The day Matthew Broderick graced the screen as Ferris Bueller, America was hooked. The actor became a household name and rolled into the ’90s swarming with offers. He played a cartoon lion, a freaky inspector, and a Godzilla-hunting doctor. Today, nearly four decades after his Hollywood debut in the ’80s, he’s still keeping busy.
But there was one major glitch in his career: he was involved in a fatal car crash that left two people dead. Broderick battled his demons for years, and eventually, he got the closure he needed. Here’s a look into the ups and downs of his life.
A Fatal Car Crash
Matthew Broderick was at the peak of his Ferris Bueller fame when, suddenly, he entered one of the grimmest phases of life. In the summer of 1987, while driving around North Ireland with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey (the star from Dirty Dancing), he accidentally swerved into the wrong lane and crashed with another vehicle.
In the opposite car were Margaret Doherty (the driver) and her daughter, Anna Gallagher. Both were killed on the spot. Broderick fractured his ribs and leg and suffered a collapsed lung. Grey reportedly had minor injuries. Broderick argued that he had no memory of the collision but was later convicted and fined just £100. A family member of the victims tagged this as “a travesty of justice.”
Did He Ever Get Closure?
Back when Jennifer Grey and Matthew Broderick were still a thing, life was naïve and beautiful for them. But after that devastating car crash, life as they knew it… was no more. Broderick was haunted in the years after the accident. He was guilty of killing two people, and he desperately sought closure.
In 2002, Matthew found closure after meeting with Margaret and Anna’s family. Margaret’s son, Martin Doherty, later stated that Broderick didn’t deliberately crash into his mom and sister. Initially, he was furious with the actor but said that he had since forgiven him.
He Was Engaged to Jennifer Grey
As it turns out, director John Hughes played cupid when he cast the young actors in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. On the set of the film, a number of romantic relationships blossomed, including the one between Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey.
The two actors grew so close that they even got engaged in secret while filming. They were knee deep in a serious relationship during the mid-‘80s at the height of their stardom. Even though they played bitter siblings in the film, they were madly in love.
It Was Tricky…
“It started while we made the film,” Jennifer Grey explained in the Brat Pack memoir, You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried. “It was tricky,” she continued, “because it was a secret. No one knew.” This is what made the affair so much more interesting!
The two young love birds kept their feelings a secret from the rest of the cast in order to keep things professional. However, a love triangle soon emerged, as actress Mia Sara (Who played Sloane) developed a huge crush on Broderick.
“I had the biggest crush on Matthew,” she admitted, “And I threw myself at him repeatedly, and he very wisely turned me down. I think I was pretty annoying, frankly.”
Beautiful Girls Threw Themselves at Him
“Yeah, it was a tough life, back when I was 23 or whatever,” Matthew joked in the memoir, “Beautiful girls throwing themselves at me. Mia Sara was absolutely lovely and gorgeous. I do not think I wisely rejected her, but I was getting involved with Jennifer at the time, so I couldn’t figure out how to share myself. I couldn’t double it up, you know.”
Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey’s engagement at the time led to some challenges. Because they were on-screen rivals yet in love in real life, this led to a few complications. According to Jennifer Grey, there were some scenes in which she couldn’t stop giggling.
She Giggled Non-Stop
“While shooting the scene at the end of the movie- when Ferris has made his mad dash home, hoping to get back to his “sickbed” before his parents catch him, and Jeanie helps him escape from the clutches of Dean Rooney – ‘I got the giggles,’” Grey admitted.
According to Grey, she got the giggles so bad that “they had to basically stop production” because she “couldn’t get it together for anything.” The producers told her to take a walk around the block, but nothing helped. The giggling, she insists, “was all because of the energy between us.”
The Best Experience of Her Life
Shooting Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ended up being one of – if not THE – best experience of Jennifer Grey’s life. “I maybe had the best experience of my life, maybe of all time,” she admitted, “We were all very tight, and it was a very special group. We would go to restaurants in Chicago, and we’d go running around in the lake.”
Sadly, the aftermath of the car crash they were both involved in had a long-lasting impact on their relationship. While the couple never came out with a proper statement explaining why they called off their engagement, we can only assume it had to do with the grief over the tragic event.
Married to Sarah Jessica Parker for More Than Two Decades
In 1997, Matthew Broderick tied the knot with fellow actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Since then, they’ve been enjoying life together and have become one of Hollywood’s most enduring couples. What’s the secret?
Broderick and Parker both agree that keeping their relationship private and staying good friends is the key to their marriage lasting so long. Matthew advises husbands all over the world: “Listen to her. You know, that helps. Give her a little present every now and then. Just be kind to her.”
They Met on Broadway
Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker first met while working together on Broadway. They later married in a small ceremony officiated by Matthew’s sister, Janet Broderick Kraft. The couple didn’t appear on screen together until years later (this is pretty rare for movie star couples).
They first starred together in 2005’s Strangers With Candy, taking on minor roles. Later, in 2011, they appeared together once again in the film New Year’s Eve. Broderick and Parker gave birth to a son and twin daughters, and today they divide their time between their homes in New York and County Donegal, Ireland.
Sarah and Matthew Waited a Bit Until They Had Kids
In 2002, several years after Sarah Jessica Parker took on the iconic role of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, she and Broderick welcomed a son named James Wilkie. Several years later, they welcomed twin girls, Marion and Tabitha, via a surrogate.
Today, Sarah can confidently say that she is one proud mom. “I’m proud that our children talk to us in the way they do. I’m glad they’re curious people,” the actress told People magazine. Matthew added that being a father feels like improvising. “I’m just making it up as we go along,” he laughed.
They Have Regular Date Nights
Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker have been together for over two decades, so taking marriage advice from them has to be worth something. According to the couple, they make sure to have regular date nights once a week.
They have several spots around New York that they really enjoy dining in. Several of them are by their home in the West Village. The two are still huge Broadway fans and they often step out to watch plays with their kids.
They’re Friends Beyond Everything Else
Though they tend to keep their relationship private, Broderick did share a bit about their marriage back in 2014. “We really are friends beyond everything else and we talk a lot,” he said. “She’s really funny, she makes me laugh.”
During an interview with People magazine, Sarah said that while things tend to change after 20 years of marriage, change is just what a marriage needs to keep things interesting. “You and your partner are going to change. It seems so silly, but I think you’re very lucky if you like the person. I still just really like him. I’m sure I annoy him, and he annoys me, but I literally learn about him every day,” she stated.
They’re Not About to Slow Down
Nowadays, Sarah and Matthew still keep pretty busy. In addition to appearing in the comedy-drama Divorce, she also launched a new fashion collection. On his end, Matthew recently appeared in American Crime Story and he has several other upcoming projects he’s working on.
The family still finds time to travel, but there’s no doubt that the couple’s acting gigs take up a lot of time. “I’ve traveled so much, but more often than not without Matthew because it’s been for work,” Sarah revealed. “I can’t imagine that I don’t want to be working in some way, because it just brings me so much joy. I still love acting,” she said.
He Grew Up With Famous Parents
Little Matthew was born on the 21st of March 1962, to two parents who were in the midst of their successful acting careers. His mom, Patricia, was a theater actress, a playwright, and an artist. Even though she never took on any screen acting jobs, she wrote the screenplay for Infinity (1996), the first movie her son directed.
Matthew’s dad, James Broderick was a performer and a World War II veteran. He worked primarily on the stage but made a few appearances in movies such as The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975). He passed away in 1982 at the young age of 55.
He Could Have Been Walter White
Picture this – Matthew Broderick, cooking up some illegal substances in his lab, gradually evolving into a criminal mastermind. Weird, right? But in one of those bizarre “what if?” tales, Matthew Broderick was in the running for one of the most iconic television roles in decades.
He was among the stars on network AMC’s list for the role of Walter White in the hit crime drama Breaking Bad. The actor was sent the script for the pilot episode which aired at the start of 2008. Reports vary whether he turned the role down, but we all know how this story ended. Bryan Cranston nailed the part, so no complaints here.
He Was the First Pick for Alex P. Keaton
Matthew Broderick was in the running and had a very high chance of landing the supporting role of Alex P. Keaton on the hit sitcom Family Ties. But Matthew decided he wasn’t ready to accept a role that required a long-term commitment and ended up turning the part down.
The role was eventually given to another up-and-coming young man named Michael J. Fox. The show would become a mega-hit, receiving multiple Emmy Awards and an infinite number of praises. The role of Alex would also become one of the most beloved characters of the decade.
The Youngest Actor to Win a Tony Award
Following in his parents’ footsteps, Matthew kicked off his career on Broadway, conquering the heights of theater at a young age. In 1983, the talented actor won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play.
He was given the honor following his performance as Eugene Jerome in the play Brighton Beach Memoirs. What made this win even more memorable, was the fact that he was just 21 years old, making him the youngest Tony Award winner in history.
Two Months of Video Games
After starring in 1983’s Max Dugan Returns, Matthew landed his first real big-screen breakthrough, starring alongside Ally Sheedy in the cult classic WarGames (1983). To prepare for it, Matthew Broderick spent two months playing video games.
One of the first serious films to discuss computer hacking, Matthew starred in the movie as computer whiz kid David Lightman. In order to portray this expert gamer, Broderick had to become a gamer himself, so he went through some serious video game training.
He Was Second Place After Dustin Hoffman
Matthew Broderick’s role in Ladyhawke was first suggested to Dustin Hoffman. This speaks a lot about his reputation that he was able to get a part previously suggested to one of the most talented actors in the business. 1985’s Ladyhawke was Broderick’s fourth movie role.
Matthew Broderick ended up being cast as Philippe “Mouse” Gaston. As if being offered a role that was initially meant to be Hoffman’s wasn’t complimentary enough, Broderick was also paid a salary of $750,000, which is surprising because his role is more of a supporting part.
Matthew Beat Huge Names to the Role of Ferris Bueller
Apart from movies such as Ladyhawke and War Games, there’s one film Matthew Broderick starred in that certainly takes the cake. That is, of course, his role in the huge John Hughes’ comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Other than Broderick, a great number of other young male stars were in the running for the role. These notable actors include Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Rob Lowe, and John Cusack. A Hollywood newcomer at the time, Matthew did well to land the part!
He Turned Down Two Major Roles
Fun fact: Matthew Broderick rejected two of Tom Cruises’ biggest roles. Both actors rose to stardom at around the same time, and while Broderick might have beaten Cruise to the movie of Ferris Bueller, he also missed out on two roles that later went on to Cruise and catapulted him into the limelight.
First one was the role of Joel Goodson in Risky Business (1983) which turned out to be Tom Cruise’s first major role. The second one was the role of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the pilot in 1986’s Top Gun. Years later, and Cruise is still one of the hottest actors in the industry.
An additional role Matthew turned down was the one of Johnny Utah in the movie Point Break. Keanu Reeves took the part and established himself as a worthy action hero.
The Lead Role in Godzilla Was Written for Him
Apparently, Matthew Broderick was the one and only choice for the human lead in 1998’s Godzilla. It was directed by Roland Emmerich, who co-wrote the script with the movie’s producer, Dean Devlin. The two of them had Broderick in mind, and no one else.
Matthew Broderick believed in the movie and signed on to play research scientist Nick Tatopoulos before the two had even written the script. After its release, the movie was met with a lot of negative reactions; however, it still ended up being Matthew’s biggest live-action hit.
He Beat Robin Williams to the Role of Inspector Gadget
One of the more surprising roles in Broderick’s resume is the role of Inspector Gadget. In the movie, which was a live-action adaptation of the TV cartoon, Broderick played a policeman whose body had been modified with all sorts of mechanical devices.
Before he got the part, there were many huge comedy stars that tried to snatch it. These names include Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Steve Carrell, and Tom Hanks. Inspector Gadget wasn’t a huge hit or anything, so we doubt any of these actors feel sorry for not getting the role.
He Once Directed a Movie
Matthew Broderick has starred in over 50 films. But he has only tried his hand at acting once. In the 1996 movie, Infinity, he performed alongside actress Patricia Arquette. In the movie, he plays physicist Richard Feynman.
Infinity was also written by Broderick’s mother, Patricia, making this project a true family affair. Sadly, the movie was a flop, costing them around $5 million to produce but earning around $200,000 at the box office. Ouch!
He’s One of the Highest Paid Theater Actors
Matthew Broderick starred in the original Broadway show of the acclaimed musical The Producers and was paid an incredible amount for it. He starred in the play as Leo Bloom, a nervous accountant originally played by Gene Wilder.
The musical The Producers was a mega commercial success, making the actor one of the highest-paid theater actors in history. He reportedly earned $100,000 per week for the Producers. In 2005, Broderick reprised his role after producers wanted to adapt the play into a movie, but it wasn’t as great of a success as the stage version.
Broderick Didn’t Sing in The Lion King
Even though Broderick is mainly known for his role as Ferris Bueller, there’s another huge movie he starred in – The Lion King. Broderick voiced Simba, and because he had a history of playing in musicals, it would seem reasonable that he would sing Simba’s songs, right?
Apparently, the filmmakers didn’t think so. On songs like Hakuna Matata or Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Broderick had to sit back in the studio and let another person take the lead – the frontman of Toto, Joseph Williams.
He Was Nominated for Best Fight Scene
Matthew Broderick’s lengthy career includes a host of leading men roles. However, people don’t really consider him an “action man.” Still, Matthew’s physical on-screen confrontation wearing full knight’s armor in The Cable Guy earned him a nomination.
Matthew Broderick and his co-star Jim Carrey were nominated for Best Fight Scene at the MTV Movie and TV Awards in 1996. Ultimately, the duo lost out to Robin Tunney and Fairuza Balk, who fought like savages in The Craft.
A Knee Injury Put an End to His Football Dreams
Despite growing up with two theatrical parents, Matthew Broderick wasn’t always sure that acting was his life’s vocation. When he was young, Broderick was a lot more interested in making a living by playing sports:in particular, football and soccer.
Broderick had dreams of pursuing either football or soccer, but these dreams were sadly shattered after he suffered a knee injury. He was a high schooler at the time, and he decided to give acting a try instead. This proved to be a great move!
One Theater Review Kickstarted His Hollywood Career
Reviews have their pros and cons. They can either build you or destroy you to pieces. Broderick once stated that he owes his entire career to just a a short review of his performance as a young theater actor.
The role he took in an off-Broadway show, Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, earned him an enthusiastic review from an influential theater critic named Mal Gussow. “Before I knew it,” Broderick recalled, “I was this guy in a hot play. And suddenly, all these doors opened. And it’s only because Mel Gussow happened to come by right before it closed and happened to like it.”
He Has a Star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame
There’s nothing like a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame to truly cement your status as a great movie star. Matthew Broderick is one of the exclusive few who have been granted the honors. At the start of 2006, he was presented with his very own star.
Attending the event were his wife Sarah Jessica Parker, Nathan Lane (his The Producers co-star), and good friend Mel Brooks. Nathan was also presented with his star that day, an emotional moment for them both! If you’re interested in seeing the star, you can find it at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.
His Biggest Box Office Win by Far
When Matthew Broderick agreed to voice Simba in The Lion King, he had no idea how huge the movie was going to be. In any case, it was quite unusual at the time for Disney to hire well-known screen actors in their animated movies. But, luckily, Broderick managed to get in.
The 1994 animation was a major milestone for both Disney and Broderick. It became a huge hit, earning $968.5 million at the global box office. This is the highest-earning movie Matthew has starred in. The ones following include Godzilla ($376 million) and Bee Movie ($287.5 million).
A True Rock Star
In Ferris Bueller Day’s Off, Ferris eventually ends up singing in a parade riding down the main road. To film the scene, the crew needed many extras to convince viewers that this was indeed an authentic event as opposed to a vacant movie set.
About 10,000 people showed up and gave the actors the motivation they needed to nail the performance. Broderick later revealed, “For the final shot, I turned around and saw a river of people. I put my hands up at the end of the number and heard this huge roar… I can understand how rock stars feel. That kind of reaction feeds you.”
He Really Did Twist and Shout
In the parade scene, Matthew Broderick’s character was supposed to show off some complicated dance routine while lip-syncing to The Beatles’ song “Twist and Shout.” Sadly, the guy really did twist and shout. He twisted his knee while filming the part where he dashes through his neighbors’ backyards to get home quick.
Broderick later recalled, “I was pretty sore. I got well enough to do what you see in the parade there, but I couldn’t do most of choreographer Kenny Ortega’s knee spins and things like that.”
Their Kids Recently Made a Rare Appearance
Parker and Broderick’s children were front and center for their exciting night on the red carpet! The couple, who both act in the Broadway revival of Plaza Suite, were joined for the big opening night by their three kids – James Wilkie and Tabitha, and Marion.
Sarah feels like their kids are growing up fast, but she’s grateful for every second she spends with them. She uploaded an Instagram post with pictures of them going back to school. The caption read: “In the span of 7 days. One crosses the threshold into his freshman year of college. The other 2 into 7th grade,” the actress wrote on Instagram. “The house is different. We are different. They need us more. And far less.”