When Home Alone debuted in movie theaters back in 1990, not even the creators knew how successful — and hilarious to audiences — it would be. The holiday classic still delights to this day, over 30 years later. The plot is exciting for audiences of all ages, and the star-studded cast offers another reason to watch this must-see movie. Catherine O’Hara, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, and, of course, Macaulay Culkin bring the wacky characters to life in a way that leaves fans cracking up, whether it’s their first watch or 100th. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the iconic comedy with some insider info from members of the cast and crew. From the filming tricks behind your favorite moments to funny interactions between the cast (including the sweet name Macaulay calls Catherine to this day), read on for all the Home Alone trivia you never knew about.
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The movie was inspired by a real family trip.
The movie’s writer, the venerable John Hughes, was on his way to Europe for the first time with his family and just happened to think, “What if one of the kids were left behind?” As his son James Hughes recounts, he jotted it down, and wrote the first draft of the movie’s script in just nine days (!) after he got back home.
Robert De Niro was originally tapped for a starring role.
The producers wanted him to play Harry, one of the bumbling burglars, but he turned it down. Joe Pesci, Robert’s Goodfellas co-star, accepted the gig in the end.
Jon Lovitz also could’ve been one of the burglars.
Joe Pesci was actually the third actor to be offered the role of Harry. After Robert De Niro didn’t accept the part, it was offered to Jon Lovitz. “I didn’t want to play second fiddle to some kid,” Jon told HuffPost. “Then it became the biggest comedy of all time. Oops.”
Chris Farley auditioned for the role of Santa but didn’t make the cut.
We think the Saturday Night Live legend would have made a good fit, but apparently his audition wasn’t up to snuff.
Kelsey Grammer was almost cast, too.
The role of Uncle Frank was written for the Frasier star, but he turned it down. Gerry Bamman eventually got the job as the wily uncle.
Snow was not in the film’s budget — but then a blizzard happened.
The producers really couldn’t afford it, but after snow covered the entire set on the second day of shooting, they had no choice but to call in the snow machines for the remainder of the film’s production.
Not all of the snow was real, though.
Another prop used to imitate snow? Mashed potato flakes. They can be spotted at the very end, when it starts snowing outside Kevin’s house.
Joe Pesci avoided Macaulay Culkin on set.
The actor apparently wanted to ensure Macaulay was actually afraid of him (and, consequently, Harry).
Catherine O’Hara spoke some of her lines to a tennis ball.
The Beetlejuice and Schitt’s Creek star didn’t always deliver her dialogue to Macaulay, due to restrictions on the working hours of child actors. “We’d shoot a scene with one of the kids; then, as late as one in the morning, we’d shoot my close-ups,” she recalled. “They’d have a tennis ball on a stand, the height of the kid’s head, and the script supervisor would read the children’s lines.”
Macaulay Culkin still calls Catherine O’Hara “Mommy.”
Around 2012, the costars accidentally ran into each other for the first time in many years. “He went, ‘Mommy!’ and I was like, ‘Baby!'” the actress told Andy Cohen. “And my husband, who usually is cool about these things, said, ‘OK, get together. I’m getting a picture!'”
Kevin’s scream accidentally became the film’s best-known moment.
Chris Columbus told Entertainment Weekly the aftershave scene was conceived differently in the script. “But on the first take, he slapped his face and kept his hands glued to his face as if he had just put superglue on his face, and his hands stayed completely still as he screamed like the Edvard Munch painting,” he said. “That’s why he was such an interesting kid: No one else would have done that.”
Macaulay Culkin’s now-famous little bro makes an appearance.
The ornaments Marv steps on are actually candy.
Joe Pesci had a hard time holding back on profanity.
As Joe was used to more adult scripts (and costars), the actor had to catch himself using curse words around set. Director Chris Columbus even advised him to say “fridge” instead of, well, you know what.
Macaulay Culkin barely watches the film.
It’s hard for him to watch it from an outside point of view. “When I’m watching it, I’m seeing like — I’m remembering that day on set,” the actor told Ellen DeGeneres in 2018. “You know, like, how I was hiding my Pepsi behind the couch. I can’t watch it the same way other people can.”
The pages of the ‘Playboy’ issue were taped together.
To keep the child actor from seeing actual nudity, the crew taped the magazine completely shut.
None of the house scenes were filmed on a sound stage.
The McAllister home is a real house located outside of Chicago in Winnetka, Illinois. What’s more, the real owners continued to live there (mostly confined to the house’s primary suite) for the five months of filming.
Chris Columbus directed the film because of a feud with Chevy Chase.
John Hughes originally wanted Columbus to direct National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but things went south after a meeting with actor Chevy Chase. “I called John and said, ‘There’s no way I can do this movie. I know I need to work, but I can’t do it with this guy,'” he told Chicago magazine. Shortly after, he was sent the script for Home Alone instead.
Joe Pesci really bit Macaulay Culkin’s finger in the scene where Kevin is hangs from the coat hook.
“During one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin,” Macaulay told Conan O’Brien. And he’s still got the scar as a memento.
The sound effects were really inventive.
Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern didn’t endure as much abuse as Harry and Marv. According to supervising sound editor Michael Wilhoit, the crew replicated the sound of bodies hitting the ground using frozen roast beef. To make “flesh bubble and sizzle,” they’d press a soldering iron onto chicken skin.
The blowtorch scene has a small flub.
The iconic scene was done using an illusion called “Pepper’s Ghost.” The fire is actually pointing at a pane of glass, and is being fired at a fake head sculpture. Eagle-eyed fans have noticed that in a super quick moment, you can actually spot the fake head due to Joe Pesci’s positioning being a tad off.
Macaulay Culkin had a 30-year-old stunt double.
He was the only one allowed to improvise that much, though.
While producer John Hughes encouraged most of the actors to stick to the script, he made a special exception for his friend John Candy.
The BB gun scene took some animation.
“We paid a guy living in his mother’s basement in Chicago $600 to hand-paint that BB going into Marv’s head. So that was an animated effect,” Chris Columbus told Insider. “This was an $18 million film, so, for our budget, I’m pretty happy how it turned out.”
The “evil furnace” also involved movie magic.
In the movie, the furnace’s movements — and growls — terrified Kevin. In reality, the scene was created by two crew members with flashlights and fishing lines!
There was extra safety in place during the popcorn scene.
The “Wet Bandits” didn’t really flood the neighbors’ home.
The scene was actually filmed in a nearby school’s swimming pool.
The original script had fewer scenes with Kevin.
There was supposed to be a bonus scene.
The script originally included an additional post-credits moment where Harry and Marv watch Angels with Filthy Souls on TV in prison. When they hear the movie dialogue Kevin fooled them with, they exchange looks.
The movie was met with world-record success.
Released in November 1990, Home Alone had a 12-week stint at number one. It also held the title of “top-grossing live-action comedy” for a whopping 27 years.
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