Work hard, party harder! Can’t Hardly Wait captured the ultimate ’90s nostalgia as it bid farewell to the graduating seniors of Huntington Hillside High School — and sent them off with one last rager.
The 1998 film centers on a group of students determined to cross off one last achievement on their end-of-high-school bucket lists. Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) plans to confess his four-year crush to Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), the most popular girl in school after she’s been dumped by her jock boyfriend Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli).
Meanwhile, class nerd William Lichter (Charlie Korsmo) infiltrates the party in an elaborate plot to seek revenge on Mike after four years of bullying. Wannabe rapper Kenny Fisher (Seth Green) hopes he can lose his virginity by the end of the night. Outsider Denise Fleming (Lauren Ambrose) is dragged to the party by her best friend, Preston, but finds herself spending the evening with an unexpected party guest.
Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont cowrote and co-directed the movie, which shared the same title as the 1987 song by The Replacements. Can’t Hardly Wait marked the first time Hewitt stepped into a role where she was portrayed as a bombshell lead. Kaplan told the International Business Times in 2018 that Hewitt was ready to take on a new character persona.
“I think she was excited because she had always sort of played the best friend and the sort of mouthy girl and not really the object of desire,” Kaplan said at the time. “Even in I Know What You Did Last Summer, which was a big movie, they always put her in overalls or glasses, she was just kind of the side chick, in a way. But in this one, she got to be the girl that everybody wanted.”
Embry, for his part, auditioned for the movie but was offered the part of William Lichter. He told VH1 in 2013 that he turned down the role because he was set on playing the leading man.
“It had been a while that I had the opportunity to play the ‘guy that gets the girl,’” Embry said at the time. “I had done those roles when I was a lot younger and this was the first time that someone would see me as a lead. I wanted to play the guy who gets the girl. That was sort of the driving thing.”
Although Hewitt and Embry were established names before Can’t Hardly Wait was released, numerous actors appeared in the film before their big breaks including Jason Segel, Jaime Pressly and Selma Blair.
Hewitt revealed that she had her eye on making a sequel to the teen comedy in 2015. “Can’t Hardly Wait reunion movie anyone? Let’s get them to make it!” she tweeted at the time.
Four years later, the Party of Five alum shared on Danny Pellegrino’s podcast, “Everything Iconic,” that she was actively working on the film’s release as a director.
Scroll down to see where the cast of Can’t Hardly Wait is today.