It’s been 30 years since John Hughes assembled his gang of adolescent misfits and delivered one of the most — if not, the most — iconic teen movies of all time. The film, which is being screened at SXSW today, was just re-released as a special Blu-ray edition, and later this month, fans will get an in-depth look at the work of the late director with the release of the book, John Hughes: A Life in Film. To celebrate this Brat Pack nostalgia, let’s take a look at what happened on-set when the cameras weren’t rolling:
1. Judd Nelson had security called on him at his audition. Nelson took the Bender attitude with him to his audition. Dressing for the part in boots, gloves, and all, he fully embraced Bender’s f-you attitude, proving to be a little much for the secretary, said Nelson:
“I was just about thrown out of the waiting room — a little gypsy actor was in the waiting room, as well, and I kept telling him to “stand up.” He was standing up — he was really short. The secretary in the waiting area called security, so as the elevator doors open and the security guard gets out, that’s when someone from the behind the office doors said, “Judd Nelson, we can see you.” I gave the finger to the security guard and walked into the room.”
2. Nelson nearly got fired for picking on Molly Ringwald. Judd Nelson fully embraced Bender’s rebellious, bully attitude and picked on Ringwald a little too much, nearly getting himself fired by John Hughes. The other members of the Brat Pack told Nelson to tone it down and were able to convince Hughes not to send him walking.
3. Nelson bought the local teens beer. MORE Judd Nelson drama! Prior to filming, the actors were allowed to wander around the halls of Maine North High School. Nelson said that the location was more than appropriate as the halls had been nicknamed “jock hall” and “freak hall.” He also said that while exploring the high school, he got to know a few of the students and even bought them some beer in return for a ride back to his hotel. “They would ask me why I was staying there, and I told them my dad was in jail. I’m staying at the Westin O’Hare while my dad’s incarcerated.”
4. The original script had a topless scene. Looking back a the film, a topless scene would’ve been incredibly out-of-place, but Hughes wrote the script in just a couple of days and fell back on the common risqué humor during his time at National Lampoon. One scene that was never shot involved the students discovering a peep hole into the girls’ swim team locker room and spying on a very well-endowed female coach. Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and co-producer Michelle Manning voiced their disapproval of the scene, and Hughes came in the next day with a reworked script and new character: Carl the janitor.
5. Rick Moranis was originally going to play the janitor. After the sexy swim coach was cut from the script, Second City veteran Rick Moranis was brought in to play the role of Carl the wisdom-spewing janitor. Moranis showed up to set with a strange haircut, gold caps on his teeth, and goofy Russian accent. This didn’t fly with film producer Ned Tanen, and Moranis was cut and replaced with John Kapelos.
6. The library was actually a gym. If the school looks eerily familiar to you, that’s because several of its scenes were shot at the same school from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which is not exactly surprising because many of Hughes’ movies take place in suburban Chicago. Producers didn’t like the school’s library, so they converted the gymnasium into what they thought the library should look like.
7. John Hughes makes a cameo, as does his car. In the opening scene, when the kids are all arriving for their Saturday detention, that’s Hughes’ BMW that Claire arrives in. And that’s John Hughes, who plays Brian’s father picking him up at the end of the day.
8. The stories in the circle confession scene were improvised. The iconic scene after the kids smoke pot and discuss why they’re all there was ad-libbed. Hughes had planned for the scene, but the gave the actor’s the freedom to tell their own stories. Molly Ringwald said that he was incredibly proud of their performance.
“The scene where we smoke pot, he just let the camera go on and on and on, he let me make up so much stuff. The entire thing was improvised. He was so thrilled that he brought my mom in and said, “You have to see how brilliant your daughter is!” And she was very excited to see something, and she sat down and watched me pretend like I was smoking pot for 20 minutes.”
9. Ally Sheedy found the David Bowie quote. It was Ally Sheedy who found the David Bowie quote from “Changes” and showed it to John Hughes. She had no idea that he planned to use it until it popped up during the opening credits, she just thought it was a cool quote.
10. There’s some cryptic graffiti on the school walls. If you notice during the movie’s opening credits, some of the graffiti on the wall reads “I don’t like Mondays.” It’s not a Garfield reference. This graffiti refers to a 1979 school shooting committed by then 16-year-old Brenda Spencer, who opened fire on an elementary school, picking students and staff off with a rifle. When asked why she did it, she replied, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
11. The movie’s title came from the school of one of Hughes’ friends. A friend that told Hughes that the “Breakfast Club” was the nickname for detention at his high school.
12. Nobody wanted to record the movie’s theme song. Composer Keith Forsey wrote “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and first pitched it to Billy Idol, who turned it down, and then The Pretenders, who also passed. Forsey then pitched it to Simple Minds, who initially didn’t want anything to do with it, but eventually agreed at the persuasion of their label at the time.
Bonus: Allison’s dandruff was parmesan cheese. Ally Sheedy didn’t have to produce her own scalp snow for Allison’s artwork.