Macaulay Culkin skyrocketed to fame in 1990 with the release of the box-office blockbuster Home Alone. He was already a familiar face, thanks to a notable scene in Uncle Buck, but it was the story of Kevin McCallister's efforts to foil two crooks trying to break into his house that permanently put him on the public's radar. As Kevin, he was completely charming, and had a crack sense of comic timing to boot.
The making of Home Alone and other films he's starred in offers some fascinating behind-the-scenes stories. Culkin continued in kid roles for a while, then made the transitions to teen actor and adult performer. Many of these stories from behind the scenes of Macaulay Culkin movies are directly about him. Others focus on his co-stars, including the late, great John Candy.
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Culkin's Famous Scream Face In 'Home Alone' Happened Only Because He Forgot His Stage Directions
If one image comes to most people's minds when they think about Home Alone, it's probably when Kevin slaps cologne on his face, then screams from the burning sensation it produces. Writer/producer John Hughes couldn't take credit for this memorable moment, because it was essentially a happy mishap, according to an interview with Insider.
Culkin was supposed to move his hands away from his face after putting on the cologne. As the cameras rolled, however, he forgot that stage direction, and kept his hands in place while screaming. The crew cracked up.
Director Chris Columbus filmed a couple takes the way he originally envisioned it, but said that the "editor, Raja Gosnell, he cut that take into the first cut that I saw and it was in there forever."
When you see all the bonkers stuff little Kevin does in Home Alone, including sledding down the staircase, you might reasonably ask, "Who would let a movie production film all this mayhem inside their house?" In this case, filming in an actual location proved impossible. Getting all the equipment inside, not to mention all the crew members, would have been too difficult.
To circumvent that problem, a real house was used for the exteriors, but the interior of the McCallister home was a set constructed inside the gymnasium of an Illinois high school. The scene where the Wet Bandits flood a basement was achieved inside the school's swimming pool.
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The Crew Taped The Pages Of 'Playboy' Together In 'Home Alone'
In one Home Alone scene, Kevin snoops around in older brother Buzz's bedroom. Opening up a drawer, he stumbles across a copy of Playboy magazine. Kevin is then shown looking through it.
Given his tender age (9 years old) at the time of filming, it may seem inappropriate for Culkin to have been given something like that as a prop. The crew members, however, were looking out for his well-being. To ensure that he didn't get a glimpse of anything too eye-opening, they taped the pages together. Culkin later joked to Ellen DeGeneres that it was still "exciting" just to "have one in my hands."
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John Candy Filmed All Of His Scenes For 'Home Alone' In Less Than A Day
John Candy has a memorable cameo in Home Alone. He plays Gus Polinski, the self-professed "Polka King of the Midwest" whom Mrs. McCallister encounters in an airport. Candy was friends with writer/producer John Hughes (they made Planes, Trains and Automobiles together a few years prior), and agreed to the small role as a favor.
The actor had only one free day in his busy schedule, though. For that reason, he had to film all his scenes in a massive 23-hour session. According to director Chris Columbus, Hughes "encouraged me to let John improvise. When he's talking about his band and the hits and polka, polka, polka - that’s all improvisation."
Even nuttier is that Candy earned a mere $414 for his entire performance.