15 Things You Never Knew About Steve Martin's 'Father of the Bride'
What's not to like about "Father of the Bride," which celebrates its 25th anniversary this week (it was released on December 20, 1991)?
It has Steve Martin at the peak of his overwhelmed-dad period, a luminous Diane Keaton, a delightful Kimberly Williams-Paisley (in her screen debut), an unhinged Martin Short, and all the drool-worthy, catalog-quality consumerism and home decor you'd expect in a movie from Nancy Meyers.
Still, as many times as you've lusted after Annie Banks's lavish dream wedding -- or groaned like George over its costly excesses -- there's plenty you may not know about "Father of the Bride." Read on for the story of how this bridal party came to be.
1. In the original 1950 "Father of the Bride," it was Spencer Tracy who played exasperated dad Stanley Banks, with Elizabeth Taylor as his soon-to-be-wed daughter. MGM scheduled the film's release to coincide with the 18-year-old starlet's real-life wedding to hotel heir Nicky Hilton, hoping for a once-in-a-lifetime publicity bonanza. Little did anyone know at the time that a Taylor wedding wouldn't be that rare of an event.
2. In the remake, co-scripted by Meyers and then-husband Charles Shyer (who also directed), Stanley became George Banks, now named for the apoplectic dad in "Mary Poppins." But he kept Stanley as a middle name.
3. At 45, Martin was beginning to move on from the wacky comedies that had launched his film career and was starting to play conventional dads in movies like "Parenthood."
"I'm not doing 'wild and crazy,' "Man With Two Brains" comedy anymore," he said at the time of the film;s release. "If I didn't change, I'd be an idiot. I'd look really foolish if I were doing those kind of comedies now. I'm not the same age as I was. I'm wiser than I was."
4.Tom Irish made his debut in the 1950 "Father" and his final screen appearance in the 1991 remake. In both films, he played a relative named Ben Banks.
5.Phoebe Cates was the filmmakers' first choice for the bride, but she was pregnant and unavailable, so they went with newcomer Williams.
6. Martin said he didn't try to pay homage to Tracy's performance, which he considered "flawless." Instead, he just tried to be himself.
"What I'm personalizing in 'Father of the Bride' is the melancholy that I feel, or that people feel," he said. "I like that emotion. It's a very perplexing emotion. All you can do when you're indicated by it is just stand there. You can't do anything about it. If you're angry, you can yell, of if you're sad, you can cry. But if you have melancholy, you just can't believe what's happening. I like to play it."
7. The picture-perfect Banks home (above) is a real house in Pasadena, California that was recently sold in 2016. Shyer filmed most of the interior and exterior shots there, but the backyard where the wedding takes place was that of another house in Alhambra, California.
8. Martin wasn't the only one essentially playing himself on screen. "Everybody in this movie is kind of playing themselves," he said. Citing on-screen wife Keaton, he said, "Diane is very much like that. Her personality is like quicksilver, and she talks like that, and when you first meet her, you think she's doing a Diane Keaton impression. She really is lightning and erratic and crinkling with electrical charge."
9. George Newbern, as bridegroom Bryan MacKenzie, was also drawing from his own life. He'd recently married (in fact, you can see the tan line on his ring finger during the ceremony) and had to win over a formidable father-in-law named George.
"It's just not fun," he said. "Girls don't have to do that. I'm from the South, from Arkansas. My father had to do it. My grandfather was a federal judge, and my father had to go talk to him. He said that was just like descending into hell."
10. Perhaps the only person playing someone broader than himself was Short, as wedding planner Franck. But Short said, if anything, he was underplaying the character.
"If you go meet a wedding coordinator in Beverly Hills, you'd ask, 'Why is he playing it so down?'" Short said he largely improvised Franck's dialogue, which he said was mostly gibberish on the page. As for the character's incomprehensible accent, Short acknowledged, "The accent was a complete mishmash. There was no consistency. Maybe he was from Poland, educated in England, visited Prague, and made side trips to Yugoslavia."
11. Yep, that's future "Fargo" co-star Kieran Culkin as Annie's brother, Matty. Having made his debut as bed-wetting cousin Fuller in "Home Alone," the eight-year-old Culkin enjoyed his first major speaking role in "Father."
12. After the film's release, Martin claimed "Father" marked the first time "I looked at a movie I was in and liked myself."
13. "Father" cost a reported $20 million to make. It made $89 million in theaters, prompting a sequel four years later.
14. Williams and Newbern capitalized on their newfound fame by appearing together as a young couple, much like the MacKenzies, in a series of Hallmark ads.
15. In 2014, Martin shot down reports that he'd signed on to star in a belated threequel, one that would have had kid brother Matty now grown and engaged -- to another man.