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15 Colorful Facts About Varsity Blues

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For what it's worth, Varsity Blues beat Friday Night Lights by a good five years in bringing the pressure-filled world of Texas high school football to the big screen. And unlike the latter, Varsity Blues had then-teen heartthrob James Van Der Beek starring as Jon "Mox" Moxon, the second-string quarterback for the West Canaan High Coyotes who gets a bump in the depth chart after Paul Walker's character, Lance Harbor, seriously injures his knee.

Mox, caring more about getting into Brown University and his girlfriend Julie (Amy Smart), rubs both his father and the win-at-all-costs head coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) the wrong way. Here are some facts about the movie to read before you decide you don't want this life.

1. CHRIS KLEIN WAS UP FOR MOX.

Eight actors screen tested for the lead, including American Pie star Chris Klein. Director Brian Robbins asked Ron Lester, who played Billy Bob, who he thought should get the part. "I told him Van Der Beek," Lester said. "I remember that [Klein] was so much taller than me. It sucked. I’m like six foot and this guy’s towering me. I’m going, ’That’s not fair. No, no.'"

"I had to audition three times and screen test with six other people," Van Der Beek recalled of the film's casting process. "Despite Dawson's popularity, they didn't want me to play Mox, because they saw the work I did in television, and were convinced that there was no way I could play him."

2. JAMES VAN DER BEEK ONLY BEGAN ACTING AFTER GETTING HURT PLAYING FOOTBALL.

Van Der Beek suffered a concussion trying to catch a pass in eighth grade. While taking a year off from football per doctor's orders, he caught the acting bug and never looked back. Van Der Beek used his older brother's pigskin experiences as a guidepost for the part. "My brother played high school football for a team that won the state championship five years in a row," he explained to E!, "so I watched him go through all that insanity and I watched him deal with coaches like Kilmer. So it was one of the ways this film spoke to me."

3. RON LESTER WAS CAST BECAUSE OF HIS WORK ON GOOD BURGER.

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Ron Lester landed the role of Spatch in Good Burger (1997) off of his first-ever Hollywood audition. Director Brian Robbins liked what he saw from Lester, and had him in mind when Varsity Blues came along. As Robbins told Grantland in 2014, “There was no second choice.”

4. MOX WORE THE NUMBER FOUR BECAUSE OF BRETT FAVRE.

In 2010, Van Der Beek explained that the former Packers/Vikings/Jets QB was the reason he wore the number four in the movie. "What more can you ask of a hero than to never give up and go out like a true warrior?," the actor/Packers fan tweeted.

5. WENDELL BROWN WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO BE SIGNED BY THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS.

Eliel Swinton, who played Wendell Brown in the film, was a top high school football prospect before playing college ball at Stanford. He was a team captain his senior year and the starting strong safety. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent, but his career was short-lived. He ended up staying in California and working as a production assistant before getting cast as the running back in Varsity Blues.

6. THAT BIKINI WAS MADE OF SHAVING CREAM, NOT WHIPPED CREAM.

“We wanted to be on the set so bad," Lester admitted of the famous Darcy Sears (Ali Larter) whipped cream bikini scene. "Later on, we found out it was shaving cream being that whipped cream melts." It was Larter's feature film debut.

7. SCOTT CAAN AND PAUL WALKER WERE ROOMMATES DURING PRODUCTION.

“I had never really been on location for a long amount of time," Scott Caan said of the experience. "When you’re in your 20s and leaving all your friends and family, you have no idea what it’s going to be like. I was complaining to my friends like, ‘I’m not going to like any of these guys.’ A bunch of actors, you know?” Paul Walker was one of the first people Caan (who played Charlie Tweeter) met on set, and they immediately clicked; shortly thereafter, they decided to room together during the film's production. The two-bedroom apartment they shared outside of Austin was "like a frat house," according to Caan. The two remained friends until Walker's death in 2013.

8. IT WAS SHOT ENTIRELY IN TEXAS.

Varsity Blues was shot over eight weeks. The first two weeks were filmed in Coupland before they moved on to the neighboring Elgin, Texas, which doubled as the fictional West Canaan. The games were shot in 8500-seat high school stadiums in Elgin and Georgetown.

9. VAN DER BEEK DIDN'T THINK "I DON'T WANT YOUR LIFE" WOULD BE SO HUGE.

"No. No clue at all," the actor insisted when asked in 2011 if he thought the line from the trailer and the movie would still be in all of our heads today. "We just kind of did it with escalating levels of frustration. I think there’s probably a quiet version that was Take One. An understated version, and then I remember being told, 'Let him have it. This is it.' At one point, in order to get Thomas Duffy’s (Sam Moxon) reaction shot, I think I said, 'I don’t want your fu*king life'—trying to create some sort of element of surprise."

10. LESTER HURT HIMSELF DURING FILMING.

He tore a patellar tendon, making the hook-and-ladder play tough to shoot. “Getting him into that three-point stance was the hardest thing to do," football coordinator Mark Ellis remembered. "He could make the catch on the hook and ladder. He had good hands, was a good athlete; he just had all that weight.”

11. PARAMOUNT GOT CALLS THAT LESTER WAS STEALING THE MOVIE.

According to Lester, the studio got calls from Van Der Beek's representation that he was "stealing" the movie from their client.

12. BILLY BOB'S BIG CLIMATIC SCENE WAS AIDED BY FRANK SINATRA.

Frank Sinatra died the day they shot the scene where Billy Bob messes around with his 12-gauge pump shotgun on the back of his truck, using his trophies for target practice. “I remember that night shooting that scene, and you don’t do that once, you do it over and over again from different angles," Robbins recalled. "And he was just able to deliver that performance over and over again, and those were real tears and real emotion coming out of him.”

Lester said Ol' Blue Eyes helped. “I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan. Here I am, I’m already built up emotionally getting ready for this scene. Then I find out Frank Sinatra died just as I was about to go film. A lot of what you see in that shot, I give credit to the fact that we lost the Chairman.” Lester passed away in 2016 of liver and kidney failure.

13. PARAMOUNT WAS SUED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO OVER THE TITLE.

The University of Toronto had held the trademark on the phrase "Varsity Blues" for their collegiate teams since the 1980s, including for their football squad. As part of the settlement, Paramount agreed to put a disclaimer on the video and the book saying it wasn't based on the University of Toronto.

14. JOE PICHLER HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE 2006.

Joe Pichler portrayed Kyle Moxon, Mox's religion-obsessed younger brother. He left a note on his car in January 2006 which appeared to be a suicide note and hasn't been seen since.

15. THERE IS A TV SERIES IN THE WORKS.

On August 16, 2016, CMT announced that they were developing a television adaptation of the film. The pilot script will be written by the movie's screenwriter, W. Peter Iliff (Point Break, Patriot Games).

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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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.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

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 told Variety 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 told the 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.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
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.

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