When it comes to iconic Bill Murray roles, there are almost too many to count. Some love him as Dr. Peter Venkman in the Ghostbusters movies (my personal favorite). Others can’t get enough of him as Carl in Caddyshack, Frank Cross in Scrooged, and Phil in the classic Groundhog Day. I could go on and on. However, could you ever imagine Murray playing the role of Allen Bauer in the 1984 film Splash? Because that almost happened.
According to an interview with actress P.J. Soles, Splash screenwriter Brian Grazer tried to get Soles to give a copy of the script to Murray. Soles had just starred in the hit film Stripes alongside Murray, and Grazer thought the two would be perfect for the Splash lead roles of Allen and Madison. Soles read the script and loved it, so she decided to give it to Murray when they next met. However, that meeting did not go exactly as she had planned.
In the interview with Yahoo! News, Soles recounted:
So I met with Bill at a restaurant and gave him the script. He asked, “Is it a comedy?” I said, “Yes,” and he flung it across the room! As it’s sailing, I was thinking: “Please don’t hit somebody in the head or knock over a wine glass!” It landed on the floor, luckily. [Laughs]
So that was his response to that! I said, “Oh Bill, you’re not even going to read it?” He said, “No, I’m going to do a serious movie after this. I’m done with comedies.” And then he made The Razor’s Edge and was like, “You know what?” [Laughs] But I think Splash is great. It was Darryl Hannah’s movie, and was obviously meant to be for her and Tom Hanks. But I would have loved to have done a sequel to Stripes. I keep thinking that John and Stella could be retired, and our kids could be in the army. My son and his wife are in the Coast Guard, and I can’t tell you how many people at conventions say they enlisted in the army to find an MP like me. So I think I’ve served my country!
While Grazer didn’t get the original couple he had hoped for, everything seems to have worked out in the end. Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks lit up the screen, and Splash was a hit. Splash was released under Disney’s newest film division, Touchstone Pictures — which focused on more adult films, and less on the family-friendly entertainment Disney was known for. It was a massive movie breakout role for Hanks, who had mainly done television up until that point. It also kick-started his long and incredibly successful career with Disney.
Since the 1984 film, Hanks has starred in a number of Disney hits, including the entire Toy Story franchise, Saving Mr. Banks, and Turner & Hooch. Hanks will also be starring as the titular toy maker in one of Disney’s newest movies, Gepetto.
Splash also starred and . wrote the script alongside Bruce Friedman and . Legendary actor and filmmaker directed the film. Splash is currently available to stream on Disney+.