Big Star Elizabeth Perkins Recalls "Moody" Robert De Niro Audition

There's no debating how much the Penny Marshall classic Big (1988) helped launch Tom Hanks into superstardom as the literal man-child Josh Baskin. Anchored by the character's natural curiosity and youthful exuberance, the film follows a youth who wishes upon a mysterious fortune-telling machine Zoltar to grow up after finding out the shortcomings of his height and age. After his wish is granted, he gets a crash course in adulthood, helped out by his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) to adjust to his new life and take advantage of his newfound status. Co-star Elizabeth Perkins played Susan, who befriends Josh while working at the toy company, not knowing his true nature. Speaking with NME, the actress revealed Hanks wasn't the original choice for Josh, but in fact, Robert De Niro in the role.

Big Star Elizabeth Perkins Recalls
Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Elizabeth Perkins Explains How the "Big" Difference Between Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro

Perkins admitted it would have felt like a completely different film rather than the light-hearted comedy we know today. "It fell apart because [De Niro] had a scheduling conflict, and then they went to Tom Hanks," she said. "It's like a totally different movie in my brain with Robert De Niro." The actress elaborated it would be more serious a film since De Niro lacked the goofy charm Hanks possessed. "[De Niro] was more moody. It was more of a — a little more of a horror movie," she continued. "Robert De Niro wandering around the streets of New York. What Tom Hanks brought to it was so much lighter." The 20th Century Fox film ended up grossing $151.7 million at the box office, nearly 10 times its budget. Big, which also starred Robert Loggia and John Heard, ended up winning a Best Actor Golden Globe for Hanks in addition to an Academy Award nomination in the same category.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.