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Six degrees of "Can't Hardly Wait"

By Bert Ehrmann
2005-06-27 — The other night I was flipping through the television landscape when I came across one movie I have an affinity for, 1998's Can't Hardly Wait. Can't Hardly Wait is set at a high school graduation party where teens that wouldn't usually get together do. There's the jocks, the white kids pretending to be gangsta' rappers, goths, preppies, etc. The main crux of the plot comes from character Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) finally deciding to ask his high school crush (Jennifer Love Hewitt) out on a date. What I found most interesting about the movie were all of the actors who would go on to bigger and better things after Can't Hardly Wait.

When it was released, Can’t Hardly Wait was rated “PG-13” and earned around 25 million dollars at the box office. If the movie has one failing, it’s that Can’t Hardly Wait could have been a bit more crass and crude, but these elements seemed to have been cut in editing to earn the rating. One year later American Pie would be released rated “R” and would earn four times what Can’t Hardly Wait did in theaters.

At the time of Can’t Hardly Wait, Embry was a veteran actor co-starring in movies like That Thing You Do! (another underrated classic) and White Squall. He would go onto more movies and most recently was seen on television in the revival of Dragnet. Can't Hardly Wait marked the crux of Jennifer Love Hewitt's career, with her starring in Party of Five and the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies around this same time. Since then, though, there hasn't been to many high profile projects for Hewitt, unless you count last summer's Garfield alongside Can't Hardly Wait alum Breckin Meyer.

Sometime during the filming of Can't Hardly Wait, Seth Green's career was just about to take off. He had starred in 1997's Austin Powers, but although Austin Powers is now considered a successful movie franchise, when it was initially released in theaters it didn't do terribly well. The movie was really discovered by the masses on VHS, moving Green's career into another league.

There's also actors like Selma Blair (Hellboy, Legally Blonde), Sara Rue (Pearl Harbor, Less Than Perfect), Erik Palladino (ER, U-571), Clea DuVall (Carnivále, Ghosts of Mars) and Donald Faison (Scrubs) who went on to bigger and better things.

But the oddest bit of trivia I came upon was the inordinate amount of actors who would go onto have roles in HBO’s Six Feet Under. In fact, four actors from Can't Hardly Wait were featured in Six Feet Under at some point.

Six Feet Under star Lauren Ambrose played Seth Green's almost girlfriend in Can't Hardly Wait, while Eric Balafour, who played Claire's boyfriend during the first few seasons, played Steve in the movie. Freddy Rodríguez starred as jock T.J. in Can’t Hardly Wait and plays philandering mortician Federico Diaz in Six Feet Under.

Last but not least, one time Tom Cruise look-alike (compare their photos and tell me I’m wrong) Peter Facinelli was Mike Dexter in Can’t Hardly Wait and Jimmy in Six Feet Under.

All these links got me thinking ­ what’s stranger, that a movie like Can’t Hardly Wait could spawn the careers of all these actors, or that I’m willing to spend a Sunday afternoon researching these useless bits of trivia and then write a column about them?


You be the judge.