15 Facts About Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Even if you already have most of Fast Times at Ridgemont High memorized, get to know the teen sex comedy on a deeper level with these behind-the-scenes facts.

1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High began as a non-fiction book.

While a freelance writer for Rolling Stone, screenwriter Cameron Crowe spent a year secretly embedded at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California under an assumed name (and in cooperation with the school’s administration) to gather stories for a non-fiction book with the same title. Crowe’s book was published in 1981; a year later, it was adapted for the screen.

2. The inspiration for Mark “The Rat” Ratner would go on to become a real-life computer guru.

Crowe based the geeky Rat on then-Clairemont High School student Andy Rathbone. Rathbone eventually became rich and famous for writing many of the “…for Dummies” books about computer programs like Windows.

3. Fast Times is Amy Heckerling’s directorial debut.

Heckerling, who would go on to direct Look Who’s Talking and Clueless, was hired to direct Fast Times at Ridgemont High based on her AFI thesis film. Called Getting it Over With, it’s about a 19-year-old girl trying to lose her virginity before she turns 20.

4. Jennifer Jason Leigh also did a bit of undercover work to prepare.

Twenty-year-old Leigh took a job at the actual Perry’s Pizza in the Sherman Oaks Galleria mall, where parts of the movie were shot, to get into character as Stacy Hamilton.

5. Nicolas Cage made his big screen debut in Fast Times as “Brad’s Bud.”

Cage was originally supposed to play Brad, but the filmmakers relegated him to a background role after his improvisations during the auditioning process were deemed too weird. The credits list Cage as “Nicolas Coppola.” He later changed his last name professionally to avoid charges of nepotism—he is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola.

6. Despite being a movie about high school, Cage was the only cast member under the age of 18.

Because of the sometimes-explicit nature of the film’s subject matter, casting directors made sure actors who auditioned were 18 years of age or older. Cage, who was only 17, lied about his age to snag a role.

7. Sean Penn didn’t have to audition for the Spicoli role.

He was cast after a brief chat prior to his scheduled audition.

8. Penn stayed in character during the film’s entire shoot.

Always the method actor, Penn forced everyone on-set to call him “Spicoli” and wouldn’t answer to his actual name. Other Fast Times actors made fun of him behind his back by calling him “Sean DeNiro.”

9. Fast Times is Best Actor Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker’s first film.

He plays enraged football player Charles Jefferson.

10. Herman Munster thought the movie was too obscene.

Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster from the television show The Munsters) was originally offered the role of Mr. Hand, but he turned it down because he objected to the teenage sex and drug use in the script.

11. Universal Studios originally approached David Lynch to direct.

He politely turned them down, saying the script wasn’t in his wheelhouse.

12. Bruce Springsteen’s sister has a cameo.

She plays the dark-haired cheerleader on the left during the pep rally.

13. No original music was written for the film.

The score was taken from Universal Studios’ library of prerecorded music.

14. Heckerling and Crowe filled the cast with friends and lovers.

Judge Reinhold was asked to play Brad because he was director Amy Heckerling’s upstairs neighbor in Los Angeles. Heckerling also cast her ex-husband, David Brandt, and his real-life band, Reeves Nevo & The Cinch, as the band at the dance and her ex-boyfriend, Beverly Hills Cop and Scent of a Woman director Martin Brest, as the doctor on the field trip near the end of the film. The woman who pulls up next to Brad’s car and laughs at him while he’s wearing his Captain Hook’s Fish and Chips uniform is Crowe’s then-girlfriend and ex-wife Nancy Wilson, guitarist for the band Heart.

15. Heckerling originally wanted to keep the fate of each character open-ended.

But Universal Studios mandated she end the movie with updates for each character, just like 1973’s American Graffiti.

The 8 Best Horror Movies to Stream on Hulu Right Now

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Looking for a good scare this Halloween season? If you’re a Hulu subscriber, you’ll be able to get your fill of creepy content. Check out eight of the best horror movies currently streaming on the service.

1. Hellraiser (1987)

Horror author Clive Barker made the move to feature directing with this tale of a man (Sean Chapman) who makes the grievous error of opening a portal to hell and proceeds to make his brother’s family targets of the sadistic Cenobites, led by Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Don’t bother with the endless sequels; the original is the best (and goriest) of the lot.

2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Paranoia runs deep in this remake of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). In the ‘70s iteration, Donald Sutherland plays a health inspector who can’t shake the feeling that people around him seem a little off. He soon grows wise to the reality that aliens are walking among us as virtual human replicas. Naturally, they’re not keen on being discovered.

3. A Quiet Place (2018)

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt star as a couple living in a world terrorized by creatures that hunt by sound. Their largely-silent existence means every stray creak, cry, or noise threatens to expose them to the monsters—a danger that's only compounded when Blunt discovers she’s pregnant.

4. The Orphanage (2007)

A sense of dread looms over The Orphanage, a Spanish-language thriller with Belén Rueda as Laura, who returns to the child care facility that raised her so she can make a difference for a new generation of children. Strange things begin as soon as she arrives, with her son going missing and hints of unwelcome guests unraveling her nerves. It’s a film best not watched alone.

5. Event Horizon (1997)

If 1979’s Alien stirred your interest in space scares, Event Horizon might make for a worthwhile watch. After a spaceship presumed lost suddenly reappears, a crew of investigators (Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne) board to find answers.

6. Children of the Corn (1984)

A couple (Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton) passing through a small rural town find a lack of adult supervision curious—until the kids reveal themselves to be homicidal cult members. Based on a Stephen King short story.

7. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi perfected “splatstick” horror in this cult classic about hapless boob Ash (Campbell) who escapes to a remote cabin retreat with girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) and unwittingly unleashes a cascade of evil. Though it’s more amusing than scary, Raimi’s inventive imagery is morbidly fascinating.

8. Child’s Play (1988)

Good mom Catherine Hicks buys a Good Guys doll for her son, Andy. Unfortunately, the doll—dubbed Chucky—has been possessed by the spirit of a serial killer (Brad Dourif) and proceeds to make young Andy’s life miserable, particularly after he discovers the kitchen cutlery.

Ruined By a Letter: TV Show Edition

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