When Working Girl
came out at Christmastime of 1988, the film really had only two headlining stars: Harrison Ford
and Sigourney Weaver
. The film provided a Star-Making Role
for Melanie Griffith (whose star has since faded somewhat), and lead supporting actor Alec Baldwin was in the process of becoming a minor star over the course of several films. As you will see below, however, the film is a gold mine of Retroactive Recognition
and Hey, It's That Guy!
- Certified Crowning Music Of Awesome: Carly Simon won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy for "Let the River Run". At the time it was the only song ever to win all three awards. As of 2011, the only other song to achieve this was "Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen.
- The Actor Swap Is Coming...: Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin are the two male leads in this film. Less than three and a half years after Working Girl, both actors had played CIA analyst Jack Ryan in separate adaptations of Tom Clancy novels.
- Actor Allusion: Katharine (Sigourney Weaver) steps off the helicopter carrying a giant stuffed gorilla. Earlier in 1988, Weaver starred in Gorillas in the Mist.
- AFIS 100 Years Series:
- All-Star Cast: By means of Retroactive Recognition. Only Ford and Weaver were big stars at the time, but the film is a gold mine of Retroactive Recognition and Hey, It's That Guy! goodness. Plus, a number of the supporting actors and minor players are still quite active and recognizable today.
- Dawson Casting: A very borderline example of this trope. When Tess and Katharine first meet, Tess has just celebrated her 30th birthday a few days earlier, while Katharine is turning 30 the following week. Melanie Griffith was actually 30 at the time of filming, but Sigourney Weaver was 38. However, the fact that Weaver's character seems much older than she is in comparison to Tess is intentional. Or Katherine could have been lying about her age.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Several!
- FBI Director Larry Moss, from Season 7 of 24, in which he was Renee Walker's boss, is also a guest at Tess's birthday party.
- Jim, the junior executive who comes on to Katharine at her office party, is Edward Norton's boss in Fight Club.
- Tess's secretary near the end of the movie has shown up in a lot of recurring roles on television, including, but by no means limited to, Picket Fences, Judging Amy, Freaks and Geeks, Felicity, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Crossing Jordan, Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI, ER, Prison Break, Monk, Brothers and Sisters, Big Love, and Harry's Law. Let's not even get started on the number of one-off roles she's done. At the time of Working Girl, her only other credits were Moonstruck and the short-lived NBC sitcom Easy Street with Loni Anderson.
- Doreen is Joe Pesci's girlfriend at the Copa in Goodfellas. She's the one who almost gives Pesci a heart attack when she talks about how a girl could find a talented black singer like Sammy Davis Jr. attractive.
- Oren Trask is Hollis Nye from Damages and Judge Joseph P. Terhune from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
- Bitsy, the heavyset bridesmaid with whom Harrison Ford dances in order to let Tess talk to Oren Trask, is Kathy Geiss from 30 Rock and Mayor Sue Hallinan on The Onion News Network.
- Retroactive Recognition: several actors who have since gone on to bigger and better things stand out in the cast list:
- Alec Baldwin: 1988 was a big year for Alec Baldwin. He entered the year with Hey, It's That Guy! status, and then along came the John Hughes flick Shes Having A Baby, followed by Beetlejuice, Married to the Mob, and Working Girl. A little more than a year later he would break out into stardom as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October.
- David Duchovny: Working Girl was his first ever film credit. Look for him in the back of the closet in the upper left at Tess's surprise birthday party. See him again in the credits billed as one of four "Tess's Birthday Party Friends".
- Oliver Platt: Tess's coworker Lutz from early in the movie, in only his 3rd ever movie credit.
- Kevin Spacey: Coke-snorting Bob Speck from Arbitrage. Spacey was a last-minute replacement to play the role, being picked up in the limo with a copy of the script on the back seat for him to learn on the way to the shoot. He had a recurring role on the 1980s crime drama Wiseguy at the time, but mostly was doing bit parts in movies and one-off roles on other TV shows.
- Joan Cusack as Tess's friend Cyn. Cusack was coming off the heels of her only season of Saturday Night Live (during a season that nearly got the show canceled due to low ratings and bad reviews), as well as appearing in a few bit parts in other movies. She has worked steadily ever since in television and movies, including Toy Story 2 and 3, in which she provides the voice of Jessie the Cowgirl.
- Nora Dunn as Ginny. This was the first movie Dunn ever appeared in. She was best known at the time for being a current regular on Saturday Night Live (and also being in the same cast as Joan Cusack, though, unlike Cusack, Dunn was popular and funny enough to stay on the show when it was being revamped for its 12th season). Dunn was on SNL from 1985-1990, where she was fired for refusing to appear in an episode hosted by misogynistic shock comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay. From then on, she's been in minor TV and film roles (for those who watch 1990s cartoons, you might know her as the voice of Histeria's meddlesome network censor, Lydia Karaoke).
- Olympia Dukakis as the Personnel Director for Petty Marsh, who ends up placing Tess with Katharine Walker. Dukakis was most famous at the time for winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress playing Cher's mother in Moonstruck the previous year, and for being the cousin of 1988 Democratic Presidential Nominee Michael Dukakis. She went on to play roles in Steel Magnolias, the Look Who's Talking movies, and Mr. Holland's Opus.
- A 19-year-old Ricki Lake as a bridesmaid at the Trask wedding. She's only on screen long enough to point out fellow bridesmaid "Bitsy" to Harrison Ford. Earlier in 1988 she played the lead role in John Waters' Hairspray, and went on to a long and steady career in television, including a eleven-year run as a talk show host.
- Star-Making Role: For Melanie Griffith.
- What Could Have Been:
- Meryl Streep, Robin Duke, Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Catherine O'Hara, Kathleen Turner, Cher, Goldie Hawn, Whoopi Goldberg, Debra Winger, and Shelley Long were considered for the role of Katherine.
- Michelle Pfeiffer, Brooke Shields, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher and Lorraine Bracco were considered for the role of Tess.