Romancing the Stone is a classic 80s adventure film, but is now often forgotten, even though at the time it was extremely popular. The film had a fantastic cast, an enjoyable story and was simply fun to watch, so let’s take a look back at Romancing the Stone with some hidden gems from the treasure-hunting caper that sought to rival Indiana Jones – and pretty much succeeded!
10. The actors had no idea the dance scene was being filmed
If you ever thought that the dance scene in Romancing the Stone looked incredibly natural (especially compared to the stilted routines of other Hollywood films), that’s because it is.
Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and the extras were unaware that the cameras had started rolling, and were simply enjoying themselves in what they thought was a rehearsal.
9. The screenwriter was killed after the movie was released
Romancing the Stone is the only produced film of screenwriter Diane Thomas. She was working as a waitress in Malibu when Michael Douglas optioned her script for $250,000, allowing her to quit her job and pursue a career in showbusiness. So impressed was Douglas with her work that he gifted her a Porsche and helped Thomas line up a project with the legendary Steven Spielberg.
Tragically, Thomas was killed in a car crash less than a year after the debut of Romancing the Stone – whilst a passenger in the very Porsche bought for her by Douglas.
8. Zemeckis was fired from Cocoon before the Romancing the Stone shoot had even finished
Originally, it was planned for Robert Zemeckis to begin work on 1985’s Cocoon soon after Romancing the Stone had finished filming. However, the studio execs on Romancing the Stone were so convinced that Zemeckis had created a massive flop for them that they fired him from Cocoon before production had even started.
Cocoon would ultimately be directed by Hollywood stalwart Ron Howard and turn a considerable box office profit: $85.3 million from a budget of only $17.5 million.
7. It was the main reason Zemeckis was allowed to make Back to the Future
Despite the misgivings of the studio, Romancing the Stone became a phenomenal box office success, earning $115.1 million from a relatively modest budget of $10 million. As a result, Zemeckis was given carte blanche to pursue his own project next.
The film Zemeckis wanted to make was his long-standing passion project Back to the Future. The director made that next, the film hit screens in 1985 – and the rest is history.
6. Colombia was deemed too dangerous for the location shoots
The location shoots for Romancing the Stone were supposed to be done in Colombia, where the bulk of the film is set. However, reports of kidnappings in the area forced them to relocate the shoots to Mexico.
In the Colombian 80s, infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar was at the height of his power, making Mexico safer by comparison – even though the country had one of the highest murder rates in the world at the time.
5. Debra Winger was rejected after she bit Michael Douglas
Long before Kathleen Turner was cast, Michael Douglas had a different fiery actor in mind: Debra Winger, then at the height of her fame following 1982 blockbuster An Officer and a Gentleman.
According to Douglas, however, a dinner at which he was to offer her the role went disastrously wrong. How disastrous? Well, Douglas claims she bit him. Needless to say, his offer was swiftly revoked.
4. Kathleen Turner and Zemeckis feuded over working conditions
Kathleen Turner and Robert Zemeckis had several clashes on the film as she felt Zemeckis was more interested in camera angles and effects than the wellbeing of his actors in the often harsh jungle terrain.
Still, Turner would reprise her role for the action-packed (if poorly received) sequel Jewel of the Nile, and worked again with Zemeckis on Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
3. Alan Silvestri was only meant to provide a temporary score
When Robert Zemeckis needed a temporary score to the film, he brought in Alan Silvestri, but Zemeckis was so happy with his work he used him as the composer for the final score of the film.
Silvestri would become a mainstay of Zemeckis’ work, most memorably composing the iconic score for the Back to the Future trilogy.
2. Michael Douglas was not the first choice for Jack
We can’t think of anyone else playing Jack T. Colton, but the part was first offered to Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and even Superman actor Christopher Reeve.
Sylvester Stallone also came close to playing the role, but turned it down in favour of the critically derided flop Rhinestone – a decision Stallone has called one of his biggest regrets.
1. Ralph was meant to be played by Bob Hoskins
The role of Ralph, which again we can’t see being portrayed by anyone but the wonderful Danny DeVito. However, the part was actually first offered to Bob Hoskins, who turned it down.
The swarthy Hoskins would, however, take the lead role (or the lead human role, at least) in Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit.