In 1989's Look Who’s Talking, Kirstie Alley played Mollie, a single mother whose love life is manipulated by her newborn son Mikey, so she ends up with a cab driver named James, played by John Travolta. The twist to writer-director Amy Heckerling’s movie is that the audience can hear baby Mikey’s inner monologue, voiced by Bruce Willis. The original film spawned two sequels, and influenced a TV show (plus a popular ad campaign).
1. AMY HECKERLING GOT THE IDEA FROM HER DAUGHTER.
The Fast Times at Ridgemont High and future Clueless director noticed her young daughter, Mollie, constantly look around whenever she was propped up in her baby seat. "My husband and I started to put words in her mouth, what she might be thinking based on her expressions," Heckerling told the Los Angeles Times.
2. A LAWSUIT CLAIMED THAT HECKERLING STOLE THE IDEA.
A $20 million lawsuit alleged that Heckerling stole the idea from a short story called Special Delivery, a science-fiction tale featuring an unborn infant who can talk to its parents. The terms of the eventual settlement weren’t disclosed.
3. THREE STUDIOS PASSED ON THE FILM.
Warner Bros., Disney, and Orion Pictures all passed on the idea before Tri-Star took a shot.
4. OLYMPIA DUKAKIS GOT AN OSCAR PAY RAISE.
Olympia Dukakis was told that she would be paid $50,000 to play Kirstie Alley’s mother if she won an Academy Award for her work as Rose Castorini in Moonstruck. She did.
5. IT WAS SHOT IN VANCOUVER TO SAVE MONEY.
Producer Jonathan D. Krane, who was also John Travolta’s manager, cut the $13 million budget almost in half by moving the film's production to Vancouver, instead of shooting on location in New York City.
6. KIRSTIE ALLEY FELL FOR JOHN TRAVOLTA IN REAL LIFE.
The actress recently claimed "it took all the power I had" to not run off with her co-star, whom she called the love of her life. Alley was married at the time; Travolta was single.
7. TRAVOLTA GOT SILLY DURING THE ROMANTIC SCENES.
Whenever Alley and Travolta tried to shoot their first kiss, Travolta kept evoking Barbra Streisand singing “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” from Yentl.
8. JAMES WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AS A DARKER CHARACTER.
When Travolta came on board, Heckerling changed James. She also added James' dancing with her new star in mind.
9. ONE SHOT OF THE FETUS TOOK 115 TAKES.
The fetuses were puppets. Twelve puppeteers—some hanging upside down—were required to shoot the scene where Mikey plays with the placenta. The sperm were made of vinyl with tiny fishing weights in front.
10. HECKERLING DIDN’T WANT ALBERT’S HEAD EXPLODING TO LOOK TOO SCARY, LIKE IN SCANNERS.
A fake head was made for George Segal. Weather balloons were stuffed into the fake head’s cheeks.
11. AUDIENCES IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES HEAR DIFFERENT BABY VOICES.
Foreign countries had their own celebrities voicing baby Mikey. It was Travolta’s idea.
12. TWO OF MOLLIE’S BLIND DATES HAVE NAMES.
They were credited as Mr. Impatience and Mr. Anal.
13. HECKERLING PUT HER FAMILY TO WORK.
Alley’s father was played by Heckerling’s dad, Louis (who is an accountant in real life). She admitted to being skeptical of Louis’ ability to pretend to laugh, but he pulled it off. Writer Neal Israel—who is Heckerling's ex-husband and the father of Mollie, their daughter who inspired the movie—played Alley’s boss, Mr. Ross. Mollie also has a brief role in the movie.
14. THE STUDIO DELAYED ITS RELEASE FOR SEVEN MONTHS.
Tri-Star changed the movie's release date from March to October, which led insiders to believe that the studio hated what they saw in the rough cut and it would never be released. Instead, Look Who’s Talking made nearly $300 million worldwide.
15. IT INSPIRED THE TV SHOW BABY TALK AND THE E*TRADE BABY.
ABC’s Baby Talk, featuring Tony Danza as the voice of the little one, wasn’t as successful as the movie; star Scott Baio called it a “nightmare.” The E*Trade baby endorsed the financial company from 2008 to 2014.