UPDATED 3/20 at 3:10 p.m. ET: The director of 1993’s Ms. Doubtfire, Chris Columbus, confirmed to Entertainment Weekly on Friday that there is indeed an R-rate version of the movie—but not an NC-17 cut.
Columbus explained that there were times when Williams would ask the crew and Columbus to “let me play” after doing a few scripted takes. This would result in 15-20 takes of Williams improving his own versions of the scene.
“He would sometimes go into territory that wouldn’t be appropriate for a PG-13 movie, but certainly appropriate and hilariously funny for an R-rated film,” Columbus said.
Although it’s unlikely that a full R-rated version of the film will be released to audiences, Columbus is open to sharing some of the scenes if used to tell the full story of the film.
“I would be open to maybe doing a documentary about the making of the film, and enabling people to see certain scenes re-edited in an R-rated version,” he added.
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This week, those talks were revived thanks to a Film Facts tweet about how Williams’ expert improvisation skills resulted in director Chris Columbus making the decision to cut several different versions of the movie when in the editing room.
While Mara Wilson—who played Williams’ character’s daughter in the hit film—told People back in 2016 that she didn’t know anything about a full-blown NC-17 cut, Columbus seemingly confirmed the existence of such an edit just one year prior.
Per a 2015 Yahoo piece, Columbus—who said he considered Williams “the best actor” he’s ever worked with—used multiple cameras at once to capture the revered actor’s impact on the cast when improvising. This led to Columbus editing “literally, a PG-rated version of the film, PG-13, R, and NC-17.”
Williams’ performance in the Howard Shore-scored Mrs. Doubtfire, also starring Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan, was met with widespread acclaim upon its release. Notably, critics praised Williams for going above and beyond in the role to the point of helping viewers overlook what might easily be argued as plot-based shortcomings in the story, one that’s easily identifiable as problematic in at least a couple ways.
Mrs. Doubtfire went on to bag nearly $200 million at the U.S. box office. And nearly 30 years later, many fans are still holding out hope for that aforementioned “NC-17 cut.” Some, however, have cautioned that the material might be best left on the cutting room floor.