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Image / Living / Culture

10 things you didn’t know about ‘Home Alone’


By Sarah Finnan
08th Nov 2021
10 things you didn’t know about ‘Home Alone’

You’ve seen the movie umpteen times… but do you really know anything about Home Alone?

The Culkins seemed to be everywhere this weekend – whether it was Macaulay walking the Gucci runway or Kieran hosting SNL, there was no escaping the famous brothers. Not that anyone would necessarily want to escape them per se, but it was a change of pace for the famous duo who tend to otherwise be quite private. 

Coming out of hibernation in honour of Gucci’s first in-person show since February 2020, Macaulay Culkin was one of the guests of honour at the big event – even surprising other attendees by taking to the catwalk at one point. Joining the likes of Jared Leto, Miranda July and Jodie Turner-Smith at the beautiful Chinese Theatre in Hollywood Boulevard, the actor donned a pair of wide-legged pants, Hawaiian print button up and glossy bomber for his debut – pairing the look with a pair of yellow-tinted sunglasses and some studded black clogs too. 

While his older brother was busy strutting his stuff for the Italian fashion house (the subject of the upcoming true crime biopic starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver), Kieran Culkin took centre stage over at Saturday Night Live. His first time assuming hosting duties, it marked almost 30 years since he had last been on the show – a moment he reminisced on during his opening monologue.  

I don’t know about you, but so much talk of the famous brothers has actually made us quite nostalgic. One of the biggest stars of the 90s, Macaulay was a key character in many of our favourite childhood flicks and with the festive season edging ever closer, we couldn’t help but think about his most iconic role; that of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. 

Arguably one of the best Christmas movies of all time, it’s always top of the annual viewing list… but do you actually know all that much about it? Maybe, maybe not. Every day is a school day though, so here are 10 things you’ve probably never heard about the movie. 

Home Alone: verb 

To be Home Aloned: verb meaning other films would suffer at the box office due to Home Alone’s continued success. 

According to Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman, the movie was so popular that it inspired the phrase “to be Home Aloned” within the Hollywood lexicon. “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 wrote in his book Who Killed Hollywood? And Other Essays.

In fact, the film was so profitable that it made over $17million in the box office in just its opening weekend. Maintaining its number one spot for a full 12 weeks, it even stayed in the top 10 until June the following year – incredible considering it is very much a Christmas movie. The highest-grossing film of 1990, it also earned itself the Guinness World Record for highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically… a claim it managed to hold Konto for 27 years until the Chinese blockbuster Never Say Die knocked it off its pedestal in 2017. 

Kieran Culkin made a cameo 

Though Kieran Culkin has since come to be quite famous in his own right – he plays Roman Roy on the uber-popular HBO show Succession – he actually had his start alongside his brother in Home Alone movie. 

Anyone remember Fuller McCallister? The youngest child of Frank and Leslie McCallister, he plays Kevin’s nerdy younger cousin… the one guzzling Pepsi at the dinner table. Known to wet the bed on occasion, Kevin is devastated to learn he’ll be sharing a bed with him that night. Lucky (or unlucky?) for him, that never happens as he gets banished to the attic and well, we all know what happens next. 

It’s based on John Hughes’ airport anxiety

The whole premise for the movie was actually based on writer-director John Hughes’ travel anxiety, as his son, James Hughes told Chicago Magazine recently. “On August 8, 1989, my father, John Hughes, jotted down in a notebook a movie idea, born of traveller’s anxiety, that occurred to him during the bustle of departing for our first family trip to Europe, and set it aside,” he wrote for a piece in honour of the movie’s 25th anniversary. 

“Two weeks later, after returning home, he revisited the premise: What if one of the kids had been accidentally left behind? Over the next nine days, he completed the first draft of Home Alone, capped by an eight-hour, 44-page dash to the finale.”

Thank you, Uncle Buck

Macaulay Culkin played the part of the unsupervised minor so well that it would be hard to imagine anyone else could have done it justice but it was actually his role in another movie that ultimately helped to get him the job. Already familiar with Macaulay’s talent as an actor having worked with him on Uncle Buck, he was always in the back of Hughes’ mind for the lead… they still auditioned hundreds of other kids for the part though. 

“I think John knew all along that he wanted Macaulay in the movie. I thought he was great in Uncle Buck, but I owed it to myself as director to see other child actors. John said, ‘Ok, take your time, do what you need to do,’” director Chris Columbus recalled. “I ended up seeing 200 other kids, looked over hundreds of videotapes. Then Macaulay read, and you immediately knew this was the kid.”

Harry and Marv were real-life friends

Harry and Marv are friends IRL, and have been for quite some time – even before they joined forces as the Wet/Sticky Bandits. Previously speaking to Chicago Magazine, Daniel Stern (who plays Marv) said that he met Joe Pesci (Harry) while working on the 1982 film I’m Dancing as Fast as I can. “Everyone assumed we were thrown together for the first time on Home Alone, but we’d made each other giggle on the set in another movie years before that we were both cut out of: I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

“We played people in a mental institution. Joe walked around all the time with this rolled-up tube of architectural drawings. That was his character,” Stern said. “And during one of the takes, there’s a ping pong table in the middle of the room, and Joe takes his tube of paper and puts it up to his nose and snorts the line of Ping-Pong balls. I fell on the floor laughing. I became his friend right then.”

Aisling Bea is older than Catherine O’Hara was in the original movie

Catherine O’Hara was 36 years old when she played Kevin’s mother, Kate McCallister in Home Alone. Fast forward to the present day and Aisling Bea has been announced as the new mother figure in the upcoming reboot of the original movie… and she’s one year older than Catherine was when she first played that role. Mind. Blown. 

Robert De Niro was almost cast as Harry 

Joe Pesci played the villain to perfection in the family favourite, but his role almost went to someone else entirely and it turns out that both Robert De Niro and Jon Lovitz passed on playing Harry Lime, the angry burglar we’ve come to know and love. In an interview with Cinemablend, De Niro also claims that he’s never even seen the movie… that may be true, but why is he depriving himself of such unabashed happiness?

Like De Niro, Pesci was previously known for appearing in mostly adult-specific content and although he really leant into the role he apparently had a bit of a hard time remembering to adjust his language accordingly.  So much so that director Chris Columbus had to suggest the word “fridge” as a replacement for a certain other F-word…

Angels With Filthy Souls isn’t a real movie

Up there as one of the most quoted lines in the whole movie, the line “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal” comes from a gangster film that Kevin watches while at home. Definitely not something he’d be allowed to watch with his parents around, he really relishes in sitting down in front of the TV and eating as much sugar as he possibly can. But what many fans don’t know is that Angels With Filthy Souls and the follow-up Angels With Even Filthier Souls, aren’t actually real movies at all… they were made up specifically for the Home Alone franchise. 

There’s a reason the scene has conned so many into thinking it’s legit though (including Seth Rogan and Chris Evans). “Home Alone is one of the last films shot with an old carbon-arc lighting system that was popular back in the 1940s through 1960s for technicolour films,” Columbus told Insider, and they used this same technique for Angels With Filthy Souls. “That richness of black and white made it look like a movie from that era, and I think that’s why some people think it’s a real movie.”

Buzz, your girlfriend… WOOF!

Contrary to popular belief, the photo of Buzz’s girlfriend shown in the movie isn’t actually a real person. Nor is it the actor who plays Buzz dressed up as a girl… though that is closer to the truth as the picture used is of the art director’s son done up to look like an unattractive young lady. Why? Columbus felt it would be too cruel to make fun of an actual teenage girl. 

Marv’s scream was added post-production 

We always questioned the validity of Stern’s scream in the movie and our suspicions were correct as that was added in post-production. For those of you who don’t automatically know exactly the scene we’re referring to, it happens in the first movie when Kevin places a tarantula directly on Marv’s face. Daniel Stern agreed to let it happen but, quite understandably, he’d only allow for one take. Conscious not to frighten the spider, Stern mimed his blood-curdling scream with the sound dubbed in after. I imagine even the memory of having a tarantula creep across your face is enough to produce such a noise.