into the girls' room]. Anything else you’d like to take credit for now?
What else was all me… ”Blane: It’s not a name, it’s a major appliance.”
That was you?!
That was me. John cast people that he liked, and then he tried to incorporate as much of what they could bring as he could [into the script].
What did you think of Andie’s prom dress? It was, aesthetically speaking, quite controversial.
I think the costume designer was trying to transcend the era. I think had she done the ultimate ’80s dress, it would have ended up being a joke. So she tried to do something very sort of French…and baggy. It is what it is. I think it’s very lovely.
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Photo credit: Everett Collection