Along with Scream, it revitalized the slasher genre and ensured that the urban legend of the hook-handed (or hook-wielding, depending on what version of the story you subscribe to) maniac would never die.
We are, of course, referring to the 1997 classic, I Know What You Did Last Summer. Written by Ghostface creator Kevin Williamson and featuring an all-star ’90s cast of beautiful young people, the film centers around a group of four friends stalked, tormented, and, in the case of two them, murdered by a revenge-driven fisherman they left for dead the previous summer.
RELATED: Why I Know What You Did Last Summer Director Says 1998 Sequel “Killed the Franchise”
But you probably knew that already. So here are seven facts about the movie you might not be aware of!
Little-known Facts About I Know What You Did Last Summer
1. Kevin Williamson comes from a long line of fishermen
Ben Willis, the film’s hook-wielding fisherman antagonist played by Muse Watson, was inspired by Williamson’s own family background. Instead of sailing the seas and netting maritime creatures, however, he decided to become a writer. “Everyone in my family is a fisherman, except me,” Williamson once said. “And so, I utilized that little old hook that I’d seen hanging on the back of the fish house all my life.”
2. Jennifer Love Hewitt was originally considered to play Helen
In a making-of documentary released by Sony Pictures, Jennifer Love Hewitt reveals that she was originally considered for the role of Helen Shivers, the beauty pageant queen and failed actress played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Love Hewitt ended up landing the lead role of Julie James. “I swear it had nothing to do with it being the lead character in the movie or anything,” she explains with a laugh. “I honestly just liked Julie better and felt like I identified with her better.”
3. Melissa Joan Hart turned down a part in the film
While she lost out on the role of Scream‘s Sidney Prescott to Neve Campbell, Melissa Joan Hart was offered a part in I Know What You Did Last Summer. She explained why she turned it down during an interview with Business Insider in 2017: “I just thought it was a rip-off of Scream and I thought it wasn’t gonna be as good. So I probably talked my way out of a film career in a little bit of a way.”
4. OG Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis gave Jennifer Love Hewitt hugs every day
Halloween alum Jamie Lee Curtis just so happened to be shooting another movie (1999’s Virus) in North Carolina at the same time as I Know What You Did Last Summer was being shot. When Curtis and Love Hewitt — both of whom appeared in 1996’s House Arrest — ran into one another on the sound stages there, the actress behind Laurie Strode gave her blessing to the next generation of Scream Queens. “She came over and she was like, ‘So…you’re doing a horror film?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ She goes, ‘I’m very proud of you! This is great!’ She came by and gave me a big hug every day,” Love Hewitt recalled during a 1997 interview.
5. One of the most iconic scenes was directed by a child
According to Love Hewitt, Julie’s iconic “What are you waiting for?!” meltdown was the brain child of a kid who had won a chance “to create a moment for the movie,” she recalled to Us Weekly in 2018. “I have no idea where he is, but he was like, ‘I want her to stand in the street and turn around and just scream.’ I was literally like, ‘Are you kidding me right now?’ … Then we were doing it and it was amazing and it looked cool. And now, everybody loves it.” All these years later, drunk trick ‘r treaters will yell the line at the actress if they see her on the street during Halloween.
6. Director Jim Gillespie was influenced by Jaws
Despite the fact that there are no man-eating sharks in sight, director Jim Gillespie wanted the seemingly idyllic seaside town in which the film takes place to channel the vibe of Jaws‘ Amity Island, particularly the juxtaposition between summer fun and horrific deaths.
“There’s lots of stuff that nods to Jaws; Fourth of July parades, all those things,” he told Digital Spy for the movie’s 20th anniversary. “We amped it up with a Croaker Festival. Gary Wissner designed these big fish buggies, fish hats. We got a load of local school bands to do the march for the festival. We went to town on all that! I wanted the waterfront to have a New England feel, and Jaws was that.”
7. The author of the novel the film is based on didn’t care for the adaptation
You might not know this, especially since it’s not mentioned in the opening credits, but I Know What You Did Last Summer is loosely based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan. The author, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 82, was not a fan of the big screen adaptation. In a 2002 interview that has since been archived, Duncan didn’t mince words, stating that she was “appalled” by the decision to turn her book into a slasher movie. Her distaste for the film stemmed from the fact that her own daughter, Kait, had been murdered in 1989. “As the mother of a murdered child, I don’t find violent death something to squeal and giggle about,” Duncan said.
I Know What You Did Last Summer and its two sequels — I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006) — are now streaming on Peacock.