Whatever happened to… Rick Moranis
The 80s was a great decade for comedy, and of the most beloved comedic actors of the time was Rick Moranis. Throughout the decade he appeared in beloved films such as Strange Brew, Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Moranis kept getting steady work throughout the 90s, and then abruptly vanished from the screen. Where did he go?
Lacking the build of a conventional leading man – Moranis is 5 ft 5 – Moranis quickly moved into comedic roles. He honed his skills in Canada – his native country – as part of the Second City TV troupe, directed and starred in the cult classic Strange Brew, and broke through a few years after with his memorable turn as Louis Tully in Ghostbusters.
The 90s weren’t as kind on Moranis, as he appeared in a string of disappointing comedic films. Two of them were Splitting Heirs, a failed comedic vehicle for Eric Idle, and The Flinstones, an embarrassing reboot of the beloved animated show. The last movie in which Rick Moranis appeared was the straight to video Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, the third movie in the franchise.
After this Moranis lend his voice to some animated productions, most notably Brother Bear 1 & 2, but that’s it.
So what had happened? Had Hollywood gotten sick of him? If it seems odd that an actor as beloved as Moranis wouldn’t even get hired anymore for meaty supporting roles or leading roles in TV shows, that’s because he’s the one who pulled the plug on his career.
It was in 1997 that Rick Moranis officially retired. His wife had died of breast cancer a few years earlier, and he made the decision to focus on his children instead of his career. The comedian expands on this in a 2015 interview on the Bullseye with Jesse Thorn podcast:
The decision in my case to become a stay-at-home-Dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn’t have meant as much to people if I had had a very simple kind of make-a-living existence and decided I needed to spend more time at home. Nobody would pay attention to it, but because I came from celebrity and fame and what was the peak of a career, that was intriguing to people. To me, it wasn’t that. I didn’t have anything to do with that. It was work, and it was just time to make an adjustment.
… I didn’t walk away from that. I applied all of my creativity to my home life, to my kids, to my family. I was the same person. I didn’t change. I just shifted my focus.
It’s the kind of reasoning you’d expect from someone who we connected to in film because of the warmth he exuded. Whether or not the actor will ever return on screen is to be seen, as he had the following to say:
“I’m comfortable with where I live. There’s certain places I’m not interested in being. I’m not interested in doing anything I’ve done in the past … I have no idea. It’s not something I’ve given any thought to at all.”
At least those in Toronto had the chance in 2017 to see him reprise his role as one of the McKenzie brothers from Strange Brew on stage for a benefit concert.
Update 11/05/2018: Rick Moranis is set to reprise his role as Dark Helmet on the TV show The Goldbergs, and will also shoot a Second City TV special for Netflix, to be directed by Martin Scorsese. This special will air in 2019.