30 years, 30 things you probably didn’t know about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
1. 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 being played and John Hughes found it so humorous that he told the camera operators to record it.
2. To produce the desired drugged-out effect for his role as the drug addict in the police station, Charlie Sheen stayed awake for more than 48 hours before the scene was shot.
3. John Hughes told Ben Stein, who had a degree in Economics, to present an actual Economics lecture in his scenes. Hence nothing Stein says (aside from the roll call) is scripted.
4. Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris’ parents, married in real life after filming this movie.
5. Even though they played siblings, stars Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey would later become engaged after this movie. Tragically, approximately a year later, after Broderick finished filming Biloxi Blues, and before Grey’s premier for Dirty Dancing, the couple was involved in a fatal crash in Ireland, where the passengers of the other vehicle, a mother and daughter, died in the accident.
6. In 2010, Edie McClurg told “Vanity Fair” magazine that her character’s hairdo should be from the 1960s, “because Grace felt she looked best in the [1960s] and kept her look from that era.” However, the womens hairdresser on the set had mainly been hired to blow out Mia Sara’s long, straight hair and didn’t know how to set the big 1960s hairstyles–so McClurg teased, set and styled her own character’s hair. Once she arrived on the set, John Hughes looked at her hairstyle and the first thing he said was, “How many pencils do you think you can fit in that hair?” They tested it with one pencil, then two and three, but the fourth one fell out–so that was the origin of Grace’s first scene in the movie, in which she pulls several lost pencils out of her hair.
7. Cameron’s father’s Ferrari wasn’t a real Ferrari. Because it was too expensive to rent one, three replicas were made. So, the 1961 Ferrari GT250 was a modified MG sports car. The producers received several angry letters from car enthusiasts who thought the car shown was a real Ferrari that was actually wrecked.
8. Alan Ruck was 29 years old when he played the role of teenager Cameron.
9. After working together on Weird Science (1985), John Hughes offered Bill Paxton the role of the garage attendant. However, Paxton turned it down because he felt the role was too small. He admits that he regrets turning it down because Hughes never offered him a role again.
10. According to the Inside Story (1986) documentary, Charlie Sheen’s character’s name is actually Garth Volbeck. There was going to be a whole back story to his character and family. It was also revealed that the Volbeck’s was the family to whom Ferris’ mom was showing the house for sale in her job as a realtor. If you look closely, the tow truck that towed Rooney’s car was from Volbeck’s Wrecking Service.
11. Mia Sara beat Molly Ringwald to the role of Sloane Peterson because–according to director John Hughes–she had elegance.
12. The painting that Cameron admires is called “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, by Georges Seurat. It is still on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.
13. John Hughes can be seen in a tiny cameo in one of the early Chicago downtown montage sequences, climbing literally across traffic, from right to left of screen, wearing a light blue jacket and big “’80s hairdo” (from DVD director’s commentary.)
14. John Hughes personally designed Ferris’ bedroom, mirrored mostly on his own bedroom when he was in high school. Hughes said that the room was a disorganized series of pop references and other things because it would represent Ferris’ mind.
15. 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.
16. The outfit Ferris is wearing (hat, sunglasses and trench-coat) when he picks up Sloane from school can be seen on a mannequin in his room behind his door as his parents leave his room at the beginning of the movie to go to work.
17. The Ferris Bueller character was named after John Hughes’ lifelong friend Bert Bueller.
18. In the scene in which Sloane and Ed Rooney are standing outside, waiting for Mr. Peterson, the school in the background was John Hughes’s old high school.
19. There is a poster for Simple Minds’ song “Don’t You Forget About Me” on Ferris’ wall. This song was featured prominently in director John Hughes’ earlier film The Breakfast Club (1985).
20. The Parade sequence (“Twist and Shout” scene) was filmed during the Von Steuben Day Parade, an annual event in the Chicagoland area.
21. In the film, Ferris and Cameron are supposed to be 18 years old and Sloane, 17. In reality, Matthew Broderick was 23, Alan Ruck was 29, and Mia Sara was 18.
22. The song “Danke Schoen” is heard four times in the movie; When Ferris sings it in the shower, when Ed Rooney sings it after ringing the Buellers’ doorbell, when Ferris lip-syncs the Wayne Newton version during the parade, and when Jeanie sings it while walking down the stairs at the police station.
23. The bus scene that plays during the ending credits was a scene cut from the movie. It was meant to take place after Jeanie announced that she called the police, and Rooney had to find a place to hide. This explains why the sky isn’t dark, and why a bus is taking students home at 6:00 pm.
24. When Ferris hacks into the school’s computer to change the number of absences he had, it is a subtle reference to a scene in War Games (1983) when Matthew Broderick hacks into the school’s computer to change his grades.
25. A number of key moments in the movie were created in the editing room: Jeannie kicking Rooney three times in the face (when there was in fact only one kick filmed); Ferris and Sloane’s kiss in front of Rooney was originally just a brief kiss, but was later edited into the long kiss seen on film.
26. The scenes shot at Cameron’s house began in September 1985 and finished in October of that year. The scene where the Ferrari was crashed was shot in mid-October. In order to have continuity and depict the garage scenes as the end of the school year, all of the leaves on the nearby trees were painted green. There is one scene after the Ferrari goes through the glass and the camera is down in the ravine looking up at the three actors standing in the garage looking down through the missing window. In the pane of glass next to them you can see reflections of distant trees which are yellow/orange as the fall colors were in full force by the time the scene was shot.
27. This film takes place on June 5, 1985.
28. Ben Stein, who plays the economics teacher in this movie, actually graduated from Columbia University in 1966 with honors in economics.
29. Cameron is wearing a Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings jersey. Howe was famous for playing professionally until he was in his early 50s, from 1946 until his retirement in 1980.
30. During the downtown parade scene they pass a theater playing the movie “Godzilla 85”. Matthew Broderick would go on to star in the movie Godzilla (1998) in 1998.