Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Robin Williams” with a minor in “Nostalgia-gasms”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
Peter Banning is a successful corporate lawyer whose commitment to his job causes friction with his wife Moira and children Jack and Maggie. But when Peter’s children are abducted during a visit to London and Moira’s grandmother, Wendy, she informs him that he is actually Peter Pan and must return to Neverland to rescue his children from Captain Hook! Can the nebbish Peter Banning reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy? The answer is waiting for us…Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning! It’s Steven Spielberg’s Hook!
All boys grow up, except one. But if he does grow up, then who better to play him than the other symbol of eternal youth, the late, great Robin Williams? Surprisingly, it didn’t start out this way. Hook actually went into pre production in the early 80’s as a direct adaptation of the 1924 silent film, and Disney’s 1953 animated film. Heading the originally slated cast was another recently departed entertainer, Michael Jackson as Peter Pan, David Bowie as Captain Hook, and Carrie Fisher as Tinkerbell. Once screenwriter James V. Hart decided to add his own hook by portraying Peter Pan as an adult, however, Michael immediately lost interest, though the idea of an adult Peter Pan wasn’t new by any means. The original author, J.M. Barrie, actually wrote a draft for a sequel featuring an adult Peter Pan in 1920, but never finished it. It wouldn’t be until a year later that this adaptation would begin filming, but there are dozens of references to the original book and the various stage and novel adaptations scattered throughout the film in dialogue, props, stage decoration, and songs. For anyone who is well versed in the Peter Pan lore, Hook is a feast of in-jokes and homages.
Released in 1991, Hook stars Dustin Hoffman as Hook, Robin Williams as Peter, Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Bob Hoskins as Smee, and Dante Basco as Rufio. Hook was Steven Speilberg’s 15th feature film as director. Two years later in 1993 he would release Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List.
Industrial Light & Magic provided the visual effects sequences for Hook while Stage 27 housed the full-sized pirate ship Jolly Roger and the surrounding Pirate Wharf. John Napier, a set designer for Broadway and London theatrical performances and the designer of the Michael Jackson EO video was hired as a visual consultant for the film. Spielberg was allegedly hooked by Napier’s work on the Broadway show “Cats”, which accounts for one of his many Tony Awards, and hired him shortly afterwards. Hook was also a jumping off point for weapon smith Tony Swatton who has since built props, armored, jewelry, and weapons for Blade, The Patriot, Pirates of the Caribbean, Van Helsing, Hellboy, Beowulf, Thor, and The Hunger Games. He is also the host of the web series, Man at Arms where he takes fan requests for weapon and prop builds.
Are you ready for some unabashedly copy-pasted trivia?
- All three of Dustin Hoffman’s children make appearances in the movie. His youngest son, Max, plays the young version of Peter Pan, Rebecca plays Jane in the play at the beginning of the movie, and his oldest son Jake plays a little leaguer in Jack’s baseball game.
- Maggie Smith who was only 56 years old at the time of filming, was aged up significantly with makeup to play the 92-year-old Granny Wendy.
- The kissing couple that starts floating when some fairy dust lands on them are actually George Lucas and Carrie Fisher in a cameo, yet another example of Lucas and Spielberg’s friendship.
- Julia Roberts was nicknamed “Tinkerhell” because she was difficult to deal with on set.
- Because Tinkerbell was often in mid air, Julia Roberts had an assistant whos entire job was cleaning her feet
- This is Gwyneth Paltrow’s second film. She appears briefly as the teen Wendy during the sequence as Wendy is growing up.
- The names Jack and Maggie are American translations of the names of two other children who need help finding their way back home: Hansel and Grete
- When Granny Wendy is telling the children about the story of Peter Pan, she is holding one of the original printings of the book. It is a first edition version which is noticeable by the olive color, and the gold gilt design on the front cover. The version was printed in 1911 as the first novelization of Peter and Wendy.
- Robin William’s shaved his entire upper body for his role in the film
- The Lost Boys’ battle cry, “Bangarang!” is actually Jamaican slang for ruckus or unruliness, which was quite appropriate, considering that the child actors were reportedly so rowdy that Spielberg joked that he didn’t want anymore kids.
- Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins, while rehearsing their lines together, simultaneously paused and looked up at each other, both realizing that they were playing a gay couple, and much to Spielberg’s displeasure, enthusiastically agreed to roll with it.
- According to an interview with People Magazine, Raushan Hammond (Thud Butt) reveals that the scene where Peter passes his sword to one of the Lost Boys was improvised. None of the cast knew who he would pass the sword onto, except for Robin Williams and Steven Spielberg, so the reactions of the boys are genuine.
- Steven Spielberg accidentally gave the teddy bear from Captain Hook’s cabin was accidentally given to Julia Roberts when she checked in to hospital for nervous exhaustion. Spielberg realized his mistake the night before he was due to shoot a scene in Hook’s cabin, forcing the prop department to rustle up a look-alike in a matter of hours.
- In 1985, composer John Williams and lyricist Leslie Bricusse worked on “Hook”, being a stage musical, but the project was scrapped after about ten songs were written. Only one song from the play, “When You’re Alone,” made it to the film. However, many of the play’ themes can be heard in Williams’ incidental music for the film.
The original production budget was set at $48 million, but ended up between $60–80 million. This was also largely contributed by the shooting schedule, which ran 40 days over its original 76 day schedule. Spielberg was ultimately unhappy with the final result stating, “It was all my fault. I began to work at a slower pace than I usually do.”
Critics seemed to agree, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of only 30% and an IMDB score of 6.6. However, all of us who grew up with this film know better than the critics, or even its self-deprecating director. Hook made over $300 million worldwide, making its money back and then some, but besides that Hook is the movie that made us all believe we could fly…even though reasonable doubt made us get off the roof after reevaluating the height. So in memory of Robin Williams, and in honor of the Oscars earlier this week, we now return to Neverland! Bangarang!
The Supercult show is proud to present, Hook!
Special thanks to Caleb Jackson for helping out with this one!