American actors Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver on the set of Working girl directed by German-born American Mike Nichols. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Working Girl Had To Break Some Laws To Shoot Its Opening Scene
Permits are required if you want to film in public, but director Mike Nichols decided not to get one to film the opening scene of “Working Girl.” He loved to portray authenticity, so he had Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack, in their ‘80s frosted hair and heavy makeup, stroll through a crowd of people on the Staten Island Ferry.
Nichols wanted the actors, and the audience, to feel what it was like to head to work in the hustle and bustle of the ferry. In an interview, Griffith revealed, “There we were — with Joan Cusack — with the big hair and the tennis shoes with all just regular people on the Staten Island Ferry. We shot it without anybody knowing. It was like, 'Here we go, now I'm Tess.'"
Cusak recalled Nichols’ “brilliant direction” when he told the actresses to “'be thinking something in your head. That's what people do as they walk off a boat, they think about their day or their life.'" It sets up the rest of the movie and the authenticity he was able to depict in that moment was more than worth whatever fine the city might've levied.