A steamy, supernatural romantic drama featuring Harrison Ford and Demi Moore getting physical (well, not really; one of them is a ghost)? Yup, it could have happened.
Ghost had the highest gross of any movie in 1990 and was the 12th-biggest box office draw in the entire decade. It amassed $505.7 million, just behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day at $520.9 million.
The movie also found favor among critics, earning five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. The film directed by Jerry Zucker — yes, he of slapstick trio Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker — picked up Academy Awards trophies for best supporting actress (Whoopie Goldberg) and best original screenplay.
But the movie’s lasting legacy will be the iconic, innuendo-rich pottery scene. In it, Demi Moore’s Molly Jensen works with a pottery wheel while her shirtless, deceased boyfriend, Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze). … let’s just say “gives her a hand.” With the Everly Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” playing over the scene, it inspired a parade of parodies in the early ‘80s.
Harrison Ford, the Workaholic with a Whip
The makers of Ghost considered Harrison Ford for the movie’s main character. While it’s unclear why he didn’t want or get the role, his work schedule at that period in his career was so crowded, it probably wouldn’t have even accommodated Ghost.
Since his acting career started in 1966, he has appeared in 64 movies. Of course, some of those flicks only featured him in a minor role, be still …
While Ford will always be considered one of the most prolific blockbuster-movie stars in the history of film.
His work around the time of Ghost was especially impressive. He starred in the third — and what was thought to be the last — Indiana Jones movie in 1989. After Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he made Presumed Innocent (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), and two Jack Ryan movies. Oh, and The Fugitive (1993) too. That movie, in and of itself, was 1993s’s third-highest-grossing film in the U.S. and nabbed seven Oscar nominations.
Turns out Harrison Ford wasn’t the only actor who turned down the real of main character Sam Wheat. The makers of the movie also considered Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Kline, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox, and Paul Hogan — yes, Mick “Crocodile” Dundee — the Los Angeles Times reported around the release of Ghost in 1990.
Patrick Swayze Finally Gets the Part
When Ghost’s makers set the movie in motion in the late 1980s, they didn’t want Patrick Swayze for them main male role.
Swayze wrote in his 2009 memoir, The Time of My Life, that Zucker didn’t want him to play Sam Wheat.
“In fact, his response when my name came up for a possible audition was to say, ‘Patrick Swayze? Over my dead body!’” the book said. “Jerry had just seen the kickboxing, long-haired, tough-guy Patrick in Road House, and he just couldn’t imagine me in the role of the sensitive boyfriend who gets murdered and comes back as a ghost. … Zucker was absolutely convinced I was the wrong guy for the role, but he finally agreed to at least let me audition for it.”
Sam Wheat turned out to be a career-defining role for Patrick Swayze. The following year, he starred in another blockbuster, Point Break, with Keanu Reeves. That same year, People named him Sexiest Man Alive.
Swayze died at age 57 in 2009 after a highly-publicized, sad battle with pancreatic cancer.