Here’s 30 things you may not know about the Christmas classic…
The holidays are finally here! And, that means that you are probably going to hunker down at home and watch a few holiday movies. Of course, no holiday movie marathon is complete without a viewing of Home Alone, the movie that turned Macaulay Culkin into one of the biggest child stars of all time.
While you may be able to recite parts of the 1990 holiday classic line for line, you may not know everything about the John Hughes-penned fave. So, here are 30 things you might not know about Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Catherine O’Hara.
1. John Hughes came up with the concept while shooting Uncle Buck
The idea for Home Alone occurred to teen movie scribe John Hughes while shooting Uncle Buck (1989), which also starred Macaulay Culkin. In the film there’s a scene in which Culkin’s character interrogates a potential babysitter through a letterbox, and that was the inspiration for Home Alone. Culkin has a similar confrontation in Home Alone with Daniel Stern, except this time he has a little help from an old movie.
2. The film was written in less than two weeks
John Hughes, who also wrote ’80s blockbusters The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles, crafted the screenplay for Home Alone in exactly nine days. His son James Hughes told Chicago magazine that the film was written after a family trip to Europe in response to his father’s severe traveler’s anxiety.
3. The role of Kevin was written specifically for Macaulay Culkin
Even before Macaulay Culkin was a household name and arguably the most sought-after child actor of the 90s, he had the honour of having a script written specifically with him in mind.
4. However, Macaulay Culkin wasn’t the only kid to audition for the part
Director Chris Columbus auditioned over 100 other kids for the role, but ultimately none proved as good as Culkin.
5. Macaulay Culkin’s brother is in the film
Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother Kieran also landed a part in Home Alone, as Fuller, the bedwetting cousin who Kevin refuses to share a bed with. Though the film marked Kieran’s acting debut, he has since gone on to build an impressive career for himself in movies like The Cider House Rules, Igby Goes Down, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and FX’s Fargo. In both 2019 and 2020, Culkin received Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his work in HBO’s Succession.
6. The movie got scrapped — then saved
When John Hughes and Chris Columbus presented the Home Alone script to Warner Bros., it seemed like a holiday hit in the making, but the actual making of the movie was halted due to the production going over the initial $10 million budget. The studio pulled the plug on the movie altogether, and all seemed lost until Hughes convinced 20th Century Fox to pick up the film.
7. The house is real
Unlike many films now, the McCallister house actually exists and is located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois. The house boasts 4,250 square feet and three stories. It sold for $1.5 million in 2012, although it doesn’t come booby-trap equipped.
8. However, the film was not shot inside of that house
That brick manor that the McCallisters called home? Just an establishing shot. The crew actually built a prototype of the Chicago abode on the grounds of New Trier Township High School, an abandoned school where two other Hughes movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Uncle Buck, also filmed.
9. The tarantula is real
The shot where a tarantula crawls across burglar Marv’s face was real. Actor Daniel Stern agreed as long as the scene was done in one take – we hardly blame him. As for the scream… Since screaming would have scared the tarantula, they had to dub it in to the film later.
10. However, Angels With Filthy Souls is NOT a real movie
Given its significance to Kevin outsmarting the criminals, many people couldn’t wait to rent the old gangster film featured in Home Alone. Much to their surprise Angels With Filthy Souls is not actually a movie however. The footage was created specifically for Home Alone although it was largely based on the real movie Angels With Dirty Faces (1938). “I’m gonna give ya to the count of 10, to get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property.”
11. The Talkboy
The Talkboy that Kevin uses in the film was originally just a prop and not a real product at the time the movie came out. In 1993 however it became a real thing after many young fans wrote letters wanting to buy the Talkboy.
12. The cast improvised some of the most iconic lines
“You guys give up, or are you thirsty for more?” was improvised by Macaulay Culkin himself, while Daniel Stern came up with the lines “Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?” and “Maybe he committed suicide.” John Candy’s whole performance was essentially improvised, a trademark of John Hughes films.
13. John Candy filmed his part in one day
Not only was his part as “Polka King of the Midwest” Gus Polinski entirely improvised, but was filmed in one, 23-hour long day.
14. The Wet Bandits had little faith in the movie
The Wet Bandits themselves Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern felt pretty indifferent to the movie, so intentionally gave over-the-top performances. Little did they know just how phenomenally successful the film would become.
15. Robert De Niro turned down a bandit role
Before Joe Pesci was cast, the role of Harry was initially offered to his The Irishman co-star Robert De Niro. Pesci wasn’t even second choice, Saturday Night Live comedian Jon Lovitz also passed on the part.
16. Joe Pesci wouldn’t stop swearing on set
Joe Pesci is best known for starring in slightly more adult fare than Home Alone, so had trouble keeping his language suitable for a family film. Chris Columbus advised him to use the word “fridge” rather than another slightly stronger word.
17. Joe Pesci really bit Macaulay Culkin
During a rehearsal for the scene where the wet bandits threaten to bite Kevin’s fingers off, Joe Pesci accidentally bit Macauley Culkin and broke the skin. He still bears the scar to this day.
18. Joe Pesci avoided Macaulay Culkin on set
One more fun fact on Joe Pesci: As if his on-screen character wasn’t mean enough, Pesci avoided the child star on set so that he would be authentically afraid of him. Actually biting his finger probably did the trick too.
19 The near car-crash was shot in reverse
Remember when the wet bandits stop their van centimetres away from Kevin? Funnily enough, that was too dangerous to shoot properly, and the scene was shot with the van reversing away from Macaulay Culkin and then played backwards.
20. Macaulay Culkin’s stunt double was a very short 30-year-old man
The stunts were a tad dangerous for the 10-year-old child actor, so the slightly older – but no taller – Larry Nicolas was brought in in his place.
21. The iconic shaving scream was an accident
When Kevin tries on the aftershave, Macaulay Culkin was supposed to take his hands away and then scream. However, on the first take, Culkin forgot, resulting in the Edward Munch homage that appears all over the advertising.
22. Kevin’s dad threw out Kevin’s plane ticket
In a neat bit of foreshadowing, when Kevin’s dad cleans the milk from the passports, if you look closely he accidentally throws away Kevin’s ticket. John Hughes thought it unrealistic that a family would forget a child, and covered all possible instances – including the lack of an unclaimed ticket at the airport.
23. The truth behind the furnace
In the movie, Kevin is scared of going into the basement of the house where a very terrifying furnace sits. In Kevin’s mind the furnace is evil and scary and was originally supposed to be part of a longer dream sequence. In Kevin’s dream he would be tormented by different parts of the house including the furnace, but in the end it was too expensive. Instead the menacing furnace scene is really two guys with a fishing line and flashlights.
24. Old Man Marley
Although he has a pretty big role in the movie, Old Man Marley, the scary next door neighbor wasn’t in the original script. Columbus thought John Hughes’ script was just too much slapstick comedy and added Marley as a guide to teach Kevin about forgiveness and the importance of family.
25. “Buzz, your girlfriend…WOOF!”
The unimpressive photo of Buzz’s girlfriend that Kevin finds was meant to look that silly. It was actually a crew member’s son dressed up as girl because director Chris Columbus didn’t want to make fun of a real girl like that because it would be too cruel.
26. Elvis Presley is still alive?!?!?
Crazy conspiracy theory time! Believe it or not there are tons of people out there that believe Elvis Presley (who died in 1977) makes an appearance in the film. For those who believe the King never died, they think he is the bearded man who stands in the background of the scene where Mrs. McCallister is fighting with the airline representative when trying to get a flight to Chicago.
27. Home Alone was VERY successful
Home Alone premiered on November 10, 1990, in Chicago, and hit theatres across North America on November 16, 1990. It was the number one film in the US for 12 weeks straight and stayed in the top 10 until June the following year. It’s considered one of the most successful live-action comedy films of all time.
28. The film held a cinematic record for nearly 30 years.
Forbes reported that until 2017, Home Alone has been the highest domestic theatrical grossing live-action comedy with a total of $285.7 million. The film held this impressive record for 27 years, until the Chinese film Never Say Die surpassed it.
29. It’s being rebooted on Disney Plus
Following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Disney now appropriately own the rights to Home Alone… and they aren’t wasting anytime rebooting the franchise. The new Home Alone will debut exclusively on their new streaming service Disney+ and – shock horror – won’t feature Kevin McCallister as the lead character.
30. Macaulay Culkin starred in a sequel in 2018 (sort of)
In a 2018 advert for Google Assistant, Macaulay Culkin recreated his iconic role with a very modern twist. In the ad the 38-year-old actor hilariously recreates iconic scenes like the after-shave scene, the fake party scene, and more.