Last week saw a fun little Ferris Bueller’s Day Off reunion happen: Matthew Broderick joined his old colleague Alan Ruck at the Succession finale party. Yes, the erstwhile Cameron Frye grew up to play one of the happier people on the HBO juggernaut. As it happens, it wasn’t the only Bueller news that happened last week: While many people loved his turn as the crafty school-skipper,Broderick revealed one person who didn’t was its director.
“I remember we did a costume test early on,” Broderick recalled on The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast It Happened in Hollywood. “We walked around the streets of Chicago in our costumes and they filmed us — me, Alan [Ruck], Jennifer Grey, and Mia [Sara].”
Alas, Hughes wasn’t happy with the results. “When the footage came back, he said none of us were ‘fun to watch.’ We were ‘boring’ in our tests,” Broderick said. “Actually, some of us he did like, but some he did not, and I was one he did not.”
Broderick was taken aback. In addition to the films WarGames and Ladyhawke, he had also done Broadway, including Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and its sequel Biloxi Blues. (He later starred in the film version of the latter.)
“I was not a total newcomer,” he said. “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 added.
Obviously Hughes did not get somebody else, though the two clashed at other points during the shoot. “He was somebody who could get angry at you,” he recalled. “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.’”
Broderick did come to respect him, though. “He took the work very seriously, is what I mean,” he said. “[John] wasn’t a loosey-goosey person. But he also didn’t hold a grudge and knew how to get himself out of it.”
It all worked out in the end, though: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was the 10th highest grossing movie of 1986, and it’s endured as a classic with plenty of quotables and, pace Hughes, a fine lead performance — one of the very few break-the-fourth-wall turns that really works.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off streams on Paramount+.