Although Mean Girls came out in 2004, in the words of Gretchen Weiner, it is still fetch! Each year we unofficially celebrate October third and tell Glen Coco to go. Ariana Grande even paid homage to the film in her video “Thank U, Next.” Just in case you forgot how Tina Fey enlightened the masses with this cult classic, we are here to remind you.
As one of the most quotable movies ever that people have seen multiple times, there are still a few secrets about the iconic film no one expected to be so famous. So, break out your burn book, unwrap a few Kalteen Bars, throw on your best pink shirt, and join us as we share the best behind-the-scenes facts about the internet’s favorite movie!
A Self-Help Book for Parents Inspired Mean Girls
When Tina Fey wrote Mean Girls, she had just finished reading Rosalind Wiseman’s bestselling book “Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, & Other Realities of Adolescence.” As the book’s title suggests, Wiseman offers advice and strategies to parents to help their daughters through the tough teen years. The book had anecdotes from Wiseman’s studies in schools.
Fey was inspired by Wiseman’s examples about how not getting invited to a birthday party or blowing off a friend could lay the groundwork for girls faking their feelings and pretending to be someone they aren’t. The movie shows that teenage girls can be cruel, and Fey brought those exaggerated stereotypes to life.
Cady Is Named After Tina Fey’s College Roommate
While studying drama at the University of Virginia, Fey and her college roommate Cady Garey shared a sad apartment near school. Garey said they basically didn’t have furniture; they just had mattresses on the floor and a bean bag in the living room. However, it must have been an amazing bonding experience because Garey is the namesake for Mean Girls’ main character.
Fey was also inspired by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was a suffragist. Therefore, Cady is also a shout-out to female empowerment. While Cady initially wanted to be part of the Plastics, she eventually learned that she doesn’t need to fit in to be liked. Hopefully, Fey’s pal was honored by the character’s name after she saw the film.
There Is a Real Janis Ian
While most of us know the fictional Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) as the girl who allegedly had a crush on Regina George, music fans know the real Janis Ian as the first musical guest on SNL. Ian won a Grammy for her song “At Seventeen,” which was all about the Mean Girls’ theme: the insecurities we go through as teenagers.
Ian was inspired to write the song because she felt fat, her skin was bad, and she didn’t like anything she wore. When she talked to her friend Janis Joplin, they bonded over being outsiders, and it helped her write the song to release those emotions. Fey was inspired, so she used the name for the character.
Amy Poehler Schooled Kevin G. on How to Rap
Although Fey wrote the movie’s script, she asked her pal Amy Poehler to write Kevin Gnapoor’s mathlete rap for the talent show. Not only did Poehler write the wrap, but she also coached him on how to deliver it and gave him some choreography for it. There is a video of Poehler performing the wrap in 2004, with Fey and Lohan as her hype women.
As a seasoned performer, Poehler was not afraid to be silly, so she took that scene and made it iconic. Director Mark Waters was impressed with the way Poehler took charge and got Rajiv Surendra to be comfortable rapping because that wasn’t something he was used to doing. We can imagine this coaching helped him be more gangster for the rest of his scenes.
Paramount Was Hesitant About Having Multiple SNL Actors
As you probably noticed, many of the cast members in Mean Girls were SNL alumni, like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, and Ana Gasteyer. While these people made the movie hilarious, Paramount Pictures was hesitant to keep them all in the film. Waters said they didn’t want this so people wouldn’t be confused.
The initial hesitation from Paramount was because they didn’t want it to feel like an SNL movie, which might have made people shy away from watching it. However, they decided to keep the actors in the film because Fey was insistent that it would work, and she was clearly right.
Jonathan Bennett Got the Role Because He Resembled This Person
Jonathan Bennett, aka Aaron Samuels, reportedly got his role because Tina Fey believed he looked like Jimmy Fallon. While he might look great with his hair pushed back, Bennett actually wasn’t Fey’s first choice to play Aaron Samuels, but it was a happy accident that he was brought on for the film.
According to Waters, another actor was supposed to play Aaron Samuels, but he was fired just days into production. While the actor has never been revealed, Waters said the actor didn’t perform well at the table read, so they decided to “go with that other guy,” and Bennett was flown in the next day.
Another Cast Member Almost Played Regina George
It is almost impossible to imagine Mean Girls without Rachel McAdams as Regina George, but there was a point when her character almost went to a different actress. In an Entertainment Weekly interview, Lindsey Lohan said she and Amanda Seyfried both wanted to play Regina George.
Lohan added that she had just played the not-so-cool girl in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and Freaky Friday. She was 17 years old and wanted to be the cool girl on set. However, Waters argued that Cady was the heroine, and that’s who Lohan was meant to be.
Mean Girls Helped Daniel Franzese Come Out
Surprisingly, Daniel Franzese was initially frustrated with his role as Damian. He was terrified to play the part because it was a natural and accurate representation of a gay teenager, a character people laugh with instead of at. However, when he was cast, Franzese wasn’t open about his sexuality yet.
Franzese’s friends and family knew he was gay, but he waited a decade to come out publicly. He actually thanked his character because it taught him how to be proud of himself again. He said, “Being a queer artist is one of my favorite things about myself.” Damian also helped other young people struggling with their sexuality.
There Was a Downside to Playing Damian
Ever since Mean Girls became a cult classic, Franzese is recognized wherever he goes because he doesn’t really blend in. He said, “Sometimes it’s nerve-wracking. I can be talking to someone in a bar, and it’s chill, and then they’re like, ‘YOU GO GLEN COCO!’”
While Glen Coco was just a minor and virtually nonexistent character, that line was an iconic part of Franzese’s character. However, most people don’t know that Glen Coco’s head appears in one scene in which he does nothing more than receive four candy canes ( and none for Gretchen Weiners) from Damian.
A Canadian Actor Played the Notorious Glen Coco
Glen Coco has always been a mystery because he is barely seen in the famous candy cane scene. Viewers are too focused on the fact that Regina didn’t send Gretchen any candy canes to notice who Glen Coco is. However, BuzzFeed did an investigation into Glen Coco and found some interesting information.
It was discovered that Glen Coco’s face is visible in the scene where Gretchen reads her essay on Julius Caesar (he is sitting in front of Lindsay Lohan). The uncredited role was played by Canadian actor David Reale, who has appeared on Suits and the U.S. version of Skins.
Costume Designer Mary Jane Fort Read Lots of Teen Magazines and Yearbooks
The costumes in Mean Girls perfectly captured the essence of style back in 2004, with velour tracksuits, mini-skirts, and graphic tees. Costume designer Mary Jane Fort went to great lengths to capture that moment in the 2000s. She read millions of magazines and looked at yearbooks from all over the country.
Although real schools aren’t as polished as magazine looks, they wanted to keep the outfits glossy, given the subject matter of the group. The popular girls are called the Plastics for a reason, and they wanted to exaggerate it slightly. Lindsay Lohan had over 50 costume changes throughout the film.
The Original Title Was “Homeschooled”
When Mark Waters read the script, he thought, “This is the best script I’ve read in who knows how long.” The original title was Homeschooled because that was basically the idea: who wouldn’t know about Girl World? Someone who had been homeschooled their entire life.
The name Mean Girls is so perfect for the movie, so we can’t imagine it with a different title. Luckily, a shift in the overall idea brought about a change in the name. “Then we came up with the Africa concept, which was a real boon because we could compare the kids’ behavior to animals.”
Tina Fey Had Trouble With Math
While Fey might have written the killer script and starred as math teacher and Mathlete advisor Ms. Norbury, she was uncomfortable with the math jargon. Fey admitted that she had no idea what she was talking about but wanted to counteract stereotypes that women can’t do math.
Fey didn’t understand a word she was saying, so you might be wondering how she wrote the complicated math scenes. She revealed that her friend’s boyfriend was a calculus teacher in the Bronx, and she took his lesson plan to help her with the writing.
How to Get a Dog to Bite
We all remember that one scene where Poehler’s character, Mrs. George, is holding her dog as she talks to the girls, oblivious to it gnawing on her breast implant. Here’s how they accomplished that. McAdams said they pinned a piece of cocktail hotdog into Poehler’s bra. Everyone was a bit nervous.
Everyone thought the dog was going to tear her apart, but the method was very effective. Poehler was a pro during the scene. She was trying to do her lines and be professional while the dog was chomping on her fake boob, and everyone else was losing it because it was so hilarious.
Damian’s Deleted Scene
According to Franzese, the original script contained a scene for Damian that was cut before being filmed. The original ending shows what happened to Damian after junior year, when he was going to audition for American Idol. Simon Cowell would call him chubby, and then he would run up on the stage and punch him.
Franzese said there were many revisions to the original ending, including a scene where Ms. Norbury busts Kevin G. for selling ecstasy, so when she’s investigated for being a drug pusher, there are actual drugs in her desk. It would have been a much different movie with all these alternate scenes.
The Original Rating
When Paramount gave Mean Girls to the MPAA rating board, they tried to make the teen comedy rated R. It might be hard to believe, but the studio had to fight back to ensure the intended audience could see the movie. Therefore, they had to take a lot of things out, which irritated Fey.
Fey said, “If this were a movie about a boys’ school, there would be lines that wouldn’t have to come out.” They withdrew the “wide-set vagina” line because Anchorman had just come out, and it was PG-13 with a sex scene. She accused the rating board of being sexist, so they eventually backed down.
How Many Mean Girls Movies Are There?
Technically, there are two movies, the original and the made-for-TV sequel, that really had nothing to do with the original film. In 2014, Fey told Entertainment Weekly, “At the time we did want to start the conversation about the sequel, and for whatever reason I was like, ‘No!! We shouldn’t do that.’”
Fey looked back on that and wondered why she was so against it, but it was too late after ten years. Fans of the movie are well past high school age, and it doesn’t seem to matter much in the reboot era. Although there isn’t a direct sequel, there is a Broadway version of Mean Girls.
James Franco Was Almost in the Movie
While Bennett was brought in after the original Aaron Samuels was fired, there was a discussion about having a different actor for this role. Franzese revealed that the original Aaron Samuels came to the table read unshaved with a hat on, and he kept his eyes on the script while mumbling through his lines.
Meanwhile, Lohan told Franzese that James Franco was considered for Aaron Samuels even before the fired actor landed the role. It would have been cool to see him with his hair pushed back, but Bennett was excellent and made the character amazing.
Rachel McAdams Wanted to Play Cady
While Lohan had her heart set on the role of Regina George, McAdams read for the part of Cady. The then 24-year-old was told she was too old for the character by Waters. He said she was a star but wouldn’t be genuine in the role. Although she was disappointed, McAdams understood the decision later.
When it came time to find a new Regina, casting McAdams was a no-brainer for Waters because Regina was someone who had grown up a little too fast while Cady seemed younger because of her homeschooling. We can’t imagine McAdams as Cady because she played Regina George so well.
Rajiv Surendra (Kevin G.) Auditioned for Damian
Kevin G. was truly an iconic character in Mean Girls, and Rajiv Surendra brought the character to life perfectly. However, it wasn’t his first choice because he originally wanted to play Damian. After auditioning for Damian, Surendra didn’t hear back from the producers. However, they called him for Kevin.
The part was initially written for an Asian person, so when he auditioned for the casting director, he couldn’t remember the rap. He kept screwing up, and after a third attempt, he said, “Look, this is the best I can do.” When Surendra left, he thought he had blown it, but then they called him for the role.
Filming the Talent Show Scene
Franzese said the hilarious scene where Damian sings “Beautiful,” and someone throws a shoe at him, was the most fun scene to shoot. When they filmed him singing the first time, it was just him, the crew, and his mom in the audience.
When the camera turns around, the audience is there because they filmed it a second time. Waters and the crew kept cracking up, so Franzese had to do so many takes. They couldn’t control themselves when the shoe hit him in the face, and they would start laughing so hard.
The First Scene Filmed Was Not What You Would Expect
According to Surendra, the very first scene that was ever shot for the movie was the scene where Kevin G. walks up to Cady and gives her his “business” card. Lohan reportedly wasn’t feeling well that day, and they were covering Surendra; they allowed her to not show up on set.
Therefore, in the scene, Surendra wasn’t actually talking to Lohan because she wasn’t there. It was challenging because everyone was working out kinks, and everyone was green. When Surendra delivered his lines for the first time, his voice cracked. Waters had to ask him to bring his voice down about three octaves.
Why Lindsay Lohan Missed the First Day of Shooting
“I can’t go out (cough). I’m sick.” “Boo, you wh**e.” On the first day of shooting, Lohan didn’t show up because she had pink eye. Luckily, the scenes they filmed on the first day could be covered, or her stand-in was there to make it work. Despite missing the first day, everyone said she was great to work with, even as a 17-year-old.
Bennett said, “Being my first movie, I was so nervous. It’s my first experience working with someone, and then to have to play the love interest of this person who is so dynamic and such a presence was very, very intimidating. I was scared the first few days.” Apparently, Lohan made him very comfortable.
Damian Is Based on Fey’s Friend From High School
When Fey was writing Mean Girls, she based Damian on Damian Holbrook, a writer for TV Guide who was Fey’s best friend in high school. Many people throughout her life inspired her, so those people are translated into the movie in different ways.
When asked what Damian might be doing ten years later, Franzese said the character would probably be writing pop culture news. We can see Damian as a writer for E! news or even a host on one of the talk shows. The character is someone everyone wants to listen to, except Regina George, of course.
Lacy Chabert Hears “Fetch” 100 Times a Day
While Franzese has “You go Glen Coco” yelled at him in the most random places, Lacy Chambert, who plays Gretchen Weiners, hears “fetch” related phrases all the time too. Even politicians have used it to make jokes. Chabert said people tweet lines from the movie to her hundreds or thousands of times per day.
According to Chabert, “fetch” has followed her offline, too, in the unlikeliest of places. She said she was sick and had to go to the pharmacy to get medicine, and the pharmacist looked at her and said, “You don’t look like you feel very fetch today.” Can you imagine witnessing that?
Regina George Was Inspired by Courtney Love and Alec Baldwin
According to McAdams, “Regina George was a really angry kid who had no boundaries or guidance.” Therefore, to channel Regina’s anger, Waters told McAdams to listen to Courtney Love at a high volume. We assume she listened to Love’s band Hole as that would make the most sense.
Also, Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross was considered a template for Regina. His brief but impactful performance as the motivational speaker from Hell is famously aggressive, and the filmmakers told McAdams to watch it. She definitely nailed the rage aspect of the character.
Lindsay Lohan Was Anxious Around Rachel McAdams
While Lohan was already a seasoned actress when she played Cady in Mean Girls, something about McAdams made her very nervous on set. Waters said Lohan would get nervous when McAdams walked into the room, and it seemed like she was intimidated. That doesn’t seem like Lohan.
McAdams was a few years older than Lohan, she had worked a lot, and she was a very serious actress. Therefore, these reasons could have been why Lohan was nervous. However, she had already worked with stars like Jamie Lee Curtis and Mark Hammon, so it’s surprising that she was anxious.
Rachel McAdams Wore a Wig
We can all admit that when we saw Mean Girls for the first time, we had major hair envy over Regina George’s luscious blonde locks. Well, don’t worry because even McAdams didn’t have hair like that; her character was wearing a wig, and it wasn’t because McAdams has bad hair.
According to an interview, McAdams couldn’t bleach her natural hair to Regina’s signature blonde color. Also, her natural hair was too short for what the producers envisioned. McAdams was perfect for the part in every other way, so they used a wig for Regina’s ideal hair. Now we feel better about our natural hair.
Amy Poehler Wasn’t Much Older Than Rachel McAdams
Although Poehler plays Regina George’s mom, there wasn’t much of an age gap between the actresses. When the movie was filmed in 2004, Poehler was 31 years old, and McAdams was 24 years old, so there were only seven years between them. That is not much for a mother and daughter.
To make Poehler seem like she could be McAdam’s mother, they had to make Poehler look older while dressing her as someone who wants to be a teenager without looking like a teenager. That botched rock boob job sure did give an aging effect.
Tim Meadows Went Off-Script
It goes without saying that Principal Duvall is one of the low-key heroes of Mean Girls. However, when he shuts down the school during the stampede-like scene when the burn book is distributed to the students, the character really comes into his own. Let’s not forget how manly he was at that moment.
It turns out that when Principal Duvall is trying to control the students, Meadows went off script and snuck in a funny reference to the film Lean on Me. When he shouts, “I did not leave the South Side for this,” Meadows highlights the similarities between the scene and a 1989 film about a principal struggling to save his low-ranking school.
Mean Girls Inspired a Mariah Carey Song
While people love to hate Mariah Carey, she clearly has good taste in movies because she repeatedly raved about her love of Mean Girls in Interviews. The pop star took her love for this early 2000s film and wrote the song “Obsession” in 2009.
In the song, she repeatedly sings, “Why you so obsessed with me?” Nick Cannon told MTV that his then-wife recorded the song because she was a massive fan of Mean Girls. She must have been referencing the way Regina George thinks Janis Ian is so obsessed with her.
Tim Meadow’s Cast Was Real
In the film, Meadow’s character is seen with a cast on his hand because of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, that wasn’t originally part of Principal Duvall’s backstory. Fey had to work it into the movie as an ongoing joke because Meadows broke his hand right before they started filming.
The producers didn’t want to recast his role because Meadows was Fey’s long-time friend from SNL, and his comic sensibility was exactly what they wanted for the character. Therefore, they wrote it into the script as a solution, and no one knew the difference.
The Talent Show Skirts Are Made of Plastic
Although Regina, Gretchen, Karen, and sometimes Cady are referred to as the Plastics, the girls never use the term themselves throughout the film. Still, that’s how the group is known around school and by the moviegoing community. However, they give a nod to their group name in one scene.
During the Christmas talent show performance, the skirts the girls wear for their performance are actually made out of plastic. This might be an unconventional material to use for clothing, but the costume designer for Mean Girls wanted to make a skirt that represented what the girls are all about.
Lizzy Caplan Was Deemed Too Pretty to Play Janice
The producers were initially looking for a “Kelly Osbourne-like actress” to play Janis Ian, and Lizzy Caplan was initially deemed too pretty for the role. However, she impressed the producers so much with her emotional range in the audition that she was given the part anyway.
They decided to give her crazy hair and makeup that would make Caplan look more grungy to fit the role. Also, the real Janis Ian’s song “Seventeen” can be heard in the background when the Plastics are all fighting at Regina George’s house.
Tina Fey Was a Mean Girl in Her Own High School Days
While Fey wrote Mean Girls based on the self-help book “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” some personal experience was thrown into the script. It was her first screenplay after years of writing for Saturday Night Live, and she wanted it to succeed so badly, which it did, obviously.
Ms. Norbury was named after a German teacher who taught at Fey’s alma mater, Upper Darby High School. Also, Fey confessed that she was a mean girl in her own high school days, which she is open about. She said it was a disease she had to conquer, but now she is no longer like that.
Mean Girls Was Amanda Seyfried’s Debut Role
Amanda Seyfried started her career slowly as a model when she was 11 years old and ventured into acting at age 15. She had a few recurring roles on soap operas like As the World Turns and All My Children, but nothing really big until she landed the role in Mean Girls.
Initially, Seyfried auditioned for the role of Regina George and Cady Heron, but those parts went to McAdams and Lohan. However, the producers saw something in Seyfried and decided that she should play Karen Smith, the dim-witted member of the Plastics, instead. This role helped her go on to earn more serious roles, which earned her an Oscar nomination.
Glen Coco Is a Real Person
As we have seen, many characters in Mean Girls are Tina Fey’s real-life friends or family. In an Entertainment Weekly interview, Fey said that she used real names because it was easier than making up a bunch of different characters. In particular, Glen Coco is one most people never understood.
Although it is such a minor and uncredited role, Glen Coco is actually named after her older brother, who works as a film editor in Los Angeles. Who knew that Tina Fey had a brother with such a unique name? People who meet him must think he is joking about his name when they hear it.
Blake Lively Was Almost in the Movie
There are plenty of beautiful blonde actresses who could have been in Mean Girls, and one of those women is Blake Lively. She auditioned for the film and got so far in the casting process that she was doing final screen tests for the role of Karen Smith before it went to Seyfried.
Ashley Tisdale was also cast initially as Gretchen Weiners. With all these alternate actors like Lively, Tisdale, and Franco, the movie would have been much different than the cult classic we know and love today. Can you even imagine what that would have been like?
The Film Was Turned Into a Broadway Musical
In 2013, Fey confirmed that a musical adaptation of Mean Girls was in the works. She wrote the book of the show, and her husband, Jeff Richmond, composed the music with Casey Nicholaw as the director. The musical premiered on Halloween 2017 in Washington D.C. at the National Theater.
The show opened a year later on Broadway at the August Wilson Theater. In 2020, Fey announced that a film adaptation of Mean Girls the Musical was in active development. Fey is excited to bring Mean Girls back to the big screen because she considers the characters as her own Marvel Universe.