John Hughes, Jerk

Last week, Kickin' It Old School posted an interview with Martha Coolidge, the director of two of my favorite '80s movies, Valley Girl and Real Genius, as well as Joy Of Sex, Rambling Rose, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, and episodes of Sex And The City, Huff, and Weeds.

While most of the interview focuses on her experiences working on Real Genius and Valley Girl, the interview drops one hell of a bomb about beloved '80s icon John Hughes.

WARNING: If you don't want your fondest memories of the '80s immediately crushed, stop reading now and go watch VH1 Classic or something.

Last chance...

Apparently, I'm the last person in the world to find out that John Hughes was a jerk. It's like that day when George Michael came out of the closet all over again. I'm always the last to know:
Kickin' It Old School: It is reported that you were supposed to direct Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), but had a falling out with John Hughes which prevented that from happening. Howard Deutch was re-hired to direct the film. Would you consider taking us through how that really went down?

Martha Coolidge: I have actually never talked about this before. I was hired to direct Some Kind of Wonderful, developed the script, then fully prepped the film for months and was fired four days before shooting. The press release claimed we had "creative differences" but that wasn't it. I actually had a great time with John, rehearsing and getting the film ready to go. There were no signs of any problems. Mary Stuart [Masterson] was attached and I cast Eric [Stoltz], Kim Delaney and Kyle McLaughlin in the other two leads. I had Eric get long extensions and make his hair a darker red to give him some darkness and mystery. He was very steamy. Mary Stuart is always gorgeous as was Kim Delaney.

Prior to my involvement, apparently Howard Deutch had been involved with John and the film and they had a falling out. I didn't know it, but on the weekend prior to our shoot, John and Howard met and made up. John decided in a gesture of friendship to make the studio give the movie to Howard to direct. John never spoke to me. When I came in on Monday morning I got a call to come over to see Michael [Chinich], John's partner and producer. No one said anything to me, but I could feel that something was wrong. The walk to the next building felt like I was walking a gang plank. Michael was in tears when I got there and talked about his crushing disappointment in the film and his company. He directed me to sit and told me what a great job I was doing. I thought maybe Eric had died and the movie was off. Then he said that they would be making the film but not with me. He said that I was fired, with no reason, and I had to leave the lot right away. I was in shock. I insisted on talking to my actors before I left. They were already on the lot meeting with Howard. Kim and Kyle were also fired and they wanted to fire Eric Stoltz as well. He was traumatized. He had just had a terrible experience on Back To The Future before this. The studio drew the line with Eric though and said no, he was to stay. I was called to Ned Tannen's office, the president of Paramount, and he apologized. He said I hadn't done anything wrong, I was a pleasure to work with and this was a whim of John's, but John was very important to the studio so they had to do it even though it would hurt the film, and me. He promised to make it up to me and get me a film as soon as he could. Even in shock, I realized that until I started shooting I wasn't even "pay or play". But my full check for the entire salary was waiting for me by the time I got home.

Then I found something out about Hollywood. I got about a hundred phone calls from people I knew and didn't know. They told me not to be too upset, that it happens to everyone and that I was in good company being fired by John Hughes. Major heads of companies called me and were very kind. It was one of the first times I felt truly like I was a member of the community. The experience was awful, a real artistic coitus-interruptus and I hired a publicist to help me through the "Artistic Differences" public story that the company and my agents had agreed upon. After a couple days, I left town.

Years later, I ran into John on an airplane in a small first class cabin flying back from Japan for 12 long hours. He greeted me cheerfully and acted like nothing had ever happened and he had never caused me such pain. I was polite to him but felt good that I was returning from Japan with Rambling Rose and he had Curly Sue.
Sadly, that's not all:
Martha Coolidge: The thing that galled me more was I had told him my story about my disastrous plane and train trip back and forth to New York one week. My plane was delayed then diverted, the train had a collision, the food ran out, a heat wave hit, etc. I wanted to make a film out of the experience. Before I knew it, he wrote Planes, Trains And Automobiles and it was in production. The moral of that story is to never tell a good writer your best stories.

Read the entire interview at Kickin' It Old School.

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