The beloved 1993 family-comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire” could easily have turned out to be not so family friendly at all. In a recent interview with the film’s director Chris Columbus (“Home Alone,” “Harry Potter”), the filmmaker reiterated that the late great Robin Williams ad-libbed a great deal. Some of the off script improvisation was raunchy enough to have easily elevated the film from its PG-13 rating straight to an R.
Williams’ comically vulgar stylings should be of no surprise to people familiar with his stand-up comedy or more mature films. Just as Robin was able to do comedy as easily as drama, so too could he appeal to kids as well as adults. After all, this was a man whose first two major film roles were in “Popeye” and “The World According to Garp.” So while this news about “Mrs. Doubtfire” may not be revelatory to some, through an interesting confluence of events, the movie has been popping up in internet headlines again.
Setting the stage for all this has been the buzz surrounding the release of Zack Snyder‘s version of “Justice League.” Consensus around the film seems to be that it is indeed different and largely better than the original version that Snyder started and Joss Whedon finished. So, as social media is discussing this, on March 18th, the Twitter account for Film Facts tweets about how there was enough ad-libbed material shot for “Mrs. Doubtfire” that several different versions of the film could’ve been made with different ratings.
Thanks to Williams being so beloved 7 years after his passing, the idea of different cuts of movies being a real thing, and “Mrs. Doubtfire” being a huge film in the childhoods of so many people, the topic started trending. Then, on March 19th, Entertainment Weekly conducted an interview with Columbus who confirmed most of the information as true.
The director had apparently given an interview back in 2015 that extolled praise on Williams’ ability to improvise and that yes, there was enough material to have put together different rated versions. That being said, the NC-17 bit was just a joke on Columbus’ part, and though the material was indeed strong enough for an R, there wasn’t an actual NC-17 cut.
Fans looking forward to seeing this version shouldn’t get their hopes up though. Columbus also stated that a release of that unused material wouldn’t be happening. If anything were to come of it, he’d want to use it in the form of footage for a documentary about the making of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” should the project ever occur.
This wouldn’t be the first time that ad-libbed and improvised bits would be used to recut a film. Will Ferrell‘s “Anchorman 2” did that back in 2013, bumping the film up from a PG-13 to an R. Of course, that film isn’t seen as a piece of childhood nostalgia starring Robin Williams.
So yeah, unsurprisingly there is a potential R-rated version of “Mrs. Doubtfire” that will likely never see the light of day. The more you know about Robin Williams though, the less surprising this news is. It does however give us just one more reminder of how versatile the man was, and how outrageously funny it must’ve been to work with him.