John Hughes wrote, directed, and produced many movies that came to define the 1980s and '90s. In flicks like Mr. Mom (1983), Pretty in Pink (1986), and Home Alone (1990), he captured the experiences of children, teenagers, and adults with both realism and relatability. The inclusion of familiar actors and actresses over and over accompanied both comedic and dramatic elements in his movies, giving audiences a little bit of everything along the way.
Hughes's movies are not without some problematic storylines and stereotypes, and some are not remembered as fondly as others. But many of his films remain classics in various ways. Here are some facts about them - and Hughes - that have us ready to rewatch some of our favorites from the 1980s and '90s.
- Photo: Mr. Mom / 20th Century Fox
The origin of the movie Mr. Mom (1983) was a weekend writer John Hughes spent with his own children. When he told producer Lauren Shuler Donner about how he bumbled through taking care of his sons while his wife was out of town, Donner relates that it went like this:
It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing.
He said, "Do you think this would make a good movie?"
And I said, "Yeah, this is really funny."
So he said, "Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?"
So I looked at it and I said, "This is great! Let’s do it!" We kind of developed it ourselves.
Getting Mr. Mom made was more difficult than either Hughes or Donner could have foreseen. It bounced around from television to feature-film status. Along the way, Hughes turned down a request to direct Mr. Mom, a decision he later told film critic Roger Ebert was because he wanted to work from Chicago, not Hollywood, where he'd "get all chewed up."1044Time for some Hughes movie fun?
- Photo: Weird Science / Universal Pictures
Two of the actors in Weird Science (1985) commented on the relationship between John Hughes and Anthony Michael Hall. According to Bill Paxton, who played Chet, the collaboration between Hughes and Hall was incredible to watch. As Paxton saw it, "Although all the characters he wrote were characters he could relate to, it seemed like Michael was like his on-screen avatar in a way."
During the casting process, Robert Downey Jr. (who was given the role of Ian) noted the same kind of connection between the two men. When Downey auditioned for Hughes, Hall was there, "playing with John's stereo system... he kind of looked at me, like I'm going to tell John to get you this job."
Hughes's relationship with Hall wasn't something the actor took lightly. While making Weird Science, Hall was approached by Stanley Kubrick to be in Full Metal Jacket. Hall remembered speaking to Kubrick, who told him, "I want you to know: I just screened Sixteen Candles three times... and you’re my favorite actor since I saw Jack in Easy Rider!" After receiving what he called, "the greatest compliment" of his life, Hall admitted, "I owe that to John Hughes."
For his part, Paxton also felt gratitude to Hughes. After the director's passing in 2009, Paxton said, "I’d always wanted to look him up.... I just wanted to look him up to thank him for that role [Chet] in that movie just changed my whole career. I always wanted to see him again to see if he had anything in a drawer anywhere — if he wanted to do Chet: The Early Years."1055Time for some Hughes movie fun?
- Photo: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles / Paramount Pictures3
Hughes Encouraged Improvisation To A Painful Degree During 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'
On the whole, John Hughes was a fan of letting actors add their own lines and input into the roles he wrote for them. This was as true as ever during the filming of 1987's Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Once again writer, producer, and director, Hughes told Edie McClurg (the desk worker at the rental car counter) to "talk about Thanksgiving" while she was on the phone. The explanation she provides to the person on the other end of the line is not at all something Steve Martin's Neal Page enjoys.
It wasn't only McClurg who had fun with the dialogue in the movie; in fact, things got a bit out of hand when Martin and John Candy started riffing off one another. According to Kirk Honeycutt, author of John Hughes: A Life in Film:
[Martin] and John Candy are shooting this scene in this broken-down car with no roof, and it’s minus-10 degrees outside. Every time they ad-libbed, you have to cover it [reshoot from a different camera angle] 50 times. It was getting ridiculous, the multiple coverage they needed for every line. Martin and Candy agreed not to ad-lib anymore because they were freezing to death.914Time for some Hughes movie fun?
- Photo: Pretty in Pink / Paramount Pictures4
The Lead Role In 'Pretty in Pink' Was Written For Molly Ringwald, But Duckie Couldn't Catch A Break
John Hughes had actress Molly Ringwald in mind when he penned the role of Andie in Pretty in Pink (1986). He and Ringwald had worked together on Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Breakfast Club (1985), but the studio initially pushed back against the idea of her taking the lead role. They wanted Jennifer Beals (of Flashdance fame).
Hughes and director Howard Deutch remained determined to get Ringwald on board, even though she'd apparently already moved on. According to Deutch, "I pretty much groveled" to get her to take the role.
While Hughes and Deutch fought hard for Ringwald, they weren't able to get their first choice for Duckie: Anthony Michael Hall. He turned down the role, something that "was shocking to John because John felt like he was his son. He felt very close to him."
In the end, Jon Cryer became Andie's lovable best friend, but the love between them didn't please audiences at all. The first cut of Pretty in Pink had Andie and Duckie ending up together, but test audiences hated it. As a result, the end was rewritten - and then reshot in one day.744Time for some Hughes movie fun?