Canadian comedy legend Rick Moranis — who most people know from Ghostbuster, the Honey! I Shrunk the Kids franchise, and his work on SCTV, hasn’t been seen on screen since 1997, the year he officially retired to become a stay-at-home Dad. He’d been unofficially backing out of Hollywood for several years before that, since the death of his wife to breast cancer, and then suddenly, arguably at the peak of his career, Moranis just … vanished. He’s done a small smattering of voice work on both television and in the movies since then, but for the most part, he quit.
Why? Because Rick Moranis, who grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, had had a happy wonderful childhood, and he wanted to recreate that for his own kids in Manhattan. He felt that the adage, “90 percent of success is just being there” to be true. “When my kids came home, there was music, and there were lights on, and there were great smells coming out of the kitchen,” he said. “And it was just a joyful place to be, and that’s what I wanted.”
That’s because Rick Moranis is a goddamn saint. However, after being talked into it by his friends, Moranis recorded My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs, a comedy album of Hebrew songs he made, he says jokingly, to get back at his parents, who made him attend Hebrew school two hours every day growing up. He gives only the rarest of interviews, and he wasn’t too keen on giving this one, but he understands that part of the process. As such, he gave a lengthy interview to Jesse Thorn on one of my favorite podcasts, Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, and opened up about life after retirement.
I encourage you to listen to the entire interview, if only to hear a great story about how his characters, Bob and Doug, as well as Strange Brew came about as a reaction to government regulations in Canada, and because Moranis sounds like one of the mildest, nicest, most generous guys you will ever hear. I cannot say enough about how sweet and thoughtful he came off sounding, just a really classy guy. For instance, asked what it was like to recalibrate his life around a new situation after his wife died and Moranis retired from Hollywood, he says:
“Stuff happens to people everyday, and they make adjustments to their lives for all kinds of reasons. There was nothing unusual about what happened or what I did, I think the reason that people were intrigued by the decisions I was making and sometimes seem to have almost admiration for it had less to do with the fact that I was doing what I was doing and more to do with what they thought I was walking away from, as if what I was walking away from had far greater value than anything else that one might have. The decision in my case to become a stay-at-home-Dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn’t have meant as much to people if I had had a very simple kind of make-a-living existence and decided I needed to spend more time at home. Nobody would pay attention to it, but because I came from celebrity and fame and what was the peak of a career, that was intriguing to people. To me, it wasn’t that. I didn’t have anything to do with that. It was work, and it was just time to make an adjustment.”
Asked what it meant to walk away from a career that utilized his creativity every day, Rick Moranis very matter of factly stated:
“I didn’t walk away from that. I applied all of my creativity to my home life, to my kids, to my family. I was the same person. I didn’t change. I just shifted my focus.
There were things, however, that he did miss while he was raising his kids.
“I missed the people and I missed the very refreshing nature of doing something radically different every day. Raising kids and being a stay-at-home parent, especially a single parent, is, there’s a lot of sameness. It’s a very different kind of life than being on the set with Aykroyd and Murray and Steve Martin. So I missed that kind of thing, but I found lots of joy and lots of rewards in other places. It was just all part of an adjustment.
Asked about what his kids thought about the fact that their Dad was a famous movie star when they were little, Moranis had this to say:
My earliest memories were of being in public situations where people would get all excited because they were seeing a famous person, and my kids were just like, ‘Why are you so excited? It’s just him.’ They had a really good persepective on celebrity and fame very early on.
To demonstrate his kid’s indifference toward celebrity, Moranis told an adorable story about his five year old son seeing Derek Jeter at a Knicks game, around the time that Chuck Knoblauch had signed with the Yankees.
“Derek Jeter turned around, recognized me, got kind of like, ‘Oh hi! Hi!’ And my son said, ‘Have you met Chuck Knoblauch yet?’ And Jeter looked at him like, ‘Who is this kid.’ But that was my son. He was comfortable around anyone, and I think the reason was, is because he just didn’t buy why anyone would get excited around me.”
Moranis also didn’t rule out a return to showbusiness, but he didn’t seem excited about the prospect, either.
“I’m comfortable with where I live. There’s certain places I’m not interested in being. I’m not interested in doing anything I’ve done in the past … I have no idea. It’s not something I’ve given any thought to at all.”
Source: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn