I would like to be great, the film with Tom Hanks that almost starred Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford or John Travolta

Today, Saturday, June 3, marks the 35th anniversary of the premiere of I would like to be big (Big), the comedy with Tom Hankswhich meant his first Oscar nomination and definitively become a celebrity in Hollywood.

Although it was not the first success of the actor of Saving Private Ryan, love tune and CastawayHanks had already proven that he could do comedy with traits that were less unusual in Splash -his first leading role, in 1984, the same year he Single party-, when he fell in love with a mermaid, faced by Daryl Hannah.

We’ll see the turns that took place until he was the one who got the role of Josh Baskin, the boy who makes a wish in an amusement park, and it comes true. Josh would like to be great, as the Spanish title of Penny Marshall’s comedy indicates – with whom Hanks would work again in A very special team, with Geena Davis and Madonna–, and wakes up the next morning in the body of an adult. But he continues to be and think like a child.

“The scene. Robert Loggia and Tom Hanks, stepping and playing the piano in the FAO Schwarz toy store. Photos Clarín Archive

Next, we will review some curious facts and anecdotes from the previous and filming of the film, which had a budget of just 18 million dollars -2 of them for Hanks- and raised 151 million dollars worldwide.

  • Tom Hanks was the first choice for the role of Josh Baskin, but was unavailable due to shooting conflicts, first with dragnet (1987), with Dan Aykroyd, and later with punch line (1988), with Sally Field. It was then that they offered it to robert deniro. The writers started tweaking the script for a 13-year-old boy more befitting the actor, but the actor from The Godfather II he asked for US$6 million, which was considered excessive. Hanks would later sign for $2 million.
  • Penny Marshall became the first female director to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million.

Josh makes a wish on Zoltar (“I Wish I Was Big”), and the machine grants it to him the next morning.

  • It is unknown who played Josh’s younger sister, Rachel, as the child actress does not appear in the end credits. To this day, her identity is unknown and remains a mystery.
  • The character of Robert Loggia is based on who was the CEO of the famous toy store where part of the film was shot, FAO Schwarz, Peter Harris. According to Robert Loggia, the day they filmed the famous scene of the “Walking Piano” in the FAO Schwarz toy store -which no longer exists-, he and Tom Hanks noticed that there were doubles dressed like them, in case they could not do the movements of dance correctly. They vowed to do the whole number without the help of the doubles. And they did it.

Tom Hanks had scheduling problems to shoot the comedy. They offered it to De Niro, who asked for $6 million. They waited for him.

  • To give Tom Hanks an idea of ​​how a 13-year-old boy would behave, director Penny Marshall filmed each “grown-up” scene with David Moscow (Josh, as a boy) playing the role of Hanks, and then Hanks copied the behavior of Moscow. Hanks was then going to do something similar to Forrest Gump (1994), when he spent time with Michael Conner Humphreys (the boy’s Forrest) and would imitate his southern accent to prepare for the role.
  • And David Moscow wore colored contacts to match Tom Hanks’ eye color.
  • When Penny Marshall received the script, no Hollywood studio was interested in making the film. It was only when Robert De Niro announced that he wanted the role of Josh Baskin that he began to circle the project.

Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins. The role of Susan was going to go to Debra Winger, but she was pregnant and she suggested Perkins.

  • John Travolta was one of the director’s top choices for the role of Josh, and he wanted to do it, but Fox didn’t want it: it was considered “box office poison” at the time.

Harrison Ford and Robin Williams, outside

  • In between, there were several actors who turned down playing Josh Baskin. Can you imagine Harrison Ford? Steve Guttenberg was considered for the role of Josh Baskin, but he turned it down because he was busy filming. three men and a baby (1987). Dennis Quaid said no, because he wanted to do When I Fall in Love (1988). Bill Murray decided to make Ghosts Strike Back (1988). Others who said thanks but no were Jeff Bridges and Albert Brooks.
  • Robin Williams was another option, and later starred in Jack (1996), by Francis Ford Coppola, in which he was a ten-year-old boy in the body of a 40-year-old man, because he suffered from Werner syndrome. They also scouted Bill Murray, Judge Reinhold and Michael Keaton. Reinhold would star in his own “adult-turned-child” movie in Vice versa.

The original poster of the film. Hanks only collected 2 million dollars.

  • Debra Winger was originally considered for the role of Susan Lawrence, but was unable to accept it because she was pregnant. The actress of the strength of affection suggested that Josh should change into a girl who transforms into an adult. Director Penny Marshall rejected this idea and decided to keep it as a child. It was also Winger who recommended Elizabeth Perkins. Tom Hanks was 32 years old and Elizabeth Perkins was 28 during filming.
  • Frances Fisher played Carol Baskin, but all of her scenes were cut. They were reinserted on the extended edition DVD.
  • John Landis was considered to direct the film, but turned it down to do A prince in New York (1988). The same thing happened with Ivan Reitman, but he preferred to do Twins. Richard Donner, Frank Oz, Amy Heckerling and John Hughes were also contacted, but they gave the project a thumbs up.

Zoltar. The machine was specially designed, based on others from the early 20th century.

  • And even Steven Spielberg was about to direct the film, but he didn’t want to steal the lead from his sister, Anne, who co-wrote the script.
  • There is a scene shot, which was removed at the time of the release, and later appeared on the DVD release: after Josh tells Susan that he is 13 and wished to be great in Zoltar’s machine, she checks his wallet while he sleeps, and discovers a baseball card with gum on it, and his “Zoltar Speaks” card.
  • Such was the success of the film that a musical version of Big, which opened at the Shubert Theater on April 28, 1996, with Daniel Jenkins playing the role of Josh. It ran for 193 performances and was nominated for the 1996 Tony Awards for Best Original Book and Score.

Wink or parody to “Transformers”. Josh (Hanks), with a toy robot disguised as a building.

  • And almost immediately after the film’s premiere, Hit Comics released a comic adaptation, that same 1988.
  • The Zoltar machine was developed exclusively for the film. They were based on similar fortune-telling machines from the early 20th century, most of which contained female gypsy characters.
  • The film was included in the American Film Institute’s 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Films (ranked #42).

Such was the success of the film that there was a musical comedy based on the film, and even a comic.

  • Cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld -later director of men in black– said director Penny Marshall tried to fire him after the first week of production, but studio executives wouldn’t let her.
  • I would like to be big was released six months after when i was older (1987), an Italian film with a very similar plot. It was rumored that it was a remake, directed by Franco Amurri, and starring Renato Pozzetto. But a short time between the two premieres would confirm that it is just a coincidence.

“I Wish I Was Great” was the first film by a female director, Penny Marshall, to pass the $100 million barrier at the box office.

  • There are other scenes that were shot and didn’t make it to theaters. For example, before Josh returns home and tells Carol about the Zoltar machine, he takes advantage of being an adult and takes the money from a red-headed boy, uses it to buy himself food, drinks water from a fountain, and leaves. refuses to let other children do it. They were cut mainly because Josh came off as a selfish big guy.
  • The toy robot disguised as a building that Josh plays with is a parody of the toy franchise. transformers (1984) created by Hasbro, these robots with the ability to transform into vehicles.
  • Inflation is everywhere. Josh’s first paycheck of $187 in 1988 would equal $481 in 2023.

And the entrance price is not the same either…

We want to say thanks to the writer of this short article for this incredible material

I would like to be great, the film with Tom Hanks that almost starred Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford or John Travolta