Plenty of Big-Name Stars Got Their Start With Fast Times at Ridgemont High
The recent table read of Cameron Crowe's 1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a testament to its status as a classic teen comedy. Considered controversial at its release, due to its inclusion of both abortion and nudity, the movie follows the lives of high schoolers as they deal with sex, drugs, love, and strict teachers. It was one of my favorite movies in high school, although if my mom asks, I didn't watch it until college.
What keeps the film culturally relevant is its realistic portrayal of teenagers; it's based on a book of the same name that Crowe wrote about his experiences going undercover at a San Diego High School. Beyond this, Fast Times at Ridgemont High served as the start to a number of Oscar winners' careers, including Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn, and Forest Whitaker. Read ahead to see who else was part of the original cast, including a few names that might sound familiar.
Sean Penn as Jeffrey "Jeff" Spicoli
Penn's initial audition for the movie went terribly. "Long before I had a penny in my pocket, I had a kind of feeling of entitlement as an actor, not because I thought I was so good, but because I thought that the rest were not so good," he told Jimmy Fallon during a previous appearance on The Tonight Show. Luckily, he got a second chance and won the part.
Phoebe Cates as Linda Barrett
Cates's dream sequence as Linda Barrett is considered "the most memorable bikini-drop in cinema history" by Rolling Stone.
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Stacy Hamilton
"I understood her," Leigh said in an interview with The New York Times about her character Stacy Hamilton. "I went through all those hurts and joys. The joy of being miserable, and the terror of being miserable, but the wonderful thing about Stacy is she never loses hope."
Judge Reinhold as Bradley "Brad" Hamilton
"The marriage of Amy [Heckerling] and Cameron [Crowe's] sensibilities were perfect, if not God given," Reinhold said during a prior appearance at the Rome International Film Festival about the films's creators. "It was kismet. Cameron provided this affectionate authenticity about what it was like to be a teenager. But Amy gave it a feminist spin."
Robert Romanus as Mike Damone
"When I got the role [of Damone] and I saw [the ticket scalping] scene, I had to go out and buy Cheap Trick albums because I didn't have any; I didn't really know who they were," Romanus said in an interview with USA Today.
Brian Backer as Mark "Rat" Ratner
Backer is best known for his role as Mark Ratner, but since the film, he's been in Moving Violations and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.
Ray Walston as Mr. Hand
Walston died in 2001, but he'll always be remembered for his role as the straight-laced history teacher Mr. Hand, who engages in a one-sided war with Penn's Spicoli throughout the film.
Amanda Wyss as Lisa
"I was thrilled to be a part of such an extraordinary ensemble. It's a great feeling when a movie that I'm in resonates with the audience," Wyss told Meaww when previously asked about her reaction to the film's positive feedback.
Anthony Edwards as Spicoli's Stoner Bud
"Eric Stoltz and I grew up together in Santa Barbara," Edwards once told Entertainment Weekly about his experience filming the movie. "We were best friends growing up and it was our first movie."
Eric Stoltz as Spicoli's Red-Haired Stoner Bud
While Stoltz originally auditioned for the part of Spicoli, he ended up playing one of his stoner buds alongside real-life friend Anthony Edwards.
Forest Whitaker as Charles Jefferson
Whitaker was studying opera when he was cast in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. "Sean was pretty much in character. I was in character. We were all just young kids trying to find our way at the time," he said when asked if he had any idea how big the movie was going to be during an appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan.