Matthew Broderick says he and John Hughes butted heads while filming the comedy classic Ferric Bueller’s Day Off.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” like Matthew Broderick almost missed the opportunity to star in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off because of complications with the film’s director, John Hughes. During an appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s “It Happened in Hollywood” podcast, Broderick said he and Hughes butted heads in the lead-up to filming the beloved comedy.
“He was nervous [the film] wouldn’t come out right,” Broderick said about Hughes’s apprehension toward his performance. According to Broderick, Hughes’s apprehension stemmed from early costume test footage featuring him and co-stars Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, and Jennifer Grey walking around Chicago streets. Broderick says Hughes thought the trio (Broderick, Sara, and Ruck) lacked chemistry and were boring to watch.
Broderick quickly doubles back after laying down this truth bomb by saying, “Actually, some of us he did like, but some he did not, and I was one he did not.”
Broderick can still recall Hughes’s harsh analysis of his acting skills, which surprised the actor. “To have him say, ‘I’m not used to having somebody be so dead,’ or whatever he said to me,” he says while being lost in memory. “I don’t think he said ‘dead’ but, you know, I wasn’t really ‘in it’ or something.”
While Hughes’s comments appear cruel, it’s not the first time a director questioned Broderick’s talent. “I do drive people crazy sometimes because I don’t appear to be doing anything,” he noted. “But, hopefully, eventually, I do. [Hughes] was not the first director to grab me at some point and say, ‘What is wrong with you?’”
Broderick wasn’t about to take Hughes’s comments lying down. He remembers firing back at the director, saying, “So that happened and I said, ‘So get somebody you like. If that’s what you want, I’m fine.’” A retort like this would get most people fired on the spot, but Broderick and Hughes soldiered on.
As filming on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off continued, Hughes and Broderick continued to clash. Broderick says Hughes did not hide his anger well. If the director was upset with you, you knew it. At one point, Hughes gave Broderick a note about his facial expressions, which quickly escalated into an on-set argument that drove the wedge between both personalities deeper than ever.
“He said, ‘I like when your eyes go wide, and then smaller, and then go wide again,’” Broderick recalls. “I said, ‘If you tell me exactly what my face is doing, I get very self-conscious. Now I’m thinking of my face.’”
Frustrated by the situation, Hughes refrained from giving Broderick instructions. This defiant and petulant act left Broderick questioning his every move. Eventually, the actor confronted his director, suggesting he abandon the issue for the sake of the performance. “He was like, ‘Well, then, I won’t direct you at all,’” he said. “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.”
While the duo’s working relationship sounds fraught with anger and controversy, Broderick says the conflicts never lasted long. The pair would eventually meet in the middle, and the work would continue. Still, Broderick couldn’t help but feel like their dynamic was apt, given that Ferris annoys everyone in the film, especially his parents.
“Maybe I was annoying him the way Ferris annoys his own parents? That may be true. John Hughes is like Frankenstein and Ferris Bueller was the monster,” Broderick jokes.
Did you know the extent of Broderick and Hughes’s feuding on the set of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? What do you think about Broderick’s performance in the film overall? Does the stress of working alongside Hughes show in his work? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/ferris-bueller-john-hughes-feud/