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Matthew Broderick Reveals Tensions with John Hughes on ‘Ferris Bueller’: “He Was Not Easygoing”



In a new interview, Matthew Broderick says he would occasionally “butt heads” with John Hughes during the making of the 1986 comedy classic. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

“He was not easygoing in some ways,” Broderick, 61, says of the late writer-director legend on The News84Media‘s It happened in Hollywood podcast. “He was nervous it wouldn’t come out right.”

Broderick fondly recalls spending hours in Hughes’ swimming pool in Brentwood around the time of the filming, “smoking cigarettes and eating potato chips” as they discussed the role that would eventually shoot the actor, then 23, to superstardom.

But things got off to a bumpy start when filming began on location in Chicago in September 1985.

“I remember we did a costume test early on,” Broderick recalls. “We walked around the streets of Chicago in our costumes and they filmed us — me, Alan [Ruck]Jennifer Gray and Mia [Sara].

“That was a big drama. When the footage came back, he said none of us were ‘fun to watch.’ We were ‘boring’ in our tests. Actually, some of us he did like, but some he did not, and I was one he did not,” he continues.”

Broderick, who had already starred in a number of films and on Broadway in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and its sequel Biloxi Blueswas taken back by Hughes’ harsh critiques.

“I had already done some work,” he says. “I had done War Games and all that. I was not a total newcomer. So to have him say, ‘I’m not used to having somebody be so dead,’ or whatever he said to me. I wasn’t really ‘in it’ or something.”

“That happened and I said, ‘So get somebody you like,'” he continued.

Broderick admits Hughes wasn’t the only director to confront him on set.

“I’ve heard that from other directors, too. I do drive people crazy sometimes because I don’t appear to be doing anything sometimes, it seems. But, hopefully, eventually, I do. He’s not the first director to grab me at some point and say, ‘What is wrong with you?’” Broderick says.

While that initial confrontation lasted only a “half a day,” the two found themselves at odds later at other points in the shoot.

“He was somebody who could get angry at you,” says Broderick of Hughes, who before Bueller had revolutionized teen comedies with Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. “Not outwardly angry, but you could tell. He would turn dead. Dead-faced, I would say, ‘What did you think of that?’ And he’d say, ‘I don’t know.’ Just nothing. ‘OK. John doesn’t like that.’”

“He said, ‘I like when your eyes go wide, and then smaller, and then go wide again.’ I said, ‘If you tell me exactly what my face is doing, I get kind of self-conscious. Now I’m thinking of my face. And he was like, ‘Well, then, I won’t direct you at all.’ … And for a few days he didn’t give me anything. Until I finally had to say, ‘John, you have to direct me, come on.’ That was our worst one,” he continued.

Still, Broderick emphasizes that the disagreements with Hughes were short-lived.

“He took the work very seriously is what I mean,” he says. “[John] wasn’t a loosey-goosey person. But he also didn’t hold a grudge and knew how to get himself out of it.”

Listen to Broderick’s recollections of making Ferris Bueller’s Day Off below and be sure to subscribe to It happened in Hollywood for more first-person accounts of making movie history.

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