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Mention 1986′s ‘Howard the Duck,’ and the question “how on Earth did that ever get made?” usually crops up straight away.
Well, we’ve now got some fascinating insight into producer George Lucas’ notorious disasterpiece which gave Marvel Comics their somewhat inauspicious introduction to the big screen, thanks to an in-depth oral history at Decider.
All aspects of the movie and its production are discussed at length with the cast and crew… but we all know which bit we most want to hear about. We want to know what was going on in their heads when they decided to put an anthropomorphic duck in bed with Lea Thompson.
As much as that scene has always seemed utterly wrong on all levels, it only gets more disturbing when you learn that Howard was for the most part portrayed by dwarf actor Jordan Prentice (’In Bruges,’ ‘Mirror Mirror’) - who was only 12 years old at the time.
For his part, Prentice remarks, “I didn’t care whether or not I did that scene, but my guardian was really against it.”
Lea Thompson says, “When they had to do the love scene, I was like, ‘I can’t do this scene with a kid.'” Beyond this, though, the actress had no concerns:
“I had just done a love scene with my son in ‘Back to the Future’ and nobody seemed to be too upset about that. I thought it was hilarious. That’s my sense of humor.
“My biggest regret about that scene is that it [is] the reason my kids have never seen me sing ‘Howard the Duck’ in front of the giant egg. They have to turn it off at the love scene.”
In the scene’s defence, director Willard Hyuck says, “Obviously [I] thought that scene was funny, the idea that she might actually go to bed with a duck. I’m always surprised how people who become offended by things that are pretty silly.
“There was a really nice older man at Universal that called us one day, sometime after the movie had opened. He had to prepare these movies for airplane flights. We went to lunch with him and said, ‘There are just a few cuts we’d like to make in the movie. Does she have to go to bed with a duck?’
“At that point I said, 'Let them get their money out of the airplane. You can shorten the scene.'”
'Howard the Duck’ opened in summer 1986 to universally negative reviews and poor performance at the global box office (barely recouping its then-enormous budget of $37 million).
However, it has since become something of a cult classic, and Howard’s popularity has spiked since his brief post-credits cameo in Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ - so much so that he’s rumoured to return in the upcoming sequel.
Picture Credit: Universal