ATLANTA – He was the inspiration for the 1980s go-getter delinquent, but the man who gave John Hughes’ eponymous truant featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has shunned the limelight, until now.
Meeting Ferris Bueller for the first time can be disconcerting. One can’t help but think to a youthful Matthew Broderick breaking the fourth wall with a sassy piece of high school wisdom. However, the Studio Exec went down to Alpharetta in Georgia, not far from Atlanta and there in a small bungalow of Mason Street was a post box with the name ‘Ferris Bueller’ for all to see. A middle aged man, slightly over weight and wearing a mullet that is only legal in the state of Georgia, comes to the door in a house coat.
‘Ferris Bueller, pleased to know you!’ he says and instantly the magic is back.
We sit in his breakfast nook and Ferris gets wistful as we consider this historical moment.
How did you meet John Hughes?
We went to school together in Chicago, Illinois. We were good friends. Well, actually, I did use him a bit. He was uptight you know. Always wanting to study and please his asshole father. I wanted to have fun. I’m sorry to say I manipulated him a little. If you watch the film, Cameron (played by Alan Ruck) was actually John. All that stuff about the car was true. It was that day that made him into a writer and so it didn’t surprise me that he turned it into a film as well.
Amazing. And the other stuff was true?
Pretty much all of it. It didn’t happen in one day. We had a series of days when I didn’t want to go to school. Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) was actually called Jenny Pitz, and she wasn’t as good looking as all that, but she was willing if you know what I mean. The war of wits with Ed Rooney, the art gallery, the car, the parade, all of that was true. Ed Rooney killed himself that very year.
What happened when you saw the film?
I’d like to say I was flattered, but the film came out a good few years after we’d all gone our different ways. My carpe diem attitude didn’t fly with my employers and I found myself having to go back home and live with my mom and dad. Plus I had a fairly serious drug problem. Again living life to its fullest does sometimes lead you into the arms of Miss Crystal Meth and she is a vixen with a tenacious hold.
I used to call John Hughes all the time asking for money, or threatening that I’d kidnap him, but he’d laugh it off as a joke. He didn’t know I was deadly serious. I had rope and everything. Luckily I was too f*cked up to ever carry it out. Fact was at that point Ferris Bueller was taking years off. Years and years.
But you seem to have got it together now.
Yeah. I do okay. I went back to school and got myself a vocational degree from Community College. I really got a taste for it you know. The learning. I’m still taking classes. I’m learning French and I want to do philosophy next year. Not for work or anything, just for my whole personal development.
And the drugs?
Oh the drugs are a thing of the past. I’m glad to say. No, what I am now is what you would call a functioning alcoholic. It ain’t ideal, but she’ll do for the moment.
And the film?
Shortly before John died we got together and I had the opportunity to talk about it and I told him I liked the film. It brought back lots of great memories. I can’t say, even with everything that happened to me, that I regret taking that day off.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is due to be released in 1986.