10. John Cusack and Martin Short almost voiced Howard
Although Ed Gale ended up wearing the Howard suit, he did not provide the character’s voice. The filmmakers were looking for something specific: endearing but sarcastic, quirky but witty. To that end, they auditioned a number of actors to provide the vocals.
Among them were John Cusack, who was gaining career heat from The Sure Thing and Better Off Dead. Comedian Martin Short, then known primarily as a cast member on the sketch comedy series SCTV, also tried out.
In the end, actor Chip Zien was awarded the part. The producers liked the nasal quality in his voice, which, when exaggerated, felt perfect for the titular character. Although he didn’t go on to become as well-known as Cusack or Short, Zien still works regularly. Most recently, he appeared on Amazon’s series Mozart in the Jungle and HBO’s The Night Of.
9. Tori Amos was originally supposed to play Beverly
For the part of Beverly Switzler, the filmmakers thought that it might be a good idea to cast a real singer, rather than making an actress sing. They considered a number of professional vocalists for the role. Cyndi Lauper and Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Gos are among those who were thought of.
Another was Tori Amos, who was not yet the beloved solo performer we know her as today. At the time, she fronted a band called Y Kant Tori Read. She had a great voice and a strong sense of how to perform onstage, which made her seem like an ideal Beverly.
Amos was offered the job. Then Thompson, who was fresh off the massive success that was Back to the Future, suddenly became available. Producers courted her for the role instead, and Amos was shown the proverbial door. In the end, it really didn’t matter, as she went on to have a successful music career.
8. Went down in Razzie history
The Razzie Awards are handed out each year to recognize the worst in film over a twelve month period. Given its poor reception, it should come as no surprise that Howard the Duck was nominated for multiple Razzies in 1986. It was up for seven of the dreaded booby prizes, and it won four: Worst Screenplay, Worst Visual Effects, Worst New Star (Ed Gale and others who briefly wore the suit), and Worst Picture.
What is surprising is that, in winning that last award, Howard the Duck was part of a rare moment in Razzie history. In 1986, two movies tied for Worst Picture, meaning that Huyck and crew had to share the (dis)honor with another film. The co-winner, or should we say co-loser, was none other than Prince’s Under the Cherry Moon, a picture that snagged eight nominations, making it even more loathed in Razzie voters’ eyes than Howard.