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Ferris Bueller Had One Quirk That Made Matthew Broderick Hesitate on Taking the Role

The 1986 teen comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off holds a special place in the hearts of Gen X fans. The film starred Matthew Broderick as the titular Ferris Bueller, a high school senior who became one of the most iconic teen characters in Hollywood history. In an interview for Sirius XM’s Quarantined with Bruce, the actor revealed he was initially hesitant to take on the role of Ferris. Not because of any script or production concerns, but because he did not want to be pigeonholed as a guy who talks to the camera.

“I thought [the script] was great, and I had a teeny hesitation because having just done [the plays] ‘Brighton Beach [Memoirs]’ and ‘Biloxi [Blues]. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m talking to the audience, just like in these plays… and even in [the 1985 movie] Ladyhawke he talks to the camera a bit. … You know, when you’re young or starting out you think, ‘I have to do something different.'”

The technique of “fourth-wall-breaking” is used in movies to have a character talk directly to the audience. The technique has been a staple of pop culture for decades, with shows like Scrubs and Malcolm in the Middle, and movies like Deadpool and Enola Holmes making full use of fourth-wall breaks to take the audience into the mind of the main character.

But at the time of the release of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Fourth-wall breaking” was rarely used. Clearly, Matthew Broderick was afraid he was going to get typecast as a meta-narrator actor who was only good for staring directly into the camera and quipping to the audience.

Still, the actor was able to get over his misgivings and accept the role of Ferris Bueller. One of the main reasons for his changed stance had to do with filmmaker John Hughes, who was helming Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. According to Broderick, Hughes was “known as the [Steven] Spielberg of teen film at the time,” and when the actor’s agent heard Hughes was interested in casting him in the lead for a film, there were no two ways about the response.

“My memory is, before I had hung up the phone, [my agent] was like behind me in the room, saying, ‘Yes, you should do it.'” Broderick recalled. “He flew to New York. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow. Let’s just not talk about it anymore now, I’ll see you tomorrow,’ and he came and was suddenly in the room with me, saying, ‘Yeah, I do think you should do it.’.. He was right.”

The decision turned out to be resoundingly the right one for Broderick, and more than three decades later, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is still considered a high point for the teen comedy genre. For his part, far from getting typecast, Broderick was able to parlay his fame from the film for an extensive career of lead roles in big-budget movies, television projects, and the theater.

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