Cameron Crowe says 'Fast Times At Ridgemont High's abortion plot would be 'outrageously controversial' now

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Credit: Universal)

In Cameron Crowe's 80s staple Fast Times At Ridgemont High, the storyline in which Jennifer Jason Leigh's Stacy has an abortion is treated merely as part of the plot, without judgement.

But Crowe, who observed life at Clairemont High School in San Diego as an undercover reporter in order to pen the film's script, says that now, such a storyline would be 'outrageously controversial'.

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Following sweeping anti-abortion legislation in the states of Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, the steadfastness of Roe vs Wade, the legal decision which guarantees women reproductive rights in the US, is looking increasingly less guaranteed.

“It would be outrageously controversial, and it would be protested, and there would be a mess over it,” Crowe told Yahoo Movies in the US.

The plot finds the 15-year-old Stacy Hamilton [Leigh was 20 when she played the role] falling pregnant to Robert Romanus's morally repugnant Mike Damone, who sleeps with Stacy and then leaves her to deal with the consequences.

Crowe went on to say that director Amy Heckerling was fully on board with the story's direction, which Crowe had adapted from a book into a screenplay.

Cameron Crowe (Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

“She read my book, she read the script, and we asked her about the abortion scene, and she said, ‘You know what? This is life. I want to shoot this like life, just like life.’ Which is everything you'd want in a director – and a woman director, at a time when no women directors were getting jobs in Hollywood,” he said.

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“She just quietly did it, and in an almost European way, she put this young girl's life onscreen in a way for you to judge: This is just how life is. It meant a lot when she did it at the time, and it still means a lot.

“It was a very courageous thing to do, and it actually is the one thing about the movie that I'm probably happiest about at this point.”

Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Credit: Universal)

The movie is 30 years old this year, and proved to be a springboard for a dizzying amount of talent.

As well as Jennifer Jason Leigh, it made stars of Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards and a young Nicolas Cage, who made his first ever movie appearance, credited under his real name, Nicolas Coppola.