“We’re going streaking!”—Frank “The Tank” Ricard
“It’s that damn Hansel! He’s so hot right now!”—Jacobim Mugatu
“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!”—Patches O’Houlihan
“Mom, the meatloaf!”—Chazz Reinhold
“You stay classy, San Diego.”—Ron Burgundy
Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughan, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson? These names were box office gold back in the early- to mid-2000s. This group of funnymen, dubbed the “Frat Pack,” starred in some of the biggest comedies of the era. While the actors have had different career paths since the golden days, there’s no doubt that movies like Old School, Wedding Crashers, Anchorman: The Legend of Run Burgundy, and Zoolander have left their cultural mark. These movies are eminently quotable feasts of screwball glory that are still remembered fondly to this day. But what went on behind the scenes? Here are 42 interesting facts about the Frat Pack.
42. What’s in a Name?
USA Today used the term “Frat Pack” to describe this group of comedy icons way back in 2004. Before that, Entertainment Weekly had originally coined the term “Frat Pack” to describe Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck, preferring to call the former group the “Slacker Pack.” But eventually even they saw the writing on the wall and started calling Stiller and the boys the Frat Pat like everyone else.
41. Where Did It Come From?
The name came about in relation to the popularity of the frat-house comedy Old School. It’s an allusion to the original Rat Pack, which most famously included crooners like Frank (not “the Tank”) Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. The Frat Pack continued the tradition, started by the “Brat Pack” of the 1980s, of playing off the Rat Pack’s name.
40. Members Only
The group is fairly loose in terms of its overall members. The original, core line-up, though, consisted of Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, Owen Wilson, and Luke Wilson. John C. Reilly, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Leslie Mann have all been occasionally been considered as “junior varsity” contributing members.
39. I Was There at the Start
Although mostly known for more sophomoric fare, members of the Frat Pack have played major roles with some of Hollywood’s most talented filmmakers. Owen Wilson was a college friend of indie-movie darling Wes Anderson, and he starred in and co-wrote the auteur’s first major release, Bottle Rocket.
38. A Numbers Game
The Frat Pack have been responsible for some of the highest-grossing comedy films of all time. Although there is some debate about what is included in the category, the top grossing Frat Pack film is (somehow) Ben Stiller’s Meet the Fockers. The sequel to Meet the Parents grossed more than $500 million worldwide, almost double that of the next closest Frat Pack movie, Wedding Crashers.
37. Do You Play Weddings?
The hilariously foul-mouthed wedding band featured in Old School is a real band. They’re called The Dan Band and were also featured in Starsky & Hutch, another Frat Pack movie starring Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller.
36. If You can Dodge a Wrench
To prepare for the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, and their co-stars took part in a dodgeball “boot camp.” A few times a week, the actors hit up a local gym to play dodgeball. Apparently it was quite the workout!
35. Not Just a Tax Man
The man who played Marissa’s father in Old School was actually Will Ferrell’s real-life accountant. You never know when knowing that might come in handy!
34. Best Frenemies
When Ben Stiller was writing Zoolander he knew exactly who was going to play Hansel; only Owen Wilson was ever considered for the part.
33. A Family Affair
Many members of Stiller’s real-life family appear in Zoolander. His father, Jerry Stiller, plays Zoolander’s agent Maury Ballstein, and his wife, Christine Taylor, plays reporter Matilda Jeffries. His mother, sister, and brother-in-law all also appear to varying degrees in the movie.
32. Not So Welcomed
Zoolander includes a fictional portrayal of a Malaysian Prime Minister who is the subject of an assassination attempt. Apparently, Malaysia didn’t take too kindly to this plot point: The film has been banned in the country since it was released.
31. Songs My Father Taught Me
Will Ferrell’s dad, Roy Lee Ferrell, played saxophone, piano, and keyboards for the Righteous Brothers. Roy wrote the song “Goodbye Cowboy” for his son’s movie Talladega Nights and the track made it in to the final cut.
30. Gotta Start Somewhere
Will Ferrell has been consistently one of the busiest and most recognizable faces of the Frat Pack, even after its heyday has come and gone, but he got started with much more local audiences. He discovered his knack for performance while he did the morning announcements at his high school in Irvine, California.
29. There’s Money in Television
While still making the jump to the big screen, Will Ferrell was the most popular cast member on Saturday Night Live, eventually becoming the highest paid actor in the show’s history.
28. If at First You Don’t Succeed
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was a huge hit for the Frat Pack, making more than $80 million at the box office (not quite Meet the Fockers money, but still). DreamWorks Studios wasn’t very optimistic about the film beforehand, though. Ferrell had to pitch the movie almost twenty times before they gave it the green light, despite the recent successes of Old School and Elf.
27. A Slightly Different Career
Will Ferrell had plenty of fodder for his imagination when it came to Anchorman. He actually graduated from university with a degree in journalism (in sports information, to be exact) and even contributed to a local news station a few times before making it big.
26. Jets or Sharks?
The fight scene in Anchorman, which included a number of cameo appearances by Frat Pack members such as Vince Vaughan, is an homage to the opening scene of West Side Story. Vince Vaughan even wears a yellow jacket just like Riff wears in a climactic dance scene.
25. Some Time Apart
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson were only on set at the same time for one day while filming Night at the Museum. Wilson filmed most of his scenes three months after Stiller had completed his work on set.
24. Quelle Problème, Ben?
Ben Stiller apparently doesn’t care much for Montreal. Night at the Museum was originally supposed to be filmed in the Quebec city, but Stiller prefers Vancouver, so the movie was eventually shot there on a soundstage.
23. Mother Knows Best
Ben Stiller’s acting career got started at the ripe old age of ten; he made an appearance on the legal drama television series Kate McShane, which starred Stiller’s mother, Anne Meara.
22. Why so Serious?
Vince Vaughan was comedic gold for a stretch of Frat Pack movies back in the early aughts, but his inclusion in movies like Old School was not always a given, since he was known for non-comedic roles earlier in his career. He got his breakthrough role in Jon Favreau’s Swingers, and he also starred as Norman Bates in Gus Van Sandt’s ill-fated, shot-for-shot remake of the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Thank goodness he eventually switched to comedies!
21. Close Connections
Vince Vaughan and Ben Stiller were two of the hottest tickets from the Frat Pack in the early 2000s. In 2004 alone, the pair appeared in three different movies together.
20. Origin Stories
Before he made it to the big time with Swingers, Vince Vaughan starred alongside Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A Christmas Story) in an afterschool special on steroids.
19. Tricky Customer
Vince Vaughan wasn’t the best student at Lake Forest High School, but he became Class President in his senior year. The idea was that, as president, he could speak at the graduation, and if he spoke at graduation, he figured they had to let him graduate!
18. In Cahoots
The members of the Frat Pack spend a lot of time in each other’s movies. Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller probably best exemplify this comradery: so far they’ve appeared in a total of 12 movies together.
17. You Scratch My Back
Snoop Dogg only agreed to make a cameo appearance in Old School because he wanted to play Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch. Todd Phillips, who directed both movies, used the leverage of Huggy Bear to get Snoop into the frat-house comedy.
16. Plenty of Fish in the Sea
Owen and Luke Wilson were originally tipped to play the Malloy brothers in the successful 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven. They decided against taking the roles because they wanted to work with their friend Wes Anderson in his critical darling The Royal Tenenbaums.
15. Talk About Feeling Lost
Terry O’Quinn never told his sons that he made an uncredited appearance in Old School as the character Goldberg. When his sons saw the movie they thought they were hallucinating when, lo and behold, there was their dad up on the big screen. O’Quinn later went on to gain fame playing Locke in the television series Lost.
14. Smaller Audiences
Not exactly the silver screen, but one of Jack Black’s first roles was in the glamorous genre of management training films. In “Manager of the Year—Effective Listening,” Black plays a teenager who has to break it to his dad that their car has been stolen.
13. Two Is a Party
Steve Carrell had two movies premiere in the United States on the same day (July 9, 2004). One was a Frat Pack crowd favorite, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The other was Sleepover, which maybe someone remembers, but I do not. Still, big day for Steve!
12. All for the Cause
The famous chest-hair waxing scene in Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year Old Virgin was real. Apatow talked Steve Carrell into really waxing off part of his chest hair, since it would only be funny if the reaction was real.
11. Insurance Won’t Cover It
Ben Stiller went to stunt driving school for his role in Starsky & Hutch, hoping to be able to perform his own stunts in the movie. He passed his course, but didn’t do well enough to perform all of the stunts that were filmed.
Vince Vaughan was initially slated to play Hutch in Todd Phillips’ reboot of the classic cop-show from the 70s, but eventually the role went to Owen Wilson.
9. No Horse Play
Something must have been in the air in 2004. In Starsky & Hutch, Stiller’s character accidentally kills a horse. This is the second movie in 2004 in which a character played by Stiller accidentally kills a horse. The other movie is Envy.
8. The Good Old Days
The idea for Wedding Crashers came from the real life experiences of producer Andrew Panay. When Panay was in college he crashed a few weddings with one of his friends. He pitched the idea to his production studio and the ball started rolling from there.
7. Politically Incorrect
John McCain got into a bit of trouble for his cameo appearance in Wedding Crashers. The Republican stalwart appeared alongside Democrat strategist James Carville at the Cleary wedding in the movie. Apparently McCain didn’t know what kind of movie he was appearing in, as he had recently been on the news criticizing Hollywood for promoting R-rated movies to younger audiences.
6. Something Borrowed
The Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California might turn into a Frat Pack pilgrimage one of these days—the church appeared in two of the most beloved Frat Pack movies: Old School and Wedding Crashers.
5. Getting the Band Together
In the early days of the Frat Pack, Jack Black filmed a television pilot created by Community/Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon and directed by Ben Stiller. The show was called Heat Vision and Jack, and it was a parody of Knight Rider, but instead of a talking car, this show had a talking motorcycle voiced by Owen Wilson. Wooooow.
4. Career Option B
If Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket had been a dud, Owen Wilson was ready for a new career path. He planned to join the Marine Corps if things didn’t work out. Luckily they did, though he got a taste for the military in his 2001 action-thriller Behind Enemy Lines.
3. A Man of Few Words
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay pitched Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with just six words: “Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver.” Having already scored big hits with his Frat Pack movies, Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver was apparently too good for Sony Pictures to turn down.
2. A Well Made Suit
The American novelist Bret Easton Ellis sued Ben Stiller for copyright infringement after Zoolander was released. Ellis’s novel Glamorama is about a male model who unwittingly finds himself caught up in an international terrorist ring based in the fashion industry. That does sound a bit familiar…
1. We’re Going Streaking!
Will Ferrell’s famous streaking scene in Old School was filmed on a live city street. When he ran by the 24 hour gym, the patrons were less than thrilled about the view. As Ferrell recounted it, there were “shrieks of horror” when he dropped his robe.
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