If it has been a while since you’ve seen it, you may have forgotten just how funny it is.
In honor of its 30th anniversary, here is the first-ever interview with David Kreps and Shayla MacKarvich Wingfield, the actors who played Hanks and Hannah as kids in the flashback opening scene.
(After conducting this interview, I learned that David grew up living down the street from a friend of mine who currently lives down the street from me.)
How old were you when you appeared in Splash?
Shayla: I celebrated my 7th birthday while shooting in the Bahamas! How many 7-year-olds have Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, and Ron Howard at their birthday party? Well…they didn’t throw me a party, but I celebrated it in their company. I don’t remember what I did for my 6th or 8th birthday, but I sure remember my 7th!
Where were you living at the time?
Shayla: Miami, FL; born and raised.
David: Miami Beach.
How were you cast?
Shayla: I had been doing print modeling and TV commercials pretty much my whole life and heard about the casting call through my agent. Well, through my mom from my agent. Having attended many casting calls before from my experience in commercials, I didn’t think much of it. But I vividly remember arriving at the hotel where the casting call was being held and being amazed by how many people were there! I had never seen that many people before for a casting call.
I remember I had an interview in front of the camera, then had to get in the pool and pretend to swim like a mermaid. I would like to think I was cast because of my acting skills, but I actually think it was how well I could swim like a mermaid that sealed the deal.
David: My mom was a stylist so would always drag me to sets and castings. Most of the agencies in Miami knew us, so when Splash was looking for a young Tom Hanks, they called us to try out. I went on a couple auditions and had to show that I could swim.
Shayla and her mom
Shayla: I remember being surprised. There were so many people at the casting that I knew it was a long shot. I was only six at the time, so although I knew being in a movie was a big deal, I don’t think I fully grasped it. I was excited for sure, but I remember my family being really excited. Especially my mom—she had spent so much of her time taking me all over town for casting calls, fittings, photo shoots, etc. while I was modeling and doing commercials, so to get cast in something as big as a feature film was definitely very exciting!
David: Incredibly happy and excited. Especially loved that they picked me over my older brother.
Shayla: Nassau, Bahamas (Paradise Island, Nassau, I think).
How long was the shoot?
Shayla: I was there for about a week but the weather was bad so they sent us back to Miami for about another week until the weather cleared. The second shoot was about five more days. What I remember most was that my scenes were actually some of the final ones shot for the whole movie so they wrapped the shoot while I was down there and I got to go to the wrap party! I thought it was cool to get to go to a big party with all the big movie stars, but I was only seven, so I remember mainly just having fun with my co-star (David) while all the adults had fun together!
David: Around a week, but not positive.
How did you feel being a part of the movie?
Shayla: I was definitely very excited and thought it was super fun getting to go to the Bahamas with my mom to shoot the movie, but it mostly just felt like another fun day at the beach with a bunch of people I didn’t know. All of the crew was so nice though and really made me feel special which made the shoot memorable. It did not really hit me how big of a deal it was to actually be in the movie, though, until it was released in theatres.
David: It was awesome. No one was really famous at the time of shooting so it was more about being able to miss school and play around in the Bahamas.
Shayla: Definitely being topless! I hated wearing bikinis when I was little. I was even self-conscious of showing my belly button. I knew ahead of time I would have to be topless since I was playing a mermaid and I was terrified!
David: Can’t remember there being any hard parts. It was probably harder on them trying to control me.
How were the underwater shots filmed? Not really in the ocean, I presume?
Shayla: Actually, all scenes were filmed in the ocean! We were right off of the beach in Nassau, and they had scuba divers all around us that we could go to for air if we needed to. Just another day at the beach for a Miami native.
David: They shot some of the underwater scenes in the pool as well as the ocean. Being from Miami, I grew up on the water swimming, fishing and diving, so it wasn’t challenging for me.
What do you remember about working with Ron Howard? Did you know him from Happy Days?
Shayla: I knew that Ron Howard was in Happy Days and that it was a very big show, but I was too young to really watch the show. I remember being confused why he was the director instead of an actor, but I do remember that he was incredibly nice to work with.
David: I had no idea who he was. He did get upset with me once for not showing enough sadness when the mermaid left. I kept on laughing.
Tom Hanks is on the right (in the blue Speedo).
What do you remember about your interactions with Tom Hanks, John Candy, or any of the other stars who were not in your scene?
Shayla: I met Tom Hanks, John Candy, Daryl Hannah, and Eugene Levy. I knew who Tom and John were, but not Daryl and Eugene. All of them were amazing!
But I will never forget meeting Daryl Hannah. As I mentioned before, I was very self-conscious about not wearing a top, so the crew took me to meet Daryl for the first time while she was in makeup—which was a major process. She actually had to swim in that mermaid tail, and was in makeup for hours to glue all the pieces onto her belly to make it look natural. Then they put gold makeup all over her chest and arms with an elaborate shell necklace.
The first time I met her, I might as well have been meeting a princess! I couldn’t believe it when I saw all that beautiful long blonde hair and that mermaid tail. She also had to be topless, which is why they took me to see her. She was so sweet and showed me the big necklace and all the gold makeup that had been put on her, and told me that I would be getting the same thing. She assured me I would be just as covered up as if I had a bathing suit on, only way prettier! She was so incredibly sweet.
David: I just met Tom and Daryl. Clearly we are on first name basis.
Any funny stories from the shoot?
Shayla: Back to the topless thing again…I was playing on the beach on the set knowing I was about to be called to shoot one of my scenes. I was ready and happy. Then all of the sudden Ron Howard yells into his bullhorn (megaphone…whatever you call it), “Okay, Shayla, we’re ready for your scene. We need you to take your top off now.” I instantly started bawling crying; I was completely terrified.
Next thing I know I was in the water and the camera was shooting me while I was crying the whole time, and all I wanted was my mom! Fast forward to the movie’s release, and everyone remembers me as the little Madison who was crying as Allen was taken away. Everyone complimented me on what a wonderful actress I was because my crying was so believable. Little did they know…
David: One night John Candy and I went out boozing. I wish. Don’t really remember any funny stories worth retelling.
Shayla: Just the weather causing delays.
David: Not that I was aware of.
What did you think of the movie?
Shayla: I really and truly absolutely loved it! I remember my family and I being so surprised when it came out. We didn’t realize at the time I filmed just how funny this movie really was. We still laugh when we see it on cable today, and I know we would feel the same even if I wasn’t in it. Truly a timeless film and I am so honored to have been a part of it.
David: I remember going to the theatre to see it with all my friends and family. We waited to see my name in the credits. It was great.
Shayla: Same as above, but my mom also thinks so fondly of the whole experience since the whole cast and crew were all so great.
David: What parent wouldn’t love seeing their kid on the big screen? They loved it and bragged about to all of their friends.
What did your friends think of it?
Shayla: My close friends absolutely loved it and thought it was so cool I was in it and wanted to know everything about my experience. Unfortunately, later, when I was in about 4th or 5th grade, some kids found a way to tease me about it which actually made me self-conscious about it for a while. Even though they didn’t know me, I was labeled as a snob because I was in a movie. I went through a stage where I didn’t want people to know I was in it because I didn’t want them to think I was a snob. Kids can be so mean sometimes and it is so sad that has to happen.
David: Not many kids get to do this so they thought it was the coolest thing ever. They still bring it up to this day…but more in a teasing manner.
Did you attend the premiere, and if so, what do you remember about it?
Shayla: This part is definitely the most memorable for me. Although I didn’t attend the premiere, I did [go to the movie] opening day at my local theatre, The Falls in Miami. I went with my family super excited to see it, but thought our trip to the movies would otherwise be like every other trip to the movies. When we showed up to the theatre, there was a huge line so my family and I took our place in the back of the line.
My parents asked the people in front of us what movie the long line was for and they said Splash. My parents then told them that I was in the movie and somehow that news ended up making it all the way to the front of the line. Next thing I knew, someone from the theatre came up to us in the line and invited us into the theatre, gave us popcorn and drinks, and let us take our seats.
After the movie, as we were in the lobby, all these people started coming up to me asking me for autographs. I went to the bathroom and literally as I was in the stall, I could hear a girl telling her mom, “Mommy, Madison is in the potty next to me.” I couldn’t believe it! All these people wanted to meet me and it was exciting, but very strange to me at the same time.
David: Didn’t attend a proper premiere. But went to the opening night in the theatre.
Did the movie ever affect your dating life in any way (i.e. when you first told boyfriends you were in it)?
Shayla: Not really. I kind of kept it quiet after some kids had made fun of me for it during my later years in elementary school.
David: The girls loved it. Splash was a serious panty dropper. Ha ha.
Did you receive fan mail? If so, do you still have any of it?
Shayla: I don’t think I ever did. I do not remember any. But I do get people who contact me via Facebook from time to time.
What were you paid?
Shayla: No idea! My mom said I was paid SAG movie scale…whatever that means!
David: I honestly don’t remember exactly what I got but to this day receive residual checks for every time it plays.
Were you ever recognized in public? How often and when last? Any stories about that?
Shayla: I don’t think I have ever really been recognized in public, but people who already knew me but didn’t know I was in the movie would come up to me and ask me because they happened to see my name in the credits.
Did you appear in other movies after that?
Shayla: No—well, not really. I shot a scene for another one, but it was never released and I can’t even remember the name anymore. As a Miami native, I did appear in two segments on Miami Vice. That was pretty cool and it felt like being in another movie.
David: Small part in Police Academy 5. But mostly did commercials.
Did you two keep in touch, and if so, when were you last in touch?
Shayla: We remained friends for several years after the movie as we were both in the modeling and commercial world, and our moms also became friends so we did get together socially from time to time. I think I lost touch with him toward the end of middle school, but I have great memories of him and his family. Would love to reconnect, if even just to be friends on Facebook! He is definitely one of the more memorable friends from my young childhood. I feel like I remember hearing he planned to study film in college?
David: We kept in touch for only a couple years. Growing up, I would always see her at castings. We actually used to do a lot of print work together.
Shayla: I thought I was destined to be a University of Florida girl, but moved from Miami to Atlanta during my senior year of high school. Visited the University of Georgia campus and fell in love instantly. I had a great four years in Athens, GA and got my bachelor’s degree in marketing. GO DAWGS!
David: Business at Babson College.
What are you doing these days?
Shayla: I own a children’s store in the Buckhead area of Atlanta called Pretty Please (Instagram: @loveprettyplease). It is an upscale boutique that offers whimsical children’s apparel, décor, accessories, and gifts for newborns through tweens. I own the store with my sister, Keely, who started the store in 2004 in Destin, FL.
There are times when I find my mind drifting thinking of what my life would be like if I had pursued an acting career, then I realize what it means to me to be working with my best friend and be part of a local, family-owned business, and I realize I am doing exactly what I am meant to do!
We both have so much fun with all the whimsy and imagination involved in finding unique products for children. It is our dream to have a TV show about all the ways kids can express their personalities through creative décor and fashion…we are both huge HGTV fans and would love to do something similar that focuses on kids.
David: Real estate development.
If you are/were married, what was your future husband’s reaction when he learned you were in this movie?
Shayla: I married a wonderful man seven years ago. We met when I was working in real estate in my late 20s. It’s funny because he is a huge movie fan, especially ‘80s movies. Shortly after we started dating, I came home only to walk in the door and see my scene from the movie freeze-framed on the TV. He immediately started laughing…“It’s you! On the 20th anniversary edition!” I had no idea it was the 20th anniversary, but he had bought it and surprised me.
David: My wife was impressed and thought it was the coolest thing ever when she was in elementary school (we are old family friends). Now, probably not so much. However, my wife and mom are ready to put our son to work.
Shayla: I have a beautiful 5-year-old girl. She absolutely loves to perform! She is very drawn to singing and drama. My family is the most amazing blessing and they bring me so much joy.
David: Six-month-old boy.
Shayla, does your daughter know about the movie yet?
Shayla: She gets excited when daddy shows her mommy on TV. She’ll ask me questions about being a mermaid like, “Could you breathe underwater?” or ask me why I was crying, but I’m not sure she fully understands since it doesn’t really look like me.
What did you think when you first heard from me?
Shayla: That you were possibly a stalker. Sorry… Then when I realized you probably weren’t, I actually thought it was odd that you would want to talk to me. I know the movie was a huge hit in the ‘80s but my part was so small, it was hard for me to believe you would want to interview me!
David: Surprised…wasn’t sure many people would be interested, but flattered.
Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this? If so, when and for what publication?
Shayla: Some local newspapers and magazines did shortly after the movie came out, but I really can’t remember what they were.
David: No, but I’ve been waiting 30 years for this. LOL.
How do you look back on the experience?
Shayla: I have to say, answering your questions was very fun and I appreciate you reaching out to me since it helped me stop and think about what an awesome experience the whole thing was. Thirty years is a long time, but taking a moment to really look back on it, I am so grateful that I got to be a part of this fantastic movie!
David: It was a great experience. Can’t believe I played a part in a movie that has turned out to be one of the biggest of the ‘80s.
Anything you’d like to add?
Shayla: I think you pretty much covered it…great questions!
All photos courtesy of David and Shayla; please no reuse without permission.
You may also like my interviews with women who starred in iconic 1980s music videos, from a-ha to ZZ Top.