What Really Happened To Mia Sara?

Mia Sara almost certainly brings to mind Ferris Bueller's beautiful and coolly sophisticated (but fun-loving) girlfriend, Sloane Peterson. She of the iconic white fringed jacket, the poolside negligee, and the fabulous "taxicab black" sunglasses. Or perhaps the name conjures up images of the enigmatic Princess Lili, paramour of the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curryand the lovestruck fairytale hero (Tom Cruise) in 1985's cult fantasy film Legend

Whatever cinematic figure you associate Mia Sara (born Mia Sarapochiello) with, however, one thing's for sure: She's at least as intelligent, intriguing, and multifaceted in real life as she is in any of her movie roles. And, although she's continued acting — albeit on a much less conspicuous basis — her other artistic accomplishments are in many ways far more compelling than her status as a pop culture mainstay. 

Read on to find out what Sara has been up to, and to revisit the era that made "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" an eternally memorable household (and classroom) name.

Making Ferris Bueller at age 17 wasn't fun

As enlightening as filming Ferris Bueller may have been, it was also fraught with anxiety — or so Mia Sara explained in an interview with Games Radar.

"Of the main cast, I was the only actual adolescent, so unfortunately for me it was like having your most awkward adolescent year forever memorialized," she said. "The cast were all lovely but mostly my experience was feeling very out of my depth and, you know, flailing. That's just the honest truth. I wish I could say it was a lot of fun but it wasn't for me."

Sara also commented on her present feelings about the onslaught of publicity that accompanied the film. "If it were coming out today with the same kind of reception and with what you have to deal with now — in terms of attention and publicity — I think I probably would have dug a hole and never come out. But it wasn't like that back then."

That time an inferno devastated the set of Legend and "everyone was crying"

In real life, the making of Legend was something considerably less than a fairytale process — or so Sara explained in a late-'80s interview with Eye on the Movies with Corey Brunish. Speaking about the fire that famously broke out on the set of Ridley Scott's beloved fantasy film, she recalled coming out of lunch only to be confronted by an inferno that had engulfed the set's largest building. "All of a sudden the sky was black... you can't believe it's gone. Everyone was crying. [The entire studio] was just gone," she said.

The show must — and did — go on, but the whole thing was symbolically disturbing, considering that the film featured several scenes that were more or less set in hell. Or at least in a realm of darkness that was designed to conjure up fire and brimstone. Not exactly the kind of experience that's going to make an actress want to keep acting, especially one who has already said acting isn't her first love.

A teen girl acting alongside Hollywood legends (to meh reviews)

In 1987, right after playing Sloane Peterson, Mia Sara made miniseries waves by starring in Queenie, a mini-epic based loosely on the life of actress Merle Oberon. Trailers for the program were melodramatic, but Sara's not-exact-but-close-enough resemblance to Oberon was striking, and the then still-teenaged Sara got to act alongside the likes of film legends Claire Bloom and Kirk Douglas.

Not every critic liked the series, which was based on author Michael Korda's 1985 novel of the same name. The New York Times called it "a sumptuous five-hour Tinker Toy," and was less than enthusiastic about Sara's performance. But the '80s were, after all, the age of Lifetime television and other cheesy melodramas, and Sara later told the Chicago Tribune, whose journalists were much more benevolent, that she loved making the TV movie — even though filming conditions were so extreme that she apparently became ill with sunstroke at one point.

Her biggest film after Ferris Bueller was alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1994's Timecop

Though Mia Sara's film work has taken place largely off the uber-popular radar since 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off, she has, in fact, been working more or less steadily in the industry since then. Her most high profile role since Sloane Peterson, however, was probably as Melissa, the love interest of Jean-Claude Van Damme, in 1994's Timecop

Following many of the same themes as movies like The Terminator,Timecop is a story about time travel and love racing against both corruption and the clock. Reviews were mostly lukewarm, but Sara had fun with it, as she later explained on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. "[Jean-Claude Van Damme] is really sort of boyish, and kind of sweet and shy," she said.

In the same interview, Sara also humorously recalled how the semi-revealing (or "underwear") scene she'd been required to do had temporarily inspired her ultra-traditional grandmother to stop speaking to her. 

She's done a lot of fairytale-themed work

Though her acting career hasn't been booming, what started with Legend didn't end there. Sara's fairytale-esque film and television credits are undeniably notable, even if her body of work, as a whole, is widely disparate. 

In 2011 and 2012, respectively, she played Princess Langwidere in The Witches of Oz, a story that IMDb intriguingly summarizes as "Dorothy Gale [discovering] that her best selling novels are actually based on suppressed childhood memories of her time in Oz, and that she may be in danger of experiencing it all over again."

Sara also appeared in 2002's Lost in Oz and 2001's Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, and she voiced Princess Dayzie in 2002's Little Insects. All of which is great news for a brand new generation of young fans, many of whom probably grew up streaming Legend themselves. It goes to show that starting out as a princess just might mean royalty fringe benefits for the duration of one's career. 

Here's how she's connected to The Muppets

Mia Sara and The Muppet Show? It's an association that's not as far off as some people might suppose. Sara's husband, and the father of her daughter Amelia Jane, is puppeteer, producer, and director Brian Henson, son of legendary puppeteer Jim Henson. 

Some might call it a match made in movie heaven: Henson-directed fantasy films, like 1982's The Dark Crystal and 1986's Labyrinth, were a cult (and now nostalgic) staple of the era  every bit as much as 1985's Legend was. But the connection is more than just thematic: according to Henson's official website, Sara auditioned for the role of Sarah-with-an-h in Labyrinth, which famously ended up going to Jennifer Connelly. 

As fate would have it, the audition brought Sara (who also has a child with Sean Connery's son, Jason, to whom she was married for many years) into contact with the Henson clan, and the rest is history. With two kids and a husband in the entertainment industry, focusing less on acting no doubt gave Sara opportunity to spend more time with family.

She only occasionally gets recognized for this weird reason

One might think that an actress like Mia Sara would be continually recognized — even 30 years after her most iconic roles. Though she does in fact look largely the same (more like a slightly older, or "mom-ish" version of her former self), she told Glamour about the surprising reasons people occasionally still approach her. 

"Most of the time, people think they went to high school with me," she revealed in the 2009 interview — even though she later wrote a poem entitled Not Your High School Girlfriend. Nevertheless, once a teenage icon, always a teenage icon. In the same interview, Sara spoke about the famous white fringed jacket she wore in Ferris Bueller (she was apparently allowed to keep it, though she's since misplaced it). "I'm always in favor of more glamour," she said. "I embarrass my children, I think. I am the lady in feathers in the car pool line. " 

She writes poetry

As of late, Mia Sara has turned all her creative attentions to what she considers to be her true passion: poetry. In 2016, she did an in-depth interview with The Volga (a division of the Cossack Review) in which she admitted she wasn't happy as an actress.

"It was something I felt I could do, and I needed to work, and I got lucky at the get go, however I was never going to be the kind of actress I admire, because I just didn't have the drive for the process," she said.

Instead, writing is where she finds passion and happiness. Sara's publishing credits continue to accumulate, and can be viewed on her official website. She's also written some insightful film essays, like this one about the movie An American in Paris, in which she describes her hometown of NYC in the late '70s and early '80s as "a hot mess, a city with a hangover, still wearing its wilted corsage, clinging to its dignity, and the beautiful bones."