Can we keep them? Casper became an instant after its 1995 debut — and over two decades later, it still resonates as a spooky Halloween staple.
Based on the Harvey Comics character of the same name, Casper starred Bill Pullman as James Harvey, a spirit specialist who moves to a haunted mansion in Maine with his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) after the death of his wife.
As the father-daughter duo settle into their new lives, the pair realize they’re sharing their space with four ghosts — Casper (voiced by Malachi Pearson and played in his human form by Devon Sawa) and his three uncles: Stretch (Joe Nipote), Stinkie (Joe Alaskey) and Fatso (Brad Garrett). While Casper quickly falls in love with Kat, their budding relationship runs into complications thanks to his troublemaking relatives — who are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the house stays theirs.
While Casper became a cult classic and shot Ricci to stardom, the Yellowjackets actress, who was 13 when the film premiered, looks back on her performance in the supernatural dramedy with disdain.
“If you actually watch Casper, I’m terrible,” the Sleepy Hollow star said during an appearance on the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast in August 2022. “People get so upset when I say that. And I’m like, ‘No, it’s a wonderful movie. It’s a childhood treasure. But I am terrible in it.’”
While it remains a Halloween viewing tradition for Ricci’s fans — especially kids of the ’90s — the Pan Am alum shared that there was “a lot going on in her life” that kept her from delivering her best work.
“Everything was very difficult. I was always annoyed, and I just don’t think I tried very hard, to tell you the truth. Embarrassingly, I don’t think I tried as hard as maybe I should have,” she said, noting that after showing the movie to her son Freddie — whom she shares with ex James Heerdegen — her feelings remained unchanged. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow. OK. That was not a believable line reading at all. Just no commitment.’”
Her costar Sawa, however, looks back on the experience differently.
“Christina Ricci is a HUGE talent and played a big part in me getting the role and then went on to recommend me for Now And Then. I owe her the world. #casper,” the Idle Hands star wrote about the Addams Family Values actress via Twitter in May 2020, adding that his brief cameo in the film was nothing compared to that of Malachi Pearson, who voiced the ghost before he brought him to life at the end of the movie.
“I was in Casper for 30 secs. Malachi Pearson did the hard work. When they decided last minute to bring Casper to life he was too young,” Sawa explained. “So I landed the role. And I’m very fortunate [director Brad Silberling] chose me cause I’d be lying if I said it didn’t start a 30 year job that I love.”
The director replied to Sawa’s tweet at the time, writing, “Let’s be honest, my friend. It was the color in Christina’s cheeks when I flew you down to meet us at lunch – THAT’S what sealed the deal. I just had to say yes after that. @DevonESawa.”
The Chucky actor, for his part, has been open about his instant connection with Ricci over the years — and his willingness to share an onscreen smooch (or two) with the Ice Storm star, whom he also starred alongside in Now and Then.
“I don’t know why I wasn’t nervous [to kiss her in Casper], Christina was a beautiful girl and I was a young boy,” Sawa told E! News in October 2021. “I don’t know, the day was just very easy and everybody was so respectful and it was exciting. I can’t lie, I remember being excited the whole day. It was just a lot of fun.”
The film, which was executive produced by Stephen Spielberg, made extensive use of computer-generated imagery to create the ghosts on screen and was the first feature to have a fully CGI character in the lead role — something that proved to be a harder feat than anticipated.
“As Steven [Spielberg] said three weeks into shooting, ‘If you had know what you’d gotten yourself into, you never would have said yes!’” Silberling tweeted in 2020. “It was having to skip college and grad school and go right for the PHD. Jurassic Park:64 cg shots. Casper:280 – with dialogue and performance!”
Keep scrolling to see where the cast of Casper is now: