25 Surprising Facts About Big!

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Who doesn’t love this 1988 classic Tom Hanks film? A wish ‘to be big’ turns twelve year old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) into a thirty year old man, played by Tom Hanks.


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Josh heads to New York, with regular visits from his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton). Josh ends up getting a job at MacMillan Toy Company, where he soon attracts the interest of Susan (Elizabeth Perkins).

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You know the rest…but how many of these incredible facts do you know about Big?

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  1. Robert De Niro nearly ended up playing the role of Josh Baskin

Tom Hanks was the first choice to play the role of Josh Baskin, but to begin with he was unavailable due to scheduling with other films Dragnet (1987) and Punchline (1988).

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Robert De Niro was considered for the role, but his demanded salary of $6 million was rejected (the film’s entire budget was $17 million). In the end Tom Hanks did become available and he happily accepted the role for $2 million.]

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2) David Moscow was recast as young Josh because he looked more similar to Tom Hanks

When producers were considering Robert De Niro for the role of older Josh Baskin, David Moscow had already been cast in the role of Josh’s best friend, Billy.

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However, once it became clear that Tom Hanks was definitely on board, David was recast in the role of younger Josh since the producers believed he looked more like Tom Hanks.

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Another of director Penny Marshall’s top choices for the Josh role was John Travolta, who wanted the part too, but at the time he was considered to be ‘box office poison’ so he was turned down.

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I’m sure he wasn’t bothered.

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3) Penny Marshall was the first female director to make $100 million at the box office

New York born actress, director and producer Penny Marshall was the woman in charge of directing Big. She made her directorial debut in 1986 with the film Jumpin’ Jack Flash starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Her second film Big was a huge success at the box office, and it ended up being the first feature film directed by a woman to gross over $100 million.

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Penny later went on to work with Tom Hanks again in 1992, when she was the producer on the sports comedy-drama A League Of Their Own.

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4) Tom Hanks and Jared Rushton had some fun bonding time together

As they were playing onscreen best friends, the producers decided that Tom Hanks and Jared Rushton needed to have some quality bonding time together.

This would help them to look natural and at ease in each other’s company.

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They ended up being put in a room together with a pile of toys and had hours of fun playing with them. The toys included the silly string, which was so hysterical to play with that it was used in the film.

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Another interesting fact is that Jared, who was a natural blonde, had his hair dyed red for the Billy role.

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5) David Moscow and Tom Hanks prepared for the same role together

For David Moscow and Tom Hanks’ preparation for playing the same character, they both met up and studied video tapes of each other to see how they behaved and spoke.

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Tom suggested that David should just play himself, so his persona would naturally be that of a twelve year old boy.

In order to match each other’s physical appearance more closely, David wore contact lenses for the part to match Tom Hank’s eye colour.

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I hate anything being near my eyes so I couldn’t wear contact lenses.

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6) Debra Winger was first choice to play Susan

Debra Winger, who starred in the 80s classic Terms of Endearment (1983) was initially considered for the Susan role, but at the time she was pregnant, so she personally recommended Elizabeth Perkins for the part.

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New York born Elizabeth read for the part and was soon cast in the role. Elizabeth has a long list of film credits to her name, including appearing in The Flintstones as Wilma, and the remake of Miracle On 34th Street.

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7) The amusement park is actually a real location!

Towards the end of the film when Josh is searching for the amusement arcade and finds ‘Zoltar’ again, he is actually standing in a real-life park called Playland Amusement Park.

What a great name for an amusement park!

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Playland Amusement Park, is in Rye, Westchester County, New York and has been operating since 1928.

It’s a tourist destination, and has now become very popular amongst film buffs who want to see where the fictional Zoltar game stood.

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8) Jared Rushton was a popular child actor in the 80s

Think Jared Rushton looks familiar in the film? That’s because he starred in some of the top films of the late 1980s. He played one of Kirk Russell’s sons in the hilarious film Overboard in 1987, which starred Goldie Hawn.

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In 1989 Jared was also in the superb box office hit, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.

Jared is now forty four years old and has left acting to concentrate on his music career.

He plays guitar in the rock band Deal By Dusk.

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9) There’s a glaring error surrounding Josh’s real birthday

When Josh wakes up as a thirty year old man and tries to convince his poor Mum that it’s really him, he says that his birthday is on November 3rd.

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But later on in the film we see on the missing ad on the milk carton that Josh’s birthday is on January 1st. Error alert!

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10) Robert Loggia and Tom Hanks were determined to get their dance moves right!

According to Robert Loggia, he and Tom Hanks arrived on set the day that they were due to film the famous piano scene and noticed that there were doubles dressed the same as them on hand.

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This was just in case they couldn’t do the dances moves correctly.

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Hanks and Loggia used this as added motivation and were determined to get it all correct so that they wouldn’t have to use the doubles. They managed to do it perfectly and the iconic scene was born!

11) The ‘Walking Piano’ was specially-made for the film

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The ‘Walking Piano’ was first spotted by filmmakers at the FAO Schwarz toy store. However, at only 6.5 feet long and with one octave to run up and down, it was far too small for Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia to play ‘Heart and Soul’.

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Director Penny Marshall contacted the creator of the ‘Walking Piano’, Remo Saraceni, and said she needed one large enough to accommodate two grown men simultaneously.

The obliging toymaker Saraceni made a sixteen-foot long, full three-octave piano wide enough for the famous scene!

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12) The film nearly didn’t get made at all

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Initially, when Marshall got the script, nobody in Tinseltown was remotely interested in making the film.

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It was only when acting legend Robert De Niro announced he wanted the lead part of Josh that the script began to receive attention from producers and studio executives.

A star like Robert De Niro should do the trick.

13) Tom Hanks is secretly a rapper at heart

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The Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop rap was Tom Hanks’s idea.

He stated in an interview with Jonathan Ross that the rap was something his son had learned at Summer Camp, so Hanks added the rap into the film and made up some lyrics to go along with it.

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14) Cavern of the Evil Wizard isn’t a real computer game

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The young Josh famously plays the 80s-era PC game ‘Cavern of the Evil Wizard’ in the film. However, it’s not actually a real game and was specially-created for Big (just like the walking piano!).

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15) Big does contain some bad language

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In the 80s, thanks to the surprising amount of violence in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the PG-13 rating was created.

However, this still didn’t stop PG kids films from including some swearing.

Alongside Caddyshack II (1988) and Beetlejuice (1988), Big is notable for containing the ‘F’ word in a film rated PG during the PG-13 era.

We don’t think it “F***ing” matters.

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16) Does Tom Hanks like caviar or not?

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In the office party scene, Josh tries his first taste of caviar, and ends up absolutely hating it!

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He spits it out and wipes his tongue with a napkin. In You’ve Got Mail (1998), Tom Hanks responds ironically to Meg Ryan’s comment that ‘caviar is a garnish!’ by scooping up all the remaining caviar and shovelling it in his mouth!

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17) The ‘toy company’ offices actually housed an advertising agency

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The offices of the fictional MacMillan Toys Company were actually located on 23rd Street in the Chelsea district of New York City, and were home to an actual advertising agency.

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Whilst filming did cause some disruption for the company, the location fee of $25,000 was kindly donated to the American Craft Museum.

18) There were rumours of an alternate ending

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There were rumours that an alternate ending was filmed, in which Susan used the Zoltar machine to make herself into a little girl again.

She is then seen sitting in Josh’s class. However, no alternate ending has actually been filmed. This is in fact the exact ending of 14 Going on 30 (1988) , a movie with a very similar plot to Big which was released about the same time.

That might help to explain how this particular rumour started.

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19) Robert Loggia’s character has a real-life counterpart

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Robert Loggia’s character is based on then FAO Schwarz CEO Peter Harris. Harris was known for his youthful and goofy nature, which Loggia reflected in his own portrayal of the toymaker CEO.

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20) Susan’s costumes reflected her transition from business woman to carefree child-like lady

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The wardrobe department took special care to ensure that Susan realistically transitions from uptight businesswoman to a sweet and girl-like lady by the end of the film.

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Her hair goes from pinned up to loose with schoolgirl head bands, whilst her clothes move from tailored suits to separates and skirts.

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The film leaves us with the clear impression that – thanks to her relationship with Tom Hanks – she has found her inner child.

We don’t think ours has left us.

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21) Harrison Ford was going to star with Steven Spielberg directing

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Steven’s sister Anne Spielberg (pictured above) co-wrote the script with Gary Ross. Both of them had Ford in mind for the leading role and assumed that Steven would direct.

Both men ended up dropping out, so producer James L. Brooks presented the script to Penny Marshall.

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22) It was the fifth age-change comedy to come out within one year

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On October 2, 1987, the trend for age-changing started with Like Father Like Son, the movie that swapped Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron’s personalities.

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On December 23 in Italy, Da grande told the story of a nine-year-old boy having his wish to become an adult overnight come true (so that he could romance his teacher…hmmmm).

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On March 11, 1988, Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage had their minds switched in Vice Versa, which was followed only three weeks later by 81-year-old George Burns having his age reversed after a car crash in 18 Again! Marshall didn’t know when she took the directing assignment that Big was not going to be an original idea on its June 3, 1988 release.

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A veteran producer later said it was all a big coincidence!

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23) Hanks and Perkins had doubts about the film’s success

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Because of all the similar movies that were beating them to the punch while they were shooting the movie, Perkins said that she and Hanks “looked at each other at one point like, ugh—this is going straight to video.”

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24) David Moscow had the time of his life on set

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Child actor David Moscow got to stay up all night for the first time in his life when they shot the carnival scenes. He got to ride all of the rides and ended up eating a lot of cotton candy – sugar rush alert!

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After shooting, Moscow and Jared Rushton became firm friends, a fact which surprised many L.A. onlookers who saw the two Big child stars hanging out together in real life.

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25) Jon Lovitz got sick during filming

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Jon Lovitz played Josh’s co-worker Scotty Brennen, but unfortunately came down with a bad flu during production.

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After a week of illness, Lovitz considered calling the director to say that he was OK to return to filming before deciding that the film wasn’t going to be a success. After Big became a huge hit, he stated that he felt like a complete idiot!

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