‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ Research Cost Matthew Broderick $11,000

The role of Ferris Bueller seems so natural to Matthew Broderick, it’s hard to imagine he might not have played him. That’s what makes Ferris Bueller’s Day Off such a classic movie. Broderick made John Hughes’ high school hookey player a charming instigator. All of his costars nailed it too.

Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller
Matthew Broderick | Paramount Pictures

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Josh Gad reunited the cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for his final summer episode of Reunited Apart on June 29. Gad also had Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey, Ben Stein, Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward on to raise money for CORE, which provides help to restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. First, he spoke with Broderick about landing the role. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is on DVD, Blu-ray and digital from Paramount Home Video and streaming on Netflix.

Matthew Broderick was John Hughes’ first choice for ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

By the time Hughes was casting Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he had already established himself as a mogul of teen movies. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science had already been hits. When Hughes called, he already had clout. 

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Matthew Broderick | Paramount Pictures

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“It’s kind of not that interesting,” Broderick told Gad. “John Hughes, who wrote it and directed it, I got a call from my agent that said he wanted me to be in a movie. I was in a play at the time. Everybody said he’s the Steven Spielberg of teen movies. That seems good.”

Matthew Broderick had second thoughts about talking to the camera

One thing that made Ferris Bueller’s Day Off stand out from other teen movies, and most other movies at all, was the way Ferris spoke to the audience in the theater. Many have imitated Ferris Bueller since, but Broderick was not so sure talking to the camera would work. 

Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck and Mia Sara
L-R: Mia Sara, Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck | Paramount Pictures

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Biloxi Blues and Brighton Beach Memoirs are two Neil Simon plays I had just done at that time,” Broderick said. “Both of those plays, the character talks to the audience. I was actually like, ‘Oh man, maybe I’d better not do this because all I ever do is talk to the audience.’ So I didn’t know. Of course, talking to an audience on a stage is very different than talking to this dead piece of glass.”

Matthew Broderick brushed up on John Hughes before ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

To prepare for “the Steven Spielberg of teen movies,” Broderick rented Hughes’ previous films. 

“Then I think I rented Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles,” Broderick said. “I loved them.”

Perhaps Broderick studied them too hard. One night during a play, Broderick got an angry phone call from the video store.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
L-R: Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck | Paramount Pictures

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“I got a call to the stage door, ‘Matthew, you have a call,’” Broderick said. “It was Ace Video Store. ‘You’ve had Sixteen Candles out for two and a half months now. How do you intend to pay? You owe $11,000.’ I said, ‘You can’t charge me more than the tape costs. What do you mean?’ They were quite serious.”