30 things you (probably) didn’t know about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller

Bueller… Bueller… Bueller…


Iconic ’80s teen movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is nearly 30 years old and – believe it or not – Ferris himself (Matthew Broderick) is now over 50.

You might be starting to look more like Principal Rooney than Ferris these days, but instead of mourning your lost youth why not distract yourself with our 30 pieces of little-known trivia about Bueller and the gang?

1. Director John Hughes wrote the character of Ferris with Matthew Broderick in mind…

Hughes said Broderick was the only actor he could imagine pulling off the role of Ferris because of his intelligence and charm.

2. … although he would have settled for Jimmy Stewart (circa 1923)

It's A Wonderful Life

Hughes jokingly said he would have considering casting James Stewart to play Ferris, provided he looked 15 in 1985. The It’s A Wonderful Life star was in his late 70s at the time, so might not have been up to doing all of his own stunts.

3. Hughes wrote the screenplay in less than a week

With both Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club already under his belt, teen movie mogul Hughes was able to churn out a draft of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in just six days.

4. Molly Ringwald wasn’t refined enough to play Sloane

According to the Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club star, she expressed an interest in playing Ferris’s girlfriend Sloane Peterson, but was told it was too small a part that wasn’t worth her time. A conflicting version of the story goes that Hughes didn’t think Ringwald was elegant enough to play Sloane, and cast Mia Sara instead.

5. Alan Ruck and Broderick were friends in real life

The two had acted together in the play Biloxi Blues on Broadway in March 1985, so already got on well.

6. Cameron’s impression of Mr Peterson was based on his former theatre director

The hilarious voice that Ruck puts on to impersonate Sloane’s Dad was an imitation of Gene Saks, who directed Ruck and Broderick in Biloxi Blues.

7. It was Hughes’ ode to his hometown

Hughes described Ferris Bueller as his “love letter” to Chicago, where he grew up. Before his death in 2009, the director was quoted as saying: “Chicago is what I am”.

8. The character of Cameron was based on a real person

Hughes based Cameron on a hypochondriac friend he had in high school, who he described as “sort of a lost person” who was neglected by his family.

9. Ruck was a decade older than Cameron

Despite playing a high school student, Alan Ruck was actually 29 years old and married at the time of filming. Mia Sara was the only genuine teenager among the principal cast.

10. Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall turned down the role of Cameron

It’s rumoured that both of these Breakfast Club stars passed up the chance to be in Ferris Bueller (Hall’s reason being because he didn’t want to be typecast), and Ruck is still grateful about it.

11. The exterior of Ferris’s high school is Hughes’s old school

Glenbrook North High School
[Picture: Alan Light / Flickr / CC]

When Ferris and Cameron sneak Sloane out of class, the outside of their school building is actually the back door of Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois – where Hughes was a student.

12. Car number plates throughout the film reference other John Hughes movies

If you’re a big Ferris fan, you’ll probably have already chuckled at the ‘NRVOUS’ number plate on Cameron’s Dad’s Ferarri, but did you spot John Hughes bigging himself up on the front of any other cars? License plate homages to Hughes’ work such as ‘VCTN’ (National Lampoon’s Vacation), ‘TBC’ (The Breakfast Club) and ‘4FBDO’ (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) are all there if you look hard enough.

13. School secretary Grace did her own hair on set

Edie McLurg decided her character should have a ’60s style bouffant and – after the on-set hairdresser was unable to help her – styled the impressive ‘do herself.

14. The Wrigley Field scenes were filmed during a real baseball game

Broderick, Ruck and Sara actually attended a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. If you’re curious, the Braves won.

15. The movie was filmed during Autumn, despite being set in Summer

Filming began in September 1985, and was completed that November. Apparently autumnal leaves were painted green on set in order to convince audiences that the film takes place during the summer months.

16. Economist Ben Stein was cast because he “looked like a teacher”

The most quoted line from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – does anyone know the line we mean? Anyone? Anyone? – was actually delivered by non-professional actor Ben Stein, who was chosen by Hughes because of his “flat” voice and teacherly appearance.

17. Stein’s economics lecture was real

As Ben Stein was a real economist, his mind-numbingly boring class wasn’t scripted. He simply delivered a lecture on supply-side economics while the cameras rolled.

18. Ferris’s parents fell in love on set

Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett (who played fictional husband and wife Mr and Mrs Bueller) met on set and were married in 1986, the year the film was released. Sadly the couple later divorced in 1992, citing irreconcilable differences.

19. Most of the Ferraris used in filming were fakes

While the crew needed one real 1961 Ferarri 250 GT California (worth $350,000 at the time) to film close up shots of Cameron’s Dad’s prized possession, the cars used for wide shots were much cheaper replicas.

20. The ‘repli-cars’ were totally unreliable

The cast and crew allegedly hated working with the fake Ferraris, as the cars didn’t work properly and often wouldn’t start.

21. It had a (terrible) TV prequel

In 1990 an arguably unwise decision was made to create an NBC TV prequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The show was simply called Ferris Bueller, and starred Charlie Schlatter as Ferris and Jennifer Aniston as Jeannie. It was cancelled after just 13 episodes had aired. One watch of the unbearably cringey opening credits explains why.

22. The first cut was 2 hours and 45 minutes long

Instead of trimming down Hughes’s script before shooting, the screenplay was (rather unconventionally) filmed in full and then edited down to its final 1 hour and 43 minute length.

23. Jeffrey Jones was cast because of his performance in Amadeus

Legend has it that John Hughes considered Principal Rooney to be the modern day equivalent of Emperor Joseph II (Jones’s character in Amadeus) and so pursued Jones to play Rooney.

24. The crew crashed a real Von Steuben Day Parade

According to Hughes, in order to film the parade scenes the crew entered a float into the annual procession in downtown Chicago without informing any of the parade’s officials or judges. The consequent footage was primarily spontaneous.

25. Hughes recreated the parade for the second day of filming

The day after Von Steuben Day, an invitation was put out on local radio for people to take part in a John Hughes movie. Supposedly around 10,000 volunteers turned up and the crew were able to recreate a parade atmosphere to finish shooting.

26. Broderick was nervous about his parade choreography

Despite his character’s bravado, Broderick later admitted he was “very scared” about jumping onto the parade float, having already injured himself during earlier filming.

27. ‘Danke Schoen’ is sung by various characters throughout the film

John Hughes hated the Wayne Newton song ‘Danke Schoen’ during his own high school years, so decided to include it in Ferris Bueller. As well as Ferris’s famous lip-syncing rendition near the end of the film and his serenade in the shower, Ed Rooney and Ferris’s sister Jeannie can both be heard humming the song at various points.

28. The film helped ‘Twist and Shout’ to chart again

Sixteen years after the Beatles broke up, their cover of ‘Twist and Shout’ reached number 23 in the US singles charts – all thanks to Ferris.

29. It inspired two band names

The names of ska punk band Save Ferris and indie rock group Rooney were both taken from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

30. Charlie Sheen stayed awake for 48 hours before his cameo

Blink and you’ll miss him, but Charlie Sheen briefly appears as a delinquent ‘Boy in the Police Station’. Supposedly Sheen stayed awake for two days in order to appear suitably strung-out on camera. We’re guessing this was before he developed ‘tiger blood’.

Share this on Twitter: