It was over the top but not cringy, it was charming yet somehow not cheesy, and it only becomes more memorable when you find out that Ledger sang it himself. In an interview with HuffPost for 10 Things’ 20th anniversary, the movie’s director Gil Junger, Julia Stiles, and others reminisced about the scene which, along with many others, made it an instant classic.
The first surprising discovery was that it almost sounded a lot different. Ledger almost didn’t sing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Instead, two other songs were in the running: “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family and “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls. Karen McCullah had been going back and forth between the two, but had settled on “I Touch Myself.” The day of the shoot, Ledger chose the Frankie Valli classic. “I think Heath decided that that wasn’t romantic enough, so he chose the Frankie Valli song, which was a much better call,” McCullah told the New York Times.
According to Junger, the idea was for Ledger to exude the ease and charm of Fred Astaire, but he ended up bringing so much more than that into his performance. “He knew he wasn’t great, and I think that’s the charm of that scene, of course, that it’s bad,” explained Junger. “I think he probably went for it in that way, really not being prepared but being as goofy as he could be, running around in the bleachers doing his thing.”
The scene wouldn’t be nearly as memorable had Ledger come out, the epitome of unshakably cool and sang. The charm lies in his lightheartedness. “He was running take after take, up and down those steps. I was actually very surprised at Heath’s athleticism while singing because, yes, that was him singing. Like, of course, he could fucking sing too, right?” Junger added.
For Stiles, acting opposite Ledger in this scene was easy. “It wasn’t hard to just react to what Heath was actually doing,” she told HuffPost. No wonder that scene snagged a nomination for Best Musical Sequence at the MTV Movie Awards in 1999.
Now, for this scene and many others, the film remains fixed at the top of people’s lists for ‘90s classics.