18 Secrets About Now and Then Revealed

Knock three times on the ceiling if you still love the 1995 coming-of-age movie starring Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffmann and Ashleigh Aston Moore.

By Tierney Bricker Mar 11, 2021 2:31 PMTags
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All for one. And one for all.

More than 25 years ago, one of the most definitive movies about female friendship made its box office debut: Now and Then. Yes, you really are that old, and no, it's not weird that you immediately want to stop what you are doing to watch it. 

The coming-of-age tale centered on four friends—played by Gaby Hoffmann, Christina RicciThora Birch and Ashleigh Aston Moore—experiencing love, loss and growing up in the summer of 1970. And the film, directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, was also star-studded, with Demi Moore, Rosie O'DonnellMelanie Griffith and Rita Wilson playing the characters as adults returning to their hometown. Who says you can't go home? 

Back in 2015, producers Suzanne and Jennifer Todd, writer Marlene King (who went on to run a little show you may have heard of called Pretty Little Liars), and stars Thora Birch (Teeny!) and Devon Sawa (Scott Wormer!) revealed juicy behind-the-scenes secrets at a 20th anniversary screening. They spilled all the details on casting shake-ups, romantic on-set bets and so much more.

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Here are 18 secrets you might not know about Now and Then, including which role Leonardo DiCaprio initially snagged and which star was the one to "get with" Devon Sawa...

1. Marlene King wrote the movie when she was 10 years old and said it was about her group of friends growing up. "This really was my childhood...I had some best friends, we did séances in the graveyard, we loved a good mystery," King said during a Q&A at a 20th anniversary screening of the movie in 2015. "And my parents were also getting divorced at that time. It really was a true-to-life thing for me."

Samantha was based on her sister, Sandra, and King joked she herself was "everyone but Chrissy."

2. The four younger versions of the girls were cast first and began with Christina Ricci landing the part of Roberta. For the final week of filming in Savannah, the adult counterparts were brought in. King revealed that Demi Moore (who played Samantha and was a producer on the film), Rosie O'Donnell (Roberta), Melanie Griffith (Teeny) and Rita Wilson (Chrissy) watched footage of the girls' performances to inform their own takes on the characters. 

3. The twoincarnations of the quartet were never on set at the same time. 

4. While she eventually agreed to play the older version of Roberta, it took a lot of effort from producer Jennifer Todd and Moore to convince O'Donnell to sign on. "We really wanted Rosie and Rosie really wasn't convinced she wanted to do it and we went on this crazy adventure," Todd said, explaining she and Moore went to New York to see O'Donnell in Grease on Broadway in an attempt to woo her. "We did that rude, pushy thing were we went backstage afterwards, and were like, 'Hi, can we take you to dinner?'"

5. Birch revealed that she and her fellow 1970-era leading ladies as close as sisters, which lead to some arguments on the set. "That's how we knew we were close," she said, "we were really good at fighting."

6. All four lead girls had a "wild crush" on Devon Sawa, Birch admitted. But, like, didn't everyone have a thing for the Casper star in the '90s? Young stars Birch, Ricci, Moore, and Hoffman had a bet going about who would "get with" Sawa while filming, according to Todd.

"There was some kind of contest, I remember they said, 'Get with Devon.'" We were like,' What does 'get with' mean?!'" Todd recalled.

7. While Sawa politely said "no comment," Birch wasn't so tight-lipped, revealing his Casper co-star Ricci won the contest. "She got out front and the other girls weren't happy about it," Todd spilled.

Said Sawa, "I was the only 15-year-old boy with the cast of the hottest young girls in town, so it was a lot of fun."

8. But in a recent interview with E! News, Sawa credited Ricci with getting him cast as Scott.

"We got along quite well in the small amount of time I did work on Casper," he explained. "She just remembered and recommended me and I put myself on tape and I got it. We hung out a lot during the shoot."

9. Leonardo DiCaprio was originally set to play the role of the Vietnam War veteran the girls meet on their bike adventure, but he dropped out at the last minute. "It was a big deal because we had to get someone on a plane pretty quickly to come down," Todd said during the 2015 screening Q&A. "And an agent had called and pitched me and said, 'You should look at this new guy, Matt Damon.'" Alas, Todd said they didn't even end up getting to Matt Damon as they saw Brendan Fraser and liked him.

10. Remember the scene in the cemetery where a bird scares the girls? "That was scripted to be an owl and the owl died on set," King revealed. "We used a hawk instead of an owl." RIP owl!

11. Birch confirmed that there was actually pudding in the balloons that Teeny used to stuff her bra in the movie. "It's the texture," she joked. 

12. While the four girls rode their bikes everywhere, one of the stars had never actually ridden one before filming began. "I couldn't ride a bike," Birch admitted. "That's really embarrassing...it was horrible. I was the one with the skinniest tires on my bike so I was just flopping all over."

13. The famous bike-ride sing-a-long set to "Knock Three Times" was originally scripted to include a Diana Ross song. "No one could sing it because it was too hard," King explained of the change. 

14. The movie was originally called The Gaslight Addition, the subdivision the characters lived in. 

15. The photo of Roberta's dead mother that she carries everywhere? It's producer Jennifer Todd.

16. That rumor about pausing the movie at a a certain time so you can see Sawa's penis is so not true, according to the star. "I've always wanted to address that," he said. "It's not true, we wore these sock things, which at the age of 14 or 15, was extremely embarrassing!"

17. The young stars bonded over a very specific shared interest. "We all were oddly and creepily obsessed with Pulp Fiction," Birch revealed. "I remember we all went and saw it like 10 times." But the biggest Quentin Tarantino fan? "I know Christina was like, the most obsessed," she added. "She went 14 times and announced it to everyone."

18. Samantha's little sister in the movie was played by Moore's oldest daughter, Rumer Willis.

19. One major change that went down during production wasn't revealed until 20 years later. "The script was written, and then we shot [the movie] with the intention of Roberta being gay," King told Entertainment Tonight in 2015. 

But when the movie was screened for test audiences, King explained, viewers "freaked out" when Roberta also served as Chrissy's gynecologist during the labor scene.  "They were like, 'Ew, she's a lesbian and she's looking at her vagina!'" King recalled. "And we were like, 'What? Seriously? Do you really care?'"

Ultimately, the script was changed, with King saying, "It wasn't my decision by any way, shape, or form. I know Rosie was really upset when they changed it at the last minute, and we all were." 

This story was originally published on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 3 a.m. PT.

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