10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘BIG’

Released in 1988, ‘BIG’ is a beloved comedy film that has captured the hearts of audiences for decades. Directed by Penny Marshall and starring Tom Hanks, this iconic movie tells the story of a young boy named Josh Baskin who magically transforms into an adult overnight. While most fans may already be familiar with the basic plot of ‘BIG,’ there are several fascinating tidbits about the film that often go unnoticed. So, let’s dive into the world of ‘BIG’ and discover 10 things you didn’t know about this timeless classic.

1. The Role of Josh Baskin Was Initially Offered to Robert De Niro

You might be surprised to learn that the role of Josh Baskin, which launched Tom Hanks’ career into superstardom, was originally offered to renowned actor Robert De Niro. De Niro turned down the role, believing that he wouldn’t be a good fit for the comedic elements required for the character. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Tom Hanks portraying the innocent and endearing Josh Baskin.

This pivotal decision by De Niro ultimately paved the way for Hanks to solidify his position as one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors. In fact, ‘BIG’ marked Hanks’ first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, firmly establishing him as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

2. The Famous Piano Scene Was Almost Cut from the Film

One of the most memorable and enchanting scenes in ‘BIG’ is when Josh Baskin and his love interest, Susan Lawrence, play a duet on a giant piano with their feet. Surprisingly, this iconic scene was almost removed from the final cut of the movie. During initial test screenings, the piano scene received mixed reactions, with some audience members finding it too silly.

Thankfully, director Penny Marshall fought to keep the scene in the film, recognizing its magical and whimsical nature. Her persistence paid off, as the piano scene has gone down in cinematic history as one of the most delightful and heartwarming moments in ‘BIG.’

3. The Zoltar Machine Was Created Specifically for the Movie

While the Zoltar machine plays a central role in the plot of ‘BIG,’ many viewers might assume that it was an existing arcade attraction. However, the truth is that the Zoltar machine was specially created for the film and did not exist prior to its production. The machine was designed to have a mystical and enchanting appearance, complete with glowing lights and a crystal ball. To this day, the Zoltar machine remains an iconic symbol of the film.

4. The Dancing Zoltar Robot Was the Idea of Tom Hanks

In one scene, Josh visits a carnival where he encounters a dancing Zoltar robot. Interestingly, this amusing addition to the film was the brainchild of Tom Hanks himself. Hanks improvised the scene while on set, showcasing his creativity and commitment to the character. The dancing Zoltar robot has since become a fan-favorite moment in the film, adding an extra touch of whimsy and humor to the story.

5. ‘BIG’ Was Filmed in New York City

While the story of ‘BIG’ is set in New York City, it may surprise some viewers to learn that the film was actually shot on location in the bustling metropolis. The production team captured the vibrant energy and iconic landmarks of the city, utilizing famous sites like Central Park and FAO Schwarz to bring the story to life. This decision not only provided an authentic backdrop for the film but also added an extra layer of charm and immersion.

6. Josh’s Apartment Building Is a Real Residential Tower

In the film, Josh lives in an impressive apartment building that perfectly embodies the luxury and grandeur of New York City living. Surprisingly, this building is not a movie set but a real residential tower located on Central Park West. Known as The Beresford, it is one of the city’s most prestigious addresses and has been home to numerous celebrities, including Jerry Seinfeld and Glenn Close.

7. ‘BIG’ Was Penny Marshall’s First Major Studio Film

Prior to directing ‘BIG,’ Penny Marshall had gained recognition for her work on the popular TV series ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ However, ‘BIG’ marked her first venture into directing a major studio film. Marshall’s keen eye for capturing heartfelt moments and her skillful direction of the talented cast propelled the film to critical and commercial success. ‘BIG’ remains one of Marshall’s most celebrated works and solidified her position as a trailblazing female director in Hollywood.

8. Tom Hanks’ ‘Heart and Soul’ Performance Was Unplanned

During the famous piano scene, Tom Hanks’ character spontaneously bursts into a joyful rendition of ‘Heart and Soul’ alongside Robert Loggia’s character. Surprisingly, this impromptu performance by Hanks was not scripted or planned. Hanks happened to know how to play the song and decided to surprise Loggia with his skills on set. The genuine laughter and delight captured in that scene is a testament to the incredible chemistry between the two actors.

9. The Film Spurred the Creation of the ‘Zoltar Speaks’ App

‘BIG’ inspired more than just fond memories and laughter—it also spawned a real-life app. In 2015, a mobile app called ‘Zoltar Speaks’ was created, allowing users to interact virtually with a digital Zoltar machine. The app offers a fun and nostalgic experience for fans of the film, allowing them to receive whimsical fortunes and even share them on social media.

10. A Musical Adaptation of ‘BIG’ Debuted on Broadway

In 1996, ‘BIG’ received a musical adaptation that premiered on Broadway. With music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr., the stage production aimed to capture the heart and humor of the original film. While the musical received mixed reviews and had a relatively short run, it added a new dimension to the ‘BIG’ legacy and provided fans with another way to experience the beloved story.

‘BIG’ continues to captivate audiences with its heartwarming tale of innocence, self-discovery, and the everlasting joy of childhood. From its memorable performances to its iconic scenes, this film has solidified its place in cinematic history. Whether you’re a longtime fan or discovering ‘BIG’ for the first time, these hidden facts add a new layer of appreciation and fascination to this beloved classic.


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