“Pretty in Pink” director Howard Deutch says he’s never seen anything like the way John Hughes worked as a writer.
Deutch, who also directed the Hughes-penned “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “The Great Outdoors,” recalled in a phone interview Friday that he once fell asleep in Hughes’ office while they were working on rewrites for “Some Kind of Wonderful.” When he awoke the next morning, Hughes was still writing.
“He handed me 50 pages. I said, ‘What? You were only supposed to do two or three pages.’ And he said, ‘Oh, I didn’t get to that — I did this instead. I don’t know what it’s about, but take a look at it and tell me what you think.’ It was the first 50 pages of ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’ And then, honestly, he finished it like a week later.
“I’ve never experienced a writer, nor have any other writers I know, experienced something like that. He was truly one of a kind.”
Deutch says he’s still shocked by Hughes’ death on Thursday at age 59, and that the “suddenness” of his passing has gotten him thinking about a line from the “Ferris Bueller” script: “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
“I think he understood that,” Deutch says. “No one else I know left Hollywood. Everyone else I know is in the position where Hollywood leaves them. So he did something no one else I’m aware of ever did — he walked away from it, successfully.”
Deutch was working on movie trailers and cutting the preview for “The Breakfast Club” when he met Hughes. They hit it off, and upon hearing that Deutch was looking to become a director, let him helm a video for the song “Hang Up the Phone” from the “Sixteen Candles” soundtrack.
“I used very little footage form the movie, but I created my own footage with John, and he liked it,” Deutch recalls. “So he gave me two scripts to choose from — one was ‘Pretty in Pink,’ and the other one was called ‘The New Kid.’ I chose ‘Pretty in Pink.'”
The 1986 romantic comedy starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer was Deutch’s first feature film and only the second for Hughes as a producer (“The Breakfast Club” was the first). Given those facts, it probably would have been easy for Hughes to micromanage the production, but Deutch said the opposite happened.
“Creatively I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. He allowed me to make all my own choices — some of them were goofy and didn’t work, but he still supported them,” Deutch says. “But he knew at the same time he was going to offer me options so it would work. He never was restrictive, he never said no, he never said don’t. He was always watering the seeds for me in terms of growing as a director.”
Deutch knows the knock on their second collaboration, “Some Kind of Wonderful,” is that it’s just a role-reversed “Pretty in Pink,” but he says neither he nor Hughes ever viewed it that way: “We felt they were companion pieces,” he says, adding that they started work on a third oppposites-attract romance called “Oil and Vinegar” but never got it off the ground.
“When he really believed in a script and in characters, he didn’t necessarily care that it was like something else,” Deutch says. “He just went with it.”
Knowing his characters, Deutch believes, is also what allowed Hughes to tap into the teenage mind so successfully.
“The only thing I know is that he knew the truth about these characters. They weren’t manufactured so he could write a script to turn in,” Deutch says. “He cared about these characters because [they contained] aspects of himself. … He always, I think, felt like the outsider, the subversive one; he didn’t really feel accepted. He questioned authority, and so Hollywood became a substitute for authority. Part of what fed him as a writer here was the feeling of being back in the same situation — Hollywood became high school with money. I think that kind of worked for him in that sense.”
Follow Zap2it on Twitter for the latest TV, movie and celebrity news.
Brat Pack and friends remember John Hughes
‘The Breakfast Club’: John Hughes’ most quotabel movie
R.I.P. John Hughes: A ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ moment
John Hughes’ teens: Where are they now?
‘Breakfast Club,’ ‘Sixteen Candles’ director John Hughes dies