Rain Man is a 1988 American road comedy-drama movie directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. The movie is about an abrasive, selfish young wheeler-dealer, Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise, who discovers that his estranged father has died and left all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond, played by Dustin Hoffman, an autistic savant, of whose existence Charlie was unaware. Take a look below for 30 more fun and interesting facts about Rain Man.
1. Barry Morrow created the character of Raymond after meeting Kim Peek, a real life savant. His characterization was based on both Peek and Bill Sackter, a good friend of Morrow who was the subject of Bill, an earlier movie that Morrow wrote.
2. Rain Man received overwhelmingly positive reviews, praising Dustin Hoffman’s role and the wit and sophistication of the screenplay.
3. Rain Man was the highest grossing movie of 1988.
4. The movie won 4 Oscars at the 61st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Dustin Hoffman.
5. The movie won the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.
6. On Oprah, Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman said the, “farting in the phone booth,” bit was improvised when Hoffman actually passed gas while the scene was being filmed. Hoffman said it was his favorite scene ever.
7. For in-flight viewing, several airlines deleted the sequence in which Raymond reels off statistics on airline accidents, except Qantas. They even promoted one of the movie’s writers to first class once when he traveled on their airline.
8. What Raymond says about Qantas was, and still is true. As of 2018, Qantas has never lost a jet airliner.
9. During filming, Dustin Hoffman was unsure of the movie’s potential and his own performance. Three weeks into the project, Hoffman wanted out, telling Barry Levinson, “Get Richard Dreyfuss, get somebody, Barry, because this is the worst work of my life.” Hoffman would eventually get his second Best Actor Academy Award for his work.
10. During filming, both Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise doubted the movie’s potential and jokingly called it, “Two Schmucks in a Car.”
11. Dustin Hoffman insisted that Raymond Babbitt should be an autistic savant, instead of being mentally disabled. His insistence was largely responsible for director Martin Brest quitting the project.
12. After being interviewed by the psychiatrist, Raymond leans his head against Charlie’s and says, “My main man Charlie.” This was unscripted, and improvised by Hoffman.
13. The movie first opened with a disappointing $6 million in revenue. However, in the following weeks, it generated a lot of word of mouth among movie viewers, allowing the movie to steadily climb up to the number one spot.
14. Rain Man is Hans Zimmer’s first score for a Hollywood production.
15. Both Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro turned down the part of Raymond.
16. Jake Hoffman, the boy at the pancake counter, is Dustin Hoffman’s son.
17. Dustin Hoffman was originally hired to play the part of Charlie Babbit, but after being moved to tears seeing a savant named Leslie Lemke, who is blind, mentally handicapped, and has cerebral palsy, play full concertos on the piano by ear, he decided to play the part of Raymond instead.
18. Barry Levinson specifically instructed composer Hans Zimmer to avoid strings in his score as he felt it would make the movie too sentimental.
19. Tom Cruise always wanted to rehearse while filming. He and Dustin Hoffman rehearsed while driving to the set, and in their trailers during takes. They frequently switched roles.
20. During the shooting of the casino scenes, Dustin Hoffman would go off and play games like blackjack. After production was halted to look for him, someone was assigned to watch him during takes.
21. Dustin Hoffman spent a year working with autistic men and their families to understand their complex relationships. Also, when he was a jobbing actor, he had worked in a psychiatric care home, and drew from his experiences then for the movie.
22. The part of Susanna had originally been written as a waspish blonde woman. By having a foreigner play the role, whose native tongue wasn’t English, it allowed for Tom Cruise’s character to do a lot of exposition.
23. The fact that Tom Cruise wore Ray Bans in Rain Man boosted sales of that style by 15%.
24. Raymond memorizes a phone book up to the names Marsha and William Gottsegen, which are Dustin Hoffman’s real life in-laws.
25. The script was originally written with real-life brothers Randy Quaid and Dennis Quaid in mind.
26. The radio station slogan that Raymond is so fond of repeating, “97X – Bam! – The future of rock and roll,” is from a real independent Ohio radio station, WOXY. The station still fields questions about the movie.
27. Barry Levinson shot most of the exchanges between Charlie and Raymond in profile, because Raymond refuses to make eye contact with anyone whom he’s talking to.
28. At one point, Rain Man was the biggest grossing Best Picture Oscar winner. It was subsequently surpassed by Forrest Gump, which had been put into development at a rival studio at roughly the same time.
29. Rain Man was shot in sequential order, roughly following the actual road trip that the characters take.
30. Although they share co-screenwriting credit, Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass never met until the numerous awards ceremonies they attended when the movie started getting multiple awards.