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Buena Vista Pictures

12 Fun Facts About Can’t Buy Me Love

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Before Patrick Dempsey was Dr. McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy, he played a high school geek named Ronald Miller. Popular cheerleader Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson) borrows her mom’s expensive suede outfit and ruins it. When Ronald offers her $1000 to be his girlfriend for a month so she can purchase a new suede skirt and fringed jacket, she accepts his proposal and then takes him through a Pygmalion-like transformation. Through association, Ronald also becomes popular—and then goes back to being unpopular—much to Cindy’s chagrin. And, just like in so many other teen films about opposites attracting, Cindy and Ronald eventually end up together.

The movie opened on August 14, 1987, and became a sleeper hit, grossing $31 million on a $1.8 million budget. It’s endured to the level that in the 2010 film Easy A, Emma Stone also rides off on a lawnmower, like in the ending of Can’t Buy Me Love. Here are 12 loving facts about the ‘80s rom-com on its 30th anniversary.

1. YES, THE MOVIE WAS NAMED AFTER THE BEATLES’ SONG.

The Beatles' song “Can’t Buy Me Love,” from the album A Hard’s Day Night, became a huge hit in 1964. By 1987, Michael Jackson owned the rights to the tune, so Disney reportedly had to pay The King of Pop $100,000 to use it in the movie. The title insinuates prostitution, but writer Paul McCartney disagrees.

“I think you can put any interpretation you want on anything, but when someone suggests that 'Can’t Buy Me Love' is about a prostitute, I draw the line,” McCartney said. “The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well but they won’t buy me what I really want.”

2. THE ORIGINAL TITLE WAS BOY RENTS GIRL.

Michael Swerdlick’s script was originally called Boy Rents Girl, but director Steve Rash and the producers thought the title sounded “sexist.” “We found that a lot of people had an immediate resentment factor because of the implications of those words,” Rash said. “As it turns out, I don’t think there’s a sexist moment in the film, but the title Boy Rents Girl sounds sexist.” Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner is the one who suggested Can’t Buy Me Love.

3. THE MOVIE ALMOST DIDN’T GET MADE, BECAUSE OF PROSTITUTION.

Swerdlick sold his script to TriStar Pictures and met with the studio executives for a first notes meeting. “I come into the first meeting and the six studio executives are sitting there,” Swerdlick told an audience at a 2011 reunion screening. “And there’s one woman sitting there, and she’s like, ‘Well, I don’t know why we bought this movie, because it’s almost like prostitution the way they treat this girl.’ Guess what? TriStar put it in turnaround,” which involved the company dumping the script.

4. IT WAS SHOT AS AN INDIE FILM.

During the reunion Q&A, Swerdlick explained that after TriStar dissolved the deal, the script landed in the hands of Apollo Pictures founder Jere Henshaw, who was interested in Swerdlick rewriting a motocross script for him. Swerdlick’s agent sent Henshaw Boy Rents Girl as a writing sample, and he loved it so much he financed the film.

Once finished, they needed a distributor. As luck would have it, one of the film’s producers, Mark Burg, had a friend who played an extra in the movie. Two weeks after filming finished, the friend got a job as Head of Acquisitions at Disney. He encouraged Disney top brass Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg to watch the film, and they liked it enough to buy it for $6 million. According to Swerdlick, it was one of the first outside acquisitions in the history of the Walt Disney Company.

5. ONE OF THE EARLY DRAFTS OF THE SCRIPT FEATURED SOME R-RATED MATERIAL.

Rash told Moviehole that one of the drafts he read made it seem like the movie would be “an R-rated sexploitation movie, with gags like a football player ejaculating in a teenage girl’s hair.” He convinced the producers the story needed to return to a PG-13 plot catering to teen girls. Rash got with Swerdlick and rewrote the script. “I spent six weeks, starting all over with his original spec script, and threw away all the R-stuff that had been added over the years,” Rash said. “My most significant contribution was the Airplane Graveyard.”

6. THEY PURPOSELY CAST AN UNKNOWN FOR RONALD.

Rash and Henshaw agreed that Ronald Miller needed to be someone who wasn’t already famous. “If Ronald Miller is a star when you meet him on his lawn mower, you’ll never believe he is a nerd, so you’ll never care when he’s not a nerd,” Rash told Moviehole. Even though Dempsey had starred in a Fast Times at Ridgemont High TV adaptation and a few other movies, Can’t Buy Me Love became his breakout role.

7. SETH GREEN WAS IN THE MOVIE.

Green was only 13 years old when he played Patrick Dempsey’s brother, Chuckie. Green looked so different that he’s surprised when people do recognize him. “I can’t believe how many people actually remember me from that movie, because it doesn’t even look like me,” he said.

8. THE STUDIO ALMOST REMOVED KENNETH’S FAMOUS QUOTE.

As a Halloween prank, Ronald and two jocks throw a bag of dog poop at fellow nerd Kenneth Wurman’s (Courtney Gains) front door, causing Ronald and Kenneth’s already fractured friendship to end. Ronald confronts Kenneth at a video arcade, and after Ronald’s mea culpa, Wurman exclaims, “You sh*t on my house!” In an interview, Gains said the studio wanted to take that line out “because they thought it was too edgy for a teenage movie.” He went on to say the producers fought to keep it. “It’s obviously gone on to be a quotable line in the lexicon of teen cinema,” Gains said.

9. AMANDA PETERSON DIED IN 2015.

Post-Can’t Buy Me Love, Peterson acted in more films and TV spots but none of them resonated the way the teen film did. In 1994, she retired from acting and fell into drug and alcohol abuse. On July 3, 2015, just five days short of her 44th birthday, she died from an accidental morphine overdose. She was supposedly taking the drug to relieve pain from a surgery.

10. PAULA ABDUL CHOREOGRAPHED THE AFRICAN ANTEATER RITUAL DANCE.

At a school dance, Ronald breaks out into a weird tribal dance which incites the students to follow along—but the dance worried Rash. “That fake cultural dance could so easily be perceived as racist or stupid,” he told Moviehole. “Either would have been fatal to the movie.” He hired then-choreographer Paula Abdul to create the dance in a culturally sensitive way. “She conceived the African anteater ritual and then came to Tucson to coach a gymnasium full of teenagers. I owe my creative life to Paula.”

11. 1990s MUSIC SENSATION GERARDO CO-STARRED.

Three years before Gerardo Mejía made waves with his hit song “Rico Suave,” he played the shirtless Ricky, a sort of suave high schooler. It was his film debut—he also starred in the 1988 Sean Penn film Colors—and he told a Can’t Buy Me Love reunion crowd it’s the most popular thing he’s done. “I get calls like crazy,” he said. “They always call me: ‘Dude, that mullet. Is that for real?’” Yes, yes it was real. At least he grew it out by the time “Rico” was released.

12. IN 2003, WARNER BROS. REMADE THE MOVIE AS LOVE DON’T COST A THING.

A loose remake, Nick Cannon plays the nerd (Alvin) and Christina Milian plays the girlfriend (Paris). She crashes her car and Alvin, a mechanic, agrees to repair it if she dates him for two weeks. Mark Burg, a producer on Can’t Buy Me Love, was also a producer on Love Don't Cost a Thing. The film grossed $21 million at the box office—less than the original. It’s unclear if the movie was named after Jennifer Lopez’s 2001 hit, “Love Don’t Cost A Thing.”

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King Features Syndicate
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Comics
10 Things You Might Not Know About Hägar the Horrible
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

For 45 years, the anachronistic adventures of a Scandinavian Viking named Hägar have populated the funny papers. Created by cartoonist Dik Browne, Hagar the Horrible is less about raiding and pillaging and more about Hägar’s domestic squabbles with wife Helga. If you’re a fan of this red-bearded savage with a surprisingly gentle demeanor, check out some facts about the strip’s history, Hägar’s status as a soda pitchman, and his stint as a college football mascot.

1. HÄGAR IS NAMED AFTER HIS CREATOR.

Richard Arthur “Dik” Browne got his start drawing courtroom sketches for New York newspapers; he debuted a military strip, Ginny Jeep, for servicemen after entering the Army in 1942. Following an advertising stint where he created the Chiquita Banana logo, he was asked to tackle art duties on the 1954 Beetle Bailey spinoff strip Hi and Lois. When he felt an urge to create his own strip in 1973, Browne thought back to how his children called him “Hägar the Horrible” when he would playfully chase them around the house. “Immediately, I thought Viking,” he told People in 1978. Hägar was soon the fastest-growing strip in history, appearing over 1000 papers.

2. HE COULD HAVE BEEN BULBAR THE BARBARIAN.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Working on Hi and Lois with cartoonist Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey) gave Browne an opportunity to solicit advice on Hägar from his more experienced colleague. As Walker recalled, he thought “Hägar” would be too hard for people to pronounce or spell and suggested Browne go with “Bulbar the Barbarian” instead. Browne brushed off the suggestion, preferring his own alliterative title.

3. A HEART ATTACK COULD HAVE CHANGED HÄGAR’S FATE.

When Browne came up with Hägar, he sent it along to a syndicate editor he knew from his work on Hi and Lois. According to Chris Browne, Dik’s son and the eventual artist for Hägar after his father passed away in 1989, the man originally promised to look at it after he got back from his vacation. He changed his mind at the last minute, reviewing and accepting the strip before leaving. Just days later, while on his ski vacation, the editor had a heart attack and died. If he hadn’t approved the strip prior to his passing, Browne said, Hägar may never have seen print.

4. THE STRIP HELPED BROWNE AVOID VANDALS.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Chris Browne recalled that Halloween in his Connecticut neighborhood was a time for kids to show their appreciation for his father’s work. While trick-or-treaters were busy covering nearby houses in toilet paper or spray paint, they spared the Browne residence. The only evidence of their vandalism was a spray-painted sign that read, “Mr. Browne, We Love Hägar.”

5. BROWNE’S DAUGHTER TALKED HIM OUT OF KIDNAPPING PLOTS.

Vikings were not known for being advocates for human rights. Hägar, despite his relatively genteel persona, still exhibited some barbaric traits, such as running off with “maidens” after a plundering session. Speaking with the Associated Press in 1983, Browne admitted he toned down the more lecherous side of Hägar after getting complaints from his daughter. “Running off with a maiden isn’t funny,” she told him. “It’s a crime.”

6. HÄGAR ENDORSED SODA.

A soda can featuring Hägar the Horrible
Amazon

Despite his preference for alcohol, Hägar apparently had a bit of a sweet tooth as well. In the 1970s, King Features licensed out a line of soda cans featuring some of their most popular comic strip characters, including Popeye, Blondie, and Hägar. The Viking also shilled for Mug Root Beer in the 1990s.

7. HE WAS A COLLEGE MASCOT.

In 1965, Cleveland State University students voted in the name “Vikings” for their collegiate basketball team. After using a mascot dubbed Viktorious Vike, the school adopted Hägar in the 1980s. Both Hägar and wife Helga appeared at several of the school’s sporting events before being replaced by an original character named Vike.

8. HE EVENTUALLY SOBERED UP.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

When Dik Browne was working on Hägar, the Viking was prone to bouts of excessive drinking. When Chris Browne took over the strip, he made a deliberate decision to minimize Hägar’s imbibing. "When my father was doing the strip, he did an awful lot of gags about Hägar falling down drunk and coming home in a wheelbarrow, and as times go on that doesn't strike me as that funny anymore,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune in 1993. “Just about everybody I know has had somebody hurt by alcoholism or substance abuse.”

9. HE HAD HIS OWN HANNA-BARBERA CARTOON.

It took some time, but Hägar was finally honored with the animated special treatment in 1989. Cartoon powerhouse Hanna-Barbera created the 30-minute special, Hägar the Horrible: Hägar Knows Best, and cast the Viking as being out of his element after returning home for the first time in years. The voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, performed the title character. It was later released on DVD as part of a comic strip cartoon collection.

10. HE SAILED INTO THE WIZARD OF ID.

A Wizard of Id comic strip
King Features Syndicate

In 2014, Hägar made an appearance in the late Johnny Hart’s Wizard of Id comic strip, with the two characters looking confused at the idea they’ve run into one another at sea. Hägar also made a cameo in Blondie to celebrate that character’s 75th birthday in 2005.

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13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.

1. ON ADVICE

"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

2. ON REGRETS

"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks

3. ON DEATH

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert

4. ON NERVES

''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times

5. ON ACTING

"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age

6. ON MARRIAGE

"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with About.com

7. ON LYING

“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair

8. ON HIS SUNGLASSES

"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

9. ON MISCONCEPTIONS

"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN

10. ON DIRECTING

"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV

11. ON ROGER CORMAN

"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World

12. ON PLAYING THE JOKER

"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman

13. ON BASKETBALL

"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

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