After starring in the likes of WarGames and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he became an icon, but Matthew Broderick’s career lasted far beyond our favourite decade. The 1990s saw Broderick play a cartoon lion, a Godzilla-hunting doctor and an extremely long-limbed inspector, and he’s still acting in films nearly four decades after his 1983 Hollywood debut.
Yet for all his fame, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about Matthew Broderick, who we’re shocked to report is brushing up on 60 years of age!
20. He was considered for the role of Walter White in Breaking Bad
In one of those fascinating ‘what if?’ stories, it turns out Matthew Broderick was in contention for one of the most iconic TV roles in decades.
Broderick was among the actors on network AMC’s wish list for the part of Walter White in Breaking Bad.
Broderick was sent the script for the pilot episode, aired January 2008, in which the cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher decides to start manufacturing narcotics.
Another well-known actor of Broderick’s generation known to have been in contention for the part was John Cusack.
Reports vary as whether Broderick turned Breaking Bad down or was passed over, but by all accounts series creator Vince Gilligan always had Bryan Cranston in mind for the role.
With Cranston as Walter White, Breaking Bad became one of the most popular, critically-acclaimed and awards-laden TV shows of the 21st century.
19. He was involved in a fatal car crash with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey
Broderick was at the height of his Ferris Bueller fame when he entered the darkest chapter of his life.
In August 1987, he was involved in a fatal car crash when a rented BMW he was driving in Northern Ireland crossed into the wrong lane.
Broderick collided with an oncoming vehicle. The driver and passenger of the other vehicle, Margaret Doherty and her daughter Anna Gallagher, were both killed.
Broderick was driving with his then-girlfriend, Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, whom he started dating in secret while filming Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
He suffered a fractured leg and ribs as well as a collapsed lung, whilst Grey reportedly suffered minor injuries including whiplash.
Although Broderick has claimed to have no memory of the crash, he was later convicted of careless driving and fined £100. Martin Doherty, son and brother of the victims, called this slap on the wrist “a travesty of justice.”
18. His mother and father were successful actors too
Born on 21st March 1962, Matthew John Broderick is the son of two people who also had successful acting careers.
His mother Patricia Broderick (who died in 2003) was a theatre actress, as well as a playwright and painter.
Whilst Patricia Broderick never took any screen acting roles, she wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film Infinity, which her son directed and starred in.
Meanwhile, Matthew’s father, James Broderick (who died in 1982 at the early age of 55), was also an actor, as well as a World War II veteran.
While he also worked primarily in theatre, James Broderick made appearances in some notable films including 1974’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon.
After starring on the US TV show Who Do You Think You Are? in 2010, Matthew Broderick also learned that his great-great-grandfather was a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg on the Union side, fittingly connecting the star to a role he played in 1989’s Glory.
17. He was the first choice for Michael J Fox’s role on Family Ties
As Broderick’s star was on the rise in the early 80s, he landed an audition for a new TV sitcom: Family Ties.
The makers of the show were impressed with the young actor, and offered him the key supporting role of Alex P Keaton.
However, Broderick decided he wasn’t keen to take on a role that required such a long-term commitment and turned the part down.
The part would instead be given to another promising up-and-coming young actor named Michael J Fox.
Family Ties would become a ratings hit and the recipient of multiple Emmy Awards, while Alex P Keaton became one of the best-loved TV characters of the decade.
Once the show catapulted Fox to stardom, that paved the way for him to land the lead in 1985 classic Back to the Future.
16. He has been married to Sarah Jessica Parker for over two decades
Matthew Broderick has been happily married to fellow actor Sarah Jessica Parker since 1997, enjoying one of the most enduring relationships in modern-day Hollywood.
The couple first met whilst working together on Broadway, and were wed in a service officiated by Broderick’s sister Janet Broderick Kraft.
Unusually for a movie star couple, Broderick and Parker didn’t appear together on-screen for years, until taking small roles in 2005’s Strangers with Candy and 2011’s New Year’s Eve.
Broderick and Parker have a son and twin daughters, and divide their time between homes in New York and County Donegal, Ireland.
The couple say that keeping their relationship private and remaining friends is the secret to their marriage lasting such a long time.
Broderick advises husbands: “listen to her. You know, that helps. Give her a little present every now and then. Just be kind to her.”
15. He’s the youngest actor ever to win a Tony Award
Like his parents, Broderick began his career treading the boards, and even conquered the heights of the theatre industry at a young age.
In 1983, Broderick won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play.
He was given the award for his performance as Eugene Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs.
What made this win all the more remarkable was the fact that Broderick was aged just 21 at the time.
This made him the youngest theatre actor in history to have won the award in that particular category, a record Broderick still holds today.
In 1995 Broderick won his second Tony, picking up Best Actor in a Musical for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
14. He played video games for two months to prepare for WarGames
After making his film debut in 1983’s Max Dugan Returns, Broderick got his real big-screen breakthrough opposite Ally Sheedy in the 1983 cult classic WarGames.
One of the first major movies to feature computer hacking, Broderick starred in the film as computer whizz-kid David Lightman.
We’re introduced to David as he plays arcade classic Galaga, a game he’s clearly pretty good at.
In order to convincingly portray an expert gamer, Broderick underwent some intensive video game training.
Arcade cabinets of both Galaga and Galaxian (the predecessor to the iconic shoot-em-up) were sent to Broderick’s home by the studio.
The actor then dedicated himself to the two games for two months in order to prepare for the arcade scenes in the movie. It’s a dog’s life, really!
13. His role in Ladyhawke was first offered to Dustin Hoffman
Director Richard Donner’s 1985 fantasy Ladyhawke was only Broderick’s fourth film role, but it seems the actor was already a rising star in Hollywood.
Broderick was cast as bumbling thief Philippe ‘Mouse’ Gaston, a role which had earlier been earmarked for Dustin Hoffman.
It speaks volumes about Broderick’s reputation that he was able to land a role previously offered to one of the most esteemed actors in the business.
As if this wasn’t enough, Broderick was also given a salary of $750,000 and top billing on the Ladyhawke cast list.
This again is surprising, given Broderick’s character is really more of a supporting role, with the lead hero part taken by the more seasoned Rutger Hauer.
Four years later, Broderick would co-star with Hoffman and Sean Connery in the 1989 film Family Business.
12. He beat Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Michael J Fox and Jim Carrey to the role of Ferris Bueller
Despite the success of such movies as WarGames, Ladyhawke and Biloxi Blues, there’s one 80s movie role Broderick is inarguably best known for.
That role is, of course, the eponymous lead in John Hughes’ legendary 1986 comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
And the star, who was still a relative Hollywood newcomer at the time, did well to land the part.
In fact, a great number of other notable young male stars were in the frame for the role of Bueller.
Broderick’s competitors for the role included Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey, John Cusack and Rob Lowe.
Fittingly, another name on the wish-list was that of the actor who took Family Ties when Broderick declined: Michael J. Fox.
11. He turned down two of Tom Cruise’s biggest roles
Broderick’s rise in Hollywood occurred simultaneously with that of another ambitious young actor in his 20s: one Tom Cruise.
While Broderick may have beaten Cruise to the role of Ferris Bueller, he’s also said to have turned down a couple of films that Cruise went on to make.
Firstly, Broderick passed on the role of Joel Goodson in 1983’s Risky Business, which became Cruise’s first big hit.
Second, and even more significantly, Broderick declined the role of hotshot pilot Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in 1986’s Top Gun.
Tom Cruise took that role too, and the rest is history; decades later, he’s still one of the biggest movie stars around, with hotly anticipated sequel Top Gun: Maverick on its way.
Another high profile action role Broderick turned down was Johnny Utah in Point Break, which helped establish Keanu Reeves as an action hero.
10. The lead role in 1998’s Godzilla was written specifically for him
Although he’s long been a big-name actor, Matthew Broderick isn’t necessarily too closely associated with blockbuster movies.
However, he was the first and apparently only choice for the (human) lead in 1998’s Godzilla.
The Hollywood remake of the classic Japanese monster movie was directed by Roland Emmerich, who also co-wrote the film with producer Dean Devlin.
The film was eagerly anticipated, as it was Emmerich and Devlin’s first film since 1996’s gargantuan hit Independence Day.
Broderick clearly had faith in the project, as he signed on to play nuclear research scientist Nick Tatopoulos before the script had even been written.
On release, Godzilla was met with a largely negative reaction from audiences and critics – but it still wound up Broderick’s biggest live-action hit, grossing $376 million worldwide.
9. He beat Jim Carrey and Robin Williams to the role of Inspector Gadget
Perhaps one of Broderick’s more surprising screen credits is the title role in the live-action adaptation of 80s TV cartoon Inspector Gadget.
Broderick played the eponymous policeman whose body has been cybernetically modified with all manner of bizarre, labour-saving mechanical devices.
We’re not so accustomed to seeing Broderick play such broadly comedic characters – so it’s not surprising that many big-name comedy stars were considered before him.
Early on, when Steven Spielberg had been attached to the movie, he wanted Chevy Chase or Steve Martin in the lead; then, later, Kevin Kline was in the frame.
After that, actors considered for the live-action Inspector Gadget included Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Steve Carrell and Broderick’s The Cable Guy co-star Jim Carrey.
It’s doubtful any of those big-name comedy stars regret missing out on the role to Broderick, as Inspector Gadget was savaged by critics, and was only a lukewarm commercial success.
8. He once directed a film – and only once
Broderick has appeared in over 50 films, but only one time has he tried his hand at directing.
This was on the 1996 drama Infinity, in which he also starred alongside Patricia Arquette.
The film cast Broderick as real-life theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, with Arquette portraying Feynman’s first wife Arline Greenbaum.
A family affair, Infinity was also written for the screen by the director-star’s mother, Patricia Broderick.
Unfortunately, Infinity was a huge flop, costing $5 million to make but earning a mere $195,170 at the box office.
Broderick later called the film “a difficult job [that] took four years from start to finish,” which might explain why he has yet to direct a second movie.
7. Stage musical The Producers made him one of the highest-paid theatre actors ever
Broderick co-starred with Nathan Lane in the original Broadway run of the acclaimed stage musical The Producers.
Adapted by Mel Brooks from his 1967 film of the same name, the show cast Lane and Broderick as Broadway theatre owners who deliberately put on a bad show as part of an elaborate fraud scheme.
Broderick starred in the show as nervous accountant Leo Bloom, the role originally taken in the 1967 movie by Gene Wilder.
The Producers was a huge critical and commercial success, making Broderick one of the highest-paid theatre actors of all time.
The actor was reported to have commanded a fee of $100,000 per week for The Producers.
In 2005, Lane and Broderick reunited to make The Producers musical as a movie, although this wasn’t so great a critical or commercial success as the stage version.
6. Simba’s singing voice in The Lion King is actually provided by the lead singer of Toto
While the actor is most recognised for Ferris Bueller, another Matthew Broderick role had a far broader impact: Simba in the Lion King.
Broderick was 32 when he voiced the fully-grown lion heir in Disney’s animated classic.
Given the actor’s history in musical theatre, he would seem a perfect fit for a role that requires singing – but the filmmakers felt differently.
Although Broderick voices Simba in the dialogue scenes, it isn’t his singing voice on Hakuna Matata or Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
Instead, the vocals on these tracks were provided by Joseph Williams – son of John Williams, arguably the greatest and most renowned film music composer of all time, whose iconic scores include Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Joseph Williams has since also become the lead vocalist with rock legends Toto, best known for their enduring hit Africa.
5. He was nominated for Best Fight Scene by MTV for The Cable Guy
He’s had a long career playing likeable leading men, but we’ve never really thought of Matthew Broderick as much of an action man.
Even so, Broderick’s physical prowess in an on-screen confrontation – in full knight’s armour, no less – actually earned him an award nomination.
Broderick was nominated along with co-star Jim Carrey for Best Fight Scene at the 1997 MTV Movie and TV Awards, for 1996’s The Cable Guy.
A dark comedy from director Ben Stiller, The Cable Guy cast Broderick as a regular guy who unwittingly befriends Carrey’s seriously unhinged cable TV engineer.
Ultimately, Broderick and Carrey lost out to Robin Tunney and Fairuza Balk, who won Best Fight for The Craft.
However, Carrey’s performance still saw him win the awards for Best Villain and Best Comedic Performance.
4. A knee injury ended his dream football career
Despite his family lineage, Matthew Broderick wasn’t always dead-set on pursuing a career in acting.
Initially, Broderick was far more interested in trying to make a living by playing sports.
He had hoped to pursue either football (of the American variety) or soccer (or, to the rest of the world: football).
However, these dreams were sadly scuppered for Broderick when he suffered a knee injury.
This convinced Broderick – still just a high schooler at the time – to give acting a try instead.
This proved to be a good move, as he was working professionally in the theatre by the time he was 19.
3. A single theatre review kickstarted his Hollywood career
The pros and cons of reviews have always been the subject of debate in the entertainment industry.
However, Matthew Broderick has stated that he owes pretty much his entire career to a single review.
The young actor had a role in an off-Broadway show, Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy. Fierstein and Broderick would later reunite in the 1988 film adaptation of the play.
To Broderick’s surprise and delight, this earned him an enthusiastic write-up from influential theatre critic Mel Gussow.
As Broderick reflected in 2004, “before I knew it, 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.”
“It’s just amazing. [To succeed,] all these things have to line up that are out of your control.”
2. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Few things really cement you as an all-time great movie star than having your name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Matthew Broderick is one of an exclusive group of screen actors to have been bequeathed that honour.
Broderick was presented with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 9 January 2006.
In attendance were his wife Sarah Jessica Parker, his The Producers co-star Nathan Lane and Hollywood Renaissance man Mel Brooks.
Not that Nathan Lane was just a hanger-on, as he was also presented with a star of his own on the same day.
Interested visitors to Los Angeles can find Broderick’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.
1. The Lion King is his biggest box office hit by far
When Broderick signed on to provide the voice of adult Simba in The Lion King, it was still quite rare for Disney to hire well-known actors on their animated films.
However, the 1994 feature-length animation proved to be a major milestone for both the studio and Broderick.
The Lion King was a huge hit, ultimately taking $968.5 million at the global box office (including its 2002 IMAX rerelease, and its 2011 3D version).
This makes it by the far the highest-earning film Broderick has starred in, followed by 1998’s Godzilla ($376 million) and 2007’s Bee Movie ($287.5 million).
Broderick would return to voice Simba in the straight-to-video sequels The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998) and The Lion King 1½ (2004).