“No man is a failure who has friends.” – Clarence
20 years ago, Billy Madison was released in theaters. The critics despised it almost universally, but the film gained a cult following of sorts among comedy fans, particularly fans of Saturday Night Live in the 90s. Even people who haven’t seen it would recognize some of its most famous lines, like the principal’s epic rant or the shampoo-conditioner debate. Two decades after its release, here are nine facts you might not have known about Adam Sandler’s big film debut.
1. Tamra Davis was not the first director hired for the project. Stephen Kessler was the film’s original director. Billy Madison had only been shooting for a few days when Kessler was fired and Davis was hired as the replacement.
2.The color scheme of the film is intentionally done so that it looks like the world through the eyes of a child. Everything is very bright and vibrant.
3. Billy Madison was Adam Sandler’s first starring role, and it kicked off a running gag throughout Sandler’s other movies with the O’Doyle family where the O’Doyle kids are always bullies.
4. Not only was Billy Madison the film debut of Adam Sandler, it was also the first film for Sandler’s fellow Saturday Night Live alum Norm MacDonald.
5. Josh Mostel, who plays Principal Max Anderson, is the son of legendary musical-comedy actor Zero Mostel. Like his father, he is also a singer, and he played King Herod in the film adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar.
6. In the dodgeball scene, the filmmakers got permission from the parents to go all out and let Sandler actually hit them hard.
7. Billy Madison was filmed at the same time as Tommy Boy, and the casts hung out together. One of their favorite games was faking their deaths, and Adam Sandler’s death of choice was getting strangled by women’s underwear, while Chris Farley preferred getting naked with an Evian bottle up his butt.
8. Co-writer Tim Herlihy makes a cameo appearance in the movie as an architect.
9. Bridgette Wilson’s wardrobe was completely overhauled because director Tamra Davis didn’t want the character to be overly sexualized. Most notably, her skirts were lengthened.