These 15 Secrets About John Tucker Must Die Are Pure T-Money

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Sophia Bush Talks Revenge in 2006: Live From E! Rewind

They don’t make ’em like they used to.

Which might be for the best in the case of John Tucker Must Die, the 2006 cult-classic comedy starring Jesse Metcalfe as a shameless teen lothario brought low by the girls he was two- (and three-) timing, but who starts to glimpse the error of his ways once he meets Miss Right.

Even if Kate, played by Brittany Snow, is just pretending to be his match in order to exact revenge on behalf of his scorned exes.

“He kinda deserves his comeuppance,” Metcalfe admitted to E! News when the movie came out, quick to acknowledge that he knew John Tucker was bad news. Though not for playing the field, per se

“I’m not saying I’ve never been in a situation like this before but, you know… I’m not really this kind of guy,” he said. And looking back on his deceitful title role with more hindsight years later, the actor was quick to disavow the character’s worst qualities.

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“His sense of entitlement, his misogyny, his dishonesty…where do I begin?” Metcalfe told Glamour in 2019, wincing his way down memory lane. “There’s a total recklessness in which he dealt with the hearts of four adolescent, young women whom he both manipulated and used.”

Before this gets too dark, though, let it be known that we can appreciate John Tucker Must Die for the of-its-time comedy that it is, one that the cast had a blast making.

“We clicked so fast,” Sophia Bush, who played scorned vegan Beth (“For you I don’t have to give up all meat,” the smitten animal rights activist assures John), told Movieweb. When she met her female costars, she continued, “I could sense the sort of communal sigh of relief. The first time we all sat down it was like, ‘Yeah, everybody here is so cool! Nobody is a diva, nobody is difficult.’ We had the best time.”

So in the spirit of conspiring behind the scenes, and in honor of the movie’s 15th anniversary, here are 15 secrets about John Tucker Must Die:

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Jesse Metcalfe Must Be John Tucker

Best known at the time for his oft-shirtless turn as gardener John Rowland on Desperate Housewives, then-26-year-old Jesse Metcalfe was cast as the titular jerk before any of his female co-stars were onboard.

“I had a little bit of input as to who they cast—not a lot, but a little bit,” the actor shared with E! News in 2006, though he wouldn’t name names when it came to who passed the chemistry test with flying colors and who needed to put in some extra study time.

“It was tough to cut anybody. I mean, I didn’t really have that much power where I could say, ‘No, I don’t want her in the movie,'” Metcalfe added, noting that he wasn’t responsible for any epic what-might-have-been scenarios, “but they definitely took my suggestions into consideration.” At the end of the day, he said, “I think they really did a great job putting together a really all-star young, hot cast.”

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Varsity Squad

Metcalfe’s leading ladies bonded onscreen and off, no love quadrangle necessary. Sophia Bush raved to Movieweb about the friendship she formed with co-stars Brittany Snow, Ashanti and Arielle Kebbel on the Vancouver set. 

“And these girls, I couldn’t get through a month without talking to them if I tried,” said the One Tree Hill star, who played Beth, animal lover and John Tucker Girlfriend No. 3. “And we all, whether it was amazing things or not-so-great things, we all had a lot going last summer and we all pulled each other through a lot. And I knew that there was something to it when, at 4 a.m., if one of us was having a problem we could call the other and we’d all end up sleeping in each other’s beds all the time. It was sleep-away camp, it was slumber party time, it was incredible and fun.”

She recalled one night, toward the end of filming, when they were all hanging out in Snow’s room, just because. 

“Brittany and I were on the couch and we’d ordered food and we’re chowing down, and Arielle’s over in the armchair and we’re all writing and she’s putting together a package, and Ashanti’s over sitting at the desk and she’s got her headphones on and she’s working on her new song,” Bush said. “And we’re jamming and we’re at that point where we weren’t even talking, we just wanted to be together. And I was like, this is what I have with my best girlfriends, and this is amazing.”

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Cover Boy

But the girls did gang up on John Tucker in real life, just a bit.

“The best prank that we played on Jesse, which didn’t go over well at the time, is that we printed out a bunch of shirtless pictures of him that were in magazines and put them all on set,” Snow told Us Weekly in 2016. “He was so embarrassed and not happy with us, but we thought it was hilarious. But he handled it like a champ. I’m sure he wanted to kill us secretly.”

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High School Reunion

Snow and Ashanti had worked together before in 2002, when the singer guest-starred as Dionne Warwick on Snow’s Bandstand-era NBC series American Dreams.

“I remember, I signed an autograph for her, yeah,” Ashanti, who in 2002 became the first woman to simultaneously hold the No. 1 and No. 2 positions on the Billboard 100 with “Always on Time” and “What’s Luv,” told Movieweb. “I remember that whole time—it was a good time. I remember [Brittany] was so small and young and I signed her autograph. She was cool.”

Music to Snow’s ears! The actress, who’s six years younger than Ashanti, remembered being a little nervous when she started working with the hitmaker, who played head cheerleader Heather, on John Tucker. “I actually told her that the first day,” Snow recalled. “I was like, ‘You don’t even understand what a huge fan I was of yours, and I still am, but I have to be cool!’ And she started laughing in that infamous Ashanti laugh…She’s basically the most amazing girl ever, and it was really cool to see somebody who’s actually so talented and so famous, and then yet be so gracious and just a real girl. I love that about her.”

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Cracking His Way Into Comedy

Metcalfe told E! News that the famous scene in which Kate entreats John to put on thong underwear thong and sends him to the wrong hotel room during an away-game trip was not in the original script. Probably for good reason.

“Actually, Betty Thomas kind of broke the thong idea to me gently,” he recalled, laughing. “She was like, ‘Jesse, I want you to wear a thong in the movie.’ And I was like, ‘What?! I don’t think so, that’s not gonna happen.'”

But, all’s well that rear-ends well. “Over a three-day period she kind of convinced me,” Metcalfe said. “It’ s a comedy, you’ve got to go there, you got to do whatever it takes to get the laugh. So I went there. No regrets.”

Not only did he get the laugh, he added, “I feel like I pull it off.”

And as if there was any doubt, Snow told Us Weekly, “That was actually him. Jesse and I were in the gym every morning before work and after work before filming that scene. It was just me and Jesse hanging out at the gym looking at each other like, ‘I can’t believe this is our lives.’ That was really him. He worked really hard!”

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Blue Light Special!

If the film’s director, Betty Thomas, looks familiar, that’s because she’s none other than Phyllis Neffler’s archnemesis, Velda Plendor, from the 1989 classic Troop Beverly Hills. In addition to being an Emmy-winning actress and director (for Hill Street Blues in 1985 and Dream On in 1993, respectively), her filmmaking credits include The Brady Bunch MoviePrivate Parts, Dr. Dolittle and 28 Days.

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The Boy Next Door

That’s Taylor Kitsch (and future star of his own “John” movie, John Carter) making his feature debut as the neighbor who goes gaga over Kate’s hot mom Lori, played by Jenny McCarthy, when they move to the neighborhood.

Less than three months later, Friday Night Lights premiered and Kitsch became everyone’s favorite existentially wounded high school heartthrob.

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Elements for Success

Speaking of being on the verge of stardom, a year before Gossip Girl premiered Penn Badgley charmed as John Tucker’s more low-key brother Scott—”the Other Tucker!”—who appreciates Kate for who she really is. 

Asked if she thought Kate and Scott were still together 10 years later, Snow told Us Weekly in 2016, “I hope! I don’t know—figure like a high school sweetheart. I’m sure if they’re not still together, they are still really good friends because they listened to podcasts together and were the original hipsters.”

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Nose for News

Kebbel—who played Carrie, head of the Forest Hills High School TV station and your requisite teen-movie, Type A overachiever—had a history of reporting on the pressing topics of the day.

“I remember I was in fifth grade, and I was on [the school news show],” she told Movieweb. “We made a song [about] not doing drugs, and it was like to ‘Stop in the Name of Love.’ So we did this whole dance, like, ‘Stop! And say no to drugs / And give yourself a hug / Think it oh-oh-over.’ We did this whole thing, and I was in fifth grade on the school news. So I think going back into even elementary school, I think I was meant to be Carrie Schaeffer, because I have no problem giving it my all on the school news.”

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Pressed Memories

Snow passed on taking a beaker from the chem lab, but she did keep the flowers that were in her hair when John kissed Kate aboard a yacht.

“I told the hair and makeup lady [that I wanted] a fun updo on the boat so it didn’t get messed up when it was windy,” she told Us Weekly. “And she did this elaborate updo that’s so ridiculous! If you go back and watch the movie it’s like, ‘Why would Kate ever have that elaborate of a hairdo?’ And she put flowers in my hair…so I think I still have those flowers somewhere.”

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They’ve Got Game

Asked by Chuck The Movie Guy whether the scene of Kate, Beth, Carrie and Heather playing a video game was a bit of catnip for male audiences, Snow replied with some edge, “They underestimate, girls play video games!” Bush concurred, “Absolutely.”

For her part, Snow was working on her Madden skills, Kebbel was a Halo fan and Ashanti’s specialty was Mortal Kombat.

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Having a Ball

Unbelievably, no noses were broken in the making of the gym fight scene, in which Carrie, Beth and Heather find out they’re all dating John Tucker and, refusing to be invisible any longer, Kate tries to break it up.

“I remember it was early on in the shooting and we were just laughing so hard at the absurdity of throwing volleyballs at each other,” Snow recalled to Us Weekly. “We knew right away that we were going to click. We got along so well…That volleyball scene was just ridiculous and I was getting hit in the head over and over again even though it hurt.”

Ultimately, she added, “I guess I only got hit in the head like five or six times. It was a really lame fight sequence. Maybe the lamest fight sequence of all time.” (Colin Firth and Hugh Grant would disagree.)

Kebbel told Chuck The Movie Guy, “Oh, I really got hit in the head, time and time and time again.” But, she added, all four of them really wanted to be in the scene, “and the more real we could make it by slapping each other…the more fun it was, it became more comical.”

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Behind-the-Scenes Support

In 2007, Snow opened up about her struggles with eating disorders—and facing a potentially unhealthy situation when she went to shoot the film right after getting out of treatment.

“After nearly a month of treatment, I left a few days early to go straight to the set of John Tucker Must Die. I had gained about 10 pounds,” she recalled to People. “I was 120, which isn’t big. But I can understand why the producers wanted me in shape for a scene in my underwear. They were nice about it. They hired a trainer and suggested a diet.”

“Thank goodness for my costars Sophia Bush and Arielle Kebbel,” she continued. “I told them, ‘You have to look out for me, because this is so hard.’ We would work out together and then they would pull me off the treadmill, and Sophia would be like, ‘Maybe you should eat this!’ We had slumber parties. I started having fun, which was unheard of. Before, it was, ‘I can’t have fun. I can’t go eat a burger with my friends. How many calories are in that burger?'”

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Jon Tucker Would Like a Word

Metcalfe has long since resigned himself to having people calling him “John Tucker” on the street, but apparently some people just can’t resist when they come across the actor Jonathan Tucker, either. “I ran into him on the street in Vancouver one time [when we were working] on different projects in Canada,” Metcalfe told TooFab in March. “He told me that being named Jon Tucker was the bane of his existence because everyone was, you know, always referencing that movie when they meant him.”

True story. Also talking to TooFab, Tucker confirmed, “Every time I get it it’s annoying.” The Westworld and Snowfall actor remembered seeing Metcalfe in Vancouver, too, recalling, “I’m like, ‘You son of a gun, you’re dragging my name through the street.'”

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It Wasn’t Me

For good reason, Metcalfe wanted to assure audiences that he was nothing like the scruple-less John Tucker—though by the time he got the role, he was more familiar with the BMOC treatment than he had been when he actually was in high school. Either way, he knew the type.

“Every actor has to find a way to relate to his character,” he explained to Movieweb in 2006,”and I think the person I am now, or maybe more so the person I was two years ago, was pretty close or closer to John Tucker. I wanted this character to be likable and I think I pulled that off; I took a couple of small cues from my personal John Tucker from my high school and then I threw some of myself in there. But, the person I was in high school, polar opposite; I was not John Tucker in high school.”

Ultimately, John Tucker Must Die was a modest success, reportedly costing $18 million to make and taking in $68 million at the box office. Critics didn’t think much of it, but since here we are talking about it (and still laughing out loud at Coach Williams saying, “Yeah, yeah, I know, we all hate each other”)…

“The film got completely panned…[so] the fact that it’s achieved a little bit of teen comedy cult-classic status is a pleasant surprise,” Metcalfe, appreciative of the film’s long second act, told TooFab in March. “I feel like it’s the kind of movie that’s really been passed down through the generations from older brothers and sisters to the younger siblings.”

Not to mention, he added, “I think the movie’s hilarious. I think it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves.”

Anything for you, John.