You may remember that Paul Reubens, aka Pee-wee Herman, attempted a film comeback several years ago in the Netflix original, “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.” The film received mixed reviews, embraced by mainly those that have some nostalgia for the character. But according to a new interview with THR, ‘Big Holiday’ isn’t the film that Reubens wanted to originally make. He actually had something much darker in mind.
“I’ve referred to it as the ‘Valley of the Dolls‘ Pee-wee movie,” Reubens said. “It’s about fame.”
The actor said that he pitched the idea to Judd Apatow, who helped bring ‘Big Holiday’ to Netflix. The “dark” Pee-wee film’s plot centered on the character being released from prison and trying to become a yodeling star. However, when he moves to Hollywood, Pee-wee finds stardom on the big screen, which leads to the typical story of pills and alcohol, which sends him down a dark path.
Apparently, Apatow wasn’t thrilled with that idea and steered Reubens towards the more family-friendly film that was eventually released. The actor’s worry was that he had aged out of the role of Pee-wee. But Apatow convinced him otherwise.
“Judd kept going, ‘You look great,'” said the actor. “And I’d be like, ‘No. Sorry. It doesn’t work for Pee-wee Herman. I don’t mind looking my age in something else, but I don’t want to look like that in a Pee-wee movie. There’s a creepy weirdness to it. It looks like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?'”
However, when de-aging technology was used, Reubens was convinced and figured that he could play Pee-wee for “another 10 years if I wanted to.”
With that confidence in hand, Reubens is now fully committed to bringing his “dark” film to fruition. While he admits that both Netflix and Apatow have both passed on the project, even at the low budget of only $15 million (half of the ‘Big Holiday’ cost), there has been a bit of interest from “Uncut Gems” filmmakers the Safdie Brothers. But it’s unclear if they’re willing to take the chance on the film.
So, will the world ever see Reubens’ “Valley of the Dolls”-esque ‘Pee-wee’ film? That’s still unknown. But it’s clear that the actor is willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, and if he can convince the Safdies to take the leap, we’re excited by the prospects.