Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
On March 31, 1999, the teen comedy-drama 10 Things I Hate About You hit theaters and would go on to become a beloved cult classic. The film would help propel the careers of many of its young stars, including Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A modern-day retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, the movie became both a critical and financial success. In honor of it's twentieth anniversary, let's take a look at some sweet facts about the film.
1. The title of the movie is based on a diary entry writer Karen McCullah wrote in high school about her boyfriend. “I made a list called Things I Hate About Anthony. When Kirsten [Smith] and I decided to write this, I went through all of my high school diaries to bone up on the angsty memories, and when I told her about that list, she was like, ‘That’s our title.’”
2. Both Josh Harnett and Ashton Kutcher were up for the role of Patrick, but the late Heath Ledger beat them both out. It was also the actor’s first American film.
3. The heart-breaking scene where Kat reads the “10 Things” poem was shot in one take and Julia Stiles actually improvised the tears.
4. Larisa Oleynik (Bianca) revealed that it was Julia Stiles (Kat) who suggested Heath Ledger should sing Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” in the now-iconic scene. He was supposed to originally sing “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family.
5. The table dance scene ultimately led Julia Stiles to be cast in the leading role in Save the Last Dance (2001).
6. Heath Ledger’s character Patrick Verona is based on The Taming of the Shrew’s Petruchio, and the actor drew inspiration from Richard Burton’s portrayal in the 1967 version. Ledger also wanted to give a “Jack Nicholson edge to him with his cheekiness and his smiles.”
7. It was revealed by the cast for the 10th Anniversary commentary that Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles actually began dating during filming, but broke up in January 2000.
8. According to David Krumholtz (Michael), he attributes the film’s success to the cast’s genuine chemistry. He once expressed in a 2015 interview that the cast had “a unified chemistry throughout the ensemble, without a single bad apple in the bunch. We all agreed that we were having the best summer of our lives.”
9. The Stratford sisters are named so in homage to Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon.
10. During the end credits, the band Letters to Cleo performed on the roof of the school. According to the lead singer Kay Hanley, it cost $500,000 every time the helicopter took off so the band had to get it right fast.
11. Initially, Stiles wanted the role of Bianca and Oleynik wanted to play Kat.
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12. Despite playing a high schooler in the film, Gabrielle Union (Chastity) was actually 26 during the time of filming.
13. 10 Things I Hate About You served as a breakthrough film for Stiles, Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Cameron), who all went on to find major success after its release.
14. Heath Ledger was Julia Stiles’ first on-screen kiss.
15. Allison Janney, who portrayed Ms. Perky the guidance counselor and erotic literature writer, improvised the “Kat. Meow” line.
16. When Cameron (Gordon-Levitt) expressed, “I burn, I pine, I perish” in the film, that was a direct quote from The Taming of the Shrew.
17. Due to the success of the film, Heath Ledger was offered multiple roles in teen movies post-10 Things, but ultimately turned them down to avoid being pigeonholed.
18. The red Dodge Dart Kat drives in the film actually belonged to Heath.
19. The film’s screenwriters, Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith, also wrote the screen adaption for Legally Blonde (2001).
20. The scene where Patrick (Ledger) plays with fire was improvised by the actor.
21. Andrew Keegan (Joey) had no idea how to draw genitals, so David Krumholtz (Michael) had to teach him how to draw one on his face. Keegan was also said to be a massive flirt on set.
22. The cast got along so well together that they even went to concerts and dinner with one another; during a break from filming they saw both the Beastie Boys and Pearl Jam.
23. Though there were cliques within the film, there weren’t any on set. David Krumholtz (Michael) once expressed, “It was just very communal and very sweet and we all just had a very similar way of looking at the world. It was all really nice.”
24. A short-lived television adaption of the movie was released in 2009, but the show only lasted one season. Larry Miller, who played Kat and Bianca’s father, was the only cast member to reprise their role.
© 2019 Rachel M Johnson
Rachel M Johnson (author) on April 01, 2019:
Hi Dina, I absolutely loved Kat’s attitude and the way she didn’t try to conform to anyone’s image or standards. She was very unique and showed being different was okay. I like how much Bianca grew by the end of the movie as well but she definitely got on my nerves! Heath Ledger was amazing in the film and I love when he sang to Kat!
Dina AH from United States on April 01, 2019:
Ah, this film was instrumental in my life as a teen. It has the charm that many adaptations don't quite achieve. Kat, Bianca, and their dad remain to be one of my favorite families ever. Just the dynamic between the sisters, and their relationship with their dad (and, as a result, their behaviors around other people) it resonates so much with me. Did you identify with either of the sisters or no? I was fascinated by Kat--Bianca kind of irked me when I was younger.