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Trivia / Splash

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  • Ability over Appearance: Tom Hanks and John Candy played brothers in this movie even though they looked nothing alike. The two had such perfect chemistry together that Ron Howard felt that the audience would accept the casting.
  • Baby Name Trend Starter: "Madison" as a first name was virtually unheard-of (and was a guys' name when it made a rare appearance) when this movie came out. That was the joke. Thanks to Splash, it has been in the top ten girls' names for almost two decades. It spent two years in second place, before receding to ninth place in 2012, 2013, and 2014. It finally inched out of the top ten in 2015, making 11th.
  • Big Name Fan: When Scandal actress Kerry Washington was asked on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon if there was any movie or TV show that she was obsessed with, Kerry said that as a kid, she was “completely obsessed with Splash (the movie)”.
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    • In fact, six years after Kerry did the interview, she tweeted about her love of the film in response to Charlize Theron’s tribute to Tom Hanks at the 2020 Golden Globes, in which Charlize Theron (who appeared in Hanks’ film That Thing You Do!) talked about how as a kid in South Africa, she watched Splash so much that she wore out the tape.
  • Breakthrough Hit: The film's $69.8 million gross made it the Disney studios' first real live-action hit since The Love Bug in 1968, and established Touchstone Pictures as the go-to brand for live-action Disney movies in the 1980s and through the 1990s.
    • The film was this for director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer. Although their previous film, Night Shift, was a modest hit, the huge commercial success of Splash very much solidified their partnership, and provided them the clout they needed to form their own production company Imagine Entertainment two years later.
  • The Cast Show Off: The mermaid tail Daryl Hannah wore was fully functional. The showoff part is that, ironically enough, Hannah had learned to swim mermaid style (legs together) since childhood due to her fascination with the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid. As a result, she swam so fast with the tail that the safety divers couldn't keep up with her.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Inverted. Tom Hanks originally auditioned for the role of Allen’s brother Freddie note , but director Ron Howard felt that Hanks would be more suitable for the male lead, so Hanks got cast as Allen instead.
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    • Then again in the film’s “making-of” documentary, Ron Howard said that had Michael Keaton and John Travolta not turned down the film, Hanks would have played the brother instead.
  • Creator Backlash: Zig-zagged with original Splash screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman who stated in his memoir, Lucky Bruce, that even though he liked the final product, he felt that it “cheapened” his original love story. Friedman also stated in his memoir that he made the mistake of becoming too personally attached to his Splash screenplay because sometimes in Hollywood, scripts can undergo rewrites whether or not you agree to them.
    ”I saw the movie. There was much to like in it. The cast was fresh, it had a handsome look to it - but I’d made the mistake of becoming personally attached to my screenplay. It began, after all, as my love story. I felt it had been cheapened. Still, there was no arguing with the result: a Writer’s Guild Award for Best Movie. A nomination for the Academy Award. Huge commercial success. I made some money. Little girls kept telling me how much they loved it. When I mentioned my disappointment to John Eskow, a very good screenwriter, he said: ‘Hey, it’s a living’.”
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  • Deleted Role: Stuntwoman Marilyn Moe Stader (who would go on to appear in The Goonies) played the sea-hag (or “Merwoman” as she’s written in the original screenplay) who explained to Madison the “rules” such as having only 6 days on land and coming back to sea before the moon is full (otherwise Madison would face banishment just like the sea hag).
  • Dueling Movies: Averted. Part of the reason Splash was stuck in Development Hell for many years was that nearly every major Hollywood studio rejected Grazer's pitch in order to avoid competition with another film project from Columbia Pictures titled Mermaid which also had the story of a man falling in love with a mermaid. Unlike Splash, many big names were attached to the project: Herbert Ross was going to direct the film; Ray Stark was going to produce it; Robert Towne (of Chinatown fame) was going to write the screenplay; Jessica Lange was going to play the titular mermaid; and Warren Beatty was going to play the male lead.
  • Executive Meddling: According to Brian Grazer in a 2015 interview, the board of directors at Disney objected to the mermaid appearing topless in the film, so they said to Grazer that the mermaid should wear a “bathing suit top”. Brian refused to have the mermaid wear a bathing suit top, so he made a compromise with the Board members that he would instead have Daryl Hannah’s nipples covered by either a wig, pasties, or a body stocking. Then-Disney chairman Card Walker accepted Grazer’s suggestion by saying to him, “As long as we don’t see her nipples, you’re ok.”note 
    • Ironically, Daryl Hannah herself did not want to appear naked in the film. See Wag the Director for more details.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: After attending a wedding, Allen then goes outside and looks sadly at a couple kissing each other inside a hansom cab [1].

    • It was a part of a much larger scene in an earlier draft where after the wedding, Allen leaves the bar and we then get a montage of him feeling sad and envious over all the happy couples he notices down the street and later at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. The scene was cut from the final film, and it instead had Allen at the bar getting drunk and doing a tearful monologue about he wants to meet a woman, get married, and have kids.
  • Saved from Development Hell: According to Brian Grazer, it took seven years for Splash to get made. Grazer first came up with the concept back in 1977, and it took him 6 years to finally find a studio that would greenlight his film - Disney, of all places!
    • According to Steven Bach's 1985 book Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven's Gate, producer Brian Grazer had originally pitched the film to United Artists. The book described it as "so sweetly silly it was irresistible." It was one of many projects that was taken to another studio following the massive failure of Heaven's Gate.
  • Star-Making Role:
    • Daryl Hannah
    • Tom Hanks. He was not unknown, but this was the first sign that he could not only make the transition from television, but outright headline a movie.
  • Wag the Director: Daryl Hannah did a fair amount of tail-wagging on the set of Splash.
    • For starters, director Ron Howard originally wanted to hire a Stunt Double to do Daryl Hannah’s underwater scenes, so he asked Daryl Hannah to go to a pool in downtown Los Angeles, so she could watch the stunt doubles swim with the tail on, as well as make sure that her body type matched with the stunt double. However, Daryl Hannah did not approve of the stunt doubles and told Ron Howard that she could do the underwater stunts herself, since as a kid she had frequently practiced the “mermaid swim” (that is, she tied her feet together in the pool). Ron Howard relented, and after watching Daryl Hannah swim in the pool with the tail on, he was so amazed by her ability to hold her breath longer and swim faster than the stunt doubles that he decided to let Daryl Hannah do her own swimming in the film.
    • According to Ron Howard, the film originally had a lot more nudity, but Daryl Hannah refused to do nude scenes note , so he decided to tone down a lot of the nudity by having Daryl only appear nude during her encounter with Tom Hanks at the beach, AND the “Statue of Liberty” scene. Because Daryl Hannah was shy about showing off her nude body, she wore pasties, a body stocking, and a wig (that would be glued onto her breasts and butt).
    • Daryl also refused to do the “lobster scene” due to being a strict vegetarian, so Ron Howard took the lobster meat out of its shell, and instead stuffed it with leeks, potatoes, and hearts of palm.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The scene where a TV show makes Madison upset and Allen explains the TV show is fictional and didn't really happen was originally going to be part of a Brick Joke where Madison later watches a real life plane crash on the news and laughs.
    • Bruce Jay Friedman's original script had the film mostly take place underwater, in which the audience would get to see Madison and the merpeople who live there. However, Ron Howard suggested that it would be easier (for logistical reasons) to have the story take place on land rather than under the sea, so Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel were hired to do rewrites, with the focus now being more on Allen and his relationship with his "mermaid girlfriend" Madison.
    • According to Bruce Jay Friedman’s memoir Lucky Bruce, the original screenplay of Splash had a decidedly Jewish tone: the human protagonist was a Jewish man named Adam who owned a smoked fish business, and the Poseidon character was modeled after famed Jewish entertainer Zero Mostel. However, the screenplay was rejected by United Artists for being “too Jewish”, so Adam became Allen, and his business went from selling smoked fish to selling produce instead. In fact, Friedman explicitly recalled one comment that he got from a UA executive telling him that “Poseidon comes off as being too Jewish. Think John Gielgud.”
    • The original ending didn't have Allen jumping in the water to be with Madison. In the DVD Commentary, Ron Howard said the ending was changed at the suggestion of his wife, Brian Grazer's wife, and the wives of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (in fact, Babaloo's wife went as far as saying to Babaloo, "If he doesn't go, you go!").
    • The "sea hag" sequence in which Madison would learn about the "rules" was filmed (brief footage of it can be seen in the film’s “making of" documentary on the DVD), but it was cut due to test audiences finding it "too foreboding and low-key", as well as being too difficult to film, since it’s underwater and a lot of acting is involved.
    • Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dudley Moore, Bill Murray, Christopher Reeve, Burt Reynolds, John Travoltanote  and Robin Williams were all candidates for Allen Bauer.
    • Rosanna Arquette, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Melanie Griffith, Jodie Fosternote , Diane Lane, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tanya Roberts, Brooke Shieldsnote , Sharon Stone, and Kathleen Turner were all candidates for Madison.
    • Tim Allen and Michael Keaton were considered for Freddie Bauer.
    • In a twist of irony, despite Roger Ebert’s complaint that John Candy should have played the male lead instead of Tom Hanks, John Candy himself actually wanted to play Walter Kornbluth, but director Ron Howard felt that Candy would be better suited as Freddie , so John recommended his SCTV co-star Eugene Levy for the role of Walter Kornbluth instead, to which Ron Howard then accepted the suggestion.

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