Daryl Hannah Recalls Being 'Really Anxious' Over Nudity in “Splash”: 'I Hadn't Had a Boyfriend Yet' (Exclusive)

The actress also remembers kissing costar Tom Hanks as “so embarrassing”

<p>Jon Kopaloff/WireImage; Alamy</p> (Left-right:) Daryl Hannah in 2023; in "Splash"

Jon Kopaloff/WireImage; Alamy

(Left-right:) Daryl Hannah in 2023; in "Splash"

Daryl Hannah is looking back — with mixed emotions — on filming Splash 40 years ago.

“Oh, my God, it's so embarrassing,” she recalls to PEOPLE exclusively of one of her first movies, filmed when she was in her early twenties. “I was really naive.”

In particular, Hannah, now 63, remembers a scene in which she kisses onscreen love interest Tom Hanks. Rehearsing with director Ron Howard, she says she kept skipping over the kiss moment out of sheer awkwardness.

“Once you do it once, then it's easier to get through the next time,” the actress says with a laugh. “But that first time, when you don't know somebody and you have to kiss them, is so embarrassing. At least for me, it was.”

Related: Eagle-Eyed Disney+ Users Spot That Daryl Hannah's Butt Is Censored with CGI Hair in Splash

As a mermaid who sheds her fins to join humans on land and name herself Madison (after New York City’s Madison Avenue), Hannah’s discomfort filming Splash wasn’t unwarranted. Several scenes required baring skin, which the Kill Bill star says made her “really anxious.” 

“I was very world-traveled, but very sheltered at the same time,” the Chicago-born actress tells PEOPLE. “I hadn't really had a boyfriend yet… So I was incredibly anxious about any nudity.”

<p>Alamy</p> Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks in "Splash"


Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks in "Splash"

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Howard and his team “came up with my hair covering my boobs,” she recalls, “because they didn't want me to have any kind of, I don't know, shell bathing suit top or anything — which I understood.” For underwater scenes, she says, “I would just make sure to have my hair taped down to my breasts.”

Hannah adds that she “loved filming the whole thing,” especially in her elaborate mermaid tail prosthetic — despite it being so “incredibly painful” out of the water.

Related: How Surprise Newlyweds Daryl Hannah and Neil Young Bonded Over Their Shared 'Passion'

As the aquatic Madison, Howard recalls, the actress “was very, very athletic and also very relaxed about the question of the nudity.”

The actor-director, 70, tells PEOPLE that Hannah “understood it was just something we needed to do for the movie. But she understood her character as a creature, a very natural, organic, free-spirited creature. And she made so much possible. It was amazing.”

He also remembers that the Splash team settled on “a bandage or kind of pasty or something that was glued onto her breast” to navigate the Disney film’s nudity. “Then her hair was glued to that. So wherever she would swim, the hair would always be there, but she wasn't terribly concerned about that.”

Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks in "Splash"
Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks in "Splash"

The scene with the most skin-baring, as Hannah recalls, was the moment Madison crawls out of the ocean and approaches New York City tourists. “When I'm at the Statue of Liberty, you see my butt,” she quips. “But then, everybody's got a butt! So I guess it's not that bad.”

Related: Steve Martin, Laurie Metcalf and More Remember ‘Sweetheart’ John Candy 30 Years After His Death (Exclusive)

Splash, which also starred Hanks, Eugene Levy and the late John Candy, became one of the highest grossing movies of 1984 and earned an Academy Award nomination for Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel and Bruce Jay Friedman’s original screenplay. Hannah went on to star in Roxanne, Wall Street, Steel Magnolias and the Kill Bill movies.

Asked whether she has any acting projects on the horizon, Hannah tells PEOPLE, “I'm really happy making films” as a director. In 2023 she became a Grammy Award nominee for directing A Band, A Brotherhood, A Barn, a music documentary featuring husband Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse.

“I get kind of a stomach ache when I see trailers and base camps, when I drive by movie sets,” she admits. “I think I had enough gnarly experiences that it somehow affected me in a strange way.”

While she’s not looking to act onscreen again, Hannah does say that a project on par with Splash might fit the bill: “I suppose if something really cool that I thought would transform me in that kind of way came up, I might do it.”

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