Prepare to feel old, children of the ’90s. The 1997 horror hit I Know What You Did Last Summer celebrates its 20th birthday Oct. 17. That’s one year shy of legal drinking age, but the movie could get behind the wheel of a car. That may not be such a great idea, though, because the film’s horror hijinks are set in motion by an automobile accident, one that claims the life of an ordinary pedestrian and putting his teenage killers — played by era-defining stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. — in the crosshairs of a yellow-slicker wearing, fishhook-wielding revenge seeker.
As Phillippe told Yahoo Entertainment during a Facebook Live talk earlier this year, there were some off-camera driving errors committed during production as well — though thankfully with less deadly consequences. “One night Sarah Michelle and I decided to take my rental car on the beach,” the actor recalls. “We ended up getting stuck in a sand dune and having to call a tow truck in the middle of the night — all in fear of the producers finding out and we’d be fired!” (Watch the clip from our interview above.)
Sand-dune traps aside, Phillippe describes the I Know What You Did Last Summer set as a dream environment for a young actor. “I just remember us four being so excited we were making a studio movie. That was my dream as a 13-year-old — to see myself on the big screen.” Released one year after the original Scream reinvigorated the horror genre in America, audiences were primed to, well, scream along with the absurdly attractive cast. In real life, Gellar and Prinze — who plays Hewitt’s boyfriend in the film — later fell in love and married, but Phillippe doesn’t recall any inkling of that romance starting on set. “There wasn’t really a sense of that then, but I think it’s really cool and sweet that they ended up together.”
In an interview with E! earlier this year, Prinze recalled being the “beer buyer” for the cast — including his future bride — because he had just turned 21 before filming began. “Scream changed the genre, and I think we were the beneficiaries of that,” Prinze said, revealing that he was close to nabbing the role in that Wes Craven-directed favorite that eventually went to Skeet Ulrich. But writer Kevin Williamson, who also penned Last Summer, let the actor know he had his back. “He was like, ‘You’re getting I Know What You Did Last Summer whether you auditioned or not.’ I said, ‘Why didn’t you just give it to me?’ I was nervous as hell! I was up against Jeremy Sisto, who was way better than me back then!”
While Gellar and Phillippe didn’t survive their original encounter with the fishhook killer, Hewitt and Prinze fought him again in the sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, which was rushed into theaters the following November. That follow-up fell well short of the original’s $72 million box-office haul, but don’t be surprised if the power of nostalgia results in a present-day reboot. If and when that comes to pass, Hewitt has only one request. “I keep thinking they’re going to call and ask me to play the kid’s mom,” she told Entertainment Tonight in 2014. “I’m going to be like, ‘I’m not that old yet!'” Maybe not … but the rest of us are.
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