We Bet Not Even Macaulay Culkin Knows All These Home Alone Facts
Perhaps one of the best and most beloved Christmas movies of all time, Home Alone, has been hailed as a modern classic ever since the first one hit theaters in 1990. In fact, no Christmas is ever complete without these heartwarming movies starring Macaulay Culkin. The movie series contains some of the most hilarious slapstick humor stunts, as well as tons of quotable and killer lines that became pop culture staples. So, if you think you can quote every single line and know all the tidbits about the filming, cast, and crew, then read here. We bet Macaulay Culkin doesn’t even know all these facts.
1. Macaulay Culkin for the Win
It took auditions with over 200 kids before director Chris Columbus picked Macaulay Culkin for the beloved role of Kevin McCallister. Writer and producer John Hughes knew Culkin was the perfect fit for the role after working with the actor on the film Uncle Buck, but Columbus wanted to discover if other child actors were out there.
After the innumerable auditions and videotapes, Columbus scheduled one of the final meetings with Culkin. “We read a couple of the scenes together, and I called John and said, ‘He’s amazing,'” Columbus said. It might have taken over 200 kids for Columbus to realize that Culkin was born for the role, but once the child star read his lines, the rest was history!
2. Signed, Sealed, Delivered!
Did you know that the residence of the McCallister clan, located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois, sold for $1.585 million in 2012? Yes, the house, in a suburb situated just 21 miles north of Chicago, was home to all the scenes shot on the main staircase, ground-floor landing, and in the kitchen.
Former owners John and Cynthia Abendshien just loved having the Home Alone cast and crew maneuvering about about their home and even made hot chocolate for them in between takes. However, the other first-floor rooms, including the dining room, were constructed on a sound stage. What about Kevin’s tree house in the backyard? Well, that was also constructed especially for the movie and was dismantled once filming was complete.
3. Can Tarantulas Really Hear?
Remember the hairy tarantula that lands on Wet Bandit Marv Merchants’s face? It was real, and the scene was shot in one take, as that was all actor Daniel Stern would allow. He wanted to make every scene perfect, so he opted for the real spider instead of a rubber one. “They told me [the spider] was real nice and showed it walking across the trainer’s arm…everyone seemed cool with it, so I had them put the friggin’ tarantula on my face,” Stern exclaimed.
The most hilarious part of this all is that Stern asked whether the spider would get spooked out from his horrific and blood-curdling screech once the eight-legged friend landed on his face. Well, just in case the spider could hear, Columbus let Stern mime the scream and inserted a recording of it later. Talk about being considerate for a spider!
4. Keeping It In The Fam
We bet you didn’t recognize the resemblance between cousin Fuller and Kevin McCallister?! Well if you did, the striking resemblance wasn’t just a coincidence, as Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother Kieran played the role of Fuller – the one who wets his bed.
Home Alone actually marked Kieran’s acting debut, and the actor went on to star in several movies, namely: Igby Goes Down, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and The Cider House Rules.
5. Breaking Records
There is a reason Home Alone is our favorite Christmas movie of all time! The film even made it into The Guinness Book of World Records for ranking as the highest-grossing live-action comedy in history and the highest-grossing film of 1990.
The film held the number one spot at the U.S. box office for 12 consecutive weeks and remained in the top 10 until June 1991. Overall, Home Alone grossed $476.7 million against a budget of $18 million. Just in its opening weekend, the film made $17 million. Must have been Macaulay Culkin’s uber cute face, right?
6. “Buzz, Your Girlfriend…Woof!”
Kevin might have invented the best catchphrase of all time when describing his brother Buzz’s girlfriend, but it didn’t come about without director Columbus erring on the side of caution. The photo we see of Buzz’s sweetheart is actually a photograph of Home Alone art director Dan Webster’s son.
Devin Ratray, who played Buzz McCallister, told Yahoo that Columbus chose to use a photo of a boy because it would have been too mean if the photograph was really of a girl. After all, Kevin describes her by saying “Buzz, Your Girlfriend…Woof!”
7. When in Warsaw
Believe it or not, the Home Alone franchise is actually most popular in none other than Poland! Yep, the country has aired the films around Christmas for prime time watching since 1990. When the owners of the national Polish TV channel considered scrapping the annual screening in 2010, the decision was met with consternation by die hard fans.
Luckily the decision was scrapped because both films gained an audience of five million in 2011, making it the most-watched show to air during Christmas that year. In fact, Home Alone, called Kevin Sam w Domu or “Kevin Alone in the House” in Polish, was the first film from the West to be screened in Poland after the fall of communism.
We all know and love the iconic scene when Kevin McCallister slaps some after-shave on his baby face, but did you know it was improvised? Well, the scene was actually written in the script, but Macaulay Culkin was supposed to move his hands and scream.
Instead, Kevin locks his hands on his face and shrieks “Ahhhhhhhh!” reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. Columbus recalled the moment quite eloquently saying, “On the first take, he slapped his face and kept his hands glued to his face as if he had just put superglue on [it].” Kudos to Culkin for creating one of the most memorable scenes in movie history!
9. Actress Turned Judoka Star
Hillary Wolf, who played Kevin McCallister’s sister Megan, went from your all-American child actress to a judoka star. Most notable as Laura in the theatrical film Big Girls Don’t Cry…They Get Even and as Megan in the Home Alone series, Wolf quit acting in 1992 to pursue judo.
Wolf took first place for juniors at the 1994 world judo championships and represented the United States at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. We think it’s safe to say her decision to skip the silver screen to sport a judogi uniform was the right move for her.
10. “Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal!”
Who could forget the awesome one-liner “keep the change, ya filthy animal” to fend off the Wet Bandits? Did you know the movie that line is from isn’t real? Columbus created a movie within a movie and called it Angels with Filthy Souls, an allusion to the 1938 film Angles With Dirty Faces. Columbus shot this gangster flick in one day on Home Alone‘s sound stage at a local high school.
Art director Dan Webster explained they had to give this movie a name because Kevin places the tape in the VHS player. Columbus even created a sequel called Angels with Even Filthier Souls for Home Alone 2, which Kevin uses to scare the Wet Bandits and the Plaza Hotel staff. Here’s a fun fact for you: The Home Alone script originally concluded by showing Harry and Marv watching the film in prison and recognizing the dialogue Kevin used to dupe them.
11. Too Much of a Good Thing is a Bad Thing
Director Chris Columbus wanted to film the sequel to Home Alone right after the success of the first film so Macaulay Culkin wouldn’t visibly mature too much (a tactic he later used for filming the first two Harry Potter films), but the studio wouldn’t let him. However, he only had to wait a short time because Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, starring the main original cast, was released in 1992.
The success of the first two films led to a full-on franchise of movies, board games, three video games, a novel, and other merchandise including Kevin’s Talkboy. Three more Home Alone movies were released after Home Alone 2, but they missed one tiny detail: Macaulay Culkin and the other original actors didn’t star in those films.
12. Fake Snow
The production team had to organize artificial snow for the making of Home Alone, which was made from plastic and wax. After filming, the snow was donated to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the opera company has since used the snow in a number of its own productions.
Luckily, Home Alone 2 felt more “Christmassy” when a real blizzard hit the set of the movie right before filming took place. The cast finally had all the real snow they could ever ask for, though it must have been quite cold!
13. Mind Your Mouth
Joe Pesci is used to cursing on screen from his roles in movies like Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and Casino. While filming Home Alone, he kept forgetting he was starring in a family movie when he played Harry Lime of the Wet Bandits, so much so, that Chris Columbus advised him to say “fridge” instead of another word.
Daniel Stern also slipped up a few times. He gave himself a bloody nose in the scene where he places his head though the doggie door. “I had to pull my head out quickly, and I clipped my big-ass nose on the door thing,” Stern exclaimed. You can hear Marv saying s**t under his breath when he attempts to get his nose through the little flap door.
14. A Real-Life Meanie
Joe Pesci wasn’t absolutely thrilled to be working on a film with a child as the star, so he avoided Macaulay Culkin like the plague. However, there was a method to his madness – Pesci wanted Culkin to be afraid of him in reality so their performances would be as genuine as possible.
No one can blame Culkin for being scared of Pesci both on and off screen. Culkin actually incurred a physical scar on his finger from a little onscreen accident, which can vouch for Pesci’s strange acting methods.
15. A Battle Scar
When Harry hooks Kevin McCallister to the coat peg on the door and says, “I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time,” Joe Pesci kind of took things a bit seriously and really bit one of Macaulay Culkin’s fingers.
Well, it was an accident, but Pesci did leave Culkin with a tiny scar on his finger. Culkin recalled, “During one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.” Ouch, must’ve been sore, especially with Harry’s gold filling.
16. Pro Driving Skills…Not
Remember the scene when Harry and Marv slam on the brakes of their gray 1986 Dodge Ram van in order to stop short of Kevin McCallister? Chris Columbus made sure no one was going to really get hurt by using a clever film trick.
Yes, the scene was filmed in reverse so that Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern wouldn’t crash into poor little Macaulay Culkin, meaning they pulled away and the edits of the scene make it appear as if they are driving towards Kevin.
17. It’s All About the Camera Angle
We can’t help but worry for Kevin McCallister when he has to face the wrath of Harry and Marv, but come to think of it, is Kevin really that vulnerable? Well, many of the shots of Macaulay Culkin in the beginning of the film focus on the actor from above his head so he appears small and vulnerable.
By the time Kevin has tricked the Wet Bandits with all his inventive booby traps, the camera shots of Culkin are taken from below portraying the shrewd boy as taller, confident, and heroic. It’s all about them camera angles, alright!
18. The Evil Furnace
The evil furnace in the McCallister’s basement definitely haunted kids’ childhoods as much as Kevin’s, but fear not, because it was only a product of two backstage crew members manning some fishing line and flashlights. Yes, you heard right!
Director Chris Columbus envisioned the furnace coming to life and chasing Kevin with some computer-generated animation, but the relatively low budget of $18 million didn’t allow for such luxuries. Instead, a good ol’ pair of hands and lighting had to do the trick, and they certainly did!
19. Joe Pesci’s Potential Rivals
Joe Pesci was definitely the perfect actor to play Harry Lime of the Wet Bandits, right? But did you know that other well-known actors were considered for the role? Robert De Niro and Jon Lovitz turned down the role of Harry.
In hindsight, that was definitely a blessing because Pesci definitely swept in and claimed the role as his own. Here’s another fun fact for you: The character was allegedly inspired by Harry Lime from the 1949 British film The Third Man, played by Orson Welles.
20. Old Man Marley
The role of Old Man Marley wasn’t originally part of Home Alone, but we’re sure glad he was written into the script because he saves Kevin McCallister from the evil Wet Bandits. We just love the part when he hits Marv and Harry with his shovel.
Old Man Marley served as more than just Kevin’s savior; Marley was initially the McCallisters’ scary neighbor, but he winds up teaching Kevin a lot about the importance of family and loyalty. Chris Columbus explained they added Marley for that extra dose of sentimentality and that his character is based on Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooges’s deceased business partner, from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
21. Improvising All The Way
John Candy, who plays Gus Polinksi the “Polka Dot King of the Midwest,” shot all his scenes in 23 hours. If you don’t remember, he is the friendly guy who offers Kate McCallister a ride from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Illinois to get to her son Kevin. He worked straight from 7 a.m. until 6 a.m. the following morning to get all his scenes shot, which is why he improvised for most of them. His nice-guy role was inspired by another John Hughes movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, in which Candy plays Del Griffith.
There wasn’t even enough time to film a farewell scene with Catherine O’Hara when she arrives at her house. Candy also admitted that a lot of the scenes had to be deleted because they seemed too lighthearted for a mother who is yearning to reunite with her son.
22. When Daniel Stern Almost Gets Bushwhacked
The 1995 film Bushwhacked directed by Greg Beeman was originally supposed to be a spin off of Home Alone featuring Marv the Wet Bandit. However, during production that idea was scrapped. Stern stars as a delivery guy “Mad” Max Grabelski who is on the run after being framed for murder.
The spin off version’s story line was going to be very similar in that Stern would play Marv who, after giving up a life of crime, is then framed for murder. Come to think of it, it still could be a spin off of his character.
23. “Why Are You Dressed Like a Chicken?”
We think it’s totally fair of Marv to ask Harry why he’s dressed like a chicken when he finds him covered in feathers, but did you know this line was improvised? So, not only is it one of the best lines from Home Alone, but Daniel Stern thought of it on the spot.
It all started when Harry bumps into Marv after he steps on the Christmas ornaments. The script instructs Harry to ask, “Why the hell did you take off your shoes?” to which Marv responds, “Why are you dressed like a chicken?” Must have been really funny!
24. Another Brilliant Line
After Marv finds Harry covered in feathers in the living room of the McCallister’s house, Macaulay Culkin improvised another one of the best lines of the films exclaiming, “You guys give up, or are you thirsty for more?”
Come on, we know you remember this part in detail when Kevin shouts from upstairs prompting Harry and Marv to march upstairs after slipping on a bunch of toy cars only to be hit by paint cans that Kevin connects to strings on the staircase railing.
When Marv climbs through the window and steps on the Christmas ornaments that Kevin McCallister sprawled all over the floor, actor Daniel Stern really was barefoot. In fact, the ornaments were made out of candy glass so Stern didn’t think they’d hurt. But boy oh boy, did they hurt!
The candy glass hurt so bad that Stern chose to wear rubber costume feet for all the other barefoot scenes he had to do. That didn’t stop him from shrieking in pain to make it all seem very real.
26. Stranger than Fiction
Did you know that John Hughes wrote the entire Home Alone script in just nine days after some traveler’s anxiety? Hughes’s son James told Chicago Magazine that the concept for the film was born during quite a crazy family trip to Europe in 1989.
James stated that after they returned home, he said “What if one of the kids had been accidentally left behind?!” The idea for the film can also be attributed to Hughes’s film Uncle Buck, which also starred Macaulay Culkin. In it, Culkin shows off much of his precocious ways, such as when he interrogates a babysitter through a mail slot. Hughes seemed to mirror that scene when Kevin confronts Marv through the doggie door in Home Alone.
27. You’ve Been Home Aloned!
Home Alone was such a success that it became a verb. Yes, the film totally dominated the box office for so long that other movies actually suffered as a result. Don’t believe us? Ask screenwriter William Goldman.
In his book The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays, Goldman recalled how “to be Home Aloned” became part of Hollywood jargon. “More than one executive said to me, ‘My picture did 40, but it would have done 50 if it hadn’t been Home Aloned,'” he said. In other words, the term refers to films that weren’t as successful at the box office owing to continued great success of another movie.
28. Blame It on the Pizza
Only an eagle-eyed viewer would have noticed that Kevin’s dad Peter McCallister throws Kevin’s plane ticket to Paris in the trash while he cleans up after the pizza incident. Yes, it all happened when no one leaves poor Kevin a piece of the pizza he wanted.
This leads to a total fiasco with Kevin getting blamed after Buzz knocks over milk and Pepsi onto the remaining pizza slices and passports, among other things, and a chair knocking cousin Fuller in the face. If Kevin hadn’t been unfairly sent upstairs, maybe they would have noticed his absence.
29. A Stunt Double
Surely Macaulay Culkin couldn’t have performed all those incredible stunts as a child. Well, to avoid any injuries and problems, Culkin had a short and young-looking 30-year-old stunt double performing all the risky scenes.
His stunt double was Larry Nicholas, and in case you’re wondering, he’s the one you see falling off Buzz’s bookshelves and zip-lining to the tree house. We also didn’t notice, so kudos to the team for doing such a great job.
30. Macaulay Culkin Back In Action
Macaulay Culkin might not have starred in Home Alone 3 and 4, but he did reprise his role as adult Kevin McCallister in 2015 for an opening episode of web series :DRYVRS. Culkin plays an uber driver who recounts his experiences of being left alone at home by his family, saying “I still have nightmares about this bald weirdo dude chasing me around talking like Yosemite Sam… They don’t even curse!”
In response to this episode, Daniel Stern reprised his role as Marv in a short video, in which he pleads for Harry to return to help him battle against Kevin’s cunning booby traps. Don’t know about you, but we’d definitely love to see a reunion film with all the original stars.
31. The Home Alone Sound Stage
While the house at 671 Lincoln Avenue Winnetka, Illinois was used for many scenes in the Home Alone series, a lot of the parts in the first movie were actually filmed at New Trier High School in Chicago.
The flooded basement Kevin McCallister runs through was built on the school’s swimming pool, while the gym was used to film other stunts. Many of the interior shots of the McCallister house were also constructed in the local high school. The school was also used to film scenes at the police station, O’Hare International Airport, and Paris-Orly Airport. Lastly, the business class seats to Paris were built on the basketball court.
32. A Personal Touch
The “Battle Plan” map you see Kevin McCallister using to set the traps for Harry and Marv of the Wet Bandits was actually hand drawn by Macaulay Culkin himself. He used this cute but intricate map to set and plan every single trap he could think of to ambush the burglars.
Kevin clearly knew what he was doing, as he caused some serious damage to the two pesky bad guys Harry and Marv. Lucky for Kevin, he knew every nook and cranny of his house, so the Wet Bandits didn’t stand a chance!
33. It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt
It might have looked all slapstick to us, but Harry and Marv probably wouldn’t have withstood all the stunts Kevin McCallister pulled on them if they were to have incurred them in reality, according to Dr. Ryan St. Clair of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
A steaming hot iron, BB gun shots on sensitive body parts, heavy swinging cans of paint, and flaming blowtorches — we’d say you better not try any of that at home. For the purposes of the film, it is quite impressive that an eight-year-old could achieve all these tricks without any help. It’s safe to say the injuries would be really bad, even fatal!
34. Child Labor Laws
Chris Columbus had to sometimes say the lines for Kevin McCallister when he wasn’t directing. This only happened when Macaulay Culkin had to stop shooting after 10 p.m. because of child labor laws, which prohibited anyone to employ a child after hours.
Columbus would film Culkin doing his thing, and then cover for him later for various scenes. “We would be shooting from like 5:30 at night to 6 in the morning,” he said. There was no way Culkin could be around for that long.
35. Home Alone’s Unforgettable Score
Home Alone wouldn’t be the same without it’s incredible score, right? Well, John Williams wasn’t always supposed to produce the music soundtrack for the film. Bruce Broughton was originally on board, but he had to leave because of scheduling conflicts, which is why some teaser posters still bear his name.
Williams was sent a finished print of the movie, and only then did he write the music for it. It must have been fate for Williams to create the music, as the film landed up being nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Original Score, and the other for the Best Original Song “Somewhere in My Memory” with lyrics by composer Leslie Bricusse.
36. Home Alone Conspiracy Theories
The success of the films has caused a number of super fans to come up with conspiracy theories as to why certain things happened in the Home Alone series. For example, some people on Reddit say that Kevin McCallister’s father Peter was trying to kill him.
The theorist who came up with this said that someone as successful as Peter McCallister couldn’t have made as dumb a mistake as to accidentally throw out Kevin’s ticket. The theory posits that Peter hired the Wet Bandits to finish the job while Kevin was home alone.
37. Conspiracy Theory #2: Evil Uncle Frank
Hold on! Maybe Peter McCallister isn’t a killer after all. A separate Home Alone conspiracy theory says that Uncle Frank, played by actor Gerry Bamman, actually was trying to rob his brother Peter’s house while everyone was on vacation and kill Kevin, who he really does dislike in the movie.
The writer points to the fact that he refuses to pay for pizza, riled up Kevin enough to get him sent to the attic as punishment, purposely caused a power outage. While they were in Paris, the theory goes, Uncle Frank was on the phone with the Wet Bandits so they knew it was safe to rob the house.
38. Conspiracy Theory #3: The Truth About Old Man Marley
The scariest character in Home Alone, for most of the movie anyways, was definitely Old Man Marley, played by actor Roberts Blossom. One conspiracy theory suggests that in reality, Old Man Marley was an undercover cop in hot pursuit of “outlaw” Uncle Frank. While trying to catch Uncle Frank, however, he ends up spotting the Wet Bandits instead and calls in all the forces to get them.
Another Home Alone conspiracy theory says that Old Man Marley is actually the future version of Kevin McCallister, trying to set things right. This theory relies on the use of a divergent timeline, which says that in the first version of reality, the house was robbed, which causes Kevin’s parents to divorce. Meanwhile, this “future Kevin” has come back to help set things right and prevent the house from being robbed at all.
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