YouTube
YouTube

13 Complete Facts About Jerry Maguire

YouTube
YouTube

Twenty years ago today, on December 13, 1996, Jerry Maguire debuted at the box office. Tom Cruise played the titular sports agent (based on Leigh Steinberg), a loveable loser who has an epiphany and writes a long mission statement, sending himself into a career and personal crisis. The film won Cuba Gooding Jr. an Oscar, and blessed the world with such everlasting catchphrases as “You had me at hello,” “You complete me,” and “Show me the money.” Here are some “Kwan”-tastic facts about the Cameron Crowe dramedy.

1. THE LACKLUSTER SUCCESS OF SINGLES PROMPTED CROWE TO WRITE THE SCRIPT.

Crowe felt his film Singles (1992) hadn’t done as well as he would’ve liked and wanted to write a more personal and emotional movie. “And all of a sudden I just looked around and—it was a good thing—many false friends disappeared,” he told Paste Magazine in 2005. “And the people that sort of stayed behind, who you realize were your true friends and would be your friends for life, were not the people I expected. And that became one of the first ideas that drove Jerry Maguire: what if you lost everything, or lost a lot, and you looked around and all those people that you thought would be there for life are gone. Who’s left?”

2. THE JERRY MAGUIRE ROLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR TOM HANKS.

Crowe spent almost four years writing the script. “I took so long doing the script that Hanks was no longer a 35-year-old man. By the time he got [the script] he was almost 40 and had two Academy Awards and wanted to direct,” Crowe told Empire Magazine in 1997. Apparently Hanks rejected an earlier version of the script, because he “didn’t buy the marriage part. But without that, it became just a story about a guy sleeping with a girl from his office.”

3. SEVERAL CLASSIC MOVIES—AND MY-SO-CALLED LIFE—INSPIRED JERRY MAGUIRE.

“I wanted to write a movie with a real story, the kind that shows up on TV late at night, usually in black and white,” Crowe told The New York Times. Crowe loved filmmaker Billy Wilder so much, he tried to get him to play the Dicky Fox mentor role to no avail. But Crowe ended up basing the film around Wilder’s classic film The Apartment.

“I had never been that big of a Jack Lemmon fan, but there was something about the biting and yet touchingly hilarious portrait of then-contemporary workingman and his bittersweet love affair with an elevator operator,” Crowe wrote in a Rolling Stone journal. “It is my favorite film, and it was the one that inspired me to begin writing my own portrait of the contemporary man, that faceless guy who puts on a suit and tie every day, Jerry Maguire.” Crowe also said Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier and Shirley MacLaine’s Fran Kubelik in The Apartment influenced the Dorothy Boyd character. “We even watched scenes from My So-Called Life, just because I really liked Claire Danes—her interior passion in that show.”

4. CUBA GOODING JR. GOT NAKED FOR HIS AUDITION WITH CRUISE.

In a 1996 journal for Rolling Stone, Crowe recounted Gooding’s audition. Cruise and Gooding had worked together before in A Few Good Men, so Cruise was excited to reunite with him. Gooding and Cruise read the locker room scene: “Am I naked in this scene?” Gooding asked. “Yes,” Crowe responded. “Gooding snapped down his pants and stood naked,” Crowe writes. “‘Come on, let’s go,’ he said. Stunned and laughing, we watched as Gooding beckoned with his hands, as in, ‘Bring it on.’ ‘Come on, let’s read the scene,’ he shouted joyously. ‘I’m gonna get this part. I ain’t afraid of nothing.’” Gooding won the role, and because Gooding was slightly shorter than an average football player, Crowe rewrote the character description as a football player “who some felt was too short for the NFL."

5. THE ROLLING STONES’ RONNIE WOOD HAD A HAND IN NAMING BOB SUGAR.

A fan wrote into Cameron Crowe’s website The Uncool and asked who was the inspiration behind Jay Mohr’s villainous sports agent, Bob Sugar. Crowe told a story about how he was in Dublin in 1993, with Pearl Jam. He and the band were hanging out in a bar when Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood walked in. Wood yelled to Crowe, “There’s a guy who is stalking me, and he finds me wherever I go. I don’t trust him, and he seems nice, but he scares me. He says his name is … Bob Sugar! Bob Sugar! Can you believe it?” Later on, Crowe realized Wood was probably saying “Brown Sugar,” as in the Stones’ famous song, not Bob Sugar. But the name stuck. “When it came time to name the characters for Jerry Maguire, Sugar was the first one on the page,” Crowe said. “The perfect name for a nemesis—it rolled off your tongue with ease.”

6. RENÉE ZELLWEGER DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO SAY THE “HELLO” LINE.

Newsday asked the actress, who played single mother and Maguire love interest Dorothy Boyd, if it took her several tries to say the now-famous line correctly. “Cameron had me say it a few different ways,” she said. “It’s so funny, because when I read it, I didn’t get it—I thought it was a typo somehow. I kept looking at it. It was the one thing in the script that I was looking at going, ‘Is that right? Can that be right? How is that right?’ I thought, ‘Is there a better way to say that? Am I not getting it?’ I just don't know how to do it.”

7. THE CUTE LITTLE KID IS NOW GROWN UP AND IS A MIXED MARTIAL ARTS FIGHTER.

Jonathan Lipnicki stole the movie as Dorothy’s precocious five-year-old son, Ray. Last year, “JLip” recorded a Father’s Day video thanking Jerry: “You kind of lost me at Kwan, but you had me at hello.” JLip goes on to poke fun at his role—“women would ovulate just looking at me”—and then rants how casting agents still think of him as the cute kid from the movie, even though he’s 26 years old. He also reveals he has a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and that his body is, well, very ripped. So, he has that going for him.

8. CONNIE BRITTON WAS ALMOST CAST AS DOROTHY BOYD.

Britton told The New York Times Magazine that she auditioned for Jerry Maguire and “nailed the audition. Crowe told her she had shown him just what the character should be.” She met with Cruise in New York and did a table read with him and the cast, and it seemed like she had won the coveted role. After doing a screen test with Cruise, she overheard someone say, “They just want to screen-test one other actress.” That actress was Renée Zellweger. Britton was heartbroken, and joked she didn’t get the part because “maybe I was too tall.”

9. CROWE HOPED “THE KWAN” WOULD BECOME A MORE POPULAR CATCHPHRASE THAN “SHOW ME THE MONEY.”

When Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr.) coerces Jerry to scream “Show me the money” into a phone, a world-famous slogan was born. But, Crowe thought Tidwell’s speech about “the Kwan”—an adage embodying the combination of community, love, respect, and money—would resonate more with audiences. “I like to think that Tidwell had been jealous of Dennis Rodman’s blend of pseudo-French trash-talk ‘inspirato.’ He wanted his own language, too,” Crowe told Premiere magazine in 2000. “So the Kwan was born. But once we began to show the movie, audiences were pleasant, at best, during Rod’s Kwan speeches.” Eventually Kwan found some respect, at the Olympics. “I’ve always held a soft spot for the unnoticed concept of Kwan,” Crowe said. “Some time later, during an Olympic performance by ice-skater Michelle Kwan, a friend called and told me to turn on the television. In the middle of a huge crowd, a lonely fan held up a sign reading, ‘Show me the Kwan.’ Thank you for that.”

10. CUBA GOODING’S DAD WAS BANNED FROM THE MOVIE SET.

During an appearance on Graham Norton’s BBC talk show in 2012, Gooding Jr. talked about how his dad, Cuba Gooding Sr., didn’t hold back on the set. Cuba introduced his dad to Tom Cruise, and his dad gave the actor a hug, then asked Cruise, “But seriously, are you gay or not?” Cuba later scolded his dad: “You can’t keep your lips loose and they move too fast.”

11. JERRY MAGUIRE IS THE FIFTH HIGHEST-GROSSING ROMANTIC DRAMA OF ALL TIME.

The film had a budget of $50 million and grossed $273 million worldwide. Twenty years later, it ranks as number five on the list of blockbuster romantic dramas, just behind Fifty Shades of Grey (Titanic tops the list). Even though Jerry Maguire opened at number one, it ranks as the lowest-grossing number one film, on weekends where the top movie made less than $10 million. This occurred during its fourth weekend, when it grossed only $5 million. After 1997, because of increasing ticket prices, the sub-$10 million trend stopped being tracked.

12. CUBA GOODING DID ALL HIS OWN STUNTS IN THE MOVIE, AND HAS A BACKGROUND IN BREAKDANCING.

On The Graham Norton Show, Gooding Jr. said he was one of the young dancers who performed with Lionel Richie at the 1984 Olympics Closing Ceremonies, in Los Angeles. Gooding proved he still has the talent, when he showed off his windmills and other breakdance moves on the talk show.

13. THE HUMAN HEAD MAY OR MAY NOT WEIGH MORE THAN EIGHT POUNDS.

Ray Boyd tells Jerry while in the backseat of a car, “Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?” But is he right? According to a textbook and Brain Stuff, the human head actually weighs about 10 to 11 pounds, and the brain weighs about three pounds.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
12 Surprising Facts About Robin Williams
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA

Robin Williams had a larger-than-life personality. On screen and on stage, he embodied what he referred to as “hyper-comedy.” Offscreen, he was involved in humanitarian causes and raised three children—Zak, Zelda, and Cody. On July 16, HBO debuts the documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, directed by Marina Zenovich. The film chronicles his rise on the L.A. and San Francisco stand-up comedy scenes during the 1970s, to his more dramatic roles in the 1980s and '90s in award-winning films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; Awakenings; The Fisher King; and Good Will Hunting. The film also focuses on August 11, 2014, the date of his untimely death. Here are 12 surprising facts about the beloved entertainer.

1. ROBIN WILLIAMS GOT HIS START AT A COMEDY WORKSHOP INSIDE A CHURCH.

A still from 'Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind' (2018)
HBO

After leaving Juilliard, Robin Williams found himself back in his hometown of San Francisco, but he couldn’t find work as an actor. Then he saw something for a comedy workshop in a church and decided to give it a shot. “So I went to this workshop in the basement of a Lutheran church, and it was stand-up comedy, so you don’t get to improvise with others, but I started off doing, ostensibly, it was just like improvising but solo," he told NPR. "And then I started to realize, ‘Oh.’ [I started] building an act from there."

2. HE FORMED A FRIENDSHIP WITH KOKO THE GORILLA.

In 2001, Williams visited Koko the gorilla, who passed away in June, at The Gorilla Foundation in Northern California. Her caregivers had shown her one of his movies, and she seemed to recognize him. Koko repeatedly signed for Williams to tickle her. “We shared something extraordinary: laughter,” Williams said of the encounter. On the day Williams died, The Foundation shared the news with Koko and reported that she fell into sadness.

3. FOR A TIME, HE WAS A MIME IN CENTRAL PARK.

In 1974, photographer Daniel Sorine captured photos of two mimes in New York's Central Park. As it turned out, one of the mimes was Williams, who was attending Juilliard at the time. “What attracted me to Robin Williams and his fellow mime, Todd Oppenheimer, was an unusual amount of intensity, personality, and physical fluidity,” Sorine said. In 1991, Williams revisited the craft by playing Mime Jerry in Bobcat Goldthwait’s film Shakes the Clown. In the movie, Williams hilariously leads a how-to class in mime.

4. HE TRIED TO GET LYDIA FROM MRS. DOUBTFIRE BACK IN SCHOOL.

As a teen, Lisa Jakub played Robin Williams’s daughter Lydia Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. “When I was 14 years old, I went on location to film Mrs. Doubtfire for five months, and my high school was not happy,” Jakub wrote on her blog. “My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a ‘non-traditional’ student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.”

Sensing Jakub’s distress over the situation, Williams typed a letter and sent it to her school. “A student of her caliber and talent should be encouraged to go out in the world and learn through her work,” he wrote. “She should also be encouraged to return to the classroom when she’s done to share those experiences and motivate her classmates to soar to their own higher achievements … she is an asset to any classroom.”

Apparently, the school framed the letter but didn’t allow Jakub to return. “But here’s what matters from that story—Robin stood up for me,” Jakub wrote. “I was only 14, but I had already seen that I was in an industry that was full of back-stabbing. And it was entirely clear that Robin had my back.”

5. HE WASN’T PRODUCERS' FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY MORK ON MORK & MINDY.

Anson Williams, Marion Ross, and Don Most told The Hallmark Channel that a different actor was originally hired to play Mork for the February 1978 Happy Days episode “My Favorite Orkan,” which introduced the alien character to the world. “Mork & Mindy was like the worst script in the history of Happy Days. It was unreadable, it was so bad,” Anson Williams said. “So they hire some guy for Mork—bad actor, bad part.” The actor quit, and producer Garry Marshall came to the set and asked: “Does anyone know a funny Martian?” They hired Williams to play Mork, and from September 1978 to May 1982, Williams co-headlined the spinoff Mork & Mindy for four seasons.

6. HE “RISKED” A ROLE IN AN OFF-BROADWAY PLAY.

Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Michael Caulfield, Getty Images for PCA

In 1988, Williams made his professional stage debut as Estragon in the Mike Nichols-directed Waiting for Godot, which also starred Steve Martin and F. Murray Abraham. The play was held off-Broadway at Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. The New York Times asked Williams if he felt the show was a career risk, and he responded with: “Risk! Of never working on the stage again! Oh, no! You’re ruined! It’s like you're ruined socially in Tustin,” a town in Orange County, California. “If there’s risk, you can’t think about it,” he said, “or you’ll never be able to do the play.”

Williams had to restrain himself and not improvise during his performance. “You can do physical things,” he said, “but you don’t ad lib [Samuel] Beckett, just like you don’t riff Beethoven.” In 1996, Nichols and Williams once again worked together, this time in the movie The Birdcage.

7. HE USHERED IN THE ERA OF CELEBRITY VOICE ACTING.

The 1992 success of Aladdin, in which Williams voiced Genie, led to more celebrities voicing animated characters. According to a 2011 article in The Atlantic, “Less than 20 years ago, voice acting was almost exclusively the realm of voice actors—people specifically trained to provide voices for animated characters. As it turns out, the rise of the celebrity voice actor can be traced to a single film: Disney’s 1992 breakout animated hit Aladdin.” Since then, big names have attached themselves to animated films, from The Lion King to Toy Story to Shrek. Williams continued to do voice acting in animated films, including Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet 2.

8. HE FORGOT TO THANK HIS MOTHER DURING HIS 1998 OSCAR SPEECH.

In March 1998, Williams won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. In 2011, Williams appeared on The Graham Norton Show, and Norton asked him what it was like to win the award. “For a week it was like, ‘Hey congratulations! Good Will Hunting, way to go,'” Williams said. “Two weeks later: ‘Hey, Mork.’”

Then Williams mentioned how his speech accidentally left out one of the most important people in his life. “I forgot to thank my mother and she was in the audience,” he said. “Even the therapist went, ‘Get out!’ That was rough for the next few years. [Mom voice] ‘You came through here [points to his pants]! How’s the award?’”

9. HE COMFORTED STEVEN SPIELBERG DURING THE FILMING OF SCHINDLER’S LIST.

At this year’s 25th anniversary screening of Schindler’s List, held at the Tribeca Film Festival, director Steven Spielberg shared that Williams—who played Peter Pan in Spielberg’s Hook—would call him and make him laugh. “Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, Robin would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone,” Spielberg said. “I would laugh hysterically, because I had to release so much.”

10. HE HELPED ETHAN HAWKE GET HIS AGENT.

During a June 2018 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Ethan Hawke recalled how, while working on Dead Poets Society, Williams was hard on him. “I really wanted to be a serious actor,” Hawke said. “I really wanted to be in character, and I really didn’t want to laugh. The more I didn’t laugh, the more insane [Williams] got. He would make fun of me. ‘Oh this one doesn't want to laugh.’ And the more smoke would come out of my ears. He didn’t understand I was trying to do a good job.” Hawke had assumed Williams hated him during filming.

After filming ended, Hawke went back to school, but he received a surprising phone call. It was from Williams’s agent, who—at Williams's suggestion—wanted to sign Hawke. Hawke said he still has the same agent today.

11. HE WAS ALMOST CAST IN MIDNIGHT RUN.

In February 1988, Williams told Rolling Stone how he sometimes still had to audition for roles. “I read for a movie with [Robert] De Niro, [Midnight Run], to be directed by Marty Brest,” Williams said. “I met with them three or four times, and it got real close, it was almost there, and then they went with somebody else. The character was supposed to be an accountant for the Mafia. Charles Grodin got the part. I was craving it. I thought, ‘I can be as funny,’ but they wanted someone obviously more in type. And in the end, he was better for it. But it was rough for me. I had to remind myself, ‘Okay, come on, you’ve got other things.’”

In July 1988, Universal released Midnight Run. Just two years later, Williams finally worked with De Niro, on Awakenings.

12. BILLY CRYSTAL AND WILLIAMS USED TO TALK ON THE PHONE FOR HOURS.

Actors Robin Williams (L) and Billy Crystal pose at the afterparty for the premiere of Columbia Picture's 'RV' on April 23, 2006 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Starting in 1986, Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg co-hosted HBO’s Comic Relief to raise money for the homeless. Soon after Williams’s death, Crystal went on The View and spoke with Goldberg about his friendship with Williams. “We were like two jazz musicians,” Crystal said. “Late at night I get these calls and we’d go for hours. And we never spoke as ourselves. When it was announced I was coming to Broadway, I had 50 phone messages, in one day, from somebody named Gary, who wanted to be my backstage dresser.”

“Gary” turned out to be Williams.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind premieres on Monday, July 16 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Walt Disney Pictures
10 Facts About Hocus Pocus
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Bette Midler said she'd be interested in doing a Hocus Pocus sequel. "You have to go to send in your cards to the Walt Disney company," she said. "The ball's in their court." While you get those cards ready, here are some facts about the original, which arrived in theaters 25 years ago today.

1. THE STORY ORIGINATED AS A BEDTIME STORY.

The story for Hocus Pocus came about after writer David Kirschner invented a bedtime story for his kids. He later wrote the story up and submitted it to Muppet Magazine (why does this not still exist?), where it gained recognition.

2. THE WRITERS USED PROPS TO PITCH IT TO STUDIO EXECUTIVES.

Bette Midler in 'Hocus Pocus' (1993)
Walt Disney Pictures

To pitch the story to Disney, the writers had execs enter a dark room with broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner hanging from the ceiling. They also scattered 15 pounds of candy corn throughout the room in an effort to invoke Halloween nostalgia. It obviously worked!

3. IT WAS NOT AN IMMEDIATE HIT.

Though it’s a cult classic now, Hocus Pocus didn’t do that well when it first came out in 1993, perhaps because it was released in July instead of September or October. Though it didn’t have a terrible opening—$8,125,471, putting it in fourth place at the box office that weekend—it fell to $2,017,688 a few weeks later, and bad reviews from the critics didn’t help matters.

Entertainment Weekly was particularly put off by the movie, calling it a “piece of corny slapstick trash” and saying that “It’s acceptable scary-silly kid fodder that adults will find only mildly insulting. Unless they’re Bette Midler fans. In which case it’s depressing as hell.”

4. BETTE MIDLER LOVES IT.

Bette Midler, by the way, has said that Hocus Pocus is her favorite film out of all of the films she’s ever done. (At least as of 2008.) Thora Birch agreed, recently saying, “The most fun I ever had on a film was Hocus Pocus.”

5. KATHY NAJIMY LOVES IT, TOO.

Midler isn't the only star of the film who isn't immune to its allure: Kathy Najimy has said she watches the movie with her family every year on August 15.

6. IT COULD HAVE STARRED LEONARDO DICAPRIO.

The role of Max was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio. He turned it down to do What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

7. SARAH JESSICA PARKER IS RELATED TO A WOMAN FAMOUSLY ACCUSED OF BEING A WITCH.

Had Sarah Jessica Parker known then what she knows now, she might have approached the role of Sarah Sanderson a little differently. When the actress went on the show Who Do You Think You Are to trace her family history, Parker discovered that one of her ancestors was Esther Elwell, one of the women accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. After a young girl said she saw Esther’s “spectre” strangling neighbor Mary Fitch, Elwell was arrested, but escaped going to trial.

8. THORA BIRCH REVISITED THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN AMERICAN BEAUTY.

While the kids are prematurely celebrating victory against the Sanderson sisters after locking them in the kiln, they’re shown talking in front of a house as they walk to a park. The house was later used as the house Thora Birch’s character lived in for American Beauty.

9. THE KIDS WEREN'T HUGE FANS OF THE CATS.

The kids all hated working with the cats. Many different cats were used to represent Binx, and each one served a different purpose—one was good at cuddling with the kids, one would jump on command, etc. Every time a new cat was used, the children would have to coerce the kitty to trust them by using treats and a clicker. They got sick of it.

10. MUCH OF THE ORIGINAL CAST REUNITED FOR A 20TH REUNION.

Most of the cast participated in a 20th anniversary event for D23 (the Disney fan club) members. Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler were not in attendance, but pretty much everyone else was, including Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), Vinessa Shaw (Allison), Omri Katz (Max), Thora Birch (Dani), and Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson). You can watch some of that reunion above.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios