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48 Things You Might Not Know About The Movie "Heathers"

"What's your damage?"

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1. Heathers was supposed to be the teen film to end all teen films. Its inital tagline was "Love. Lust. Murder. Heathers: The Last Teen Film."

2. Daniel Waters, the film's writer, wanted Heathers to be a parody of John Hughes movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink. He wanted to make “a Carson McCullers-style novel of a girl who meets the Antichrist as a teenager”.

3. According to Waters, a lot of '80s TV shows and documentaries made teen suicide seem attractive "because you got all this love and adulation". Heathers was born out of his attempt to inject some humour into this narrative.

4. Heathers had a $3 million budget.

5. And it was filmed in 33 days.

6. As soon as Winona Ryder read the script, she knew she wanted to play Veronica. She even called Michael Lehmann, the casting director, and offered to do it for free.

7. At first, however, Waters and Lehmann didn't think Ryder was pretty enough to play Veronica. When Ryder heard this, she went to a makeup counter in her local shopping mall, got a makeover, and walked straight back into their office.

8. Despite being so keen to play Veronica, Ryder's agent begged her not get involved in the film. Ryder was told she'd never find work again if she accepted the role.

9. Ryder was only 15 when she started filming Heathers. She turned 16 during the filming process.

10. And she says she loved the movie "to the point where I talk about it like I’m not even in it”. Ryder reckons she's seen Heathers about 50 times.

11. Jennifer Connelly and Justine Bateman both rejected the role of Veronica.

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12. Heather Graham was originally offered the role of Heather Chandler, but her strict mother wouldn't let her take it.

13. After Graham rejected the role of Heather Chandler it was offered to Kim Walker, who was Christian Slater's girlfriend at the time. She was 18.

14. Ryder admits to having a crush on Slater while they were filming, but denies ever going out with him.

15. And despite his girlfriend also being cast in the movie, Slater had a crush on Ryder too. He said, "Having my girlfriend on the set made not falling in love with her much easier."

16. Ryder does, however, remember making out with Slater a few times after he broke up with Walker.

17. Shannen Doherty wanted to play Veronica, but ended up getting the role of Heather Duke.

18. Doherty was asked to dye her hair blonde for the movie. But she worried that bleaching her hair would destroy it, so she compromised by dying it ginger.

19. Lisanne Falk, who played Heather McNamara, lied about her age in her audition, claiming to be 18 when she was actually 23. She only revealed her real age when she knew she had the part.

20. Carrie Lynn, who played Martha Dumptruck, was a stand-up comedian when she met the Heathers casting agent. "I think most of it was that I looked the part," she said. "Where else are you going to find another 400lb young person? I was Martha Dumptruck, in real life, growing up in Beverly Hills."

21. Lynn said Doherty "stuck out like a sore thumb" because she was so bitchy IRL.

22. Denise Di Novi, the movie's producer, doesn't think Doherty fully understood what Heathers was about. In a funny way, she said this made the character of Heather more real.

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23. Waters came up with the movie's title before he even wrote the script. He said it was easy because in the '80s, "Heather was the name for that girl."

24. He said he knew a lot of bad Stephanies too. Unfortunately, he said, "The Stephanies doesn't have that same zing that Heathers did."

25. The first line Waters wrote was “You can’t use that knife, it’s filthy!”, when Veronica and J.D. are about to stage Heather Duke’s suicide.

26. Each of the Heathers had a signature colour: Heather Chandler's was red, Heather McNamara's was yellow, and Heather Duke's was green. Veronica, on the other hand, dressed in blacks, whites, and blues.

27. The movie was originally supposed to end with J.D. blowing up the whole school. The final scene was going to involve all the high school students at prom, in heaven, drinking bright blue punch with Martha Dumptruck singing in the background.

28. Another alternate ending involved Martha Dumptruck pulling out a knife, stabbing Veronica and shouting, “Fuck you, Heather”. Meanwhile Veronica, with a knife in her stomach, was supposed to laugh, “My name’s not Heather. My name’s not Heather.” The movie would end with Martha standing up from her wheelchair and walking off.

29. In another ending, Veronica killed J.D. in the boiler room and then blew herself up.

30. Waters wanted to write a sequel, Heathers 2, where Veronica would become a page for a senator named Heather. In this movie, Veronica would end up assassinating Heather and getting away with it.

31. He wanted Meryl Steep to play Heather.

32. When Ryder worked with Streep on The House of the Spirits, she pitched Heathers 2 to her. Apparently Streep seemed interested, but Ryder suspects she was just being nice.

33. Waters said that he imagined someone like James Dean playing J.D. but was very happy with Christian Slater's performance.

34. Slater says he based his characterisation of J.D. on Jack Nicholson in Witches of Eastwick.

35. During filming, Slater would often oversleep and not show up.

36. The scene in which Veronica and J.D. murder the football players in the woods was supposed to be shot at night. But it had to be shot in the day to accommodate Ryder's on-set teaching schedule.

37. Brad Pitt also read for the part of J.D.

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38. Waters wanted Heathers to be a three-hour Stanley Kubrick movie. The cafeteria scene at the start of the film was supposed to be like the wedding scene in The Godfather.

39. Waters asked everyone in Heathers to watch Full Metal Jacket before they started filming.

40. Waters remembers a camp counsellor he used to work with saying the line “What’s your damage?”. That's where he got it from.

41. Heather Duke reads a copy of Moby-Dick throughout the movie. She was supposed to read The Catcher in the Rye, but production couldn’t secure the rights to use the book. Waters says that the film makes more sense if you imagine her reading The Catcher in the Rye instead of Moby-Dick.

42. Duke's copy of Moby-Dick has the word "eskimo" underlined in it. However, Moby-Dick does not contain the word "eskimo".

43. New World Pictures ran out of money just as Heathers entered a wider release, so Di Novi offered to buy a newspaper advert on behalf of the studio to keep the film alive.

44. Heathers was called Lethal Attraction in some overseas markets.

45. Waters wrote the note-passing scene because he knew his sisters' friends used to forge notes from boys to each other in high school.

46. Almost all the film's extras were in their late thirties.

47. 7-Eleven and Perrier wouldn't allow their branding to be used in the film.

48. Paramount are currently working on a TV remake of Heathers set in the present day.

H/t: This incredible oral history of Heathers.

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