The Time John Candy Got Drunk With Jack Nicholson And Then Had To Film A Racquetball Scene

John Candy as Freddie Bauer in Splash (1984)

John Candy was one of the most popular films stars of the ‘80s and early ’90s and still remains a beloved icon to this day. His comedic and sincere performances paired with his natural charm made his performances in films like Uncle Buck, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and The Great Outdoors some of the most memorable performances in cinematic history. Another film on his impressive list of credits is the 1984 comedy Splash and, when the cast recently reunited, director Ron Howard had a funny story to tell that involved, Candy, Jack Nicholson and racquetball.

Ron Howard remembered John Candy as a professional but couldn’t help but point out that he had a tendency to be late at times. And on one particular day, Candy arrived late for the racquetball scene and admitted to Howard that he was drunk. However, the filmmaker recalled that it was an encounter with Jack Nicholson in a bar that led to Candy’s tardiness:

John, totally professional guy, but he's late. One day we have this racquetball court and he’s late. And John finally pulls up and rolls out of the car and he says, 'Ron, I'm so sorry.' I said, 'It's OK. You're late, but we'll get going.' He said, 'No, no, no. Look, I'm drunk. Here's what happened, I'm telling you the truth: I'm at the bar and Jack Nicholson is at the bar. Jack Nicholson knew my name, Ron! And he starts buying me drinks. I said, ‘But I've got to go shoot.’ And he said, ‘You're going to be all right, kid. Don't worry about it.’ And he kept buying me drinks. I never went to bed, Ron. I never went to bed.’

You can’t help but laugh when you hear Ron Howard’s story on Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart. Anyone would’ve been starstruck if they had been in John Candy’s position. I mean who wouldn’t be excited by the prospect of the great Jack Nicholson knowing your name? And it also would’ve been difficult to turn down his offer for drinks.

John Candy also deserves quite a bit of credit for making the journey to set regardless of what had happened. Filming a straightforward dialogue scene while slightly inebriated is one thing, but shooting one that requires true physical activity is something else.

If anything, this proves John Candy knew how to have fun all while getting his job done. His own daughter has even mentioned that he was a lot like the carefree Uncle Buck.

Ron Howard’s memory of John Candy honestly just makes you love the late actor even more. It’s unfortunate that he passed away so young, but it would seem that he definitely lived life to the fullest while he was still with us.

Movie fans who’ve never seen John Candy’s work in Splash can stream it on Disney+.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.