— -- Twenty years ago today, audiences first met Billy Madison, the Adam Sandler character who repeated every grade from elementary school on to prove to his dad that he was capable of being a responsible adult.
"Billy Madison" was a hit at the box office, and for Dina Platias, who played Billy's first grade teacher, Miss Lippy, in the film, it remains a project she's proud to have on her resume.
"It definitely touches people, I think because she was kind of a nut job," Platias told ABC News. "It’s funny because this movie keeps on playing, and people freak out about it in the greatest way."
Platias, who now works as a TV and film promo writer and Pilates teacher in Los Angeles, said that she first landed the role after a meeting with a Universal casting agent but kept getting pushed back. When it was finally rescheduled, the agent asked her to read for the part, which was originally written for a tall blonde with curly hair. Sandler loved her performance so much that a few days later, she was on a plane to Canada, where they shot the movie.
"The energy was fantastic, and there were all these little kids and the kids were that perfect age where they weren't little punks -- they were darling and innocent and Adam was adorable with them," she said. "It was very special... and very sweet to see his interaction with the kids. It was all a sense of play and joy."
Platias, who, like Miss Lippy, drove a green car at the time the movie was made, said that many of her character's idiosyncrasies were spontaneous accidents. After she convinced the director to let Miss Lippy wear colorful outfits (originally, she was supposed to wear all beige), she was able to improvise the way she moved and acted, including the scene where she wiped paste on her face.
"It was flour and water, and they said, 'You're gonna be sitting in a chair and you're gonna put paste on your face,'" she recalled, adding that she wasn't used to life on a movie set, without rehearsals. "I put the stick in [the paste] and put it right on top of my eyeball. They said, 'Oh my God, I can't believe you put it on your eye!' I kinda got in trouble because they had to re-do my makeup, but I think they used [the take]!"
Her recess-dance was equally organic. When Sandler and the director asked Platias what she thought Miss Lippy did at recess, she began doing a dance to "Time in a Bottle."
"I did this improvised dance and it was only to make them laugh," she said. "For the actual thing, they put the music in later. I do this thing with my hand and I swirl it up and look at the sky -- that's for "Time in a bottle/box full of wishes."
Unfortunately, Platias said that she didn't take any souvenirs from the set, but she did note that the story she read to the class, "The Puppy Who Lost His Way," was an actual book made by the crew for the movie. Now, she's rarely recognized for the role, but she thinks that may change soon.
"I just recently cut my bangs again," she said with a laugh.