Two years after Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and director Adam McKay teamed up again for Step Brothers. The family dysfunction that ensued when adult-children Brennan Huff and Dale Doback joined forces was entertaining enough to drum up more than $100 million at the box office. Here are some facts about the movie that you can toss out as a conversation starter at your next wine mixer.
1. ADAM MCKAY CAME UP WITH THE CONCEPT WHILE EDITING TALLADEGA NIGHTS.
Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly met one night during the editing of Talladega Nights to come up with some ideas for their next project together. The next day, someone in the editing room said “bunk beds,” which gave McKay the idea to have the two actors play overgrown step brothers.
2. JON HAMM ALMOST PLAYED DEREK.
It came down to Hamm, Thomas Lennon, and Adam Scott for the part of the jerk brother Derek. Scott got the part.
3. IT WAS WILL FERRELL’S REAL SINGING VOICE AND REILLY’S REAL DRUMMING.
Reilly learned to play drums for his role in the movie Georgia, where the music was recorded live.
4. BUT IT WASN’T ADAM SCOTT'S REAL SINGING VOICE.
When Derek’s family is singing “Sweet Child O' Mine” in the car, everyone but Adam Scott was singing live. Scott was lip-synching to a singer who was standing in front of him outside the windshield.
5. JOHN C. REILLY HAS A LONG MUSICAL HISTORY.
Reilly's brother started a band called Shark Fighter, with John installed as the lead singer. His brother played the drums—and wouldn't allow John to touch his drum kit. Reilly admitted on NPR that he played with the kit anyway when his brother left the house.
6. RICHARD JENKINS USED TO WORK FOR REILLY’S FATHER.
Toward the end of filming, Jenkins—who played Reilly’s father, Dr. Robert Doback—heard from the actor playing his son that his father was also from the Chicago area and used to work in the linen business. It was then that Jenkins realized that he had worked for John Reilly (John's father) in the summer of 1969, and had met John Jr. when he was four years old.
Susan Matheson had to manage to find old T-shirts that didn’t make it seem like Brennan and Dale were dressing as hipsters. She made Brennan’s pajama bottoms out of vintage Star Wars sheets purchased on eBay.
10. ADAM MCKAY RECYCLED AN OLD HIGH SCHOOL NAME FOR THE MOVIE.
Brennan performed at the Great Valley High School talent show. McKay graduated from Malvern, Pennsylvania’s Great Valley High in 1986.
11. NFL ANALYST CRIS COLLINSWORTH REFUSED TO CURSE.
He filmed a cameo playing Brennan’s boss for two lines. Whenever he was pitched a new line with a profanity in it from McKay, Collinsworth would change it so that he didn’t curse.
12. JENKINS NEEDED A TETANUS SHOT.
One of the dogs on set bit the actor in the butt, necessitating the shot. When Jenkins returned to work he asked McKay if he should be limping in the next scene for continuity purposes. McKay told him they probably weren’t going to use the dog scene anyway.
13. THE CATALINA WINE MIXER WASN’T SHOT ON CATALINA ISLAND.
It was shot at the Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The f*cking Rancho Palos Verdes Wine Mixer just doesn’t have the same ring.
14. THE FIRST VERSION OF THE MOVIE WAS FIVE HOURS LONG.
They managed to cut it down to 98 minutes for the theatrical release.
Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.
The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.
1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.
Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.
2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.
While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”
3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.
Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”
4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.
It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn toldVariety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”
5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.
The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).
6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.
In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).
7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.
Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”
8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.
Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell toldthe BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.
9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.
Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”
10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.
Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."
11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks
Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.
12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.
Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"
13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.
Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”
14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.
Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.
15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.
Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.
On February 13, 1998, Adam Sandler gave Valentine’s Day sweethearts a retro treat with The Wedding Singer, a 1980s-set rom-com about a heartbroken wedding singer named Robbie Hart (Sandler) who falls in love with a waitress/bride-to-be whose married name will leave her as Julia Gulia (Drew Barrymore).
At this point in Sandler’s career, he was known more for his puerile comedies like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, not as a romantic leading man. The Wedding Singer changed all that. After earning its $18 million budget back during its opening weekend alone, The Wedding Singer went on to gross $123 million worldwide—making it Sandler’s highest-grossing movie to date at the time.
Besides being a bona fide box office hit, the film’s two ’80s-heavy soundtracks—which included tunes by The Police, David Bowie, The Psychedelic Furs, New Order, and The Smiths—were also popular. For the film’s 20th anniversary, here are 11 fun facts about The Wedding Singer.
1. THE DIRECTOR’S OWN REAL-LIFE HEARTBREAK ALLOWED HIM TO TAP INTO THE FILM’S EMOTION.
Longtime Sandler friend and collaborator Frank Coraci directed The Wedding Singer, and said that his own experience with having his heart broken was part of what allowed him to tap into the movie’s unique balance of humor and heartfelt romance.
“I remember lying in bed and not being able to move, so it was easy to tap into that pretty quickly,” Coraci told The Hollywood News of his own heartbreak, which happened a couple of years before the movie came along. “I think the distance between those two things was good. It let me look at it differently and allowed it to be funny. I think if had happened before, The Wedding Singer would have been one seriously depressing movie.”
2. THE IDEA TO SET THE FILM IN THE 1980S CAME FROM THE RADIO.
The Wedding Singer was written by Tim Herlihy, a longtime collaborator of Sandler’s who, in addition to writing for Saturday Night Live, wrote the scripts for Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy (among other Sandler-starring films). Sandler mentioned to Herlihy that he wanted to do “a film about a wedding singer who gets left at the altar.” For his part, Herlihy let the radio inspire him. “I was listening to the radio show Lost in the ’80s, and I said, ‘I want to do a movie set in the 1980s. So of course, we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a story about a wedding singer in the 1980s?’”
3. SANDLER WANTED TO MAKE A “PRO-LOVE” FILM.
While promoting the movie on Late Night With Conan O’Brien in 1998, Sandler said, “We wanted to make a romantic comedy that was heavy on the laughs. It was nice to do a movie that was pro-marriage and pro-love.” He explained men have a difficult time falling in love. “You got guys who say they don’t want to be in love, but those are usually guys who have been hurt before.”
4. THE MOVIE DOESN’T FEATURE ANY SEX SCENES, AND THERE’S A REASON FOR THAT.
In the same interview, Conan O’Brien asked Sandler why there weren’t any sex scenes in the film, which seemed odd for a rom-com. Sandler was candid with his answer: “The main reason for not having a sex scene is I’m not good at sex,” he said. “I started when I was pretty young and I was always like, you’ll get better. And I got older and it’s still not good.”
5. BARRYMORE APPROACHED SANDLER ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER.
Since the release of The Wedding Singer, Sandler and Drew Barrymore have gone on to star in 50 First Dates (2004) and Blended (2014) together, but their original collaboration was really the actress’s doing. Barrymore told Howard Stern she was interested in working with Sandler because “[I thought] I want to be a modern weird Hepburn, Tracy old Hollywood couple.” Sandler agreed to meet with her. “We looked like the worst blind date you’ve ever seen,” Barrymore recalled, referencing how she had purple hair and wore a leopard coat. Still, as Barrymore told The Huffington Post, she was convinced that she and Sandler were “cinematic soul mates,” and wasn’t afraid to tell him so. Soon after this meeting, the script for The Wedding Singer came along.
6. THE “RAPPING GRANNY” LIVED TO BE 101.
At the age of 84, Ellen Albertini Dow portrayed Robbie’s neighbor Rosie, a.k.a. “The Rapping Granny.” During a wedding scene in the movie, Rosie gets on stage and raps to The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” However, when the filmmakers asked Dow to perform the rap, she admitted she wasn’t familiar with that style of music.
In a 2008 radio interview, she recounted how Sandler and Coraci approached her with the idea. They told her, “‘We think it might be funny for an older woman to do rap,’” Dow explained. “And I said, ‘What is that?’ I had no idea what rap was. They took me to a soundstage and handed me this rap song. I went in the booth and it was very foreign to me. I said, ‘Can I move a little to it?’ They said, ‘Oh, sure.’ I’m not bragging, but I danced all my life, and I played the piano, so I know music. I started to move to it and I got it right it away. I got it very fast and loved it and had fun with it.” Her rapping success led to her rapping in a Life Savers commercial, and she even considered recording a rap record for children. In 2015, Dow died at the age of 101.
7. IT’S THE FIRST SANDLER FILM TO INCLUDE A FEMALE PERSPECTIVE.
In previous Sandler films, women mainly existed only as love interests. Herlihy, however, changed that with The Wedding Singer. “Drew elevated things for us,” the screenwriter toldEsquire. “The scenes with her and Christine [Taylor]—the scenes with her without Adam—[were all great]. You look at the first movies and there’s not a lot without Adam because we did test screening and they said, ‘Get rid of that scene.’ But this time with Drew we were able to do that and have those scenes survive to the movie.”
8. THE CREATORS OF THE WEDDING SINGER BROADWAY MUSICAL KNEW IT WAS “BORN TO SING.”
The success of the film inspired a Broadway musical adaptation that ended up earning five Tony Award nominations and eight Drama Desk Award nods. Matthew Sklar composed the music, and Chad Beguelin wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the book with Herlihy. It premiered in Seattle in January 2006 and then officially opened on Broadway in April 2006.
In the fall of 2007, the musical toured nationally, then eventually landed overseas in London, Abu Dhabi, the Philippines, and Australia. Beguelin said the musical came from him pitching a movie idea to New Line Cinema. “They asked me, ‘What would you do with our catalogue?’ Well, I thought The Wedding Singer was born to sing,” he said. They felt a musical could convey stronger feelings than what was on the screen. “In the movie, you get a close-up of Drew Barrymore looking distraught at her reflection in a wedding dress, but you can’t do that on stage,” Beguelin said. “That’s where you write a song.”
9. BARRYMORE WANTED THE AUDIENCE TO “HOLD THE BOWL OF LOVE.”
In a 1998 interview, Barrymore explained what drew her to the character of Julia: “She has an ease that follows her and that’s the energy that she exudes, and I really, really like that about her. And she’s a happy girl.”
Barrymore further said she wanted people to be happy and for the movie to cause the audience “to hold the bowl of love and have those hearts in their eyes and all of that good mushy stuff we live for."
10. BILLY IDOL STARRED IN THE FILM TO APPEASE HIS SON—AND TEENAGERS.
Billy Idol, whose song “White Wedding” appears on the soundtrack, portrays himself during a climactic scene on a plane. “My son loved Adam Sandler and I thought: ‘I’m going to have to see it anyway, so why not be in it?,’” Idol said. “I gained a number of diehard teenage fans through doing it, who are adults now and are still turning up to my gigs.”
“There’s something about Billy Idol hanging on a plane, knocking back champagne, and getting involved with my love life,” Sandler said of Idol’s cameo. “Everybody thought that’d be fun.”
11. BOY GEORGE WAS A FAN OF BOY GEORGE.
In the film, transgender actress Alexis Arquette played a character named George, who had similarities to the iconic Culture Club frontman Boy George. Wedding Singer George even sings the band’s 1982 hit song “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” at a wedding in the movie. Arquette passed away on September 11, 2016, and around the same time the real Boy George paid homage to the actress at a concert in Maryland. He dedicated “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” to Alexis and her family.
“Alexis played me in The Wedding Singer, very hilariously,” he said. “When I went to [see] The Wedding Singer, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When I saw Alexis doing an impersonation of me, I was rolling around on the floor laughing.”