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Anyone who takes just a couple of minutes to think about what goes into making a major motion picture will likely come to the conclusion that it's a pretty hard gig, especially for the crew. Generally, those behind the camera get very little to none of the glory, so you have all the long nights without much of the getting into swanky restaurants because of your name. Well, for director Barry Sonnenfeld, who worked as the cinematographer for the 1988 Tom Hanks film Big, the gig was so tough he considered wearing adult diapers to work.
Usually, adult diapers are not an option most of us would consider for a normal workday, right? Even those of us with very high pressure jobs and little time to spare during our working hours are willing and able to stop the money train for up to 20 minutes (you do what you gotta do) to make sure the pipes are empty so you're not squirming all day. Unfortunately, as Barry Sonnenfeld details in his new memoir Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother (via Vulture), things were a wee bit tense (See what I did there?) between himself and director Penny Marshall, to the point that he didn't want to leave set for any reason.
During the filming of Big I discovered how Depends adult diapers worked. I rarely leave the set, and I don’t think any crew member should either. It would drive me crazy when I needed an additional light or wanted to add a piece of track to a dolly move, and I’d ask, “Where’s Rusty? Where’s Dennis?” and some crew member would say, “In the bathroom, sir.”
“Sir” is crew code for asshole, by the way.
I knew the boys were really on the pay phone with their broker or taking a quick nap, and I wanted to put a stop to it. Making the crew wear diapers might be the solution.
One weekend about halfway through the show I went to my local East Hampton IGA and bought a box of Depends adult diapers. I took off my pants and underwear, put on a set of Depends, and, thank God, stepped into the bathtub and peed. That’s when I discovered what Depends don’t do. It turns out they’re not designed for full on urination, so much as an occasional dribble. As the urine rapidly cascaded down my leg — those were the days — I said to myself, “Good to know.”
Wooooo, booooooy! Barry must have had it ROUGH on the set of Big, amiright? Never, in the history of my life (which is semi-long at this point), have I considered wearing a diaper so that I don't have to stop working. I have a few questions about Sonnenfeld's thought process though. I get that he didn't want anyone to leave set, but, did he think at all about the fact that telling everyone to wear diapers (a) is probably a violation of some very good workplace laws and (b) would lead to a lot of already sweating guys smelling like pee all day...on top of the sweat?
Also, this wouldn't have just been an unreasonable edict for the rest of the crew, Barry Sonnenfeld was planning to wear a diaper, too. I've never taken care of a baby, but I hear that one inherent issue is that the diaper said baby begins the day with is not the same diaper with which that kid ends the day. Sonnenfeld, and everyone else wearing diapers (I can't believe I write for an entertainment website and have typed the word "diaper" this many times) would eventually have to step away from set to...change themselves. Again, no diaper experience here, but I'm pretty sure you can't do that while also adding track to a dolly, Barry!
You know what? Good on Barry Sonnenfeld for testing out his idea first, and using himself as the guinea pig. I have to say, I don't think a lot of leaders would do that. They'd just make their assistant try it out, probably in their car on the way to work, and be sorely disappointed by the results later, and maybe even blame the assistant for not peeing correctly or something. I don't know. I hear being a Hollywood assistant is tough.
Big is streaming on several services, so now's a good time to revisit it and imagine Tom Hanks having to dodge crew members carrying around full pee diapers on set for weeks on end. In the meantime, be sure to check out our new movie release guide, which will be updated with premiere delays as soon as the information becomes available.