Jennifer Jason Leigh played the innocent teen in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (FTARH). To get into character, Leigh took a job at the actual Perry’s Pizza, the restaurant her character (Stacy Hamilton) worked at. She worked at the Sherman Oaks Galleria location in Los Angeles where parts of the movie were shot. Later, Leigh went on to appear in many films including Single White Female.
Sean Penn’s role as the stoner/surfer dude Jeff Spicoli brought him to everyone’s attention and began his long career in acting. While filming FTARH, Penn stayed in character during the entire shoot and would only answer to people if they called him Spicoli.
Brian Backer plays Mark Ratner who is in love with Stacy. This character, Mark “The Rat”, is based on an actual student Cameron Crowe knew who, although geeky, later became rich and famous for writing the “… for Dummies” books.
Judge Reinhold plays Stacy’s brother, Brad, who is a popular senior who takes on many comical employment opportunities in an effort to pay his car off. Reinhold later held many acting roles. He appeared in TV shows such as Seinfeld and Arrested Development, and the movie Beverly Hills Cop.
Cameron Crowe is an actor, author, director, producer, screenwriter and journalist. Before getting into the film industry, he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine, during which time he went undercover as a high school student at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California. His experience in the high school was the basis for the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Lana Clarkson had a brief role as the gorgeous wife of geeky science professor Mr. Vargas. She had a few small roles after this appearance, but her life ended abruptly when she was shot in the home of Phil Spector, a music producer. He was later convicted of her murder.
Forest Whitaker played a high school football player in FTARH. This was his first on screen role. He now has a successful acting career and has won an Academy Award for his performance as a Ugandan dictator in The Last King of Scotland.
Robert Romanus played Mike Damone, a ticket scalper who considers himself to be a ladies man. Romanus is now an actor and musician. He also owns a café, Bob’s Espresso Bar, in North Hollywood in Los Angeles.
The famed actor had a small part as one of Brad’s (Judge Reinhold) friends. It was Cage’s very first time appearing on screen. He originally auditioned for Judge Reinhold’s part, but didn’t get it. One of the reasons was because, as a minor at just 17 years of age, it was illegal for him to work as many hours as would be needed for the part.
Nancy Wilson makes a cameo in FTARH, but she is better known for her music. She is the guitarist of the band Heart. In FTARH, her short scene includes her pretending to flirt with Brad (Judge Reinhold) from her car, but she is actually laughing at his ridiculous pirate hat that he has to wear for work.
15. Amy Heckerling
Source Amy Heckerling made her debut as the director of FTARH. She later directed many well-known films, such as Clueless, the Look Who’s Talking films and National Lampoon’s European Vacation.
Ray Walston plays the history teacher Mr. Hand. Comedy ensues as strict Mr. Hand faces off again laid back Spicoli (Sean Penn). After Mr. Hand is rude to Spicoli, Spicoli gets back at him by ordering pizza and having it delivered to his desk during class completely breaking Mr. Hand’s no eating rule. Aside from this role, Walston has appeared on Broadway and has had a successful movie career.
Vincent Schiavelli is the science teacher Mr. Vargas. Schiavelli has often been descried as the man with the sad eyes. He had Marfan’s Syndrome, which he said contributes to his height, being 6 ft 6 in, and his unique facial appearance.
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