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‘Heathers’ – Things You Never Knew

by Kat Hughes

Image courtesy of AR-PR.

Thirty years ago Heathers arrived into theatres across the world. A teen comedy unlike the ones John Hughes was churning out, Heathers had a dark heart, and with that it, in many ways, truly encapsulated the turmoil of high school. The story tells of Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), a high school girl and member of the most powerful clique on campus – the Heathers. Her dream of becoming popular has been tainted by the Heathers’ cruelty, and when the new boy Jason Dean (Christian Slater) arrives, she sees a way out. JD is not a fan of the high school class system and recruits Veronica into his mission, one which involves a string of murders dressed-up as suicides.

Earlier this year we sat down with director Michael Lehman, and one third of the Heathers, Lisanne Talk, to celebrate the grand occasion. However, given how great a film Heathers is, we couldn’t just leave it there. Here are a list of things you probably never knew about Heathers:

1. Teenage desires were reportedly rampant on set. At the start of filming, Slater was allegedly dating head Heather actor Kim Walker, however he soon fell hard for his co-star Ryder and, according to reports, put an end to his relationship with Walker to focus his efforts on winning over Winona.

2. The film once had a very different ending. Originally it was planned that Westerberg High did blow-up, the ending then took place in a heaven version of prom where everyone was getting along, just as JD predicted. The studio though, believed that this ending was rather bleak, even by Heathers standards, and the version you see today was dreamt-up instead.

3. Christian Slater has stated that his portrayal of JD was heavily inspired by one of his favourite actors, Jack Nicholson.

Image courtesy of AR-PR.

4. The part of Veronica’s former best friend Betty Finn is played by Renee Estevez, sister of Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, and daughter of Martin Sheen.

5. Other actors up for the role of JD included Johnny Depp, Jason Bateman, Judd Nelson, Brad Pitt, and Jim Carrey.

6. Brad Pitt may have lost this part to Christian Slater, but he got his own back a few years later by winning the part of another JD, in Thelma and Louise, over Slater. The pair would eventually appear on-screen together in Interview with the Vampire.

7. The song featured in the film – ‘Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)’ by fictitious band Big Fun, is a spoof of the Queen track, ‘Don’t Try Suicide.’

Image courtesy of AR-PR.

8. JD tells Veronica that they are using Ich Lüge bullets for their prank on Ram and Kurt. Ich Lüge is German for ‘I Lie’ / ‘I’m Lying.’

9. Australian band The Veronicas got their name from this film.

10. Staying with music, Sonny Moore, AKA DJ Skrillex, borrowed the line – ‘Dear Diary, my teen angst has a body count’ as the title for his former band From First to Last’s debut album.

11. A 17 year old Heather Graham was reportedly offered the part of Heather McNamara, but her parents declined due to the dark tone of the project.

12. Lisanne Falk, whom ended up playing Heather McNamara, allegedly claimed to be eighteen at the time of her audition and filming. In reality, she was twenty-three, a fact she didn’t admit to until she knew that she definitely had the part.

13. The original theatrical trailer credited Shannen Doherty as Shannon Dougherty. D’oh.

14. If you listen real hard, you’ll hear a crow caw after each death.

15. Veronica’s mother is played by Jennifer Rhodes. Rhodes would go on to play Shannon Doherty’s grandmother in Charmed.

16. Apparently, Tori Spelling suggested Shannen Doherty to her father Aaron Spelling for Beverley Hills 90210 after watching her in Heathers.

Image courtesy of AR-PR.

17. The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that Heather Chandler and Heather Duke’s kitchens look very similar. This is because they are the same set, they are just coloured and lit differently.

18. Heather Duke’s meaningful novel was originally meant to be JD Salinger Catcher in the Rye. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the rights and instead went with Herman Melville’s Moby Dick as it was in the public domain.

19. Writer Daniel Waters had the name for the film before he started the script. He claims this was easy as in the eighties “Heather was the name for that girl.” Apparently, he also knew a lot of bad Stephanies, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

20. Heathers was called several different names in overseas territories. Other names include Lethal Attraction and Fatal Game.

Heathers is available to own on Blu-Ray via Arrow Films now. 

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