You know his name. Bueller…Ferris Bueller.
He’s the ultimate slacker kingpin in John Hughes’ seminal ’80s teen comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which inspired millions of kids to not take life too seriously. The movie was an enormous success upon release, becoming one of the most beloved comedies of the decade. Most notable was the nigh-perfect group of characters Hughes created, and of course, the actors he enlisted to play them.
It may be hard to believe, but the comedy classic is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary in June. It’s crazy to think that that much time has passed since Ferris took that fateful day off of school, but then, life does move pretty fast. As such, it’s time to stop and take a look around and see what the cast members of this classic have been up to all these years. Here are the ups and downs of the stars of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
The walrus himself, Broderick brought the titular wise guy to life in what proved to be a career defining role. Ferris’ quest to have one of the most legendary days of hooky in high school history was not to be denied. He convinces his (actually sick) best friend Cameron to borrow his father’s Ferrari for a day on the town, and, weirdly enough, a car almost ended Broderick’s career just as it was taking off. Less than a year after Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was released in the U.S., the actor and his co-star/secret girlfriend Jennifer Grey were involved in a controversial car crash while vacationing in Ireland. The crash killed a mother and child in the opposite car. Broderick, who fractured his leg and ribs in the accident, was nearly charged with a crime that may have led to significant jail time, but only payed a small fine in the end.
After the success of Ferris Bueller, he went on to star in the 1989 Civil War epic Glory, which won 3 Oscars. He also found a great deal of success in the ’90s as the voice of all-grown-up Simba in the Disney smash hit The Lion King. He went on to star in a series of hits and misses on the big screen, including 1998’s Godzilla, Inspector Gadget, The Stepford Wives and Deck the Halls. He’s also dabbled in Broadway musicals, having been nominated for a Tony for his performance in The Producers only to lose to his co-star, Nathan Lane.
Although he’s had a series of relationships with various actresses (Grey, Helen Hunt, and Lili Taylor), Broderick settled down with Sex in the City star Sarah Jessica Parker in 1997. The two remain together nearly two decades later, and they have three children together. Broderick may not have ever outdone his most famous role, though he’s certainly still getting steady work. He was last seen in a cameo role in last summer’s Trainwreck, and he’s attached to co-star in an as of yet untitled Howard Hughes-based film (directed by Warren Beatty)scheduled for a 2016 release.
One of the standout moments of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is when Ferris’ quiet, reserved BFF Cameron goes totally “berserk.” Thanks to Alan Ruck’s onscreen charisma and youthful looking face (he turned 30 when the film was released) he was able to embody the spirit of the character as he transforms from a tightly wound diamond creator to a confident adolescent in control of his own destiny. After the movie, Ruck took a series of backseat supporting roles, from 1990’s Young Guns II to 1996’s Twister. You might also recognize him as Annoying Tourist Guy from Speed.
He landed a lead role in the popular series Spin City alongside Michael J. Fox in the ’90s, and then later Charlie Sheen in the 2000s. Today, Ruck stays busy with a number of television roles including Medium, Persons Unknown, and various CSI incarnations. His most recent endeavors include a return to stage acting, as well as a Netflix-based feature film project alongside Brad Pitt titled War Machine (not a Marvel spinoff of Ironman’s buddy).
Sara’s big break came in 1985 when she starred opposite Tom Cruise in Ridley Scott’s adventure pic Legend. With it she was able to land the role of Ferris’ girlfriend, Sloan Peterson. Since moving on from her role as the plucky high schooler, she’s somewhat been avoiding the limelight. In 1994 she starred alongside Jean Claude Van Damme in Timecop, a science fiction piece that actually won Sara a Saturn Award for best supporting actress — no small feat.
The actress has tried her hat on television, scoring numerous roles throughout the years. In 2002, she played Dr. Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn, the main antagonist in the short-lived series Birds of Prey, which focused on the years after Batman’s exile into solitude. In her personal life, Sara has a private piloting license, as well as a habit of falling for the sons of Hollywood icons. In 1996, she married Jason Connery, the son of Sean Connery, though the two divorced in 2002 and she’s now married to Ben Henson, the son of Muppets creator Jim Henson.
The wacked out Dean of Students, Ed Rooney had more than an unbridled determination to catch Ferris skipping school. It was a complete and total obsession, one that eventually led Rooney to break into the Bueller family home and assault the family dog, down a twisted path he probably wasn’t going to recover from. Unfortunately, the same can be said of the actor who played him, Jeffrey Jones.
After the role that made him a cultural icon, Jones wasn’t exactly struggling to find work. He landed roles in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Sleepy Hollow, and appeared alongside Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves in The Devil’s Advocate. But all of this was overshadowed by the public attention toward his arrest in 2002, in which Jones was accused of paying a 14 year old boy to allow him to take graphic photographs. He was subsequently sentenced to 5 years of probation and was forced to register himself as a sex offender. He’s had multiple arrests in the years since, as Jones has either failed to update his status as an offender or update his registration in both Florida and California.
The ’80s were a great time for Jennifer Grey. After the success of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off she was reunited with Patrick Swayze (the two had previously starred together in Red Dawn) for 1987’s Dirty Dancing. The movie was a megahit that earned the actress a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Her scenes dancing with Swayze set to the song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” still remain cinema staples in pop-culture moments.
As the ’80s drew to a close unfortunately, so too did the actress’ career. Grey acknowledges her ability to get work suffered from undergoing plastic surgery procedures. The actress even pokes fun of this fact in the 1999 sitcom It’s Like, You Know . . ., playing herself in a role with a running gag about her noticeable nose job. Although she hasn’t reached the heights she did when she appeared in Ferris Bueller and Dirty Dancing, Grey stays busy with smaller movie parts and various TV roles. In 2010 she showed off her dance moves in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, a competition which she won, and the following year, she married her husband Clark Gregg, better known as Agent Coulson from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
As Ferris’ naive mother, Cindy Pickett never suspects for a moment that her son is off serenading all of Chicago atop a parade float. She blindly believes her child is at home resting, as she should after Ferris’ performance, even though it was one of the worst of his career. Since her role in the film, Pickett has appeared in a vast number of movies and television shows, although none of them were nearly as popular as Ferris Bueller.
She starred in an acclaimed made-for-TV drama I Know My First Name is Steven in 1989, as well as the Stephen King-penned film Sleepwalkers in 1992 alongside Ferris co-star/on-screen husband Lyman Ward. Interestingly enough, after filming wrapped on the ’80s classic in question, Ward and Pickett fell in love and got married in real life. That marriage wasn’t quite as steady as their fictional one however, and the two divorced in 1992.
Tom Bueller almost busted his son as he is hailing a cab in the streets of Chicago. Ferris announces that he refuses to get caught however, and manages to dupe his clueless father, played by Lyman Ward. Before his role as a Bueller, Ward was working quite regularly, with bit parts in everything from Laverne & Shirley to Battlestar Galactica. The John Hughes film proved to be his biggest success however, as the actor received more visibility in the role than almost anything else he’s done.
After filming Ferris Bueller, Ward married co-star Cindy Pickett before divorcing in 1992. Since that time, he’s gotten parts in some noticeable television shows like JAG and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. He’s also appeared in a few Hollywood hits, albeit in small roles, which include 1996’s Independence Day and 1992’s Sleepwalkers.
McClurg plays the Dean’s lovable secretary/reluctant sidekick Grace. McClurg brought an uncontrollable likeness to the character, making the audience laugh with each new item she was able to pull out from her hair. After Bueller she landed a part along other comedy legends Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, with the actress playing a hilariously confrontational car rental agent. She also appeared in Robert Redford’s drama A River Runs Through It in 1992.
At the turn of the ’90s the actress found her niche in voice acting work, and has appeared in several high profile animated films. She’s provided voices for The Little Mermaid, Wreck It Ralph, and more recently, the box office phenomenon Frozen.
Bueller? . . . Bueller? . . . Bueller? Ben Stein’s scene-stealing performance as the driest economics teacher of all time still remains one the movie’s most iconic moments. The monologue he gives about voodoo economics, which is completely improvised, is mind-numbingly hilarious as the students in his class look like they would rather be having their teeth pulled out. Stein was actually an accomplished speechwriter for both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford before agreeing to be in Hughes’ film.
After Ferris Bueller, Stein landed himself a recurring role on the popular series The Wonder Years before appearing in a number of TV ads, most prominently for Clear Eyes. Since then he’s appeared in Seinfeld, The Mask, Ghostbusters, and even Family Guy. And who could forget his game show, Win Ben Stein’s Money, in which contestants could steal from Stein’s contractual pay for each episode by answering questions correctly. Today, Stein has stepped away from the acting spotlight, and frequently contributes a political column in the magazine, anyone? . . . anyone? The American Spectator.
The sketchy parking lot attendant that took a joyride in Cameron’s very choice 1961 Ferrari is played by veteran actor Richard Edson. Cameron’s car, who his father loves more than him, is driven all around the back roads of Chicago by Edson’s character before bringing it back with, what appears to be, zero ramifications. Like the garage attendant from Day Off, Edson was known for playing seedy characters in the ’80s including Howard the Duck, Platoon and Good Morning, Vietnam.
He went on to play a notable role in the critically acclaimed Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing. He then made the unfortunate decision to appear in the critically panned movie Super Mario Bros. In addition to his successes in film Edson is also involved in music, being the original drummer for the post-punk band Sonic Youth. Today, he lives in L.A. and still gets regular work, both as an actor and musician.
In all of Hollywood history no star has publicly burned out and imploded more than that of Charlie Sheen. In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Jennifer Grey’s Jeannie asks Sheen’s character what he’s in jail for. Sheen, whose character’s name is Boy in Police Station, quizzically responds with a straight face: “drugs.” Ironically, Sheen would run into the same problem with regularity later on in his career. After Ferris Bueller, Sheen racked up a highly successful movie career, starring in hits like Platoon, Wall Street, and Major League, and he followed it with a fruitful TV career with his hit television show Two and a Half Men. Unfortunately, heavy cocaine use coupled with offensive media rants led to Sheen’s termination from the popular CBS show.
And then Charlie kind of went berserk.
In the years following Two and a Half Men, Sheen spiraled down a twisted path of heavy drug use, public rants and strange behavior. He was able to pool his resources into getting another show on FX, Anger Management, but it was cancelled after just two seasons. His string of self-destructive behavior came to an unfortunate head this past year with the actor’s announcement that he was in fact HIV positive. Here’s hoping the former A-Lister can turn it around so he can get back to dispensing sound psychological advice to overbearing sisters in police stations.
Which 30 year transformation shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments section.
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