Jack Nicholson Got John Candy Drunk While Making ‘Splash,’ Director Ron Howard Reveals

Jack Nicholson was not in Splash. Splash was a family comedy about Allen (Tom Hanks), a man who fell in love with a mermaid and named her Madison (Daryl Hannah). At least, it was a family movie in 1984, but today Disney+ decided families can’t see Hannah’s bare buttJohn Candy plays Allen’s brother Freddie in the film.

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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Anyway, Josh Gad reunited the cast and filmmakers of Splash on his YouTube show Reunited Apart on May 26. To raise money for DigDeep’s COVID-19 relief efforts, Hanks, Hannah, director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer, writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel and costar Eugene Levy discussed the film.

Jack Nicholson held up this iconic ‘Splash’ scene

Freddie is a bit of a sleaze, dropping change to look up women’s skirts, but he supports Allen’s relationship with Madison. To say he’s comic relief in a comedy shows you just how funny Candy was to rise above Hanks, Levy, Hannah and the script. In one scene, Allen and Freddie play racquetball together. Howard revealed Candy showed up late to the racquetball court.

John Candy
John Candy | Joan Adlen/Getty Images

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“John [was a] totally professional guy,” Howard told Gad. “But, he’s late. One day, we had this racquetball court, and he’s late. John finally pulls up, and he kind of rolls out of a car. And he comes up and he says, ‘Ron, Ron, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s okay. You’re late but we’ll get going.’ He said, “No, no, no. Look, I’m drunk.’”

John Candy stayed up all night partying with Jack Nicholson

Candy and Nicholson never got to appear in a movie together. Apparently, Nicholson was a big fan though. Howard repeated the story Candy told him. Nicholson would have been filming either the 1983 movie Terms of Endearment or 1985’s Prizzi’s Honor, or maybe he just happened to be vacationing in the Bahamas where Splash filmed.

Splash Daryl Hannah
Daryl Hannah | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

[Candy said,] ‘Here’s what happened. I’m telling you the truth. I’m at the bar and Jack Nicholson’s at the bar. “John Candy,” Jack Nicholson knew my name, Ron. “Do you want to come over?” Then he starts buying me drinks. Then I said, “I gotta go shoot.” Then he said, “You’re gonna be all right kid, don’t worry about it.” He kept buying me drinks. I never went to bed, Ron. I never went to bed.

Ron Howard, Reunited Apart, 5/26/2020

Even drunk, John Candy still got the last laugh in ‘Splash’

The racquetball scene is a bit of classic Candy slapstick. He threw himself into the physical performance of the scene, but it called for Candy to hit a racquetball so it bounces off the wall and hits him in the face. Hanks was just worried about the accuracy required. Even drunk, Candy nailed it on the first try.

John Candy and Tom Hanks
L-R: Tom Hanks and John Candy | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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“The difficult moment was going to be the ball hitting John in the head,” Hanks said. “He came up to do it and, swear to God, the very first time John hit the ball, it came right back and smacked him in the head. We all just collapsed in laughter.”