20 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Old School’ on Its 20th Anniversary

‘Old School’ is old enough to actually go to college, so let’s revisit the comedy classic
20 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Old School’ on Its 20th Anniversary

Old School was Todd Phillips third movie about college students and people who want to be college students forever. Its the movie that gave us Mitch-a-Palooza, Will Ferrells butt and that now famous line, Youre my boy, Blue! From actors doing real stunts themselves to Steven Spielberg having a hand in a critical casting choice, there was a lot going on during the making of the movie where practically everyone on set got high with Snoop Dogg...

Will Ferrell Did That Tackle Stunt Himself

During the scene in which Frank (Ferrell), Mitch (Luke Wilson), and Bernard (Vince Vaughn) drive around in a black van kidnapping potential frat boys, Spanish (played by Rick Gonzales) gets tackled right into a fountain. Although it was a double and not Gonzales getting speared, Ferrell performed that SportCenter-worthy tackle for real.

Vince Vaughn Pitched the Inappropriate Toast Scene

In the movie’s commentary (that you can access online), Phillips said that the scene where Wilson’s character gives a toast — only to go on a tangent about walking in on his girlfriend about to have an orgy — was Vaughn’s idea. Phillips and Scot Armstrong immediately wrote it into the script.

Andy Dick Insisted on Wearing That Wig

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On the commentary track, Phillips says that he still believes it was the wrong choice but that Andy Dick insisted on wearing that ridiculous wig for his scene. In fact, he refused to come out of his trailer and film without it. At the premiere, Dick apparently had the gall to tell Phillips, “Why did you let me wear that wig? You should’ve talked me out of it!”

The Film’s Composer Has Done a String of Popular Comedy Scores

Apart from Old School, Theodore Shapiro has done the film scores for State and Main, Office Christmas Party, Fun with Dick and Jane, Idiocracy, Wet Hot American Summer,  Jennifer’s Body and Tropic Thunderto name a few. He also won an Emmy for his work on Severance.

The Party Scene Was Chaotic in Real-Time

According to the guys, Vaughn had to keep the 300 extras busy and going because there were times when Snoop Dogg just wouldn’t come out of his trailer. To this day, no one knows the reason why. 

The Filmmakers Wanted to Get Bob Dylan Alongside Snoop Dogg for ‘Mitch-A-Palooza’

Armstrong and Phillips said that they really wanted to get Dylan to perform at the big party bash. “We got close to Dylan’s people,” Phillips told Playboy. “It was actually discussed for a minute, and then it quickly went away. It was Vince mixing the old school with the new school, no pun intended. Snoop was going to do a hip-hop version with Dylan (of a Dylan song). It’s one of those shoot-for-the-stars things that doesn’t come together.”

Gwyneth Paltrow Set-Bombed the Worst Scene

During the infamous hazing scene that had the pledges standing on a rooftop with cinder blocks strapped to their unmentionables, Paltrow (who was dating Wilson at the time) decided to sit in and watch the shoot. Patrick J. Adams (who played Patch), recalled how they all had to wear “horrible cock socks” for the scene, and “of course, out comes Gwyneth Paltrow.” The guys had to go on shooting while Paltrow watched them being butt-naked out in the cold.

Steven Spielberg Suggested Ellen Pompeo for the Role of Nicole

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Phillips has explained: “Ellen had a little part in Catch Me If You Can, which wasn’t out yet, but Spielberg had just finished shooting. And he called me, and he was like, ‘I think this girl is really special. I think you would dig her for the role of Nicole.’ And I was like, ‘Yes, sir!’ That might be the only time in my career where you get a call like that from somebody like him, and they’re like, ‘Hey, you want to keep an eye on this girl.’”

Ferrell’s Streaking Scene Was Witnessed By Innocent Bystanders

Apparently, there was a 24-hour gym on the street where they filmed Ferrell’s nude run. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me,” Ferrell told SPIN. “I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe, and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

Sara Tanaka Didn’t Audition

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Phillips said he just cast her off of Rushmore to play student Megan. She didn’t come in to read for the part or anything.

The Studio Thought Vaughn Couldn’t Do Funny

At the time, Vaughn was doing smaller, dramatic roles (Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Clay Pigeons, Domestic Disturbance), and the studio didn’t think he would work. As Vaughn told Variety, “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me; I think he even told them to watch me on Letterman to see that I could be funny.” Phillips pushed so hard since he wrote the role with Vaughn specifically in mind. 

Mitch Lives on the Same Street as the McFlys

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Bushnell Avenue is the same street where the McFlys lived in Back to the Future.

Patrick J. Adams Really Played the Guitar in the Funeral Scene

The actor (who would later go on to star in Suits) said that, at first, they didn’t want him to do it because he was just a background actor. However, no one else knew how to play the guitar, so they reluctantly gave him the gig. “I was just petrified, and you can see it on my face in the film,” he explained in Playboy’s oral history of the movie. “And of course, take one, and before Will starts to even sing, I jack it and do the wrong note and screw it up, and they continue with it and finish the take. And Todd just walks across the cemetery, comes up to Will, gives him some notes, laughs with him. Goes over to Vince, gives him notes, laughs with him. And then Todd walks up to me and goes, ‘Uh, just don’t f**k it up.’ I was like, ‘Great, good note. Good notes.’ And after that, I just did everything in my power to not fuck it up.”

The Story Behind the Band

When Phillips was filming Road Trip, Breckin Meyer took him out one night to see The Dan Band in Los Angeles. Phillips was already looking for a wedding band for the film and asked them to do it right then and there. 

The Film Was the Origin of ‘The Wolf Pack’

DreamWorks Pictures

Most would know “The Wolf Pack” as the other group of irresponsible guys in Phillips’ movie, The Hangover. However, it turns out that Vaughn, Wilson and Ferrell were the originals. As Vaughn told the BBC, “We had a lot of fun, and we were always joking around with each other. We call ourselves ‘The Wolf Pack’ because we’d always turn on each other and make fun of each other. It was never safe who was getting picked on because five minutes later, we would turn on someone else.”

The Cinematographer Has Done a Lot of Major Horror Films

While he’s done many comedy films, Mark Irwin’s horror slate is pretty impressive as well. He’s done the cinematography for Scream, Videodrome, The Fly and the 1980s remake of The Blob, to name a few. He had good partnerships with both David Cronenberg and Wes Craven, collaborating with them on multiple occasions.

The Concept Came from an Advertising Exec (Who Dubbed It ‘Frat Men’)

After doing Road Trip, Phillips was directing a couple of ESPN commercials when advertising executive Court Crandall approached him with a movie idea about a bunch of older guys starting their own fraternity. Crandall called it Frat Men, and Phillips asked him to write up a script. Phillips and Armstrong rewrote much of it, and there has been some dispute about the appropriate credits, but Crandall is at least credited under “story by.” 

As Crandall put it, “To be honest, I totally think I should have gotten a screenplay credit. People all tried to take as much ownership as they can — some of that surprised me a little bit, so I just left it alone.”

Shooting the Marriage Counselor Scene Was a Laugh Riot

According to both Perrey Reeves (Frank’s wife, Marissa) and Gregory Alan Williams (the counselor), it was the hardest thing not to laugh at Ferrell improvising his way through the scene. Williams said that Ferrell kept adding new stuff that made everyone crack up, and Reeves admitted that she was biting the inside of her mouth to keep from laughing out loud (even though she did anyway).

The Olympics Sequence Wasn’t in the Initial Script

After shooting the script, the filmmakers realized they needed a different ending. They rewrote the last act and added the Olympics stuff, and everyone had to come back for reshoots. Actor Jesse Heiman (who played Budnick) said that he was out-of-town on a family vacation, and they had to hire someone who looked like him to stand in on certain days. Meanwhile, Vaughn had to wear a wig because he’d already gotten himself a haircut.

Phillips and the Cast Did a Spoof Interview of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’

As a bonus edition on the DVD, Ferrell plays James Lipton and interviews Phillips, Wilson, Vaughn and himself — or, as he puts it, the “four deities.”


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