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The History Behind Mean Girls You Might Not Know About

Oh-em-gee. That's usually the first phrase that comes to mind whenever someone mentions 2004's "Mean Girls." Directed by Mark Waters from a script by Tina Fey, the teen comedy flipped its big hair full of secrets and whipped both the audience and critics into a frenzy with its plethora of quotable lines and hilariously accurate portrayal of high school shenanigans. Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak.com summed up the film best, stating: "As depicted here Girl World is as complex and as full of shadowy espionage as a Robert Ludlum-penned CIA spy thriller."

"Mean Girls" cleaned up at the 2004 Teen Choice Awards (via Billboard), became such a worldwide sensation that it was turned into a Broadway musical later in 2018 (via Playbill), and has constantly been cited as a cult classic (via The New Yorker). While on the surface it might appear like the movie was a case of trapping lightning in the bottle and being released at the right place at the right time, there's more to the story of "Mean Girls" than meets the eye. From famous actors turning down parts to the shocking secrets of Regina George's hair, let's put on pink (if it's Wednesday, of course) and find out more about the losers and The Plastics from "Mean Girls."

The characters were named after Tina Fey's friends

Most writing teachers will tell their students to write about what they know and to pay attention to the unique quirks and mannerisms of certain people in their lives. But is it a good idea to name your characters after these people you know, especially if they aren't portrayed in the most heroic of ways? Well, the untold truth about Tina Fey seems to be that she fears no one, since she included both names and surnames of people she knows in her "Mean Girls" script. That definitely leaves nothing open to interpretation here!

"I tried to use real names in writing because it's just easier," Fey told Entertainment Weekly. "My older brother's good friend is Glenn Cocco. He's a film editor in Los Angeles, and I imagine it's a pain in the butt for him. Someone said to me you could buy a shirt at Target that says 'You go, Glenn Cocco!'" Honestly, that shirt sounds so fetch and a must-have fashion accessory for every "Mean Girls" fan on the planet.

Evan Rachel Wood turned down Mean Girls

Looking back now, "Mean Girls" is an iconic film that has stood the test of time, even being named by Marie Claire as the best movie from the 2000s. Yet, no one could have predicted its major cultural impact or potential box office success when it was in pre-production or even being shopped around. As a result, some actors — like Mary Elizabeth Winstead — passed on even auditioning for the teen comedy, when there were other, less "raunchy" roles on the horizon. And Evan Rachel Wood revealed on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" (via Access) that she was actually offered a role in "Mean Girls" but turned it down.

"The only reason is because I was already supposed to do a film called 'Pretty Persuasion' that was set in high school," Wood said. "That was very 'Heathers'-esque and it was very similar [to 'Mean Girls']." The actress regretted her decision and publicly apologized to Tina Fey for passing on the project, saying that she's a big fan of "Means Girls" and she'd happily work with her on something else. The only question that still remains here is, which part was Wood being considered for? 

Lizzy Caplan felt typecast after Mean Girls

One of the most common tropes in teen comedies is the angry goth girl. These characters normally wear all black and want to overthrow the high school queen bee, who has wronged them in the past. In "Mean Girls," Lizzy Caplan played this archetype in the form of Janis Ian, who first comes up with the idea for Cady to infiltrate The Plastics and bring them down from within. While the part elevated Caplan's profile in the entertainment industry, it also brought with it a new problem, as she discussed in an interview with The Independent.

"After 'Mean Girls,' I didn't work again for a long time," Caplan stated. "For like a year, I couldn't get a job. The next thing I did, I straight up dyed my hair blonde and got a spray tan." The actress didn't blame the film for this, though, believing it was more a by-product of the industry at the time. Caplan explained that in those days, the choice was either portraying the popular or geeky girl, with hardly any room for meatier or more interesting parts. The issue was that everyone saw her only as Janis and didn't know how to cast her in any other types of roles afterwards.

Lindsay Lohan wanted to play Regina George

By the time "Mean Girls" rolled in, Lindsay Lohan was already a household name for many, thanks to her work in Disney movies and 2003's "Freaky Friday." However, one could argue that "Mean Girls" only elevated her profile further and cemented her status as one of the best young actresses in Hollywood in this era before we stopped hearing about her. After working with "Mean Girls" director Mark Waters on the highly successful "Freaky Friday," it seemed only logical that Lohan would join him in his next project. Lohan didn't say no to Waters, but she had another role in mind when the director first approached her about doing the movie.

"I wanted to play Regina," Lohan revealed to Entertainment Weekly. "I had just played — in 'Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen' and 'Freaky Friday' — not the cool girl in school. I was still 17 years old and I wanted to be the cool girl on set. So I had a war with him, and he goes, 'No, Cady is the heroine, and that's who you are.'" Ironically, Rachel McAdams originally auditioned to be Cady, so thankfully, this was a switcheroo that worked out for everyone in the end.

Jonathan Bennett was hired because he looks like Jimmy Fallon

Jonathan Bennett's turn as Aaron Samuels catapulted him into the Rolodexes of big-time producers and agents. Before that, his biggest role to date had been as one of the many actors to have portrayed J.R. Chandler Jr. in "All My Children." Casting a relative unknown in a leading part is always a risky move, but Tina Fey had a different (and more personal) reason for choosing Bennett altogether.

Speaking to The HuffPost, Bennett admitted that Fey only cast him because he shares an uncanny resemblance to her "Saturday Night Live" cast-mate and friend, Jimmy Fallon. Bennett didn't dispute the similarity but revealed that he'd never actually met the popular talk-show host and comedian in real life. And now that everyone has noticed how Fallon and Bennett look practically identical, it's almost impossible to un-see. Someone needs to check their family history for a link or a distant cousin somewhere, because they look more related than the Olsen twins.

Mean Girls was based on a non-fiction book

In 2002, author Rosalind Wiseman released her self-help book titled "Queen Bees and Wannabes." As described by Penguin Random House, it's a non-fiction book for parents to help their adolescent daughters deal with all the issues of high school, such as social circles, insecurities, and gossip. While it was written as a serious guide to address real-life concerns of both parents and their children, Tina Fey found a funny side to it as well. So, she suggested it to "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels as a potential comedy film.

"When I first pitched it to Lorne, I was thinking I'd like to write a movie about what they call 'relational aggression' among girls," Fey told Entertainment Weekly. "He was like, 'Okay, but could they also still have cool cars and cool clothes?' And I was like, 'Oh, for sure!'" Fey took the critical elements and key messages from the book, applied some of her own unfortunate experiences from high school (via Philly Voice), and so, the script for "Mean Girls" was born out of the ashes of teenage chaos.

Rachel McAdams channeled Alec Baldwin for Regina George

When anyone whispers the name of Regina George, there are many descriptions (and curse words) that come to mind. Perhaps she might remind the viewer of the self-obsessed Taylor Vaughan from "She's All That" or even the vindictive and nasty Heather Chandler from "Heathers." But a character played by Alec Baldwin? Sure, Baldwin is a multifaceted performer, but to quote Kevin Gnapoor, "Damn, Africa, what happened?"

Actress Rachel McAdams told The New York Times about this curious inspiration for Regina and why it made sense in the context of the character's arc. "At the heart of Regina George was a really angry kid who had no boundaries or guidance," she said. "Mark [Waters] told me to listen to Courtney Love really loud, and to watch Alec Baldwin in 'Glengarry Glen Ross.'" In the 1992 drama "Glengarry Glen Ross," directed by James Foley and written by David Mamet, Baldwin portrays the ferocious character of Blake, who verbally lays into a group of salesmen with a ludicrous amount of profanity and sheer intensity. Okay, maybe Blake and Regina aren't too different from each other after all.

Mariah Carey may be the biggest Mean Girls fan of all

There's no disputing the fact that "Mean Girls" is one of the most quotable films of all time. Even USA Today revealed that it had a lot of material to sift through in order to identify just the 15 best quotes from the movie. Naturally, many of these lines have become hallmarks of pop culture and any fan can spot a "Mean Girls" quote from a mile away. It should also come as no surprise that there are more than a handful of celebrity fans who treat October 3rd like they do their birthdays on a yearly basis — complete with the cake and the color pink.

According to Lindsay Lohan, one of the best-selling musicians ever can be counted among the fanbase. "Mariah Carey and I have the same makeup artist," Lohan told Entertainment Weekly. "Whenever I see her, she does always say, 'On Wednesdays, I wear pink.' She loves that movie." Well, that's something we definitely didn't know about Mariah Carey. In fact, Carey is such a super-fan that she took a "Mean Girls" quiz with Tina Fey ... and passed with flying colors. Hypothetically speaking, wouldn't it be great if she and other artists got together to create an album inspired purely by "Mean Girls" quotes? Who knows, maybe "Fetch" could be another No. 1 single on the Billboard charts for the singer.

Regina's hair was full of secrets

While Damian might have said that the reason Gretchen Wieners' hair was so big was because "it's full of secrets," the same was applicable to Rachel McAdams on the "Mean Girls" set. While we hear that Regina's iconic long blonde hair was insured for $10,000, McAdams didn't want to bleach her locks for "Mean Girls," so the filmmakers had to just wi(n)g it here.

"Mean Girls" co-star Rajiv Surendra, who portrayed Kevin Gnapoor, confirmed as much to Seventeen. "Rachel McAdams' blonde hair is not her hair in the movie," he said. "They had a wig made out of human hair by a very well-known wig maker from this little town called Stratford, Ontario." Surendra added that he believed McAdams dyed the front part of her hair blonde, but the rest was a wig. He also explained how he witnessed the wig being washed on a regular basis and even blow dried to make it look more authentic.

Another actor was supposed to play Aaron Samuels

When the "Mean Girls" cast first got together for a table read before production kicked off, it wasn't Jonathan Bennett who was there, reading the part of Aaron Samuels. Tina Fey told The Independent that the actor originally cast as Aaron was fired, and Bennett confirmed that he flew in at the last minute to take over the role. However, both of them declined to mention the name of the fired actor. In 2019, Mark Waters told Cosmopolitan about the incident, saying that the actor in question had been good in his audition, but brought zero energy to the table read. So, producer Lorne Michaels decided to cut him from the production and go with Bennett instead. Again, Waters didn't reveal who it was.

While it was never confirmed by the cast or crew who the original Aaron was, Daniel Franzese, who played Damian, did mention another actor that had been considered for Aaron. In an interview with Grazia, Franzese said, "Lindsay [Lohan] recently told me that, even before [the actor who got fired], James Franco was considered for the role of Aaron Samuels." 

Tina Fey didn't want to do a sequel

After making over $130 million from a $17 million budget (via Box Office Mojo), and achieving an overwhelmingly positive critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, "Mean Girls" was a certified hit for Paramount Pictures. In fact, it seemed only logical that a sequel would get the green light and Regina would be back for vengeance against Cady and the rest of The Plastics in "2 Mean 2 Girls." Unfortunately, it never played out that way.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tina Fey admitted her regret at not pulling the trigger on the sequel when she should have. "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 said. "Now I look back and I'm like, 'Why?' But now, no — it's too late now." Due to Fey's reluctance to do a sequel, the studio optioned one without her. But the less said about the 2011 direct-to-video "Mean Girls 2," the better. It simply can't sit with us!

Rachel McAdams would play Regina again

Like the rest of us, the cast of "Mean Girls" willfully forgets that technically, a sequel already exists. In April 2020, Lindsay Lohan told DailyMailTV that it would be her "dream" to get the gang back together for a sequel and give the fans what they want. Her co-star Rachel McAdams echoed the sentiment in the Heroes of Health: COVID-19 Stream-a-thon, saying, "It would be fun to play Regina George later in her life and see where life took her." That said, McAdams added that any discussions about a sequel had all been done jokingly and not in a serious manner.

While it's undoubtedly too late for them to do a "Mean Girls" sequel set in high school now, it would still be interesting to see what the likes of Regina, Gretchen, and Cady are doing as adults. The cast members had their own hypotheses when they chatted to Entertainment Weekly about it. While Amanda Seyfriend thought that Karen is "probably really focused" on her "store that sells really cool dog attire," Lacey Chabert suggested that "Gretchen is probably running the Toaster Strudel empire. She is probably married and has, like, seven babies right now. She and Jason worked it out. She has very big curly hair." Look, the idea could work and be done in the same fashion as "American Pie: Reunion," which picked up much later in the characters' lives and also served as a segue to introduce the next generation. Dreaming is free, right?