The year was 1999, and it felt like anything could happen: Following a string of successful teen films in 1998, the teen era was officially back. To help kick things off in the final year before the Millennium was She’s All That, a sleeper hit that featured an ensemble cast, including Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook. The film told the story of a girl with a ponytail, Laney (Cook), who became the subject of a bet that Zack’s (Prinze Jr.) scheme to turn any girl into prom queen. The success of She’s All That introduced fans to a pre-Fast & The Furious Paul Walker, made Prinze the most desirable young man in Hollywood, and thanks to the iconic scene of Cook walking down the stairs in a little red dress, everyone was singing Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me.”
On the 15th anniversary of the film’s release, Dulé Hill, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe and Clea DuVall share memories from the set, dancing at prom and working with Walker.
Dancing At Prom
The film’s most iconic scene is undoubtedly the prom sequence, during which everyone performs that same choreographed number led by Usher. The cast reveals that the scene required weeks of prep and was choreographed by Adam Shankman, the now-famous movie director and reality competition judge.
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Taylor Vaughan): “We all just know this routine?!”
Dulé Hill (Preston): “The choreographer was Adam Shankman [Rock of Ages, So You Think You Can Dance].”
Clea DuVall (Misty): “I only worked with Rachel. I popped in, was an a–hole to her and just left. So I never got to be part of the fun high school stuff.”
O’Keefe: “It was a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. Most of my laughing happened then. I did not do the greatest job the first couple of times through that routine. I was down on the ground more than I wanted to be.”
Hill: “I don’t know what conversations Freddie Prinze had [with producers to get out of it]. It’s funny because they had myself, Gabrielle Union and Lil’ Kim doing a lot of the dancing. We’re like, ’Wait a second, are all the black people doing the dancing?'”
O’Keefe: “I just remember I had to do it. I was front and center. You know what’s funny though, I must not have been that great because you’ll notice I only landed in the dance scene for about two seconds. I had to learn all of that.”
Hill: “I remember when Usher came in, we had to shut down filming. We had to stop so he could do his DJ thing at the prom.”
O’Keefe: “When you think of a high school prom you don’t think of that. I thought it was one of the greatest parts of the movie. I had such a great laugh over it.”
Hill: “To me, that scene falls in line with that type of film. We’re not doing August: Osage County.”
Up Next: Being on set, working with Paul Walker and M. Night Shyamalan
Being On Set
Like many of the teen films to come out in 1999, She’s All That featured a number of budding young actors and even Lil’ Kim (Hill: “Kim was a sweetheart.”). While Varsity Blues was described as being a bit of an Animal House atmosphere, everyone on the SAT set was focused on having a good time at the start of their careers.
Hill: “We were all pretty tight at that time. We had a lot of laughs.”
O’Keefe: “All I knew was that I was having the time of my life while doing it.”
DuVall: “It was fun. I think I was only on it for two days. I was doing something else at the time, so I was really in and out. It’s crazy how many people were in that movie. I feel like I’m still meeting actors that say, ’Oh yeah, I met you on She’s All That,’ or, ’We were both in She’s All That.’ Like every actor in that age range was in that movie.”
O’Keefe: “It wasn’t crazy at all but it definitely was fun. We enjoyed the hell out of ourselves every single day. We had a blast.”
DuVall: “It was such a cool time to be a young actor. We all knew each other. We would all see each other at the same auditions. It almost felt like we were all in high school together … There was such a community. I don’t know if it’s like that for young actors starting out today. It was really cool. I feel really grateful that I got to be a part of that.”
Hill: “That group was like a family. Overall there was a lot of people I stayed closed to … When I found out about Paul’s passing, it gave me a jolt because we were peers. For a light to be taken out like that from that family, it brings you back for a second. It reminds you of how precious and fleeting our journey is on Earth.”
Up Next: Getting drunk and M. Night Shyamalan
In another memorable scene, Laney Boggs got revenge on her art class nemesis, Misty, who ended up having one too many drinks at a party hosted by Taylor Vaughan.
DuVall: “I think scenes like that are ridiculous and funny and the fun, strange part of the job. One day you have fake vomit and then the next day you get stabbed in the chest and you’re walking around with a knife sticking out of your chest.”
But what about the makeup Laney painted on Misty’s face?
DuVall: “It took a long, long, long time to put on. I was working on something else and I had to get on a plane to fly back to work because I wasn’t supposed to leave to go do [She’s All That] and I did. That day was very long because it was a huge party scene. The minutes were ticking by and I was so stressed out. I started getting emotional because I was so freaked out that I was going to get in trouble on the other movie because I wasn’t going to make it back in time. I started to tear up and the makeup artist said, ’If you cry and ruin this makeup, I’m going to murder you.’ It took a long time but it looked great.”
M. Night Shyamalan
As for the news that M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village) contributed uncredited revisions to the script, Hill summed it up the best.
Hill: “At least I can say I worked with M. Night Shyamalan.”
[Photos: Miramax Films]