Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have to wait 15 years for people to appreciate it greatly.
Coming out of the premiere of his film Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical at the Sundance Film Festival, director Andy Fickman was receiving a lot of drug-related pitches—"They were like, 'Do you want to do Cocaine Fiends? Do you want to do Happy Herointown?'"—when he came across the script for a teen comedy, She's the Man.
Penned by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, the movie was a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, centering on Viola, a teenage girl who pretends to be her twin brother in order to play on the boys' soccer team. Shenanigans ensue, romantic complications occur and gender norms are defied.
"I just loved it," Fickman told E! News of the script. "I was such a big Twelfth Night fan, such a big Shakespeare fan as a theater director, I dove in."
And he dove in head-first with Amanda Bynes, as the beloved Nickelodeon child star was already attached to play Viola/Sebastian.
"Then we all kind of just went off to the races together and started casting right away," Fickman said, "and Amanda was very much part of that casting process because it's all about chemistry. That was putting together an ensemble."
It was an ensemble of then-mostly unknown actors, including Virgin River's Alexandra Breckinridge, Silicon Valley's Amanda Crew, Firefly Lane's Brandon Jay McLaren, Robert Hoffman, and, oh yeah, Channing Tatum.
Yes, before the superstar became one of Hollywood's go-to leading men, he landed his breakout role as Duke Orsino, the hunky-yet-awkward team captain and object of Viola's affection, which required him to stick a tampon up his nose, a moment that is cinematic proof that Channing had the comedic chops well before 2012's 21 Jump Street, thank you very much.
With a budget of $20 million, She's the Man debuted on March 17, 2006, grossing just $10 million in its opening weekend, going on to make just $57 million worldwide. But then a funny thing happened: It became a cult classic, thanks in large part to Amanda's fearlessly funny performance, the power of Channing (and all eight of his abs) and a litany of quotable one-liners ("When I close my eyes, I see you for what you truly are…which is UG-LAAAY!").
"Giving credit where credit's due, I think Shakespeare was always ahead of time. I think Shakespeare doing a gender role reversal play in the 1600s was a strange, probably unheard of thing for so many viewers at that time," Fickman said of She's the Man's enduring popularity, adding that the writers and producer Lauren Schuler Donner found "a way to show this story and make it a very comfortable world" in 2006.
"Again, credit to Amanda to being able to show that character and credit to the rest of the cast, because all we were ultimately trying to do was entertain," he continued, "and I think if you entertain with kindness and love and you entertain showing lots of different characters with lots of different identities and give everyone equal footing, I think that's always a win and something proud worth being a part of."
In honor of She's the Man's 15th anniversary, we're celebrating with a block of gouda cheese and behind-the-scenes secrets about the making of the movie, courtesy of Fickman...
She's the Man is streaming on Hulu.