Whatever Happened To...Rick Moranis?

If you were watching movies in the '80s then surely you remember Rick Moranis, the lovable nerdy guy who enjoyed a terrific film career throughout the decade, appearing in Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, Parenthood, Spaceballs, Strange Brew, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. It was while watching Parenthood on cable a few weeks ago that I realized that Moranis hasn't seemingly appeared on the big screen for nearly 20 years...so it was time to do a little investigating. 

Moranis' movie legacy is bittersweet. Of course, most of us know that he hails from Canada and got his start on Second City Television alongside friend and fellow actor/writer Dave Thomas. The two pals would soon become known for their Great White North sketches featuring the characters of Bob and Doug McKenzie. Prior to that, Moranis worked as a radio DJ and was persuaded by Thomas to join SCTV as a comedy writer and performer. After the success of Strange Brew in 1983, which featured the McKenzie brothers on the big screen, Hollywood offered several more plummy comedy roles to Moranis throughout the decade. 

Then in 1991, Moranis' wife died from cancer, leaving him to raise their two young children alone. That's when Moranis slowly started to extradite himself from acting so he could focus on being a full-time, stay at home dad. He did star as Barney Rubble (with a blonde wig and without his trademark specs) in 1994's The Flintstones, and alongside Tom Arnold in 1997's Big Bully, which was a certifiable flop. Since the mid-90s, Moranis has done voiceover work mostly for children's television programs, and starred in a 1993 music video for a song by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan called Tomorrow's Girls, in which he is married to a female alien. 

Moranis emerged from his private life last year to give an interview to NPR's Jesse Thorn and revealed that he had, indeed, pretty much retired from acting. He explained why it was easy for him to walk away from Hollywood: 

“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.”

Moranis doesn't regret his decision at all, and of course he's to be applauded. He went on to say in the interview that his own childhood was a happy one, and he wanted his kids to have that experience, too:

“When my kids came home, there was music, and there were lights on, and there were great smells coming out of the kitchen. And it was just a joyful place to be, and that’s what I wanted.”

Last year Moranis also released a comedy album, My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs, about growing up Jewish. He has also weighed in about the possibility of a third Ghostbusters movie, and if his character Louis Tully might make an appearance in it:

"I haven’t talked to Dan Aykroyd about it. Somebody he’s associated with called me and I said, ‘I wouldn’t not do it, but it’s got to be good.’ You know, I’m not interested in doing anything I’ve already done, and I thought the second one was a disappointment. But I guess I’m interested in where that guy is now. I sort of see him as being Bernie Madoff’s cellmate in jail. Both of them being so orderly that they race to get up and make their beds.”

It's good to know that he's doing well. 
Rick Moranis in 2013


  1. The Nerdist podcast had a very nice, funny, lengthy interview with Rick Moranis last year about his years on SCTV and in films. He sounds like he left Hollywood with his head screwed on straight.

  2. Rick Moranis always left me feeling as though he really was just a nice guy who did comedy.

    Reading your post confirmed that for me! Thank you!



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