25 Things You May Not Know About 'Home Alone' , 25 Years Later

Celebrate the film's 25th anniversary with some behind-the-scenes trivia

Photo: 20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett

Just over 25 years ago, Macaulay Culkin taught the world that a home invasion can result in physical comedy magic and family fun for all. Yes, Home Alone first opened in theaters on Nov. 16, 1990.

Of course, Home Alone taught us other lessons, too. For example, you can accidentally abandon your child without getting in trouble with Child Protective Services. We learned that a scary old man next door just might be a lonely guy who’s handy with a snow shovel. And perhaps most important of all, Home Alone proved you can make a successful movie starring one child actor onscreen alone for a substantial portion of the runtime.

Now, Kevin McCallister is back – and he’s looking a little bit different.

In a new web series, :DRYVRS, Culkin reprises his legendary role, only this time, he’s a grown-up – and has a bit of resentment toward his family for leaving him behind.

In honor of his return, take a look back at 25 things you might not know about the iconic Christmas flick.

In honor of the film’s silver anniversary, we’re celebrating with 25 facts and behind-the-scenes stories that fans may not know.

1. It is one of the highest-grossing comedies ever.

To date, Home Alone has made $476.7 million dollars. That’s a lot for any movie, and it’s particularly a lot for a comedy, since the movies that Americans find funny don’t necessarily translate well overseas. Bonking burglars in the head with paint cans, however, is a universal language. The Hangover Part II did better – $586 million to date – but in terms of non-animated, non-musical family films, the amount of money that this simple, $18 million project has garnered is staggering.

2. It also dominated at theaters for longer than most blockbusters do

It opened at No. 1 and then stayed there for 12 weeks – until Feb. 10, 1991, long after most people had taken down their Christmas decorations. The Julia Roberts star vehicle Sleeping with the Enemy finally knocked it out.

3. Its success inspired a verb

According to William Goldman’s 2001 collection of essays, The Big Picture, “to be Home Aloned” – Hollywood jargon as an expression – means to have the financial success of a given movie impaired by the inexplicable continued success of another film.

4. It was born as a result of John Hughes’ travel anxiety

Chicago Magazine recently collected an oral history of Home Alone, and an intro by James Hughes, son of the legendary writer-director, explains that the film originated as a stray thought his father had during a family trip to Europe in 1989: “What if one of the kids had been accidentally left behind?” He wrote the script two weeks after returning home.

Pete Wentz Gives a Shout Out to Macaulay Culkin“

5. Chris Columbus directed Home Alone instead of Christmas Vacation

As Columbus told Chicago Magazine, he’d always wanted to direct a Christmas movie and was up to direct National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – until he met Chevy Chase. “To be completely honest, Chevy treated me like dirt,” Columbus 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,” Columbus recalled telling Hughes. Soon enough, the script for Home Alone came along.

6. Culkin’s role in Uncle Buck basically got him the lead in Home Alone

Hughes had directed Culkin in 1989’s Uncle Buck. “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, ‘Okay, take your time, do what you need to do,’ ” 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.”

7. Chris Farley auditioned for the role of Santa Claus

Ken Hudson Campbell, the actor who got the role, recalled to Chicago Magazine how the Saturday Night Live legend tried out for the part. “Apparently, he was out all night and had just been dropped off after a night of shenanigans, shall we say. Farley was kinda making catcalls to the girls who worked in the office. I was thinking, ‘Oh, boy!'” he said. “Chris went first. It didn’t go very well. He walked in and walked right out I went in and hit what I wanted to hit. A few weeks later, I got the call.”

8. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern were friends long before being cast in Home Alone

Stern told Chicago Magazine that they’d previously shared screen time in the the 1982 Jill Clayburgh 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.”

9. Robert De Niro turned down the role of Harry

Of course, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Joe Pesci playing the role, but according to Mental Floss both De Niro and Jon Lovitz passed on playing the angrier of the two burglars.

10. Stern faked his “tarantula scream”

Because actually screaming wouldn’t have frightened the tarantula, Stern had to mime the scream – and then scream his lungs out in post.

11. The movie wasn’t budgeted for fake snow – but then there was a blizzard

As associate producer Mark Radcliffe explained to Chicago Magazine, a blizzard on the second day of shooting meant that the rest of the movie had to have snow in the background throughout. “I remember that whenever the snow melted, we were spraying ice, and then they had problems with ice. The next thing, they were literally laying bags of ice to try and create snow,” Radcliffe said.

12. There is no movie called Angels with Filthy Souls

To prank visitors, Kevin uses clips from an old gangster movie titled Angels with Filthy Souls. It’s one of the more famous scenes from the film, but the movie was made up specifically for Home Alone. The actor who plays the mobster, Ralph Foody, even reprised the role in Home Alone 2 in a scene from Angels with Filthier Souls.

13. Harry and Marv would not have been able to walk those injuries off

In 2012, The Week discussed the injuries incurred by the burglars in Home Alone with a medical professional. His diagnosis? Marv should have fractured his facial bones from getting an iron dropped on him and should’ve lost his hand from the hot doorknob. And if Harry doesn’t die from the blowtorch to the head, he’ll need a major bone transplant.

14. It was Culkin, however, who got a scar

In an interview Culkin recalled to Rule Forty Two the scene that gave him a small white scar on his right index finger. “In the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time.’ And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.”

15. John Candy’s entire funeral home story was improvised

And it’s just one of the many reasons we wish this amazing man was still around today.

16. Macaulay Culkin got to improvise too

Allegedly the line “Do you guys give up or are you thirsty for more?” was made up by the young actor on the spot.

17. No, you don’t have to feel bad for Buzz’s girlfriend

There’s a popular urban legend that the young lady glimpsed in the “Buzz’s girlfriend! Woof!” scene was played by Devin Ratray, who also played Buzz. It’s not true. The photo is actually of the art director’s son done up like an unattractive girl – because Columbus felt it would be too cruel to make fun of an actual teenage girl.

18. There’s an Olympian in the cast

Hillary Wolf, who plays Kevin’s sister Megan, quit acting after Home Alone 2 but went on to pursue judo. She competed on the U.S. Women’s Team in both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

19. And there’s a bonus Culkin too

Fuller, Kevin’s bed-wetting cousin, was played by Kieran Culkin, who’d go on to appear in the Father of the Bride movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and other projects.

20. Uncle Frank was originally supposed to be the film’s villain – and may still be

Harry and Marv are bad, but Kevin’s Uncle Frank (Gerry Bamman) is no peach. There’s a rumor that in an early version of the script, it was jealous Uncle Frank who paid the burglars to rip off Kevin’s family while he knew they’d be away. In fact, there’s an interesting reading of the film that still paints Uncle Frank as the evil mastermind. Hmm .

21. Oh, and Elvis is also apparently in Home Alone

Don’t ask us why, but there’s a certain faction of online Home Alone fans who insist that an extra appearing behind Catherine O’Hara in one scene is none other than Elvis Presley himself – aged and bearded.

22. There are more sequels than you probably realize

Everyone knows that there was a Home Alone 2. Released in 1992, it did well. Less successful was the Macaulay Culkin-less Home Alone 3, but nonetheless there was still a Home Alone 4, centered once again on Kevin McCallister but now played by a new actor fighting off Marv (now played by French Stewart). And in 2012, Debi Mazar starred in a fifth Home Alone, which premiered on ABC Family.

23. And there was almost a spinoff

The 1995 comedy Bushwacked starred Daniel Stern and in the early stages was considered as possible spinoff to Home Alone, with Stern reprising the role of Marv.

24. You missed your chance to buy the Home Alone house

The gorgeous Winnetka, Illinois, home that served as the McCallister residence sold in March 2012 for $1.58 million after ten months on the market. It had previously been considered as a possible shooting location for Uncle Buck.

25. Yes, there was a Home Alone video game

Eleven months after the movie opened, the first video game adaptation – Home Alone for the NES – launched. That’s maybe not especially remarkable on its own, but it’s worth considering the novelty of Macaulay Culkin being one of the only kids in the world who got to play as himself in a video game.

Related Articles