The Bizarre Casting Ideas That Destroyed John Hughes’ Teen Movie World


THE URBAN LEGEND OF THE FILM: John Hughes wanted Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald to be, in effect, his acting troupe and quit making teen movies once they all stopped working together.

John Hughes’ 1980s teen movies are unusual in that not only were they iconic movies that defined an entire generation (hell, maybe multiple generations), but they also happened virtually all at the same time. . Starting with Pretty in pink in 1984, Hughes made SIX teen movies between 1984 and 1987, writing all six and directing four of them. Then, after what I guess you could call a “transition” film in 1988 She is going to have a baby (a film about a young married couple having their first child which Hughes wrote and directed), Hughes never made another teen movie in his career, instead making adult comedies (mostly starring actor John Candy until Candy died in 1994) and kid-centric films (the most famous, he wrote and produced Alone at homewhich was by far the biggest success he had ever had in his career).

As Walt Whitman said, “I am great. I contain multitudes”, so it’s essentially impossible to tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt why Hughes quit making teen movies, and honestly, a time Alone at home was a blockbuster, most filmmakers would find it hard NOT to want to make more movies like the one that caused a stir (Alone at home was the third-highest-grossing film of 1990… but it was also the third-highest-grossing film of 1991, so, so combined, it made far more than the number one movies of either year). However, it seems Hughes was also deeply affected by the loss of what he seemed to see as his troupe of teenage actors.

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John Hughes first worked with Anthony Michael Hall while Hughes was still working on national pamphlet films (Hughes began writing screenplays while still a screenwriter in national pamphlet), as Hall was the son of the hit movie, National Lampoon’s Holiday. However, Hall still had to go read for the role of geeky Farmer Ted in Hughes’ upcoming film, sixteen candles, which starred Molly Ringwald as the sixteen-year-old girl whose family forgets her birthday amid the chaos of her older sister’s wedding. At the time, Hugh reflected, “Every kid that came in to read for the role…did all that stereotypical high school nerd stuff. You know – thick glasses, ballpoint pens in the pocket, white socks. But when Michael walked in, he played it straight, like a real human being. I knew then that I had found my geek. Hall then noted that “Me and John are more like friends. We just get along, we’re so alike. It’s weird, but sometimes we know exactly what the other is thinking. We don’t have to say a word, we just nod.”

Hughes then cast Hall and Ringwald in his next teen movie, The breakfast club. During the shooting of this film, Hall reminded Hughes comes to him with plans for their next movie together, “I was 16 but looked like a 12-year-old bobblehead. And John says, ‘Yeah, it’s gonna be you and another guy, and you’re gonna make a girl on the computer.’ I’m like, ‘What? What the hell is he talking about? My head is spinning. We’re probably two or three weeks away. The breakfast club and he’s already talking to me about another film we’re going to make. But that’s how prolific he was. This film, of course, was weird sciencewhich was released later the same year as The breakfast club.

However, Hall was now a big enough star that he started getting offers for other films and this led to conflict with him and Hughes, as Hughes already had two other roles in mind for Hall, including the one would also involve Ringwald. The first was Pretty in pink and the other was Ferris Bueller’s day off. Hall turned it down because he was shooting an action movie. Hall recalled later“It was, I think, upsetting for him. It wasn’t a malicious thing on my part or anything, it was more that I was moving on to new work and new opportunities. I hope that it didn’t offend him, but I don’t really know. We didn’t stay in close contact in the years to come. I sort of lost touch with him… but I can just carry on the good memories I have. He welcomed me like a son.

While Ringwald did Pretty in pinkshe then turned down the somewhat similar role of Watts in Hughes’ latest teen movie, A kind of wonderful (which was sort of a gender-reversed version of Pretty in pink).

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Hughes and Hall only spoke once in 1987 after Hall turned down the roles of Duckie and Ferris, and Hall spoke later how sad it all was, “It’s one of the saddest things in my life because I loved this guy. He was a big brother to me. I spent a lot of personal time with him , I was like his third child. Back when we made those movies, I was hanging out with him and his wife and two kids, so I was their third son in a way. I had a very close with John. He was still a teenager in some ways because he would take things very personal.

In an op-ed for The New York Times after Hughes’ death in 2009, Ringwald wrote, “Most people who knew John knew he was able to hold a grudge longer than anyone – his grudges were almost supernatural things, for years, even We were like the Darling children when they made the decision to leave Neverland, and John was Peter Pan, warning us that if we left, we could never come back.

She noted that the same was true for Hall (Ringwald and Hughes at least reconnected through a letter she wrote to him in 1994 thanking him for all he did for her in her career, to which he responded by sending her a large bouquet of flowers). Ringwald noted that the loss of her and Hall changed his movies, “None of the movies he did afterward had the same kind of personal feeling for me. They were funny, yeah, very successful , sure, but I recognized very little of the John I knew in them, of his youthful, urgent, unmistakable vulnerability. It was as if his heart had closed, or at least was no longer open to the public view.

It’s something the cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which was the first teen movie Hughes did without Hall or Ringwald, noticed. According to Hughes’ memoir of Susannah Gora, You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation, Hughes almost quit doing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when filming began because he just didn’t like working with the new cast. Gora noted, “Making Ferris Bueller’s day off gave more money to John Hughes. This gave him the chance to film in his hometown as a returning hero. This gave him even more power in Hollywood. But there was one thing it didn’t get him, something he’d learned to love on the set of his first teen movies, maybe even something he’d learned to need. “In the previous films,” says Mia Sara (who plays Sloane), “he had developed very close relationships with a lot of these actors, and he had really created this environment that he was looking to create, where he was one of them. And I think that didn’t happen with Ferris Bueller’s day off.'”

Interestingly, however, Hughes tried to make one last teen movie with Ringwald and Broderick, in 1987, titled Oil and Vinegar, starring Broderick as a soon-to-be-married traveling salesman who goes on a road trip with a free-spirited young woman played by Ringwald. Ringwald recalled that she and Broderick “were supposed to be in a photo by John Hughes titled oil and vinegar. The script needed some rewrites and John didn’t want to meet and rewrite. I ran out of time and had to go take another photo. It’s a shame because it was a very funny scenario. The movie would have been fantastic.”

Again, there were probably a number of different factors that influenced Hughes’ thought process into not doing any more teen movies, but it certainly sounds like the loss of Hall and Ringwald, his acting troupe, was a big enough factor that I would go with the legend as…

STATUS: True enough for a real

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