We'll let the film's writer, writer Daniel Waters, explain. "We did a reading of the script, and we asked one of our actress friends, who was going to read one of the roles, 'We can't find anyone for the role of J.D., can you bring someone from your acting class?'" Waters recalled in an interview with Yahoo to promote the cult classic’s new 30th anniversary steelbook Blu-ray release (watch above). "So this pimply … [still] good-looking [guy] with a laconic drawl, he does the J.D. role. He was all right. He came up to me afterwards like, 'Hey man, I know I'm not anybody, but for what it's worth, that's brilliant.'"
That feedback became a running gag between Waters and his brother, Mean Girls director Mark Waters, who would quote it to each other. Then years down the line, Heathers director Michael Lehman met Pitt — or thought he was meeting Pitt for the first time — when the actor, who by then had become a star, explained how they crossed paths years before when Pitt read for Heathers. "I called my brother immediately and was like, 'Dude, you're not gonna believe this. The "I know I'm not anybody" guy was Brad Pitt!'"
It was Christian Slater, of course, who ultimately played J.D. (and memorably channeled Jack Nicholson in the process), the rebellious teen who convinces Veronica (Winona Ryder) to go on a killing spree with him, targeting their Ohio high school's popular kids when disguising the fatalities as suicides.
While Heathers, a dark antidote to the '80s films of John Hughes, was not immediately successful and received its share of blowback for a storyline involving teen suicide, the film developed a large following upon its video release, becoming one of the most influential high school movies of all time and spawning a stage musical and television reboot.
Among other tidbits discloses by Waters:
The screenwriter conceived several alternate endings for the film. Most infamous in '80s film lore is the version where J.D., with the help of Veronica, successfully blows up the school, though a more "uplifting" epilogue shows all the kids enjoying a prom in heaven. The ending Waters turned initially turned into the studio "was even darker," he said, "where [Veronica] kills J.D. in the boiler room, walks away from the high school, turns around, and she's wearing the bomb. So she blows herself up to save the sins of the high school." In his favorite version, though, Waters had Veronica approaching Martha "Dumptruck" Dunnstock (Carrie Lynn), and the wheelchair-bound student stands up and stabs Veronica to death, calling her a "Heather."
Waters (who went on to write films like Batman Returns and Hudson Hawk, and the more recent TV series Vampire Academy) has long resisted a sequel, though Winona Ryder made headlines a few years ago for revealing she'd once approached Meryl Streep about appearing in one. "She's been promising a sequel," Waters said of Ryder. "I'm a big believer in non-sequels. … Don't make me do a sequel! Don't make me do the terrible sequel that makes you look down on the original! Let's keep it. But just to get her off my back, I did pitch her this one thing: Veronica is going to Washington, and working with a Hilary Clinton-type, before there was a Hilary Clinton, a senator Heather, that was going to be played by Meryl Streep. I just knew it was going to end with the assassination of the president being a good thing. She ended up doing a movie with Meryl [1994's The House of the Spirits] and said, 'I've talked to Meryl, she's in!'" Still, Waters never wrote the screenplay for a sequel. "I'm still against it from an intellectual [standpoint], but if somebody says, 'We're going to pay you a million dollars…' Maybe I'll do it." Take that with a wink, though.
Heathers: 30th Anniversary Steelbook is now available. Buy it on Amazon.
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