Yep, the intense, Method-acting, two-time Oscar-winner made his big splash playing blissed-out teenage surfer dude Jeff Spicoli in " Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Plus, it became the definitive high school sex comedy of the early s. Still, as many times as you've watched Penn's Spicoli get a pizza delivered to his class, or pressed the pause button on Phoebe Cates 's bikini scene, there's plenty you may not know about "Fast Times.
Late in his " Almost Famous " underage rock journalist phase, the baby-faced, year-old Crowe went undercover for an entire school year as a student at Clairemont High School in San Diego.
His reporting on the sociology of Southern California teens became a non-fiction book in , which in turn was the source for the future filmmaker's first screenplay. Producers offered the screenplay to David Lynch to direct. He turned it down, as the project really wasn't his kind of movie, but can you imagine how weird and amazing a David Lynch "Fast Times" would have been?
Heckerling made her feature directing debut with "Fast Times," landing the job on the strength of her film-school thesis project, a short called "Getting It Over With," about a girl trying to lose her virginity.
Penn, who'd recently made his screen debut in " Taps ," auditioned to play the put-upon Brad, but after a quick conversation, the filmmakers realized he'd make a better Spicoli. Little did they anticipate his Method rigor; throughout the shoot, he stayed in character and insisted on being addressed as "Spicoli," not "Sean. A number of actors got roles in the film because of their close ties to Heckerling and Crowe.
Judge Reinhold , who played Brad, was her upstairs neighbor. Her ex-husband, David Brandt, and his band were booked to play the high school dance. Another ex, former boyfriend Martin Brest, played the doctor on the biology class field trip. Several other not-yet-famous "Fast Times" actors were also second-generation showbiz kids. For labor-rule reasons, most of the cast playing high school students was over A year-old actor named Nicolas Coppola lied about his age and auditioned for the role of Brad, but wound up making his film debut as "Brad's bud.
Several other A-listers and future A-listers were up for parts in the film but didn't get them, including Tom Hanks who auditioned for Brad , Matthew Broderick who turned down the role of Spicoli because he was tending to his dying father, actor James Broderick , and Jodie Foster who turned down Stacy to continue her studies at Yale.
Justine Bateman could have played Linda, but she shot the " Family Ties " pilot instead and landed a seven-year gig on a hit TV sitcom. Other future stars with bit parts in the film included Forest Whitaker making his movie debut as school football star Charles Jefferson , as well as Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards who played Spicoli's pals. Most of the movie was shot in the San Fernando Valley, either at the Sherman Oaks Mall where Leigh went incognito for a month, preparing for her role by working in an actual pizzeria or at the vast Van Nuys High School.
Hand, after Fred Gwynne turned the part down; the " Munsters " star was reportedly appalled by the script's pervasive sexuality and drug use. As would become typical for a Crowe project, "Fast Times" had a stellar classic-rock soundtrack; credit for that goes mostly to Irving Azoff, one of the film's producers and also the manager of the Eagles and Stevie Nicks. He corralled Nicks, four of the five Eagles, Jackson Browne, and many other stars into recording songs for the two-disc soundtrack.
Heckerling grumbled that she wanted newer, hipper, punkier acts; she got a couple, including the Go-Gos and Oingo Boingo. Despite the wall-to-wall rock tracks, the movie had no instrumental score, save for stock music from the Universal Studios library. Cates's notorious topless swimming pool scene was filmed at a private home in West Hills.
She'd done extensive nudity in her first film, " Paradise ," but Heckerling recalled that the actress was nervous about filming the pool scene because she feared neighbors would be spying from their rooftops. The makers of Vans credited Penn's performance with popularizing worldwide the slip-on sneakers previously known only to California surfers and skateboarders.
Think of it as the " St. Elmo's Fire " to the original's " Breakfast Club. In , there was a short-lived TV series inspired by "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," though the only cast members from the film were teachers Walston and Vincent Schiavelli. Producers hired Moon Unit Zappa, then a newly-minted high school graduate who was considered an authority on Southern California teen slang because of her hit song "Valley Girl," as a consultant.
The "Fast Times" show, which lost a lot from having to be squeaky-clean enough for network TV, lasted just seven episodes.