15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Fast Times at Ridgemont High

The film Fast Times at Ridgemont High inspired dozens of teen comedies that came after and launched the careers of a whole slew of now-famous actors. Even if it’s been a long time since you’ve seen the movie, you recall how funny it was. Now you can learn some of the trivia behind the 1982 hit. For example:

1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High began as a non-fiction book.

While a freelance writer for Rolling Stone, screenwriter Cameron Crowe spent a year secretly embedded at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California under an assumed name (and in cooperation with the school’s administration) to gather stories for a non-fiction book with the same title. Crowe’s book was published in 1981; a year later, it was adapted for the screen.

5. Nicolas Cage made his big screen debut in Fast Times as “Brad’s Bud.”

Cage was originally supposed to play Brad, but the filmmakers relegated him to a background role after his improvisations during the auditioning process were deemed too weird. The credits list Cage as “Nicolas Coppola.” He later changed his last name professionally to avoid charges of nepotism—he is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola.

In addition to Nicolas Cage, you’ll read about Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker, and the folks behind the cameras in this trivia list at mental_floss.

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