The Splash Role Tom Hanks Initially Auditioned For


Tom Hanks and Ron Howard's collaborations go back decades. Inferno, hitting theaters this Friday, marks the fifth film that Howard has directed with Hanks in the lead (it's also the third of their adaptations of the Dan Brown novels centered around Robert Langdon). But they first started working together on Howard's second feature film, where Hanks played a man who fell in love with a mermaid in Splash. Only, that wasn't the role he initially tried out for, as Howard recalls in a new video from Fandango.

Ron Howard was in Florence, Italy promoting his latest effort, Inferno, when he sat down for a series of targeted questions built around a Fandango-produced "My First Time." He was asked about his first time meeting Tom Hanks, an encounter that involved softball and two popular television sitcoms, which is when Howard revealed the Splash nugget. He explained:

The first time that I actually met him was a Happy Days softball tour. We used to go around and play these games, and I had left the show, but I would still be on the softball team. Tom Hanks was starring in Bosom Buddies, which was produced by the same team. That's the first time that I met him. But it was really the movie Splash, where he came in and auditioned, ultimately [for] the supporting part, that John Candy played.

What a different movie that could have turned out to be. Tom Hanks and John Candy play brothers Allen and Freddy Bauer in the 1984 comedy, where a grown man reunites with the mermaid (Daryl Hannah) who saved him from drowning as a child. Candy ends up with the scene stealing role, but maybe there exists a version, on paper at least, where Candy was the one romancing the lady fish, and Hanks was the one running distractions so that the government can experiment on the unusual sea creature?

Tom Hanks and John Candy in Splash

More than a decade after Splash, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks would reunite for a failed space mission Apollo 13, building on the actor's popularity from films like Forrest Gump (and earning two Oscars in the process). That collaboration would eventually give way to the Dan Brown partnership, which has produced three films including this weekend's Inferno.

For more "firsts" from Ron Howard, give this Fandango video a spin.

Tom Hanks can be seen as Professor Robert Langdon in Inferno opening in theaters on October 28. You can read our interviews with Ron Howard and Tom Hanks from the press event in Florence here.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.