The movie Popeye may not be what most people think of when they remember Robin Williams, but the movie deserves much more credit than it gets.
Is it a little bizarre? Yes, it sure it. But is it fun anyways? Of course!
The fantastical and wonderful movie that many people forget has an interesting history and a lot of work was put into it.
Even though it didn’t succeed as expected, it still brings a lot of joy to the people who do love it. If you’ve never seen it, you really should. Maybe these facts will help get you interested.
Robin Williams’s First Role
Robin Williams had already made a name for himself as Mork, but he wanted to break into the movie industry as well.
No one else could have played Popeye the way he did, it just wouldn’t have been nearly as good.
Makeup Process and Mishaps
Obviously Popeye isn’t Popeye without those enormous forearms, so they needed to make Williams some fake arms to attach to him, but they were not ready in time.
To try and hide it, the director put Williams in a rain jacket at the start of the film until the arms were ready.
Williams had to redo his audio
The voice he used when they initially filmed the movie turned out to be almost indecipherable when they actually listened back.
To remedy this, they had to bring Williams in to rerecord all of his dialogue and dub it back in later.
Kind of a long process, but I guess it was either that or just a bunch of mumbling!
Shelley Duvall has a deep connection to Olive Oyl
Olive Oyl definitely has a unique look to her, and no one could have played her better than Shelley Duvall.
She actually admitted that when she was in grade school the other kids would bully her by calling her Olive Oyl.
There was someone else almost cast as Olive Oyl
The producers of the movie originally intended for Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner, to be cast in the movie, but the director knew what he wanted.
He waited until Duvall was ready before starting the production.
The ‘Popeye’ sets we turned into a theme park
After production was done, the town was left with all of these expensive and impressive set pieces so they made the best of it!
It had taken the production team seven months to build the fake town of Sweet Haven. They were building it in Malta, but they imported in logs all the way from the Netherlands and shingles from Canada.
They built a total of 19 different buildings that included the tavern, a hotel, a church and more, but when the movie wrapped, they didn’t want to tear them down.
Instead, the town where it was built took over and decided to transform it into a Popeye themed amusement park.
They have actors who dress as Olive, Bluto, Popeye, and a bunch of other characters to make you feel like you are living in Sweet Haven.
They even host special shows, the most exiting is probably the wedding of Popeye and Olive Oyl, because who doesn’t love a wedding!
It’s a pretty cool sight to see, you can even do a google street view tour of the town if you can’t make it to Europe. It’s pretty adorable because the actors pose differently in all the shots so it’s like you get to be a part of it.
The extras had interesting backgrounds
Many of the extras hired for the background of the town were actually experienced circus performers.
It helped them do the physical stunts that were required in all of those iconic fight scenes.
‘Popeye’ was made because the studio missed out on another comic strip movie
Paramount had wanted to get the rights to Annie, but they lost the bidding war. Instead they held a meeting to try and find an alternative.
Apparently producer Robert Evans wanted to find some comic strip that would be a good character for a movie, and they decided that the Popeye comics were their best bet.
The original cast of the movie would have looked a lot different
While it’s hard to imagine it as anyone but Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall as Popeye and Olive Oyl, the two original actors who had been signed on to play were actually Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin.
This was after the director had said no to the producers suggestion of Gilda Radner, but before they were able to get Shelley Duvall.
Hoffman is actually reported to have tried to get the producer to fire screenwriter Jules Feiffer, but the producer refused and Hoffman left the film.
On screen injuries
Williams was injured in the scene at the end where a can of spinach is thrown to him. It accidentally hit him in his head and cut him pretty badly.
He actually ended up needing stitches which delayed the production for several weeks.
Duvall said that she was very close with her co-star, but lately she has been going through some issues that have people worried.
The actress spoke about how she believes that Williams is still alive, and now lives as a “shapeshifter.”
She said this during a controversial interview with Dr. Phil, and while people criticized him for exploiting a woman who even said herself that she knew she needed help, it’s still sad to know that she lost such a dear friend.
Do you remember the ‘Popeye’ movie? If not, you should absolutely go check it out.
If you like to know more about Shelley Duvall and why she thinks that Robin Williams is still alive, you can read this article that discusses her mental illness, her time on The Shining and more.
- We’ve got facts about Jumanji that will bring you right back into the jungle
- Or all the answers to your Mork & Mindy questions, including how he landed the iconic role on his head
- And of course, facts about Hook that are guaranteed to make you lose your marbles.
Whichever Robin Williams project is your favorite, I think we can all agree that he was easily one of the best actors of our time.