1. Anthony Michael Hall, of course, originated the role in National Lampoon’s Vacation. Did you know, however, that Rusty was originally supposed to be the younger brother to Audrey. However, the original ending of Vacation — in which Clark Griswold hijacked a plane — had to be reshot because because it tested poorly with audiences. The reshoot wasn’t until four months later, and by that time, Hall had shot up three inches and was taller than both Audrey and his mother, played by Beverly D’Angelo.
Another interesting little known fact about Anthony Michael Hall: He negotiated with Stanley Kubrick — for eight months — for the part of Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket. Negotiations, however, eventually fell apart, and Mathew Modine landed the role.
Meanwhile, he narrowly beat out Jim Carrey — of all people — for the role of Ted in Sixteen Candles.
2. Jason Lively played Rusty in the first sequel, European Vacation. Anthony Michael Hall declined to reprise the role, opting to do Weird Science instead. Lively is the much, much older half brother of Blake Lively. They both have the same mother, Elaine Lively. Interestingly, while they have different fathers, their fathers had the same last name, on account of the fact that Elaine’s second husband, Ernie, changed his last name to Lively. He didn’t change his name to his wife’s maiden name; he changed his name to his wife’s married name from a first marriage. It’s probably best, otherwise Blake Lively’s name would be Blake Brown.
Jason Lively now works in computers in Utah.
3. Johnny Galecki played Rusty Griswold in Christmas Vacation. Galecki — best known now for Big Bang Theory and Roseanne before that — starred in both Christmas movies released in 1989. This one and Prancer. Interestingly, after his big break, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, but his family missed Chicago. So, they returned, leaving 14-year-old Galecki living by himself in a studio apartment in L.A. Those weren’t his favorite years.
Also, despite playing a nerdy genius on Big Bang Theory, Galecki dropped out of school in the eighth grade and picked up smoking, a habit he only recently quit (he was a Parliament Lights guy).
4. Ethan Embry played Rusty in National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation, which was a crap movie, signaling the demise of the original franchise. There was one good joke, though, which was when Clark told Rusty and Audrey that he hardly recognized them anymore (they were played by different actors in all four movies). Interestingly, only two days after filming ended on Vegas Vacation, Embry began filming on That Thing You Do!
Embry will next be seen in the sixth season of The Walking Dead.
5. Travis Greer in Hotel Hell Vacation. I think the fun fact about this is that Hotel Hell Vacation exists, and yes, it stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. It’s a 14-minute 2010 video short, in which Clark and Ellen plan a trip to visit Rusty and his wife, but on the way, stop for a romantic getaway which turns into a disaster. Rusty doesn’t show up until the 11-minute mark.
You can watch it here.
6. Ed Helms, who bears very little resemblance to all the other Rusty Griswolds, plays a middle-aged Griswold in the Vacation reboot out this Friday. John Francis Daley (Freaks and Geeks) wrote and directed the film, along with Jonathan M. Goldstein. The two also wrote Horrible Bosses and the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs sequel (also, Burt Wonderstone, of which we will never speak again).
As for Helms: Here’s something most people don’t know about him. He had open heart surgery when he was seven to correct a murmur. Oh, and that missing tooth in The Hangover? It’s real! That adult tooth never grew in when he was a kid, so he had a permanent implant put in, which he removed for the film.
Helms first reaction when he was offered the Vacation role, by the by, was “Hell no.” Based on reviews so far, he probably should’ve stuck with that instinct.