Ferris Bueller, one of the most iconic movie characters ever, certainly had a great time playing hookie from high school after lying in bed pretending to be sick. We all remember his typical teenager bedroom, adorned with band posters and a British flag, the family’s classic in-home intercom system, and who could forget that infamous doggy door Mr. Rooney creepily shoves himself through to prove once and for all that Bueller, just as he suspected, really was alive and well, romping around the Windy City in true “Chicka Chickaaaahhh” fashion.
But what you may not know is that the whole time famed film director John Hughes was shooting his 1985 box office hit, the actual owners of Ferris Bueller’s house, The Balkmans, of 4160 Country Club Drive in Long Beach, Calif., continued living in the home alongside the entire cast and crew of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
“It was a lot of fun,” Matthew Balkman, whose parents, Jim and Sonya, owned the iconic circled-driveway home, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “My mom liked parties, so this was just big party for her.”
Balkman, now 53 and living in Seattle, says it took only 10 days to shoot the entire film’s scenes at his house, but the experience, although short, left lasting memories.
Take a look at the top 12 behind-the-scenes fun facts about Ferris Bueller’s house:
1) A knock on the door was how the owners were asked to use their home.
“They just knocked on the door,” Balkman said of the home his parents lived in for 25 years. “It’s interesting. There are location scouts if you’re looking for a house for certain things. When they knocked on the door and said it was for a John Hughes film, in the ’80s when all his movies were super popular, my cousin, who was in film school at the time said, ‘You absolutely need to do this film.’”
2) Ferris’ room was replicated and patterned from the family son’s real room.
“My brother, Thad, was in eighth grade at the time,” said Balkman. “Ferris’ room was patterned from my brother’s room. He had the British flag hanging and all the posters and everything. The room you see in the movie was a set, just to make more room for the cameras, but the entire room was patterned from my brother’s.”
3) Ferris and Jeannie Bueller had two younger siblings that never made it into the finished movie.
“One of the funniest things, the picture of Ferris’ sister with two other kids, those were her siblings,” explained Balkman. “They shot part of the movie, but they cut those two kids out.”
4) The doggie door Mr. Rooney crawls through was added just for the movie.
“We didn’t have a doggy door, so the scene where Mr. Rooney comes in through the doggy door, that was put in by them. But they removed it for us when they left.”
5) Since the film was shot in California but was supposed to look like Chicago, eucalyptus trees were converted to look like pine trees, which are an indigenous species from the Chicago area. Palm trees were also removed so they would not block or be included in certain shots.
“We had the biggest eucalyptus tree in all of Long Beach in the back,” said Balkman “My mom loved that tree. But they can’t show a eucalyptus tree in Chicago, so they painstakingly built a cover for it, so when they showed the trunks of the trees when Ferris is coming through the backyard, it wouldn’t like Southern California.”
6) The coffee cup Cameron drinks out of when he visits Ferris was the Balkman family’s real coffee cup out of their cupboard.
“I gave that coffee cup to my dad for Father’s day,” Balkman recalled.
7) The key used by Mr. Rooney to enter the back door was the actual Balkman family’s house key that the producers never returned.
8) The house’s intercom system was not real.
9) A hole was drilled in the Balkman’s side green gate so Rooney could peer through it.
10) The fire hydrant which caused Rooney’s car to be towed was fake and a neighbor was briefly perturbed because he thought his parking spot was eliminated.
11) Thad Balkman’s 14th birthday took place during the filming. Sonya, his mom, got a cake decorated to say, “It may be Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it’s Thad’s 14th Birthday,” which the family celebrated and ate in the kitchen with the film crew.
12) The kitchen scene cost an extra $1,000 to shoot because they had to replace all the food in the freezer and refrigerator. Everything spoiled when the crew turned it off to silence the humming sound for filming and forgot to plug it back in for a couple of days.
Although the Balkmans no longer live in Ferris Bueller’s famous home, they’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to share those memories with Matthew Broderick and the rest of the school-skipping crew. Not to mention, tickets for the family to attend the movie’s premier in Hollywood was certainly a perk, too.