John Hughes in Interview



Director John Hughes died today at 59 during a morning walk in Manhattan. Below, some excerpts from the August 1985 issue of Interview, for which he was interviewed by Mark Matousek.

On the writing process:

“When I did Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I had the idea on Monday and the following Tuesday it was in budget at Paramount. I couldn’t walk.”

On the difference between nerds and geeks:

“A nerd will be a nerd all his life. When we did The Nerd Book at National Lampoon, the nerds got picked up as if there were a lot of them at every school-and there aren’t. Maybe two. There are many more geeks. A geek is a guy who has everything going for him but he’s just too young. He’s got the software but he doesn’t have the hardware yet.”

On cool people:

“I was at Elaine’s once and I couldn’t figure out why, if the people I was with had all this pull, why were we sitting next to the door with the snow blowing hall over us? Next to us is Omar Sharif and he’s freezing to death…I think it’s real dangerous to be hip and try to write funny stuff. For me, anyway. I don’t want to be too cool. You get so caught up with whether you’re doing it right. Like going to Hawaii. There’s not much there right? I went to this particular hotel because they had a half acre pool and a waterslide for the kids. We get to the airport and I say to my wife, ‘You get the luggage, I’ll get the rental car.’ I say, ‘How will you know it’s me’ she says, ‘Cause you’ll have the ugliest rental car available.’ Everybody else is getting black Mustang convertibles and I get this brown, two-door Mercury Topaz…Finally we pull up to the hotel. I start singing, ‘I want to tell you all a story ’bout a man named Jed…’ from The Beverly Hillbillies. A friend told me that the first thing you do is go by the pool, find the pool man and give him 20 bucks to reserve you a seat. So I go down and give the guy a $20 bill and whisper that I want four chairs reserved. He says, ‘It’s first come, first served’ and walks away! I picked the one guy who doesn’t take payoffs. Then who do I end up talking with the whole time? A guy from my home town who grew up four blocks from me. There’s all the world, I’m in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and I’m with a guy from Grosse Point. There’s no escape.”

On influences:
“My early prose style—this is so embarrassing—was sort of a suburban, Presbyterian knockoff of Woody Allen. I had none of the reference points that he did; in fact, I was kind of lost for a while because I didn’t feel that I had any right to be doing humor because there was nothing so funny about me. I thought that because Woody Allen lived in New York, he had all these strange things to write about. I remember trying to find out what davonning meant. Finally someone explained it to me. Compared to that, I had nothing to write about.”