After voice-over actor Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) gets divorced and loses custody of his three children, he resorts to dressing up and speaking like a matronly grandmother to get hired as his kids’ nanny. Here are some facts about Mrs. Doubtfire, which was released on this day in 1993.
1. IT’S BASED ON A BRITISH NOVEL.
During the mid-1970s, author Anne Fine walked by a “bric-a-brac” shop selling jewelry and old furs, never having the time to walk inside and meet the store’s proprietor, one Madame Doubtfire. Fine remembered the name in 1986 when she wrote her book Madame Doubtfire. Fine said her one request to the filmmakers was that they "not make the children bratty, and they did indulge me in that."
2. BLAKE LIVELY BLEW HER AUDITION TO PLAY NATALIE.
It came down to the future Gossip Girl star and Mara Wilson. To calm his daughter, Lively’s father told the then five-year-old Blake that she would be reading with Robin Williams’s twin brother at her final audition, not the movie star himself. That plan failed when someone in the room introduced Williams as Robin. Lively described the experience as “horrible.”
3. THEY WENT THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHS OF OLD WOMEN.
4. IT TOOK FOUR AND A HALF HOURS TO APPLY MRS. DOUBTFIRE'S MAKEUP.
Makeup artist Ve Neill did the honors. Neill—alongside Greg Cannom and Yolanda Toussieng—won the Oscar for Best Makeup, just like she did for Beetlejuice and Ed Wood. The wig was created by Toussieng, the hairstylist who created Edward Scissorhands's hair.
5. WILLIAMS WENT TO A SAN FRANCISCO SEX SHOP IN THE MRS. DOUBTFIRE COSTUME.
The shop employee was about to sell a sex toy to him when he realized the true identity of the customer.
6. IT WAS SHOT ENTIRELY IN SAN FRANCISCO.
That includes the five large sets built in a 100,000-square-foot building in the Richmond district. It used to be a candy warehouse. After Williams’s passing, fans of the actor left flowers, photographs, and letters at the Pacific Heights house that doubled as the Hillards' home. The plastic surgeon who lives there didn’t mind. In the original script, Mrs. Doubtfire was set in Chicago.
7. CHUCK JONES SUPERVISED THE OPENING ANIMATION.
8. COLUMBUS USED MULTIPLE CAMERAS SIMULTANEOUSLY TO CAPTURE THE CAST WHEN WILLIAMS IMPROVISED.
The director mostly shot one or two takes of each scene as it was written in the script before shooting something Williams made up. Columbus said the resulting footage gave him the option of cutting a PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17 version of the movie. (He ended up going with the PG-13 version.)
9. WILLIAMS DIDN’T KNOW THE BARBRA STREISAND LYRICS.
Harvey Fierstein (Frank) and Scott Capurro (Jack) taught Williams “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”
10. WILLIAMS TRIED TO BREAK PIERCE BROSNAN'S CONCENTRATION.
While Brosnan (Stu) was attempting to choke on the shrimp, Williams kept making suggestive comments to make his task much more difficult.
11. SALLY FIELD AND MARA WILSON ALSO WENT OFF SCRIPT.
When Field inadvertently gave herself a cappuccino mustache, it was added to the movie. Wilson ad-libbed her princess line.
12. LYDIA WAS EXPELLED FROM HER SCHOOL FOR WORKING ON THE MOVIE.
Lisa Jakub was kicked out of her Toronto school for taking the five-month-long gig. When Williams found out, he wrote a letter to the school asking them to reconsider. School officials framed his letter, but didn’t change their mind about Jakub.
13. A LENGTHY SUBPLOT INVOLVING THE NEIGHBOR GLORIA WAS CUT.
Scenes were filmed where Daniel got even with Gloria for telling Mrs. Doubtfire nasty rumors about him by telling her to use dog urine to make her garden beautiful, which ultimately kills her flowers. Gloria is only in two scenes in the final version.
14. THE HILLARDS ALMOST GOT BACK TOGETHER.
Screenwriter Randi Mayem Singer left the movie when 20th Century Fox wanted her to change the ending so that Daniel and Miranda get back together. After the studio and Columbus read the new, happier ending in Leslie Dixon’s revised script, they asked Singer to come back and change the ending back to the two remaining divorced.
15. TALK OF A SEQUEL BEGAN IN 2001.
In 2014, Williams had given Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum the go-ahead to work on a second draft of the sequel, which was cancelled following Williams’s passing.
16. BUT A MUSICAL MIGHT STILL BE COMING.
In early 2015, Alan Menken announced that he was in the early stages of working on a musical adaptation of the movie. In May 2016, however, he told Digital Spy that the project had stalled out a bit. "Mrs. Doubtfire went through a change of lyricist, and then also a dramaturgical evolution," he said. "At the moment, the best thing I could say is that it's on a creative hiatus." At this point, only time will tell if and when it happens.