13 Surprising Secrets About The Making Of ‘Mean Girls’ That Not Even Die-Hard Fans Know About

Mean Girls almost immediately entered the pantheon of the best teen movies upon its release in 2004. Based on a non-fiction book (Queen Bees And Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman) taking an ethnographic look at high school cliques, Mean Girls has more on its mind than the average teen movie, and with a script by Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey (who also plays a supporting role), its sense of humor is sharper than might be expected.

Throw in an impeccable cast led by Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams, and you’ve got the makings of a high school movie classic. A ludicrously quotable screenplay and standout supporting performances from the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Tim Meadows, Lacey Chabert, and Lizzy Caplan have ensured that the film remains as good as new in the eyes of audiences.

Even so, Mean Girls lives on in force. A stage musical put some spring in the material’s step on Broadway in 2018. That version proved popular enough to become a movie of its own, and now that the musical Mean Girls is cleaning up in theaters, it’s time to revisit the original production.

Despite Mean Girls having been released 20 years ago, there’s still plenty that even the biggest fans don’t know about. Here are 13 secrets about Mean Girls.

1. Lindsay Lohan Was Interested In Playing Regina George

Lindsay Lohan Wanted To Be Regina

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Lindsay Lohan has said that early on, she was interested in playing Regina – we could have ended up with a completely different Mean Girls. But producer Lorne Michaels and director Mark Waters decided to work backward instead, casting her as the nice girl who would end up turning into a Regina wannabe.

Lohan told 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.”

Screenwriter and co-star Tina Fey said this choice allowed Lohan to “get to that point of being Regina, but… let her be the innocent side, too.”

2. It Was Originally Meant To Be Rated R

'Mean Girls' Was Almost Rated R

Photo: Paramount Pictures

When Mean Girls debuted, teens flocked to theaters to see it without their parents. But this wouldn’t have been possible if the Motion Picture Association of America had stuck with its original plan to give Mean Girls an R rating, requiring a parent or guardian to tag along with anyone younger than 17.

The MPAA was apparently not pleased with the screenplay’s relatively liberal use of language referring to women’s nether regions. Director Mark Waters fought against the MPAA, and the writers had to compromise on certain lines, including “Amber D’Alessio made out with a hot dog,” which was originally supposed to be “Amber D’Alessio gave a [BJ] to a hot dog.”

Waters invoked Anchorman – another popular film at the time – as evidence that sexual content should carry a PG-13 rating and accused the MPAA of discriminating against mentions of female anatomy.

3. The Vomit In This Infamous Scene Wasn’t Too Gross

Cady's Prop Vomit Consisted Of A Surprising Recipe

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Viewers everywhere cringe when Cady throws up on Aaron after drinking a little too much at her party, though the vomit itself never appears on screen. To create the disgusting prop, the film crew mixed up chicken soup and cereal.

But according to actor Jonathan Bennett, “She had to put it in her mouth and then pretend to throw it up on me, and it was so gross, because it was going on my pants. And then afterwards, when they cut the movie together, they never showed it. So I realized I did that all for nothing!”

4. A Very Well Hidden Cocktail Wiener

In The Chihuahua Scene, Amy Poehler Pinned A Cocktail Wiener To Her Bra

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Amy Poehler’s Mean Girls character may have called herself a “cool mom,” but it took some extremely cool acting chops to successfully pull off the hilariously awkward scene in which Poehler’s chest becomes a snack for a Chihuahua. Amanda Seyfried told Entertainment Weekly that shooting the scene was one of her favorite behind-the-scenes moments.

Seyfried described the logistics: “They, like, pinned a piece of a cocktail wiener into her bra. I thought this dog was going to tear her apart. It was very effective. She was such a pro through it. She’s trying to do her lines and being so professional, and this dog is chomping on her fake boob. I’ll never forget that.”

5. Rachel McAdams Auditioned For The Role Of Cady

Rachel McAdams Originally Auditioned For Cady Heron 

Photo: Paramount Pictures

It’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone other than Rachel McAdams as the oh-so-easy-to-hate villain Regina George, but the actress revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that she had originally tried out for Lohan’s role in the film.

Mean Girls director Mark Waters told Vulture that McAdams, 24 years old at the time, was too mature for the role: “I remember watching her do the scene, and after it was over, I told her, ‘I think you’re a movie star, but you’re way too old for this character. You just aren’t going to be able to play the ingénue.'”

6. Trying Out Some Method Acting

Lohan Referred To Her Approach To Playing Cady As 'Somewhat Method'

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Lindsay Lohan was a teenager when she brought Cady Heron to life in Mean Girls, so settling into the role of a social-climbing high school student wasn’t much of a stretch. Lohan told Entertainment Weekly – with a laugh – that her approach on the set was “somewhat method.” Method acting is the process in which actors get in touch with their characters by trying to experience life as that character, even when they’re away from the camera.

Tina Fey said she remembered Lohan’s intense quest for pink Uggs to wear during the scene where she falls in the trash can. Lohan also reportedly held conversations with Fey and Amy Poehler about “her beef with Hilary Duff.”

Lohan didn’t fight the characterization: “I mean, I was rhinestoning my phone at the time with Swarovski crystals.”

7. Celebrating A 21st Birthday

Lacey Chabert Celebrated Her 21st Birthday In A Mall With The Cast

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Lacey Chabert, who played Toaster Strudel heiress Gretchen Wieners in the movie, turned 21 midway through filming Mean Girls. The cast and crew had grown so close that she wanted to celebrate the occasion with them.

They were filming a mall scene on her birthday, and the crew brought in a cake and sang “Happy Birthday.” Chabert returned the favor by serving up a feast for her Mean Girls family on Canadian Thanksgiving.

8. This Hidden Detail About Plastic

The Movie Contains A Secret Message About Plastic

Photo: Paramount Pictures

The word “plastic” is best known in Mean Girls for identifying the in-crowd at school: Regina George, Karen Smith, Gretchen Wieners, and (eventually) Cady Heron are known as the Plastics. But the movie also contains a more subtle reference to plastic.

When Cady asks her science teacher for a bathroom pass, the blackboard hanging behind him features a clever play on words. The board lists “silicone” as an element, but the element is actually named “silicon.” The extra E may be a callout to the emphasis on plastic throughout the film.

9. Playing Soccer For The First Time

Jonathan Bennett Had Never Played Soccer Before Becoming Aaron Samuels

Photo: Paramount Pictures

There was a lot to love about on-screen heartthrob Aaron Samuels, which made it easy to believe he was at the center of frenemies Cady and Regina’s conflict. Played by then newcomer Jonathan Bennett, Aaron was cute (that swoopy hair!) and smart (so good at math!) and appeared to have a good moral compass.

Aaron was also an athlete, but Bennett told Teen Vogue that the soccer scenes were some of the most challenging for him to film:

I don’t know how to play soccer, nor had I ever kicked a soccer ball in my life. So we went to rehearsal and the director, Mark Waters, just shook his head and said, “cr*p.” And they had to get a soccer coach to teach me how to kick the ball because I was so bad at it. It was the first and only time I’ve played soccer.

10. Amanda Seyfried Was Also Almost Cast As Regina George

Amanda Seyfried Almost Got The Part Of Regina

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Lohan might have aspired to playing the meanest of all the mean girls, but Amanda Seyfried – the actress ultimately cast as spacey Karen Smith – came closest to taking the Regina George spotlight from Rachel McAdams. According to director Mark Waters, Seyfried’s version of Regina would have appeared substantially different from the one we’ve come to know (and loathe).

Waters told Vulture: “The person who was neck and neck for the role of Regina – and we agonized over which one we were going to cast – was Amanda Seyfried. She tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant and very different than Rachel’s approach. She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating.”

After McAdams earned the Regina role, producer Lorne Michaels suggested Seyfried take a shot at playing Karen’s “dumb girl.”

11. An Extremely Annoying Wake Up Call

The Cast Got A Fire Alarm Wake-Up Call Every Night

Photo: Paramount Pictures

The filmmaking experience wasn’t as glamorous as the Plastics themselves might have wished. Though the movie took place in Evanston, IL, it was filmed in Toronto, Canada, where the full cast stayed together in the same hotel.

Tina Fey recalled a persistent hotel fire alarm that woke them up “pretty much every night at some point.”

12. The Mind Behind Kevin G’s Rap

Amy Poehler Helped With The Kevin Gnapoor Rap

Photo: Paramount Pictures

In the movie, mathlete captain Kevin Gnapoor (Rajiv Surendra) delivers a controversial rap at the holiday talent show. The scene ends when the principal’s disembodied voice says, “Thank you, Kevin, that’s enough,” and Kevin waves a polite holiday greeting to the crowd. The camera then flashes to a reluctantly cheerful Ms. Norbury, played by Tina Fey, at the piano.

The real-life Fey had less to do with the rap than her bestie, Amy Poehler. Director Mark Waters told Vulture: “[Fey will] actually give credit to Amy for this, because Amy is more of a rap person. Amy definitely coached him on how to do the rap, and she actually gave him some of the moves and choreography for it.”

13. Not Exactly An SNL Movie

The Studio Was Nervous About Turning 'Mean Girls' Into An 'SNL' Movie

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Mean Girls has many ties to Saturday Night Live. In addition to playing math teacher Ms. Norbury, SNL actress Tina Fey wrote the movie’s screenplay, and SNL creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels was a producer on the film. Bringing other SNL alums into the mix might seem like a foregone conclusion, but this wasn’t the case.

Paramount Pictures actually had mixed feelings about casting Tim Meadows as Principal Duvall and Amy Poehler as Regina’s mom. Director Mark Waters explained:

It’s weird, but Paramount had a nervousness about Saturday Night Live. They’d been burned on some Saturday Night Live movies that had come from Lorne, so they didn’t want many Saturday Night Live actors in Mean Girls, because then it might feel like an SNL movie and people might shy away from it.

Waters said the studio was particularly resistant about casting Meadows, but the director stepped in to fight on the comedian’s behalf. When Fey suggested Poehler to play the velvet jumpsuited Mrs. George, Waters immediately started the process of hiring her, despite the challenges associated with scheduling around her SNL tapings.