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16 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About “Sixteen Candles”
We know, we know—Sixteen Candles, while a classic, does not take place in L.A. (unlike the rest of the films in our ‘80s-themed movie series celebrating our July issue). That said, it’s too good, too iconic, and too era-defining to ignore, so here we are. Molly Ringwald and crew will light up the ArcLight Hollywood screen this Monday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m. Psych yourself up for the screening with this list of little-known facts, and make sure to buy your tickets now.
1. Viggo Mortensen was nearly cast as Jake Ryan
While visiting a John Hughes film class at USC, Molly Ringwald revealed that future Lord of the Rings ranger/real-life babe Viggo Mortensen nearly stole the role from Michael Schoeffling. “I was 15 years old, and I flew to New York to read with everyone,” she said. “It got to the (final) Jake Ryan shot, and we had the kissing scene. And Michael Shoeffling did not kiss me during the audition—Viggo Mortensen did. He made me weak in the knees.” Ringwald revealed she was gunning for Mortensen, but as we all know, it was a 23-year-old Schoeffling who bagged the role.
2. John Hughes wrote the role of Samantha Baker specifically for Molly Ringwald—before they even met
Hughes requested photos of promising actresses from his agent, and Ringwald’s was in the giant stack. The director reportedly put her image up over his desk and wrote the first draft of Sixteen Candles in one weekend. That said, the audition process wasn’t—ahem—a cakewalk. Ringwald was up against her future Breakfast Club co-star, Ally Sheedy, and Laura Dern.
3. Anthony Michael Hall was also a Hughes muse
Hughes liked Hall so much in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983—a film Hughes also wrote) that he penned the part of The Geek with him in mind. Hall went on to star in two other Hughes films, The Breakfast Club (1985) and Weird Science (1985).
4. It was Hughes’ directorial debut
Sixteen Candles was the first feature that Hughes wrote and directed. It led to a directorial hot streak that included The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink (1986) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), helping to cement his status as the “Godfather of teen cinema.”
5. That Rolls-Royce? Not just any old prop
The 1974 Corniche, the one The Geek uses to take a drunk Caroline Mulford (Haviland Morris) home, belonged to the father of a friend of John Hughes. It’s worth over $66,000 today.
6. John Cusack was acting in his backyard
Cusack, along with his sister Joan (who plays the nerdy girl in a neck brace), grew up in Evanston, Illinois, only miles from where the movie was shot. While we’re on the topic of the Cusacks, this is the second film the two co-starred in after 1983’s Class. They’d go on to appear together in eight others: Grandview, U.S.A. (1984), Broadcast News (1987), Say Anything… (1989), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Cradle Will Rock (1999), High Fidelity (2000), Martian Child (2007), and War, Inc. (2008).
7. Gedde Watanabe has a serious case of baby face
Watanabe, who played exchange student Long Duk Dong, was 28-years-old at the time of filming. He was also born in Utah and doesn’t have an accent.
8. The less-famous relatives of two major stars appear in the church scene
The reverend marrying Samantha’s sister Ginny (played by Blanche Baker) is Brian Doyle-Murray (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day), a.k.a. Bill Murray’s older brother. In the same scene, a drunken Ginny takes a break from her walk down the aisle and sits down next to Agnes Belushi, John and Jim’s mom.
9. The film’s location is fictional—sort of
Sixteen Candles takes place in Shermer, Illinois, a town that doesn’t exist (where most of Hughes’ films take place). Hughes, who attended high school in Northbrook, Illinois, drew his inspiration from Northbrook’s former name: Shermerville.
10. The license plate on Jake’s red 944 Porsche is an Easter Egg
The plate number reads 21850, a seemingly random string of digits. Hughes superfans may have realized that it’s actually a hidden nod to his birthday: February 18, 1950. As it so happens, Ringwald’s birthday also lands on February 18.
11. Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald dated IRL
That’s right. The Geek and the Prom Queen dated for a year or so between filming Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.
12. The movie didn’t fare well at the box office
Sure, it’s a cult classic, but the film debuted at No. 2 in its opening weekend, right behind Breakin’ (some breakdancing movie that no one remembers). Sixteen Candles brought in a mere $4 million in its first few days, and while it went on to gross $23 million, it didn’t make enough to be one of the higher grossing films of the year. Video sales and incessant airage on networks like TBS and AMC, however, were integral to its success.
13. There is a German version of the film
That’s not really the “fun” part of the fun fact, though. It’s more about the German version’s title: Das darf man nur als Erwachsener, which means One May do That Only as an Adult. Talk about lost in translation.
14. The made-for-TV version has a deleted scene
Diehard devotees may have noticed that the televised version of the film—and only the televised version—features a scene that takes place in a cafeteria. It isn’t in the theatrical cut, nor does it appear on VHS tapes or DVDs. Bonus Fact: The lunch menu in the scene, though it only appears for a moment, is absurd. It reads:
Cream of Lunch Soup
Brisket of Meat W/Sauce
Senior Burger & Fries
Chipped Pork on Bun
Canned Brownies in Light Syrup
Vitamin Cobbler – FREE
15. There was almost a sequel
In 2005, rumors swirled that Molly Ringwald was developing a sort of Sixteen Candles 2 titled 32 Candles. Sadly, it never got off the ground.
16. The cake in the final scene should’ve caught fire
Why? Because it wasn’t a cake at all. It was a prop made from cardboard.
Photographs courtesy (in order): 1. youtube.com; 2. youtube.com; 3. facebook.com; 4. youtube.com; 5. wegotthiscovered.com; 6. John: facebook.com, Joan: betanerd.wordpress.com; 7. lockerz.com; 8. youtube.com; 9. wikipedia.org; 10. youtube.com; 11. facebook.com; 12. facebook.com; 13. youtube.com; 14. youtube.com; 15. dvd-covers.org; 16. facebook.com