Filmmaking | Interviews

Letters to Cleo Hits the Screen

1 May , 1999  

Written by Amy Steele | Posted by:

Kay Hanley talks about the band's cameo and music in the new film '10 Things I Hate About You.'
Have you ever wondered how certain songs get chosen for a soundtrack, or how that band you know is actually in a film? Well, when Boston pop group Letters to Cleo was chosen, the experience was nothing but fun, and somewhat glamorous. Best known for the hit song "Here and Now," the band has a cameo role (along with ska band Save Ferris) in the new film "10 Things I Hate About You." The smart film is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s "Taming of the Shrew," with a high school setting and a young, largely unknown cast, including Julia Stiles and Joseph-Gordon Levitt. Letters to Cleo appear in several scenes in the film, and during the closing credits perform a song on the roof of a building, also contributing covers of Nick Lowe’s "Cruel to Be Kind" and Cheap Trick’s "I Want You to Want Me" to the Hollywood Records soundtrack.

"We chose these cover songs," explained singer Kay Hanley, from her home in Boston. "We sensed they would be using a lot of cover songs. While in L.A., we recorded nine songs, and these two songs ended up being the best."

In an unusual approach, director Gil Junger allowed the cast to select bands for the soundtrack. Closer to filming, Junger asked Letters to Cleo to be part of the film. Hanley said that the band enjoys working on soundtracks because it gives them a chance to travel and to spend time in a different atmosphere.

"It’s a low-pressure situation," Hanley stated. "It’s another way to get your music out and reach an audience that you wouldn’t reach."

In a nightclub scene, Hanley appears onstage with Save Ferris. Then she reappears at the prom with the rest of Letters to Cleo as a surprise to the central character, Kat. They all got their own makeup (it took three hours to style Hanley’s hair) and wardrobe people, a vast improvement on the scrappiness required when a band is on the road.

"It was an all-around neat experience," she enthused. "We ended up having a wonderful time getting to know the kids on the movie. There were no egos."

Together for the past seven years, the band has released three albums: "Aurora Gory Alice" (1994), "Wholesale Meats and Fish" (1995), and, most recently, "Go!" (1997). At the beginning of May, Hanley plans to enter the studio to work on a solo project, and in the fall, Letters to Cleo will record a new album. Also in her near future, Hanley is expecting a baby with her husband and Letters’ guitarist Michael Eisenstein (she’s six-and-a-half-months pregnant).

For more information on the band, visit the official web site at For more information on the movie, check out

For more information on the band, visit the official web site at For more information on the movie, check out