Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 comedy-drama film directed by Chris Columbus and written for the screen by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, based on the novel Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine. It stars Robin Williams (who also served as a co-producer), Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein, and Robert Prosky. It follows a recently divorced actor who dresses up as a female housekeeper to be able to interact with his children. The film addresses themes of divorce, separation, and the effect they have on a family.

The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Robin Williams was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actor.

Although the film received mixed reviews during its original theatrical run, more recent reviews have been much more positive: the film placed 67th in the American Film Institute's "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" list and 40th on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies of All Time." The original music score was composed by Howard Shore.


Daniel Hillard is a freelance voice actor in San Francisco. Though a devoted father to his children Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, his wife Miranda considers him unreliable. One day, Daniel quits his job and returns home to throw a lavish birthday party for Chris despite Miranda's objections, creating a situation with their neighbors. Miranda files for divorce, and the judge gives sole custody of the children to her, but tells Daniel if he can find a steady job and a suitable residence within three months, she will agree to share joint custody.

Daniel works to rebuild his life, getting a menial job at a local television station, and learns that Miranda is seeking a housekeeper to watch over the children. He secretly alters her classified ad form to keep other interested people away, and then uses his voice acting skills to call Miranda about the job, making them all undesirable applicants. He then calls Miranda as a Scottish-accented nanny, whom he calls Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, with strong credentials. Miranda is impressed and invites her for an interview. Daniel gets help from his brother Frank, a makeup artist, and Frank's partner Jack, to create a Mrs. Doubtfire persona, including a prosthetic mask to make him appear as an older woman.

Miranda hires Mrs. Doubtfire after the impressive interview. Upon returning to the apartment, Mrs Doubtfire is met by Mrs. Sellner, Daniel's court liaison, hoping to see Daniel and carry out her inspection of the apartment. This results in Daniel changing back and forth from Mrs. Doubtfire and himself to meet Mrs. Sellner's needs, which ultimately leads at one point to Daniel's mask flying out the window, where it is flattened by a rubbish truck. He cleverly conceals his face by donning a "facial mask" from cake frosting in his fridge. Frank and Jack quickly make him a new and slightly older mask.

The children initially struggle with Mrs. Doubtfire's ways, but soon come around and thrive, and further, Miranda learns to become closer with her children. Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, learns several household skills as part of the role, further improving himself. However, this has created another barrier for Daniel to see his children, as Miranda has put more trust into Mrs. Doubtfire than him, and she could never dismiss her. One day, Lydia and Chris discover Daniel's ploy, and while thrilled to have their father back, agree to keep his secret.

While working at the station, Daniel is seen by the station's CEO Jonathan Lundy playing with toy dinosaurs on the set of a cancelled children's show. Impressed by his voice acting and imagination, Lundy asks Daniel to join him for a dinner at Bridge's Restaurant to discuss giving him his own children's show to host. Daniel discovers this is to be on the same night and time as a planned birthday dinner for Miranda by her new boyfriend Stu Dunmire at the same restaurant, to which Mrs. Doubtfire has also been invited. Unable to change either appointment, Daniel decides to try to rotate in and out of the Mrs. Doubtfire outfit to attend both events.

As the dinners progress, a drunken Daniel starts making mistakes after changing in and out of costume, from which he quickly recovers. Stu starts choking on his dinner, and Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, gives him the Heimlich maneuver. The action causes the prosthetic mask to peel half off his face, revealing his identity, and horrifying Miranda.

At their next custody hearing, Daniel explains about how he met the judge's requirements as well as his actions. However, Miranda is awarded full custody of the children, with Daniel limited to supervised visitation every Saturday, much to his and even Miranda's dismay. Without Mrs. Doubtfire, Miranda and her children become miserable, recognizing how much Mrs. Doubtfire improved their lives. They are surprised when the local station starts a new children's show Euphegenia's House which Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, hosts. The show becomes a hit and starts airing across the country.

Miranda visits Daniel after one recording and admits they were happier when he was involved, and agrees to change the custody rights. Soon after, Miranda is able to hire Daniel as the children's new babysitter, allowing him to see them every day after school--essentially what he was able to do as Mrs. Doubtfire. As Daniel takes the kids out, Miranda watches an episode of Euphegenia's House where Mrs. Doubtfire answers a letter from a young girl whose parents have separated, saying no matter what arrangements families have, love will prevail.


Chicago was the studio's first choice for filming. However, as two new television series ( ER and Chicago Hope) had a lease with the city during the subsequent time period, production was relocated to San Francisco. Various locations in the city were used during filming. Parts were filmed at the studios of television station KTVU in Oakland. Street signs for the intersection near the "Painted Lady" home, Steiner, and Broadway, were visible onscreen.

The exact address 2640 Steiner Street 37°47?38.07?N 122°26?10.78?W became a tourist attraction for some time after the film's release. Following Williams's death by suicide on August 11, 2014, the house became an impromptu memorial. All interior filming for the home took place in a Bay Area warehouse converted for sound stage usage. Williams's character, Daniel Hillard, lived upstairs from Danilo Bakery at 516 Green Street; his children attended a school at Filbert and Taylor.

The makeup for Mrs. Doubtfire's appearance took four hours to apply. Williams later recounted how he used to walk through San Francisco dressed in full makeup and costume as Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, and on one occasion, visiting a sex shop to buy a large dildo and other toys.

The restaurant scene was filmed at Bridges Restaurant & Bar, in Danville, California.


Track listing
  1. "Mrs. Doubtfire" - 2:58
  2. "Divorce" - 2:56
  3. "My Name Is Else Immelman" - 2:55
  4. "Meeting Mrs. Doubtfire" - 2:14
  5. "Tea Time with Mrs. Sellner" - 3:58
  6. "Dinner Is Served" - 2:18
  7. "Daniel and the Kids" - 2:29
  8. "Cable Cars" - 4:56
  9. "Bridges Restaurant" - 6:13
  10. "Show's Over" - 3:26
  11. "The Kids Need You" - 3:21
  12. "Figaro / Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" - 3:23

The score was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Howard Shore. The CD was mastered by Ted Jensen. The song Robin Williams sings at the cartoon voice-over in the beginning is "Largo al factotum." Other songs featured often were chosen referencing the identity of Mrs. Doubtfire. These songs include:

  • "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," performed by Aerosmith,
  • "Walk Like a Man," performed by The Four Seasons,
  • "Luck Be a Lady," performed by Frank Sinatra, and
  • "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," performed by James Brown.

Additionally, these songs were featured:

  • "Jump Around," performed by House of Pain, and
  • "Stormy Monday Blues," performed by B.B. King and Albert Collins.


The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993, and was rated PG-13.

In January 1994, when released in the United Kingdom, the film received a certificate of 12 which, at the time, completely refused access to children under the age of 12 at cinemas. This resulted in cinemas requesting their local authorities to override the decision of the British Board of Film Classification, after having to turn down disappointed families. In February 1994, The Independent reported that the censors refused the film a U or PG certificate, and gave it a 12 instead, which was due to 20th Century Fox refusing to remove three controversial lines.

After the film's distributors requested the BBFC to reconsider a compromise was reached in which the film was re-rated PG, with the thirteen seconds of sexual innuendos cut, and it was re-released in May 1994. The cut version was also used in subsequent VHS and DVD releases in the United Kingdom. In November 2012 the distributors resubmitted the uncut version to the BBFC and the 12 certificate was reinstated for home video along with a 12A certificate for cinema release in 2014. On March 4, 2013, the uncut version was released on Blu-ray and downloads in the United Kingdom.

Deleted scenes

Over 30 minutes of deleted scenes were omitted from the final cut of the film, some of which were featured in the 2008 DVD release of Mrs. Doubtfire called the "Behind-the-Seams Edition." These include an entire subplot featuring Daniel's conflict with his nosy neighbor Gloria (Polly Holliday) and an extended scene at Bridges restaurant. In 2016 three further scenes, included in the aforementioned 2013 Blu-Ray release, were released online to much fanfare and praise for Robin Williams. These included a scene where Daniel and Miranda fight at Lydia's spelling bee competition and a confrontation scene with Miranda after Daniel's identity is revealed at the restaurant.

Critical reception

At the time of its release, several critics compared Mrs. Doubtfire unfavorably with Some Like It Hot (1959) and others who viewed the film favorably noted its similarity to Tootsie (1982).

On Rotten Tomatoes, Mrs. Doubtfire has a rating of 71%, based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The site's critical reception reads, "On paper, Mrs. Doubtfire might seem excessively broad or sentimental, but Robin Williams shines so brightly in the title role that the end result is difficult to resist." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 53 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Cancelled sequel

In 2001, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 began being developed by Bonnie Hunt, even though Anne Fine had not written any follow-up novels to Alias Madame Doubtfire, but writing did not begin until 2003. Robin Williams was set to return in disguise as an old nanny. Due to problems with the script, re-writing began in 2006, as Williams was unhappy with the plot, and the sequel was again scrapped later that year. The film was expected to be released in late 2007, but following further script problems, the sequel was declared scrapped in December 2006.

In 2006, in an Newsday interview, Williams said the sequel was indefinitely scrapped. Stating his reasons, he said, "The script they had just didn't work." The sequel's story involved Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire moving close to Lydia's college, so he could keep an eye on her. In December 2006, during an interview on BBC Radio 1 by DJ Edith Bowman, Williams said that if it was not going to be done right, then it was not worth doing, and that there would not be a sequel with him in it.

In August 2010, on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Williams again brought up the topic of a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. He blamed the script not being right as the reason why a sequel was not made. He claimed the script had been written three times and failed, and there was no mention of any ongoing work on the project. Furthermore, in December 2011, during an interview by Moviehole, Williams stated again that the chances of a sequel are "highly unlikely."

Williams stated in 2011:

"They could never write it. They kept trying and it doesn't work...because at the end of the first one they reveal who [Mrs. Doubtfire] is. So it ends up being her for five minutes and then she transitions into some old Russian woman. They so far can't crack it."


In 2014, Chris Columbus stated, in turn:

In April 2014, it was announced that a sequel was in development at 20th Century Fox. Williams and Columbus were expected to return, and Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum was hired to write the script. However, after Williams' death in August 2014, plans for a sequel were permanently cancelled.

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