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Matthew Broderick Says He "Butt Heads" With "Ferris Bueller" Director John Hughes

The filmmaker would frequently get angry with him, the actor revealed in a recent interview.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is one of the most beloved teen movies of all time. And that's thanks to the writing and directing of the late John Hughes and the performances of stars Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, and Alan Ruck. But, there were points during filming when the director and cast were not on the same page, particularly when it came to Hughes and Broderick. In fact, the now 61-year-old star says that he and the filmmaker "butt heads."

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter'It Happened in Hollywood podcast, Broderick shared that Hughes was often critical of him and even called him (along with his co-stars) "boring" and not "fun to watch." Read on to find out what else he had to say about the "not easygoing" director and how they managed to create a classic anyway.

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Hughes was disappointed with a wardrobe test.

Broderick, who was 23 when he played Ferris, revealed on the podcast that Hughes became to show some discontentment with the cast when they were doing some early production work in Chicago.

"I remember we did a costume test early on," the actor recalled. "We walked around the streets of Chicago in our costumes and they filmed us—me, Alan, Jennifer Grey, and Mia." He said that the results of the test kicked up some "big drama."

"When the footage came back, he said none of us were 'fun to watch.' We were 'boring' in our tests," the actor explained. "Actually, some of us he did like, but some he did not, and I was one he did not."

Broderick said that he might have been more self-conscious about the comments if he had been a "total newcomer," but he had done a few movies by the time Ferris Bueller came around.

"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," the star continued. "That happened and I said, 'So get somebody you like.'"

Hughes stopped directing Broderick after they had a spat.

Broderick said that another tense moment occurred when they argued over Hughes' directing style.

"He said, 'I like when your eyes go wide, and then smaller, and then go wide again,'" Broderick recalled Hughes saying to him about a scene. "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.'"

Broderick said that, after that, "for a few days [Hughes] didn't give [him] anything."

"Until I finally had to say, 'John, you have to direct me, come on,'" the actor continued. He called this disagreement their "worst one."

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Hughes was "not easygoing."

Matthew Broderick in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
Paramount Pictures

Broderick explained that the disagreements with Hughes were short-lived and chalked them up to Hughes taking his work seriously and being "nervous it wouldn't come out right."

"He was not easygoing in some ways," the star explained.

"[John] wasn't a loosey-goosey person. But he also didn't hold a grudge and knew how to get himself out of it," Broderick said. He explained of the Sixteen Candles director's temperament, "He was somebody who could get angry at you. 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."

Broderick also admitted that some of the criticism he got from Hughes, he received from other directors as well. "I do drive people crazy sometimes because I don't appear to be doing anything sometimes, it seems. But, hopefully, eventually, I do," he said. "He's not the first director to grab me at some point and say, 'What is wrong with you?'"

The wardrobe test test could have killed the movie.

Broderick and Ruck reflected on the stressful wardrobe test in the 2011 book You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation by Susannah Gora. Broderick said that when he arrived at rehearsal, "Everybody was sitting around in a foul funk. It was like the world ended." According to Ruck, Hughes had told them the wardrobe test "sucked."

"John was very distraught because we had not shown any excitement in our wardrobe test; [he felt] that I looked dull and out of it," Broderick said. "I thought [the test] was for the clothes, but it was also, I guess, to show that we were charming. And John was in a panic." He said that the cast and filmmakers even had a "maybe we shouldn't be doing this movie" conversation.

Ruck said that it was Broderick who turned the situation around. After Grey was praised for how she "glowed" in the footage, Broderick said, "Wow, I never knew that anybody was supposed to glow in a wardrobe test."

"In one sentence Broderick defused the whole thing," Ruck said. "He made John laugh, which is what was needed."

Hughes died suddenly of a heart attack in August 2009 at age 59. Many of the stars who worked with him across his career, including Broderick, honored him at the 2010 Oscars.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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