The original title of this film was "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (taken from the play it is based on). The title was changed after many newspapers and TV stations refused to run ads for a film with such a title. According to The 80s Movies Rewind website, "the name of the movie was changed to "About Last Night" prior to release when the major TV networks warned that they would never air a movie that had 'perversity' in the title".
Actor Rob Lowe recalled that when his agent sent him the script by messenger, II a strange thing happened. I started reading it in the bathtub. I was only going to skim the first few pages. But by page 73, the water was cold, and I was totally into the character. We hadn't even discussed whether I'd do the picture . . . but I knew that nothing could stop me".
Actress Elizabeth Perkins recalled her first meeting with co-star Demi Moore. Perkins said: "We were fascinated by how much we didn't have in common. She'd never done a play, I'd never done a picture. There was plenty to talk about. When we arrived on the set, which would be our apartment, and found it decorated in detail for each of our characters, Demi said, 'Okay, which bed do you want?' We started giggling, we couldn't stop . . . and suddenly Debbie and Joan were friends . . .".
The background text on some of the film's main movie posters read: "It's about men, women, choices, sex, ambition, moving in, no sex, risk, underwear, friendship, career moves, strategy, commitment, love, fun, breaking up, making up, bedtime, last night...".
To producer Jason Brett, "[The] Bernie [Litko character] tests us as an audience. Just when we feel like writing him off, he wins our forgiveness with vulnerability. Bernie has some of the most offensive opinions ever uttered in a movie. An ordinary actor would make the words vulgar; Jim [Jim Belushi] makes them almost poetic".
According to Rob Lowe's biography, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends", he screen tested with (future Oscar winner) Melissa Leo and Mariel Hemingway, who were both in serious contention for the part of "Debbie". However, the part eventually went to Demi Moore.
The setting of the source David Mamet's stage-play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago", according to its introduction, is "Scene - Various spots around the North Side of Chicago, a Big City on a Lake. Time - Approximately nine weeks one summer".
The stage debut of David Mamet's play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" opened in Chicago in June 1974. The production was produced and performed by the Organic Theater Company and directed by Stuart Gordon.
The movie's director Edward Zwick said of this film around the time the movie was made and released: "The material touched me deeply. It wasn't so very long ago that I'd been in and out of those relationships, had those whispered conversations in the middle of the night. As soon as we began rehearsing, all the feelings of those years, the pain, the awkwardness and the sexual excitement too, came rushing back".
For director Edward Zwick, "About Last Night... (1986) was the realization of a goal that began ten years before, in Paris [, France], where he studied drama on a Rockefeller Scholarship, supporting himself as a sometime correspondent for Rolling Stone and The New Republic magazines. When Woody Allen came to France to film Love and Death (1975), Zwick presented himself as a twenty-one year old neophyte, fluent in French, who'd do any menial work just to be on the set. Zwick said: "I wound-up as a third assistant to the assistant director's assistant, standing in the rain, directing traffic. "But Woody took me along when the unit moved to Hungary which turned out to be a tremendous experience. It also convinced me of what I wanted to do in life. Somehow make it from directing traffic to directing movies".
Jim Belushi was also cognizant of the thin line between the actor and the role. Having played Bernie Litko in two media, on stage and in this movie, Belushi admitted: "Sometimes, I think I am Bernie. Other times, I know I'm just looking at the world through his eyes and I can go back to being myself whenever I want".
David Mamet, whose play this film was based on, is an established writer-director in both stage and cinema, but Mamet did not write or co-write the screenplay for this adaptation of his stage play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (1974).
Source playwright David Mamet did not direct this feature film of his play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago". But in 1987, the next year after this 1986 film was first released, the first feature film that Mamet directed debuted, which was House of Games (1987).
The final version of David Mamet's stage-play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" was an amalgam of the first version of that titled play as well as another of Mamet's plays, "Danny Shapiro and his Search for the Mystery Princess".
Jason Brett, one of the film's producers, said of the singles scene, which this movie examines: "Underneath the all-night partying and bar-hopping, there's a lot of emotional baggage, suspicion, insecurity, scar tissue. It's not an environment conducive to lasting relationships".
After rehearsals, the acting troupe of the film's four leads then headed for Chicago, Illinois where filming would begin in Grant Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan. During the next month, the seasons changed with cinematic speed, as the characters celebrated the conclusion of the baseball season on a rooftop overlooking Wrigley Field, New Years Eve on snow-swept Division Street and St. Patrick's Day in a driving downtown rainstorm.
Both snow and rain were technically created as The Windy City (Chicago in Illinois, USA) enjoyed a mellow autumn. Director Edward Zwick recalled: "But we got out of town in the nick of time. Two days after our last Chicago setup, the city got hit by a major blizzard".
Extensive location filming, said director Edward Zwick, "enabled us to make a movie . . . as opposed to a filmed stage play . . . yet keep the spirit of the original intact. In its delicate balance between sexual and emotional intimacy, the appeal is one of identification. I hope that anyone who sees the picture will, if only for a brief moment, say, 'Someone's been eavesdropping on my life'."
According to "MAMET REVIVED The perversity of Hollywood", as stated on the Wikipedia website, the movie's source playwright [of the play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974)"] and later film director and screenwriter David Mamet, "disavowed the picture, ruefully recalling" that "as a callow youth with hay sticking out of my ears, I sold both the play and the screenplay for about $12 and a mess of porridge . . .".
According to producer Jason Brett, Edward Zwick was chosen to direct About Last Night... (1986) "largely on the strength of the telefilm, Special Bulletin (1983) for which he won an Emmy, the Humanitas Prize, and both Directors Guild and Writers Guild Awards. Ed had not directed a feature film before. But his work in television - with the actors on Family (1976), the sure-handedness of Special Bulletin (1983) and his background in directing theatre, was impressive. This is, after all, an actors' piece. We were not aware, at the time, that he was from Chicago. That was a bonus".
Describing Demi Moore's casting selection as the character Debbie, director Edward Zwick spoke of secrets: "You hear that husky voice . . . you look in those pretty eyes and you want to know what's going on inside that complicated head".
Stuart Oken, one of the movie's producers, who was involved in an earlier production of the film's source play as managing director of the Chicago city's Organic Theatre Comapny, said: "We've altered [David] Mamet's work to reflect the difference we perceive in the 'sexual politics' of the [nineteen] eighties [decade]. Mamet saw the romance as doomed from the start. We hold out hope that these two people can successfully navigate their way through the singles' maze and build the foundation for a more meaningful relationship. No promises, mind you. Just a shot at it".
The four co-stars were initially brought together for two weeks of rehearsal. Actor Rob Lowe recalls this was "intensive . . . challenging . . . more like preparing a play than a movie. We did a lot of improvisation, not because we intended to depart from the script, but to strengthen our rhythm and timing. To get to know each other in character".
Apart from credited writers, one production crew personnel worked on both this original About Last Night... (1986) film and its movie remake About Last Night (2014). This was Victoria Rose Sampson who worked as a supervising sound editor on the original pic and a dialogue editor on the flick's remake.
The path of the story from stage to screen began on the Champaign-Urbana campus of the University of Illinois where producers Jason Brett and Stuart Oken met as undergraduates. Linked by their enthusiasm for theater, the friends became involved in stage productions. A few years later, as producers, they started the initial offering for the Apollo Group Theatre in Chicago. At around the time of that this movie debuted, the Apollo Theater Center, since its opening in 1978, had housed around thirty major productions, including this film's source stage play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (1974) by David Mamet. Even while the Apollo was in its infancy, Brett and Oken saw film as a natural progression for their young company.
According to the movie's production notes, "the challenge of casting About Last Night... (1986) was to create an ensemble of young actors capable of serving the emotional complexity of the material as well as the demands of its language".
The Chicago, Illinois exteriors were matched by locations in the Los Angeles, California area. "Moms", a popular saloon in Brentwood, California became the tumultuous "Mother Malonels". The Robert Arranaga Restaurant Supply Company needed little conversion to serve as the workplace where Danny (Rob Lowe) rebels after being ordered to "pull the plug" and cut off credit to a friend who owns a dying diner.
The movie's source one-act stage production "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (1974) written by playwright David Mamet is an Obie Award winning play. The Obies are also known as the Off-Broadway Theater Awards.
First theatrical feature film based on a play by David Mamet which was "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (1974). Prior to this cinema movie, a Mamet play had been adapted for television. This was A Life in the Theater (1979) which was adapted from Mamet's 1977 stage play of the same name.
According to website Wikipedia, "David De Silva bought the motion picture rights to [the 1974 play] Sexual Perversity In Chicago and went with [its playwright] David Mamet on Mamet's first trip to Hollywood, to meet with Michael Eisner, head of Paramount Pictures regarding doing a film version of the play. Eisner was very enthusiastic about the project, but Mamet ultimately was not able to deliver an acceptable screenplay to the studio. Years later, De Silva sold the film rights to a Chicago producer, Stuart Oken. Oken [then] produced [with others] the 1986 film, About Last Night... (1986) . . .".
The Obie Award that David Mamet won for this film's source stage-play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (1974), which played off-Broadway in 1975 after its 1974 debut, was for "Best New American Play", but the Obie was awarded for two of Mamet's stage works, for both "American Buffalo" and "Sexual Perversity in Chicago".
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
For the big break-up sequence, actor Rob Lowe improvised a line where he tells Demi Moore that he doesn't love her anymore as Moore was having trouble crying. The line was effective and reduced her to tears.