20 Things You Might Not Have Realised About Ghost
Despite the fact that it will always be remembered as ‘the movie with the sexy pottery scene’, Ghost is actually really, really good. Released in 1990 and directed by Jerry Zucker, it tells the story of a murdered man (played by the late Patrick Swayze) revisiting his lover (Demi Moore) as a ghost, as well as the Psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) who goes out of her way to assist them.
Below are 20 things you might not have realised about this brilliant movie!
20. Bruce Willis turned the film down
Bruce Willis (Demi Moore’s husband at the time) was offered the role of Sam Wheat, but he wasn’t convinced that the film would work. And so he decided to turn down the chance to feature in the movie – a decision he ultimately came to regret. Apparently Willis didn’t want to play a character that was dead for the majority of a film!
Willis has since admitted that he was crazy for turning down the chance to star in the film, which went on to receive five Oscar nominations. And in addition to that (spoiler alert!) he of course played a ghost eight years later in The Sixth Sense. The Sixth Sense went on to scoop six Academy Award nominations – which hopefully made Willis feel a little better about turning down a role in Ghost.
19. Demi Moore could choose which eye to cry from on demand
When auditioning, Demi Moore impressed everyone with her truly amazing ability to make herself cry. Crying on demand is undoubtedly a good trick to have up your sleeve as an actress! Believe it or not, Moore’s special talent extended beyond simply crying on the spot. After learning this, you’ll never consider actors talentless again… or maybe you’ll think they’re freaky.
Moore was also able choose which eye to produce the tears from. This impressive skill was ultimately part of the reason why producers were keen to cast Moore as Molly. Kim Basinger, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Molly Ringwald were all considered for the role, but could they make their eyes wet at a moment’s notice? We doubt it.
18. Swayze had to prove he could cry to get the part
Although Patrick Swayze’s performance helped make Ghost an incredible movie, producers initially weren’t sold on him. This was because despite the fact he had already starred in the incredibly successful Dirty Dancing, he was still seen by some as being an action star rather than a romantic lead. However, this all changed when producers saw Swayze crying during an interview whilst talking about his dad who had recently died.
“For Patrick’s part, the studio only wanted to make it with one of 10 box office actors. The 10th choice was Patrick,” casting director Janet Hirshenson told Metro in 2020. “[Director] Jerry Zucker didn’t want to cast him because he’d just seen Roadhouse, and didn’t think he was right.” A plan was devised to get Swayze in for an audition anyway and he was ultimately cast on the spot.
17. Moore got a ‘boy’s haircut’ without checking with producers first
Whilst we’d never claim that Demi Moore was anything other than absolutely gorgeous in her role as Molly Jensen, there’s not doubt that her hair was slightly out of the ordinary. Moore’s haircut actually became known as a ‘boy cut’, and it was designed by Manhattan hairstylist John Sahag. Apparently, she auditioned with long hair and had it cut short before shooting commenced without checking it was OK first.
She didn’t even let director Jerry Zucker know that she was going to crop her hair so short. When Zucker found out about Moore’s hair, he was shocked and initially didn’t like the look, but he eventually came round and went on to realise that the look suited Molly’s character perfectly. After all, she isn’t a damsel in distress, but a capable, modern woman.
16. The dark shadows were voiced by crying babies
Do you remember the scary ‘dark shadows’ in the film that would drag ghosts away into the netherworld? We’re certain you remember the horrible noises they used to make, which sounded like people moaning in pain. The sounds made by the ‘dark shadows’ were actually created using recordings of babies crying, played at extremely slow speed and backwards.
This clever production trick certainly managed to make the dark shadows seem extra creepy and menacing. One memorable scene sees the dark shadows drag Willie down to hell once he is killed after being hit by a car. Later in the film, the dark shadows return for Carl’s spirit after he dies following an altercation with Sam.
15. Many believe we should have seen Moore kissing Goldberg
Ghost contains a moving scene where Sam’s ghost overtakes Oda Mae’s body in order to caress Molly. Many fans of the film thought that we should have seen Whoopi Goldberg – rather than Patrick Swayze – kissing Demi Moore in the scene. Even film critic Roger Ebert was one of those who believed the scene would have made more sense if the two actresses kissed.
He wrote: “in strict logic, this [scene] should involve us seeing Goldberg kissing Moore, but of course the movie compromises and shows us Swayze holding her. Too bad, because the logical version would actually have been more spiritual and moving,” he continued. Ebert wasn’t a huge fan of the film as a whole either and criticised the inclusion of the ‘dark shadows’, calling them “ridiculous.”
14. Some cinemas in Mexico provided tissues
The film’s ending is so emotional that it’s no surprise many viewers are moved to tears by it. Some cinemas in Mexico even handed out envelopes full of tissues while the movie was showing, in anticipation of audience tears at the film’s end. These envelopes reportedly had ‘solo para mujeres’ (which translates as ‘for women only’) written on them.
To us that seems rather sexist, as we bet there were also plenty of men shedding tears during the ending of this movie! In case you need reminding: the ending sees Molly and Sam share a final kiss after Oda Mae allows Sam to possess her body. The pair then say goodbye and Sam’s spirit is free to go up to heaven. It’s a real tear-jerker!
13. It was the highest-grossing film of 1990
Not only did it receive positive reviews from critics, but Ghost was also a massive box office success. The film made over $500 million – a staggering figure – whilst only having a budget of $22 million. This meant that it was the highest-grossing film of 1990, with Box Office Mojo estimating that the film sold over 51 million tickets in the US alone.
At the time it became the highest-grossing film of all-time in the UK, breaking the record previously set by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It was not only popular in the western world – at the time the film was also the highest-grossing film in Indonesia, with a gross of $3.6 million. Even when adjusted for inflation, it is still the 93rd highest-grossing film of all time in the US.
12. It won two Oscars
Ghost was nominated for five Awards at the Oscars back in 1991 – a hugely impressive feat. It received nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score. Oscar nominations are impressive enough, but Ghost managed to go above and beyond and bag two wins on the night.
It picked up the awards for Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg) and Best Original Screenplay. Ghost also won a vast array of other acclaimed awards, including a British Film Award and a Golden Globe Award. Notably, Goldberg picked up eight different awards for her performance as psychic Oda Mae Brown which – other than her lead turn in Sister Act – has become possibly her most recognisable role.
11. The pottery scene is one of the most parodied in cinema history
Ghost contains one of the most parodied scenes of all time – and it doesn’t take a genius to work out which scene it is. Of course, the scene in question is the one involving Moore, Swayze, a pottery wheel and a certain song by the Righteous Brothers. Famous examples of this scene being remade for comic effect are seen in Naked Gun 2½ and Two and a Half Men.
It’s also been parodied in animated films and TV shows like Family Guy, The Penguins of Madagascar, Futurama and Wallace and Gromit. It’s no surprise that the scene has been recreated so much, as it’s arguably one of the most iconic cinematic moments from the 1990s. The scene was even voted as the most romantic film moment of all time in a survey conducted by Blockbuster Video.
10. There have been multiple remakes around the world
The film has become such a classic that it was remade in a number of different countries. These remakes included Ghost: In Your Arms Again in Japan, a gender-swapped version in which the ghost is a woman rather than a man. The 2010 remake starred actors Nanako Matsushima, Song Seung-heon, and Kirin Kiki, and was directed by Taro Otani.
The reception to the film was somewhat average. It brought in $9,833,553 at the box office and currently holds a rating of 5.7/10 on IMDb. A Bollywood remake of Ghost directed by Vinod K. Verma was also released 1991, just one year after the original. It was called Pyaar Ka Saaya, which translates as ‘The Shadow of Love’, and it starred Rahul Roy and Sheeba Akashdeep.
9. There’s now a Ghost stage show
Ghost the Musical, directed by Tony Award-winning director Matthew Warchus (who would go on to direct the 2014 film Pride), had its world premiere in Manchester in 2011. The cast included Richard Fleeshman as Sam, Caissie Levy as Molly, and Sharon D. Clarke as Oda Mae. The show debuted on Broadway in 2012, although it only ran between April and August.
The first UK Tour of the show then opened in Cardiff back in April 2013, receiving generally positive reviews. The musical then went international and premiered in Berlin in 2017, and in Dubai, Istanbul, and Trieste in 2018. It’s unsurprising that Ghost makes a great show – its powerful music and romantic plot make it well suited for a stage adaptation.
8. Whoopi Goldberg credits her Academy Award to Patrick Swayze
On The View in 2008, Whoopi Goldberg revealed that she came very close to missing out on the role of Oda Mae. According to Goldberg, that she only got the role of Oda Mae Brown because Swayze fought tooth and nail for her. Apparently the producers weren’t overly keen on casting her but Swayze told them he wasn’t doing the film without her.
Swayze was adamant that Goldberg was right for the part, even though he hadn’t even met her at that point. Goldberg later went on to scoop an Academy Award for her performance in the film and credits Swayze with her win. “I won an Oscar because of Patrick Swayze,” Goldberg said. She thanked Swayze in her acceptance speech too, calling him “a stand-up guy.”
7. Tony Goldwyn’s wife helped him get the role of Carl
Tony Goldwyn has featured in a variety of movies and TV shows, including ABC’s Scandal and Disney’s Tarzan. But Goldwyn wasn’t always a successful actor. Before starring in Ghost, he struggled to land any big roles. Goldwyn’s breakthrough role was undoubtedly as Carl in Ghost: and he has his wife to credit for this. “I fought my way into an audition on Ghost,” Goldwyn told The AV Club back in 2014.
“My wife was the production designer on that movie. At that time, she was much more successful than me and was doing all these big movies. And she kept saying, ‘They haven’t cast that part! You should bug your agents!’ And I kept harassing my agent, who would never return my phone calls, and I managed to get an audition. And, by a fluke, they stumbled on my audition tape and said, ‘That guy was really good.’”
6. The film helped get Unchained Melody back in the charts
When The Righteous Brothers covered Unchained Melody back in 1965, it reached number four on the Billboard charts. After Ghost was released, The Righteous Brothers decided to re-record the song. “After the song went into Ghost, it started to get so much airplay because of the movie,” Bill Medley told Songfacts. “We went back in and re-recorded it, because the record label said they weren’t going to release it.”
The 1990 version went on to hit number one on the Billboard US Adult Contemporary chart. “So I didn’t know what it was going to do to the song, but, boy, when it came out in that movie, that song became a monster,” Medley said. “I mean, a monster. I didn’t see that coming, that’s for sure.” The re-recorded version was certified Platinum on January 10, 1991.
5. Demi Moore called the script “a recipe for disaster”
Ghost has since gone down in history as one of the most moving and romantic films of all time. But Demi Moore wasn’t so convinced that the movie would be a hit when she read the script for the first time. Speaking at a 2013 American Film Institute event, Moore revealed that while she fell in love with the script, she wasn’t sure if audiences would feel the same.
“It’s a love story, and it’s a guy – a dead guy – trying to save his wife, and there is a comedy part, but really, really it’s a love story,” she said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, this is really a recipe for disaster … It’s either going to be something really special, really amazing, or really an absolute bust.’” Thankfully, the film turned out to be “something really special” rather than “an absolute bust.”
4. Strangers were hostile to Tony Goldwyn because of his role as a villain
Goldwyn claimed that years after the release of Ghost, strangers maltreated him in public because of his role as villain Carl. Speaking to the AV Club in 2014, Goldwyn revealed that his performance of Carl prompted random members of the public to adopt a hostile attitude towards him. “I was doing a play in New York, and I went in to get a bite to eat in a restaurant in Greenwich Village,” he said, recalling one occasion where he was maltreated. “The waitress would not seat me. She was incredibly rude to me—she wouldn’t give me a menu, she wouldn’t take my order.” He continued: “And I finally said, “Look, I’m on a break. I have to go.” She finally took my order, but I’m like, “Why is this woman being [unbearably horrible] to me?” She was just staring at me evilly!”
“Then as I was eating, she came over to me and said, “Excuse me, are you an actor?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “Oh, my God, you’re in that movie, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “I’m so sorry! I knew I hated you, but I didn’t know where from, and because I couldn’t place who you were.” Hopefully he got his waffle for free!
3. Swayze had to chew ice in one scene
The movie’s opening scene sees Molly and Sam get stopped by muggers in New York. The scene was shot at night, meaning it was pretty cold for the cast and crew. While everyone was allowed to bundle up for the scene, Swayze (who appears as a ghost) was not allowed to wear warm clothing, so as to appear as a supernatural being unphased by the cold weather.
Not only that, but for the scene to be extra ‘realistic’, producers decided that the audience shouldn’t be able to see Swayze’s breath. To stop his warm breath misting in the cold air, Swayze was made to chew on ice cubes in the scene. It’s a small detail that required a lot of effort from Swayze, but this level of detail is ultimately what made the film so special.
2. The film was inspired by Hamlet
Most people know that Sam and Molly go and see a production of Macbeth on the night that Sam is murdered. But did you know that there’s another connection between the work of Shakespeare and Ghost? Apparently, screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin first got the idea for the film while watching a production of Hamlet. Rubin was particularly inspired by the moment where Claudius (Hamlet’s dead father) tells Hamlet to avenge his death.
“One day I was watching a production of Hamlet and I saw the ghost of Hamlet’s father standing on the parapet telling his son to avenge his death,” he said. “That’s when I got the idea of making the story about a ghost trying to solve his own murder.” Notably, a sexy pottery scene is absent from Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.
1. It turned Demi Moore into the highest paid actress of the time
When Ghost was released, Demi Moore had already made a name for herself by starring in films such as St. Elmo’s fire. However, though a talented actress, before Ghost Moore wasn’t really considered as one of Hollywood’s leading stars. But after the raging success of Ghost (it made over $500 million at the box office), everything changed for Moore.
Following Ghost, Moore starred in a string of other hit films, including A Few Good Men in 1992 and Indecent Proposal in 1993. The former made $141 million at the box office, while the latter made $107 million – ballpark figures, to say the least. All of this combined made Moore one of the highest-paid actresses at the time – a hugely impressive feat.