'Mean Girls' 10-year anniversary: Damian, Gretchen, Kevin G., and more look back

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North Shore High School Winter Talent Show
The film had many iconic scenes and lines, but arguably one of the most memorable sections of the film is the Winter Talent Show, which featured Christina Aguilera covers, not-at-all appropriate raps, and a sexed-up Christmas song that would change the way viewers looked at “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Waters: [The shoot was relatively smooth, but I remember] the “Jingle Bell Rock” scene was concerning because we didn’t have time to rehearse enough. We had to do all this choreography, but because Lindsay was a minor, we had no time. We’re doing this kind of fly-by-night thing, but then we realized, “It’s a high school talent show. It’s OK if it’s sloppy!” In a weird way, that aspect of it was what made it work.

Franzese: One of the most fun scenes to shoot for me was when I was singing “Beautiful” at the pageant because when the camera is on me and you see me singing, besides the crew the only person in the audience was my mom. And then when it turns around and you see the audience, that was the next day and I sang it again. Mark Waters and the crew kept cracking up so I had to do so many takes. When the shoe hit me in the face they would be laughing so I’d have to do it again.

“Beautiful” was what we were initially going to [perform], but there was some problem with the rights. I was supposed to sing the entire song, but they wouldn’t let me. So Tina gave me a list of other songs that were like [Whitney Houston's] “One Moment in Time” to choose from to sing, but I was like, “Ooh, but I really want to [sing 'Beautiful'] because I want to do the ‘Don’t look at me!’ thing.” Because that was an idea I had because I had listened to the album and Christina says that on the album. So I asked, “Can I say ‘Don’t look at me,’ and then look away at the piano?” and Tina Fey was like, “YES! Of course!” So then they [re-asked] the writer, Linda Perry, and because my character was gay they allowed me to sing it, which was really cool, because that’s the type of people that song was written for.

Surendra: Amy is a rapper. She loves to rap. So for Kevin G’s rap she kind of gave me moves. She said, “I think you should do this and do this.” Tina, Amy, and Lindsay filmed that rehearsal in their hotel room, and they gave me the video. I wasn’t sure if they were giving it to me as a joke or if they really expected me to take tips from that. I kind of watched it and was like, “Okay, yeah, I’m going to do my thing.” Shortly before shooting the rap, [Tina and Amy] again gave me some of their suggestions. And I realized, “Oh, they’re really serious about this. This is a big thing for them.” I thought [the rap] was just going to be a little bit of comedy, but it has turned out to be such an iconic part of the film. I realize the foresight Amy had.

Lacey Chabert, Gretchen Wieners: Amy is so hilarious. I remember the one time we [couldn’t keep a straight face on set] was when the dog was supposed to be biting her fake boob. They had put dog food underneath her Juicy pink “cool mom” sweatshirt. So, the dog was having to nibble on her fake breast and [Rachel and I] were dying laughing. I could not keep a straight face. And of course Amy’s performance was just hilarious.

Franzese: One scene that sticks out to me is “I want my pink shirt back!” [because] that was my idea. We were rehearsing the scene because the timing had to be right with the car in the cul-de-sac, and I was like, “Mark, I really want to say ‘I want my pink shirt back.'” Well, I wanted to say, “I want my pink shirt back, bitch.” But then he was like, “What if you say it twice, like a George Costanza thing?” And I was like, “That’s even better!” When people yell, “I want my pink shirt back!” to me, I get excited because I know that’s one of the one few lines I came up with.

The Release
Mean Girls wrapped filming in November 2003, and was set to be released April 30, 2004. Paramount may have had low expectations, but a buzzy trailer instantly captured interest. Shocking industry analysts, the film hit No. 1 at the box office opening weekend, going on to eventually gross a total of $129 million.

Waters: We made this movie for very little money. The production budget was $22 million and opening weekend we made $24 [million]. Nobody expected us to do anything near that. We were tracking at $12 [million], and the fact that there was something that struck a chord with the zeitgeist at the time — even back then, I knew something special was happening.

Franzese: Before the movie, I did a bunch of radio stuff. And everyone was like [in a bored voice] “Oh, hey.” And then after [opening day], I couldn’t get out of there; it was like I was Justin Bieber or something, everyone was screaming. It was a moment of like, “Wow. You really like this movie.”

Bennett: It was just insane. I remember my manager at the time saw a [preview] screening and said, “Just so you know, come opening weekend, your life’s gonna be different for the rest of your life.” I didn’t really believe him, but sure enough, he was right.

Franzese: I think we’re the first teen movie of the Internet age. We’re the first one that had memes — everything has that now. But we were the first one that people really latched on to in that way. I think we, in a lot of ways, helped birth the Internet meme.

Chabert: I remember when President Obama’s Twitter put up a picture of Bo and said, “Stop trying to make fetch happen.” That was so funny.

Surendra: When I was living in Munich years ago, there was a day that I was having a coffee at a café and there were four teenage girls sitting at a table opposite me, and because I learned to speak German I understood what they were saying. I also found out that the movie Mean Girls is called Girls Club [in Germany]. One of the girls turned to the other girls and said [speaks German], which means: “Hey, that looks like the guy from Mean Girls,” and the other one goes [speaks German], “No, what would he be doing here in Munich?” I thought that was so hilarious. I didn’t say anything.

Franzese: Every Halloween, people dress up as me with the blue hoodie and the glasses. And I get people around the country sending me pictures. People dressing up as me, and an action figure — which I haven’t gotten yet — are the two things I really wanted when I was little. [laughs] When people dress up as you, that’s an item off your bucket list for sure.

Bennett: For the past 10 years, literally, I have not gone one day in my entire life without someone coming up to me and calling me Aaron Samuels. Not once. I embrace it, I’m like, “Hey, you’re part of one of the best pop culture movies ever made or probably ever will be made,” because of how brilliant Tina Fey is, and you can’t turn away from it. But not a day goes by that someone doesn’t come up and say, “Can I push your hair back?” Literally. [laughs] Not a day goes by.

Franzese: This movie has been dissected over the past 10 years [laughs]. At first, the line people would quote to me started out being, “I want my pink shirt back!” but I think it’s gone to “You go, Glenn Coco.” That’s gotten into the lexicon in a bigger way. It’s become the new, “You go girl!” On Twitter, every eight to 10 minutes somebody tweets, “You go Glenn Coco!” It’s so insane, but I love it.

Waters: The kids that were in my latest movie [Vampire Academy], they all ranged in age between 18 and 23. The 22/23-year-olds, they saw it when they were in middle school and it had a very profound effect on them. But then these other girls who are like 18, they didn’t even see it when it came out. They only saw it on video, yet they’re as attached to it as anybody. So the fact that it’s become a thing where any girl that’s hitting puberty wants to see this movie and really relates to it, that’s the thing I certainly wasn’t expecting.

Chabert: It’s unbelievable. I was so blessed to be a part of that movie, because who knew 10 years later people would still be talking about that movie, talking about it even more than they did when it came out, I feel like. I feel like it’s had a second life with another generation. It’s so funny and relatable if you’ve been in high school, or are going to high school, I think you can find something in yourself in that movie.

Want more? Check out more secrets from the set right here.

 

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