20 Things You Never Knew About I Know What You Did Last Summer

As we were in our teens in the 90s, there was a slew of great horror movies released – from creature features to body horror, from psychological thrillers to slasher movies, they were all the rage and we loved to be scared witless by them.

Following the success of Scream, there was a big desire for slasher movies, and I Know What You Did Last Summer managed to tick all the right boxes whilst being original enough to entertain.

Halloween or not, it’s always a good time to look back at this classic horror with some facts you may not have known.


20. The film almost wasn’t made

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When Kevin Williamson wrote the script for I Know What You Did Last Summer, he faced an uphill battle.

Ultimately, he failed to find a buyer for the movie and was forced to move on to his next project.

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Instead, he began work on a new screenplay: Scream, which would be released in 1996.

Scream was a huge box office success, receiving rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.

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After this film took the world by storm, Columbia Pictures immediately decided to buy the rights to I Know What You Did Last Summer.

19. Two of the film’s stars are now happily married

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Despite being two of the film’s main characters, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. only have two lines together in I Know What You Did Last Summer.

However, this small detail certainly didn’t affect the pair’s on-screen chemistry.

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Gellar and Prinze quickly became good friends, in fact, often spending time together in between takes.

Eventually, they ended up going on a date, during which Prinze was impressed that Gellar chose a ‘proper meal’ instead of a salad like other Hollywood stars he had dated in the past.

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Going on to become a couple, Gellar and Prinze eventually married in 2002, and now have two children together.

18. Jennifer Love Hewitt had support from the ultimate Scream Queen

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Before I Know What You Did Last Summer, Jennifer Love Hewitt starred in House Arrest alongside Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis.

When she began working on Summer, Hewitt was surprised to discover that her former co-star was actually filming in North Carolina at the same time.

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According to Hewitt, Curtis actually came to visit her on set, wishing her good luck.

She also recalled that Curtis would come over every day after filming to ‘give her a hug’.

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The pair remained close and are apparently good friends to this day.

17. There’s a Dawson’s Creek reference

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At one point in I Know What You Did Last Summer, the group of teens go to Dawson’s Beach.

This is a reference to one of Summer writer Kevin Williamson’s other big hits, the TV series Dawson’s Creek.

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The show also centred around a group of teens and their struggles in life (although the struggles in Dawson’s Creek were a little less real).

The show was hugely popular, and fed off the new craze for teen TV and movies.

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It would also launch the careers of many cast members, including Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson.

16. The film’s trailer got the studio sued for false advertising

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Although the film may have been dramatic in itself, I Know What You Did Last Summer paled in comparison to the drama being played out behind the scenes.

When the trailer for I Know What You Did Last Summer was released, it said that the film was “from the creator of Scream”.

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Weinstein brothers studio Miramax weren’t happy that they were being used as a platform to promote a competitor’s film, and so they decided to take legal action.

The Weinsteins felt that director Wes Craven also deserved credit for making Scream a hit horror film.

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Sony chose not to face the lawsuit and instead dropped the slogan from their Last Summer marketing campaign.

15. Sabrina’s Melissa Joan Hart turned a role down

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The role of Julie James was played well by Jennifer Love Hewitt, but she was not the first choice for the role.

The part was initially offered to Sabrina the Teenage Witch star Melissa Joan Hart, who turned the role down.

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Hewitt originally auditioned for the role of Helen, although the producer felt she was more suited to play Julie.

Sarah Michelle Gellar also initially wanted to play Julie, although ultimately she ended up in the role of Helen.

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According to producer Stokely Chaffin, the producers’ criteria for actors was ‘beautiful, but likeable’.

14. The entire shoot was moved to another state for just one scene

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For the scene in which the teens run over the man, the shoot had to relocate from North Carolina where it was being shot.

This was because the state is so flat and the producer wanted a more curvy and dangerous-looking road.

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So, to get this single scene just right, the shoot was moved to California in order to achieve the perfect shot.

Obviously, the majority of the filming took place at night, primarily in small-town locations.

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This created a commotion from the California locals, who were intrigued by the production.

13. The film’s rating inexplicably changed when it was released on home video

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When released in UK cinemas, I Know What You Did Last Summer was classified 18 by the BBFC.

When the film was released on VHS and DVD, however, it was re-classified as a 15 without any cuts or changes to the film and no explanation from the BBFC.

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Its violent scenes means the film is more than deserving of its R-rating, yet could be considered relatively tame today.

The original ending was not as dramatic as the one we know today, and featured Julie receiving an email which read ‘I still know’.

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In the final cut of the film, this message is written on a shower stall, and the killer is shown crashing through the glass.

12. The directors weren’t keen on casting Freddie Prinze JR.

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Before I Know What You Did Last Summer, Freddie Prinze Jr had attained most of his limited fame from his father, who was famous actor-comedian Freddie Prinze.

Unfortunately, Prinze Senior took his own life just months after the birth of his son, meaning Prinze Junior grew up never knowing a father.

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At the time of being cast in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Prinze had made only a few television appearances and had no film credits to his name.

Although director Jim Gillespie was keen to have him on board, other members of the casting team felt Prinze was ‘too soft’ and ‘not muscular enough’.

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After auditioning multiple times, Prinze decided to change up his appearance, cutting off his hair and bulking up so that he looked the part. He ultimately won the role.

11. The director didn’t intend for the film to be a horror

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We can probably all agree that I Know What You Did Last Summer is pretty horrifying, with blood and gore galore.

However, this wasn’t what director Jim Gillespie had had in mind when making the film.

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In fact, he viewed the movie as more of a ‘morality tale’, explaining that ‘it had that core dilemma of, ‘What would I do if this happened to me?”.

He hoped the film would have the effect of making viewers put themselves in the characters’ positions.

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However, the plot of a hook-wielding maniac terrorising a group of adolescents puts the film firmly into the horror category, whether the director intended it or not.

10. The film was shot and released in no time at all

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Most films take over a year to complete from start to finish, but I Know What You Did Last Summer was released just 6 and a half months after filming had begun.

The filming itself was completed in just 50 days, beginning on March 31st 1997.

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This is an incredibly short amount of time considering most films take at least three or four months to shoot in their entirety.

The film was released in October of 1997, meaning that post-production work had to be completed in record time.

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The reason for this hurried production was that the studio wanted the film to be released in time for Halloween, allowing them to cash in on the big scary season bucks.

9.The Fisherman came back to haunt the cast

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Ben Willis, also known as the hook-wielding fisherman, was an integral part of the Last Summer plot, and brought some of the film’s scariest moments.

And it seems the actor behind the character, Muse Wilson, enjoyed playing this manic psychopath so much that he decided to recreate some iconic scenes.

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According to Ryan Phillippe, 20 years after the film’s release, he began receiving strange messages on Twitter.

The message arrived on 4th July, the exact same date that the catalytic events of the film start to occur.

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The message was, of course, from Wilson, and read ‘hello, old friend’. It certainly had the desired effect on Phillippe, who deemed the message ‘really weird and creepy’.

8. A fan thought up one of the most famous scenes

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It could be said that the most famous scene in the movie was when Julie, played by Hewitt, becomes frustrated over being stalked by The Fisherman.

However, this scene was not the brainchild of one of the talented creators behind the film, instead stemming from a rather unusual source.

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The idea actually came from a kid who had won a competition to work on a segment of the film.

Hewitt was initially skeptical of the scene, yet dutifully went ahead with the performance.

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After viewing the takes, Hewitt realised that it was actually an incredibly effective piece of film.

7. Two of the actors were nearly fired

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Unlike their onscreen counterparts, the cast of I Know What You Did Last Summer didn’t actually hit anyone with their car.

However, they did have a shocking behind-the-scenes experience involving an automobile.

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One night, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe decided to take a rental car hired by the film crew for a late-night spin.

Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan, and they were left in a serious predicament when the car became stuck in a sand dune on the beach.

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After calling a tow truck, the pair began to worried that they would be fired for this misdemeanour. Luckily for them, however, the production team never found out about the sticky situation.

6. The cast got Prinze to buy them alcohol for their after-hour parties

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It’s sometimes hard to remember that the cast of I Know What You Did Last Summer were in fact just teenagers themselves.

Well, it’s a well-known fact that teenagers need to let off steam, and that’s exactly what this group of adolescents did.

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After a long day of filming, the group would often venture down to the beach to throw small, low-key parties, trying to counteract the boredom that comes with staying in a small town on a film shoot.

There was only one problem. Most of the cast were underage, and therefore unable to buy alcohol. And what would a party be without alcohol?

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Luckily, there was one saving grace, in the form of Freddie Prinze Jr, who was 21 at the time.

5. The first cut of the film wasn’t gory enough for the producers

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When thinking of a horror film, blood, guts and violence usually come to mind.

But for the producers of I Know What You Did Last Summer, there just wasn’t enough of it.

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They ordered Jim Gillespie to re-think the amount of gore on show, something the director was reluctant to do.

Eventually, though, Gillespie relented and ended up re-shooting the scene in which Helen’s sister’s throat is cut, making it more graphic.

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He added a shot of blood smattering against the window, giving the producers the violence they were after.

4. Ryan Phillippe was only cast because his girlfriend suggested him for the part

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Up until I Know What You Did Last Summer, Ryan Phillippe had had supporting roles in several popular movies, but had not yet made a name for himself.

However, at the time of casting, Phillippe was dating Reese Witherspoon, then one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood.

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Witherspoon herself had actually auditioned for the movie, but ultimately ended up opting out of the production.

However, this didn’t stop director Jim Gillespie from asking for her opinion on casting for the film.

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Unsurprisingly, Witherspoon suggested her then-boyfriend, Phillippe, on who Gillespie was immediately sold.

3. The spooky story haunted Jennifer Love Hewitt

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When watching a horror film, it can be easy to get swept up in the onscreen drama.

However, we wouldn’t imagine that there would be quite the same effect on set, with other cast and crew members constantly surrounding you.

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But this didn’t stop Jennifer Love Hewitt from feeling legitimately frightened during her time filming.

Despite obviously being aware that the antics weren’t real, and being surrounded by her friends, the star began to feel unsettled whilst working on the film.

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According to the actress, some nights she couldn’t even sleep due to her feeling unnerved by the creepy happenings on set.

2. The author of the original book was not happy with the film

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Although written for the screen by Kevin Williamson, I Know What You Did Last Summer was actually based on a novel by Lois Duncan.

Although she had little to do with the production, this didn’t stop Duncan making her displeasure at the film known.

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Many of Duncan’s reservations about the film were linked to scenes that had not occurred in the book, including the Fisherman.

In Duncan’s story, the villain was more subtly portrayed merely as an ominous hooded figure.

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She especially detested the ‘slasher’ element of the movie, perhaps due to the fact that her own daughter had been murdered by an unknown assailant years prior.

1. There have been two sequels

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The studio didn’t stop at one Last Summer. Not one, but two sequels followed the original movie.

The first sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, was released just one year after the first film, and reunited Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

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They were joined by Mekhi Phifer and pop singer Brandy, and although the film was a box office hit, it simply did not live up to the name of its predecessor.

The second sequel, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, featured no notable cast members, and was a commercial flop, bypassing cinemas and being released on DVD in 2006.

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It currently holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is actually a pretty incredible achievement.