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Anyone who’s seen My Cousin Vinny, which opened 25 years ago, on March 13, 1992, can probably quote at least one of Marisa Tomei’s Brooklyn-accented lines, whether it’s her biological clock “ticking like this” or her reaction to arriving in small-town Alabama. (“I bet the Chinese food here is terrible.”) As Mona Lisa Vito, the auto mechanic fiancée of Joe Pesci’s title character, Tomei walked away with every single one of her scenes — and eventually, the film’s only Academy Award (for Best Supporting Actress). So it’s mind-boggling that 20th Century Fox initially wanted to take Mona Lisa out of My Cousin Vinny entirely, in order to give more of the spotlight to Pesci.
“I thought they were looking at the best thing in the movie and wanted to cut it out,” screenwriter Dale Launer told the Wrap last week. “Not only did I not take Lisa out — I decided to put more of her into the movie.”
Interview - Writer - Unboxed - Launer - Changes
But it wasn’t as simple as that. In a 2007 interview for the website Writer Unboxed, Launer explained the changes he had to make in order to keep Mona Lisa in the script. And it has to do with that famous “biological clock” scene. In the film, Vinny is an unsuccessful New York lawyer who is called to defend his cousin against a false criminal charge in rural Alabama. Mona Lisa comes along to support him, but Vinny refuses his fiancée’s help at every turn. Finally, she snaps. The scene (watch it below) was added in the second draft in response to the studio’s notes, and it ended up saving the character.
“That scene … was the result of a creative meeting where the studio prez actually made a suggestion I hated,” Launer told the website. “He wanted Vinny’s girlfriend to complain that he’s...
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