- I Am The Cute One -5 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Writers & Directors Of 'Can't Hardly Wait'
On this week's I Am the Cute One, Donny and Chelsea revisit the 1998 house party classic, Can't Hardly Wait. The film was written and directed by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, who joined Donny and Chelsea on their Patreon this week to discuss behind-the-scenes moments of making the iconic movie about the party you wish you were invited to in high school.
Below, check out some of the highlights from I Am the Cute One's interview with Kaplan and Elfont, and to hear the full interview, support the I Am the Cute One Patreon here.
On how Can't Hardly Wait came to be...
In 1996, Kaplan and Elfont first movie, A Very Brady Sequel, was released. That winter, the two partnered up again for their next project...
Deborah Kaplan: I was an assistant on a desk at Sony and Robert Rodriguez had made El Mariachi and we were friendly and he would talk about how he wanted to make a movie. And he [asked himself], 'What do I have? I have a small town, I have a guitar, I have a pit bull, I have a bus,' and he'd use those resources, and he made a film. And it was inspiring. That was the era when people were just sort of being renegade filmmakers again, after a few years of not having done that. And so we went through our list of resources. How would we do that?
Harry Elfont: We knew a lot of young actors who were out of work. So we thought, okay, let's just kind of age it down. And we started thinking, what's a movie you could do with very few locations. And we thought like, if we have a party, we could just basically throw a party over a long weekend and shoot the whole movie at the party. And that's kind of where it came from. And then we thought, okay, what parties could we do? And then we thought, well, nobody's really set a whole movie at a graduation party, a high school party. We kept going to that. There was a high school party in Say Anything that we loved. And we thought, what if that's the whole movie? And then it just kind of grew from there.
Changing the concept...
Despite having the idea that the entire film would take place at this single party, the original concept of the film didn't include so many different pockets of classmates.
Elfont: The biggest rewrite that happened on this movie was before we sold it, which was three or four best friends who were all going to the party together with different agendas. Like one of the friends wanted to have sex. One of the friends was gonna tell this girl he had feelings for her, and when we read it back, it felt like they were all too similar and we didn't get the scope of high school. So that's when we decided, oh, let's just go back and have them not even know each other really and have them cross paths. And that felt like a, a better version.
On creating the perfect guest list...
Having the right people on the guest list can make or break a party. The same goes for casting a movie about a huge banger.
Elfont: Ethan Embry is not who we pictured at all [from the script]. He surprised everybody because we read so many people. In fact, Ethan, I think originally read for a different character. Did he read for William?
Kaplan: He read for William.
Elfont: At the time that's how he was seen as, kind of a quirky nerdy. When you look at him in That Thing You Do! or Empire Records, he's such a quirky... he's never the lead. And I don't know how he then read for the lead. I don't know if we decided or if he said, 'Oh, can I read?' I can't imagine he said that — it must have been us.
When he read for the lead, the first time he came into audition, he had just been in a horrible skateboarding accident and had basically burn netting underneath his shirt. He was all scraped up. And he had a shaved head. I think he was probably in like a punk band at the time and big thick, heavy glasses.
And the head of the studio at the time just did not see it. We kind of saw the spark, we saw this sincerity, like the part is so sincere and romantic. And he was able to access that, even though it was very kind of unlike him, in a way that nobody else could. ... So we did a screen test and we had him lose the glasses and we put different wardrobe on him and really made him look more like what a traditional leading man would look like. And [the studio] said, all right, you were right.
On the movie's many famous faces...
Like any good party, there are a few surprise faces that show up in Can't Hardly Wait.
Kaplan: Everybody came in and read, [since] no one was working. So we were lucky enough to get everybody into the room. And we just spread all the headshots out on the floor and said, all right, we need a line for this person, a line for this person.
Elfont: We didn't know Jason Segel was gonna become Jason Segel ... it was literally his first job ... Jason Segel was almost Cousin Ron. He came very, very close to being Cousin Ron. But, uh, we just felt like Eric, who we ultimately casted, was just a little bit creepier.
Kaplan: [Segel] had just graduated high school.
On specific party mayhem...
It couldn't all go off without a hitch, right? Kaplan and Elfont reminisce on a certain behind-the-scenes story that threw a wrench into the party.
Elfont: There was a day Peter [Facinelli], who played Mike, had a baby at the time and he showed up on set one day with his eye swollen shut because his little baby stuck her finger in his eye and it swelled shut. Like [there was] a scratch on his eyelid. And he's like, I can't work today. And our DP, who'd been around forever, said, oh, this is not, not a problem. Don't worry about it. We'll just put that side of his face in shadow. We'll turn him a little away from camera. You're never gonna know. And we did. And it's the scene where he walks up to his friends who were dancing with their girlfriends saying like, why haven't you guys broken up? And if you look, half of his face is in shadow, you really can't see one of his eyes.
For more behind-the-scenes stories and musings on a Can't Hardly Wait reunion from Kaplan and Elfont, become a member of the I Am the Cute One Patreon here.
Images: Sony Pictures