Iconic Tom Hanks role in the Eighties was almost played by Robert De Niro

Perkins said that if the film had starred De Niro it would have been ‘a little more of a horror movie’

Annabel Nugent
Thursday 08 April 2021 10:13 BST
Tom Hanks can't believe nobody recognised him on jeopardy

Robert De Niro was originally cast as Josh in Big.

Elizabeth Perkins – who played adult Josh’s love interest in the 1988 classic – revealed that De Niro had initially been cast in the film’s lead role, which was famously portrayed by Tom Hanks

Perkins told the story of the casting switch during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen yesterday night (7 April), a month after Matthew Modine revealed he was also tapped to play the role before Hanks.

“Robert De Niro was actually cast in the role of Josh in the movie Big,” Perkins said, adding that the GoodFellas actor was unable to follow through on his commitment due to a “scheduling conflict”. 

“Then they went to Tom Hanks,” she added. “It’s like a totally different movie in my brain with Robert De Niro.”

Hanks and Perkins in Big (Moviestore/Shutterstock)

However, Modine claims that he was approached after De Niro and Harrison Ford turned down the role.

“I wish I’d done Big,” he told The Independent in February 2021. “When the script was sent to me, it was a much darker movie. They had offered the film to Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford before coming to me, so it didn’t make sense, ’cause those guys are almost 20 years older than me. I thought if I was cast in the film, it wouldn’t have the irony it needed.”

During her appearance on Andy Cohen’s chat show, Perkins explained how she had auditioned for her part in the film with De Niro.

Perkins said: “He was more moody. It was more of... a little more of a horror movie. Robert De Niro wandering around the streets of New York. What Tom Hanks brought to it was so much lighter.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Perkins admitted that she feels some regret over not taking the part of Kevin’s mother inHome Alone – a role that was eventually played by Schitt’s Creek star Catherine O’Hara. 

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“I love Home Alone. Sometimes I do wish I had taken that role because my husband was the director of photography on it, and I probably would have met him several years earlier,” she said. 

The actor clarified: “But Catherine O’Hara is the queen. Everything she does is gold.”

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