Let My Cameron Go: A Ferris Bueller's Day Off Live Review

by - May 07, 2024

Photo courtesy of Auditorium Theatre

In the nearly 40 years since the release of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the city of Chicago has continuously celebrated the teen comedy written, co-produced and directed by John Hughes. This year is no exception.

The Auditorium Theatre, a National Historic Landmark, recently hosted a screening of the film followed by an audience Q&A with Alan Ruck, who played Cameron Frye.

During the Q&A, Ruck talked about the beginning of his career as an actor and how living in Chicago as well as working alongside Matthew Broderick in the Broadway production of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues came full circle when he was cast as Ferris Bueller’s hypochondriac best friend.

The film was written in six days and filmed in 100 days, and Ruck recalled it being one of the first Hughes films that didn’t have his regular Brat Pack cast. Ruck had no idea that the film would be “the gift that keeps on giving.”

“I knew it was a really good part, and I knew that John was very popular and his movies were very popular, and it just seemed like a natural extension of what I had been doing for almost a year on Broadway,” he said.

Hughes gave Ruck a lot of backstory on his character off camera, including the origin story of the Detroit Red Wings jersey. While Cameron had an unhealthy relationship with his father, he adored his grandfather who lived in Detroit and took him to many Red Wings games.

“I realized later on that he was telling stories about his life,” Ruck said. “I think that’s some truth to John’s life.”

What he loved most about working with Hughes was his confidence: not only as a writer, but his confidence in his cast. After reading lines exactly as they were written, they were then asked to try several alternatives followed by full improvisation. Ruck said that the better experiences he’s had on set involved flexible people, and Hughes was one of them.

The audience asked the hard hitting questions, such as if he could still make the water drop sound with his mouth and if he could still do the voice of Mr. Peterson. Yes to both, followed by demonstrations that brought the audience to laughter and applause.

Ruck also shared stories behind the filming process, which he said started right after Labor Day. Within the first few weeks of shooting, they were standing along Dearborn St. as Matthew Broderick joined a Von Steuben Day parade float to lip sync "Danke Schoen" by Wayne Newton and "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles.

There were scenes that didn’t make it to the movie, one of which was Broderick talking to the camera while on a boat in the Chicago River. There were also scenes that didn’t get a chance to be filmed at all due to time restrictions, but Ruck said there was supposed to be a scene where the trio goes to a strip club and Cameron was supposed to fall in love with one of the dancers.

The final cut of the film blended music with shots of the city and the story of three friends who just needed a day off. It is Hughes’ love letter to Chicago, who love him right back.

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