Elizabeth Perkins says she has been called a ‘paedophile’ over love scene in Big

Ellie Harrison
·2-min read
Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins in Big (Moviestore/Shutterstock)
Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins in Big (Moviestore/Shutterstock)

Elizabeth Perkins has reflected on a love scene in the 1988 movie Big that she says “would not be acceptable” today.

The classic film is about a 13-year-old boy called Josh who makes a wish and wakes up the next morning in an adult man’s body. At one point in the film, the adult version of Josh (Tom Hanks) is pictured about to have sex with Susan (Perkins), putting his hand on her breast, even though he is still a child in reality.

In a new interview with The Guardian, when asked about the “weird and wrong” scene, Perkins said: “Oh, I know. I’ve been called a paedophile. You know, I get it. The only thing I can say is, it was a different time. It was the Eighties; it was not viewed through that lens and I get that it is being viewed through that lens now.”

Asked if there were any concerns raised at the time that the film was made, Perkins said: “If you look at it in the movie, it was sort of used as a joke. Here he is the next morning, the elevator door opens and he bounces out like: ‘Wow, I just had my first sexual experience.’”

She added: “It was a setup for a joke that today would not be acceptable.”

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The scene ends with Susan looking horrified when Josh turns back into his 13-year-old self. “Oh, we had several different takes,” said Perkins. “We had me being horrified, me being scared. There are a lot of different ways that we can go, but I think Penny [Marshall, the director] chose very carefully – that there is a lot of admiration between Susan and Josh, and ultimately a great friendship.”

In another recent interview, Perkins spoke about how Robert De Niro was originally cast as Josh in Big, but was unable to follow through on his commitment due to a “scheduling conflict”.

Season two of Perkins’s TV show The Moodys is broadcast in the US on Fox on Thursday nights.