In the 1982 film, Jennifer Jason Leigh's 15-year-old character gets an abortion

By Helen Murphy
July 26, 2019 10:27 AM
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Jennifer Jason Leigh, Cameron Crowe
Credit: Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock; Jim Spellman/WireImage

Director Cameron Crowe is reflecting on his screenplay for the classic 1982 teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

During an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Crowe said that he believes the abortion subplot — which he says caused little outrage in the ’80s — would be “controversial” today.

“It would be outrageously controversial, and it would be protested, and there would be a mess over it,” he said.

In the movie, 15-year-old high school student Stacy (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh), begins the school year as a virgin, before being impregnated by classmate Mike Damone. She then gets an abortion, and the movie treats the subplot with little fanfare and no judgement — a decision that Crowe attributes to director Amy Heckerling.

“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,’” Crowe, 62, said, adding it was “everything you’d want in a director — and a woman director, at a time when no women directors were getting jobs in Hollywood.”

Crowe continued, “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,” he added.

The director’s screenplay was based off of a book he had written while going undercover at a Southern California high school.

Crowe’s comments on the famous film come after a wave of anti-abortion laws were passed by various states earlier this year.