Released 10 years ago this week (on April 30, 2004), the high school comedy not only gave Lindsay Lohan her best role and made a star out of Rachel McAdams, but it also launched the movie careers of several of its performers, from writer/co-star Tina Fey to Daniel Franzese (Damian). An instant box office hit, "Mean Girls" went on to become a cult favorite for a generation of post-millennials, full of endlessly quotable lines of dialogue and wise social advice for navigating the jungles of high school and beyond.
Still, as many times as you've re-watched "Mean Girls," there still may be much you don't know about it -- from who almost played the now-iconic characters, to who really came up with Kevin's Mathlete rap, to the filmmakers' battles with the censors. Read on for true tales and burn-book secrets behind "Mean Girls."
1. Yes, Fey really did adapt the script from a self-help book, Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 tome "Queen Bees and Wannabes," written for moms to help their daughters survive the social cliques of teendom. Of course, the book has no plot or characters; all of that came from Fey's imagination and memories of her own high school years. Her character, math instructor Sharon Norbury, was supposedly named for one of her own teachers.
2. At the time, Fey was the head writer of "Saturday Night Live." She enlisted "SNL" showrunner Lorne Michaels to produce the film and fellow "SNL" sketch players Amy Poehler, Tim Meadows, and Ana Gasteyer as co-stars.
3. The original title of the film was "Homeschooled," in reference to Cady's previous lack of exposure to public school and its treacherous sociology.
4. Director Mark Waters, who had previously worked with Lohan on "Freaky Friday," is the brother of Daniel Waters, the screenwriter of 1989's "Heathers," the clear template for "Mean Girls" and many other high school satires.
5. Originally, Lohan was to play queen mean girl Regina George, but she decided the role of nice, naïve Cady would be better for her reputation. (Plus, it was the lead.) The filmmakers decided on McAdams as Regina when they decided her polite, cheerful line readings made her seem all the more menacing.
6. McAdams is eight years older than on-screen classmate Lohan and only seven years younger than her on-screen mom, Poehler.
7. Amanda Seyfried was another candidate to play Regina, until Michaels suggested she'd be better as the "dumb girl," Karen. The role of Karen would mark Seyfried's film debut.
8. James Franco was originally considered for the role of teen dreamboat Aaron Samuels, the role that ultimately marked the film debut of Jonathan Bennett.
9. Daniel Franzese made his screen debut as the not-quite-uncloseted Damian, a character named for Fey's high school pal, Damian Holbrook, later a writer at TV Guide magazine.
10. Lizzy Caplan's character, artsy outsider Janis Ian, took her name from the folk singer Janis Ian, best known for "At Seventeen," her ballad about being an outsider among cliquish teen girls. The real Ian, who was the first-ever musical guest on "SNL" in 1975, is also openly lesbian, while the screen Janis is dogged by rumors that she is gay. "At Seventeen" can be heard in the background during a conversation among the Plastics.
11. Before shooting his role as the principal, Ron Duvall, Tim Meadows injured his hand. A carpal-tunnel injury was written into the script to explain his cast.
12. Despite its setting in the Chicago suburbs, "Mean Girls" was filmed in Toronto. Rajiv Surendra, who made his film debut as Kevin Gnapoor, said he and McAdams bonded because they were the only Canadians in the cast.
13. Surendra initially auditioned to play Damian. He landed the part of Kevin even though it was written for an East Asian actor.
14. Kevin's mathlete rap was the creation of Poehler, who also coached Surendra on how to deliver it during the talent show.
15. It took two days to shoot Franzese's talent-show rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." On the first day, Waters filmed Franzese on stage, with no one in the audience except the actor's mother. The director showed Franzese's mom the shoe that would be thrown at her son's face, reassuring her that it was a foam-rubber fake that wouldn't injure him. The next day, Waters shot the sequence from behind Franzese, with a full audience in view.
16. Lohan lived up to her reputation for on-set absences by contracting pink eye, making her unavailable on the first day of shooting. Scenes with Surendra and Bennett had to be filmed using her stand-in.
17. The shoot took place in the fall of 2003, near the beginning of that year's season of "SNL." Each week, Fey, Poehler, and Michaels would be on the Toronto set on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and would return to New York on Thursday to prepare for "SNL."
18. Fey's initial script was full of profanity. According to Waters, the script had Regina dropping more F-bombs than Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas." Much of that was toned down before shooting, but there were still lines in the completed film that had to be trimmed before the MPAA would grant the movie a PG-13 rating. Waters recalled putting his foot down over the "wide-set vagina" line, arguing in an appeal to the ratings board that it was sexist to allow Will Ferrell to walk around in "Anchorman" with a bulging erection but not let a teenage girl describe her own anatomy.
19. Franseze has recalled many other scenes from the original script that were cut before filming, most of them involving his own character. One showed Ms. Norbury catching Kevin selling ecstasy so that when she's accused later of pushing drugs, there really are pills in her desk; another lost scene has Damian taking the rap in order to save Ms. Norbury's career. There was a talent-show segment that would have had Janis reciting poetry while playing the drums. Another scene, an epilogue, would have featured Damien auditioning for "American Idol" and punching out Simon Cowell for calling him fat. And there was a related joke in which Damian tells Cady he smokes in order to stay thin. The actor said Waters cut that scene because he disapproves of showing characters smoking.
20. The movie cost $22 million to make, according to Waters. It grossed $86 million in North America and a total of $129 million worldwide.
21. Mariah Carey released a single in 2009, "Obsessed," inspired by Regina's line, "Why are you so obsessed with me?"
22. "Mean Girls" inspired a 2009 video game on Nintendo DS and PC.
23. There was a direct-to-video sequel, "Mean Girls 2," which aired on ABC Family in 2011. Meadows was the only performer from the original cast whose character appeared in the sequel.
24. Fey said last year that she is hoping to adapt a stage musical version of "Mean Girls," with her husband, Jeff Richmond (who was the music supervisor on Fey's "30 Rock" series) developing the score. She has poo-poo'd any talk of a project that would reunite the original cast.
25. For his performance, Bennett was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Breakout Movie Star, though Aaron in "Mean Girls" has proved his most prominent role to date. Still, he claims, not a day has gone by in 10 years that someone hasn't called him Aaron or offered to adjust his hair.