In the decades since its release, Mrs. Doubtfire has become a beloved family dramedy, thanks in large part to the leading performance of Robin Williams and the direction of Chris Columbus. So it’s not surprising that fans became anxious when rumors recently began to claim that an NC-17 cut of the film existed. Now, Columbus himself has responded to the rumors, and his answer may surprise you.
A recent viral tweet alleged that there are four cuts of Mrs. Doubtfire in existence, ranging in ratings from PG to NC-17. Sometime before this tweet began making the rounds, film co-star Mara Wilson also mentioned the possibility of multiple cuts but could not confirm the existence of an NC-17-rated one. Many attribute the theorized existence of this alleged cut to the improvisation of the late Robin Williams, who is said to have tried a number of things across different takes.
After hearing the rumors of the cut, Chris Columbus provided a bit of clarity when it came to Robin Williams’ work. The director explained that he and the late, great star came to an understanding of sorts in regard to his tendency to improvise:
The reality is that there was a deal between Robin and myself, which was, he'll do one or two, three scripted takes. And then he would say, 'Then let me play.' And we would basically go on anywhere between 15 to 22 takes, I think 22 being the most I remember.
So it would seem that Robin Williams did indeed have quite a bit of range to try things out while working on Mrs. Doubtfire. But did this necessarily lead to an NC-17 cut? Chris Columbus further explained to EW:
He would sometimes go into territory that wouldn't be appropriate for a PG-13 movie, but certainly appropriate and hilariously funny for an R-rated film. I only [previously] used the phrase NC-17 as a joke. There could be no NC-17 version of the movie.
Well, that’s one rumor that can finally be put to rest yet, even though an NC-17 cut doesn’t actually exist, an R-rated version of Mrs. Doubtfire would still be interesting to see. Given Robin Williams’ comedic sensibilities, one can only imagine what such a version could have looked like.
Nevertheless, one of Mrs. Doubtfire’s strengths is that it really manages to strike a nice balance between family comedy and edgy humor. Such an approach can be tricky for many creatives, so Chris Columbus definitely deserves a lot of credit.
The chances of an R-rated Mrs. Doubtfire being released are quite slim, but stranger things have certainly happened. We did just get an extended, R-rated Justice League movie after all.
If you’d like to revisit the Robin Williams classic, you can stream Mrs. Doubtfire on HBO Max now.