robert de niro big tom hanks harrison ford

Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford both turned down the lead role in Big

Steven Spielberg was also the film’s original director.

1988’s Big is a timeless classic. The Penny Marshall-directed comedy earned Tom Hanks his first Academy Award nomination and established him as a bankable Hollywood lead. The film went through many different iterations before the final product, including a “darker” version of the script that could have starred either Robert De Niro or Harrison Ford.

Actor Matthew Modine, who was also in the running for the role of Josh Baskin, detailed the evolution of the script, while expressing regret for turning down the film.

“When the script was sent to me, it was a much darker movie. They had offered the film to Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford before coming to me, so it didn’t make sense, ’cause those guys are almost 20 years older than me. I thought if I was cast in the film, it wouldn’t have the irony it needed.”

—Matthew Modine

Early in Big‘s development, Steven Spielberg was set to direct, with Harrison Ford in mind as his leading man. However, the director dropped out of the film following the birth of his son Max.

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