Revisiting 'The Money Pit': Shelley Long reveals scene that almost killed her, working with an unknown Tom Hanks

Will Lerner
Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

In the mid-1980s, Shelley Long was facing tough decisions about where to take her career. She was close to the end of her tenure on Cheers, and although she had an interest in working more in film, she was about to become a mother. When Long was presented with the opportunity to star in a comedy called The Money Pit, about a young couple caught in the renovation from hell, she was hesitant.

“I was pregnant when we started talking about it, so I wasn’t sure that was going to work,” Long explained to Yahoo Entertainment. “The script was full of notes about how things were going to look — note after note, huge paragraphs of notes, so it was hard to get through, frankly. I wasn’t sure it was going to work for me.”

The Money Pit stars Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. (Photo: Mary Evans/Universal Pictures/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)

Long recalled that although the director, Richard Benjamin, was “so insistent” that she star in his film, after meeting with her at his home, the filmmaker also started to have doubts whether she should do it. Regardless, Long gave birth and decided to do the film with an actor she wasn’t familiar with.

“When I finally decided that I wanted to do this movie, I didn’t know anything about Tom Hanks,” Long admitted. “I think I had seen him do Bosom Buddies, but I might have watched that after I knew I was going to work with him. I didn’t know anything about Tom Hanks. But everybody said he was great, so I thought, ‘OK.'”

The Money Pit is filled with physical comedy. While Long didn’t get injured while making it, she came perilously close. At one point, Long’s character, Anna Crowley, stumbles upon a raccoon and runs out screaming, nearly plummeting off the second floor, where a staircase used to be.

The only thing preventing Shelley Long from running over the edge was a thin wire. (Photo: Universal Pictures)

“The only thing they had to prevent me from actually going over the landing was a wire and a guy behind me holding the wire,” Long recalled. “He wasn’t that much heavier than I was. Could I have done that today? I don’t know. But I did it and it all worked out, thank you, God.”

From ‘Cheers’ to ‘Dr. T,’ check out our full Role Recall with Shelley Long:

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