Everyone loves the holidays, and what better way to spend them than with a classic holiday movie? Sure, you can probably recite the dialogue line by line, but isn’t this kind of predictability exactly what we need on a cold winter’s night? And wouldn’t it be just terrible, then, if someone came along and changed everything you knew about one of your absolute favorites?
Well then buckle up: if you’re a fan of Home Alone then checking out these secrets about the beloved holiday film should be on the top of your to-do list. So pop that copy of Angels With Filthy Souls out of the VCR because these facts will have you racing to rewatch the Christmas classic faster than the McCallisters through an airport.
1. Tailor-Made: After getting a taste of Macaulay Cuklin’s acting chops during his work on Uncle Buck, John Hughes actually penned the role of Kevin McCallister specially for the young actor. Director Christopher Columbus did go on to audition over 100 other kids for the part, but who could turn down this face?
2. Sharp, Yet Tasty: Watching Marv step on those glass ornaments is enough to make anyone cringe, but here’s the good news: they weren’t real. The ornaments were actually made of candy, and, just to be safe, Daniel Stern wore rubber feet in his barefoot scenes.
3. Method or Madness: Joe Pesci is known for his aggressive personality, but while filming for Home Alone he took his method acting to a whole new level. Apparently, Pesci tried to avoid Macauly Culkin at all costs while on set, hoping that the young actor would truly grow afraid of him.
Consequence of Sound
But perhaps Pesci’s craziest bit of method acting came during the coat hook scene at the very end of the film. Pesci’s character threatens to “bite off” all of Kevin McCallister’s fingers, and during one rehearsal, Pesci actually bit Macauly Culkin and broke the skin.
4. No Angels Here: Ever tried to watch that classic mobster flick, Angels With Filthy Souls, that Kevin screens throughout the film? Well, you can’t. The movie – and its sequel from Home Alone 2, Angels With Even Filthier Souls – was made specifically for the Christmas classic.
ButterFingerzMCPE / Reddit
5. Culkin Fever: While Home Alone served to springboard Macauly into superstardom, his younger brother Kieran also landed a role in the film as Kevin’s bed-wetter cousin, Fuller. Since then, Kieran has starred in a number of successful films and was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for his work on HBO’s Succession.
6. Marv’s Big Break: The 1995 film Bushwhacked stars Daniel Stern as a delivery man framed for murder, but did you know that the movie was originally pitched as a spinoff of Home Alone? Stern would’ve reprised his role as Marv, who, after giving up his life of crime, is then framed for murder.
7. Come One, Come All: Though the film itself is just a story, the McCallister house is actually a real place in Winnetka, Illinois. Though only a handful of scenes were filmed on location (the vast majority were shot on a soundstage), the privately owned home remains a major tourist attraction in the area.
Real Estate Views
8. Superhuman: If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “wow, they definitely shouldn’t have survived that” after watching Harry and Marv fall victim to Kevin’s many booby traps, you’re 100% correct. A number of doctors have claimed that the trauma suffered should’ve maimed, or even killed, both men.
9. Thanks, Uncle Buck: Inspiration can strike at any moment, and for John Hughes, the concept for Home Alone came to him while working on 1989’s Uncle Buck. Macaulay Culkin – who appears in both films – is seen interrogating a babysitter through a mail slot, which inspired Kevin McCallister’s antics through his home’s doggie door.
10. Say it Isn’t So: The bloodcurdling scream that Marv lets out at the sight of the tarantula on his face is one of the highlights of the film, but Home Alone fans will be heartbroken to know that the sound wasn’t genuine. Marv’s scream was dubbed in later, as a real scream would’ve scared the spider away.
Top Moments / YouTube
11. You Auditionin’ Me?: It’s hard to imagine anyone but Joe Pesci playing the role of Harry Lyme, but before the loud-mouthed actor landed the part he was almost beaten out by his Goodfellas co-star Robert De Niro. John Lovitz was also considered for the role, but after he and De Niro passed on it, Pesci swooped in and stole the show.
12. An Unexpected Addition: Everyone remembers the classic scene where Kevin zip-lines from the attic to his treehouse, but not many know that wooden structure wasn’t originally part of the property. The fort was constructed specifically for the movie, and after shooting it was promptly demolished.
13. This Time With Feeling: Kevin’s neighbor, “Old Man” Marley, is an integral part of the film, but the character wasn’t actually part of the original script. Feeling that the story needed an extra dash of the sentimental, director Chris Columbus added Marley in at the last minute.
14. The Guinness Touch: After debuting to the tune of $17 million in its opening weekend, Home Alone went on to become the highest-grossing film of 1990 and earned a Guinness World Record for the highest-grossing live-action comedy of all time in the U.S., a record it held until 2011’s The Hangover Part II.
15. Home Alone… Again?: Not only is Home Alone one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, but its success also spawned an entire franchise. To date, the film has inspired four sequels, three video games, two board games, a novel, and tons of other McCallister-themed merchandise.
A Board Game A Day
16. One Man’s Snow: Hollywood is no stranger to using fake snow, but the bits of white plastic and wax used to make Home Alone‘s white Christmas actually went on to live a second life. After shooting wrapped, the production donated the fake snow to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, who then used it in a number of performances.
17. Candy Man? More Like Iron Man: Shooting scenes can take a toll on an actor, but imagine doing them all in a single day? That was the case for John Candy, who shot all of his scenes as polka king Gus Polinski over the course of one long, 23-hour day.
18. A Polish Preference: While most believe that Home Alone is solely an American classic, it’s also hugely popular in Poland. Like in the U.S., the film is considered a staple of the Christmas season, and in 2011 alone over 5 million people tuned in for a dose of Kevin’s holiday hijinx.
19. Désolé Paris!: The McCallister family’s trip to Paris may be one of the film’s biggest plot points, but in reality, they never left the state. Every scene – including those set on the plane and in the Paris-Orly Airport – was filmed in Chicago.
20. The King Lives: That’s right: Elvis Presley is still alive! At least, that’s what a few conspiracy theorists believe. According to a number of eagle-eyed Home Alone fans, the king of rock ‘n roll himself actually plays the part of a bearded extra in this airport scene.
And the Christmas-movie debate wouldn’t be settled without talkin’ Die Hard. It’s easy to hold up the movie as the perfect example of a mindless (holiday) action movie, but it was more cultured than that. The film actually began life as a literary adaptation.
2. Die Hard was conceived as a cinematic version of Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever, which was the sequel to The Detective. But even the original book had another inspiration.
3. After writing The Detective, Thorp watched The Towering Inferno. The movie gave him nightmares about being trapped in a skyscraper by men with guns; he woke up and started writing Nothing Lasts Forever.
4. Regardless of the plot’s origin, Die Hard is forever synonymous with Bruce Willis. No one else could have played McClane besides him, right? Actually another celebrity almost got the role…
5. Frank Sinatra played the lead role in the film adaptation of The Detective, so he had first dibs on the sequel. The 70-year-old singer decided he wasn’t up to appearing in an action movie, however, and passed.
6. Clint Eastwood was also tied to the role since he owned the movie rights to Nothing Lasts Forever. He didn’t act on them, however, allowing Die Hard to exist as we currently know it.
7. Beyond Sinatra and Eastwood, Willis had to be the studio’s third choice, right? Apparently not. Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Mel Gibson, and Burt Reynolds were apparently all considered ahead of him.
8. Why did it take the producers so long to consider Willis as their potential action star? It turns out they had one unshakable, preconceived notion about his professional acting chops.
9. Since he had previously starred in Moonlighting and Blind Date, studio executives thought of Willis as a solely comedic actor. They weren’t sure if he could execute Die Hard‘s serious tone.
10. But even after he was selected, Willis almost declined the role. One key coincidence, however, cleared out his schedule and allowed Die Hard to become the film classic we all know and love.
11. When Willis’ Moonlighting costar Cybill Shepard got pregnant, the show’s shooting schedule had to be put on hold. That window gave him the chance to join the cast of Die Hard.
The Hollywood Reporter
12. Alan Rickman starred opposite of Willis as the terrorist mastermind Hans Gruber, but he wasn’t the producers’ first choice, either. Who did the studio originally tap as the film’s villain?
13. Sam Neill was targeted to play Gruber, but he passed on the role. Producers then saw Rickman’s performance in a theatrical version of Dangerous Liaisons and decided to give him a shot.
14. But Die Hard‘s success didn’t just come from its cast. The movie has quite a few iconic moments, but not all of those scenes were easy to film. Some actually didn’t go as planned…
15. One of Die Hard‘s most famous scenes features John McClane crawling through a vent shaft, illuminating his path with a cigarette lighter. That moment, however, took an unexpected turn during filming.
16. The detective was supposed to grab onto the first vent opening, but the stuntman missed his mark and fell. That shot made the final cut, however, with an additional edit of McClane catching a lower ledge.
17. Gruber’s death scene also had an unexpected twist: The stunt team dropped Rickman 20 feet into a massive airbag when he wasn’t expecting it! That move ensured he was genuinely afraid during the fall.
18. But things weren’t all fun and games on the set. In fact, one Die Hard scene left Willis with long term health issues that he’s still grappling with to this day.
19. On the set of Die Hard, all the guns shot extra loud blanks. When Willis took aim at a terrorist through a table, he was so close to the action that he suffered permanent hearing loss. That makes talking on the phone difficult!
20. In 2007, Willis revealed just how bad the injury was when he said, “Due to an accident on the first Die Hard, I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear.” That’s a heavy price to pay for a role!
21. But there’s one final part of Die Hard that came about by accident. It started simply enough, with Bruce Willis uttering a joke on the set. That line, however, would find a place in Hollywood history.
22. When Willis first said “Yippee-ki-yay,” it was a cheap joke for the crew. “It was a throwaway,” he explained. “I never thought it was going to be allowed to stay in the film.” Of course, the success of Die Hard had unintended consequences for someone in Bruce’s life.