Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are some of the best Christmas movies of all time. The story of Kevin Mccallister being left behind by his family on not one, but two occasions, and having to fend off thieves by himself became an instant classic and a go-to Christmas movie.
While you might be able to recite so many famous lines from the movie, we have compiled a list of secrets that you never knew. Merry Christmas you filthy animals, grab your cheese pizza and ice cream sundae and get ready for the most wonderful time of the year.
The role was written for Macaulay Culkin
When Home Alone was written, the script was intended for Macaulay Culkin to star as Kevin Mccallister. The precocious child actor had appeared in a few other films and producers knew he would be perfect for the role and hold his own.
However, when it actually came to casting, director Chris Columbus still auditioned more than 100 pre-teen actors to make sure that they were making the right decision. When Macaulay came in to read, it was a no brainer for everyone.
It turns out that Home Alone was a family affair for the Culkins as Macaulay wasn’t the only one in his family to appear in the movie. His younger brother Kieran landed the role of Kevin’s younger cousin and notorious bed-wetter, Fuller.
This ended up being Kieran’s first ever movie roles, and what a great one to kick his acting career off with. Since then, he has gone on to star in films including The Cider House Rules, Igby Goes Down, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Chris Columbus learned a big lesson about working with child actors
Chris Columbus is a director who has some incredible movies in his portfolio and aside from Home Alone 1 and 2, he also directed Mrs. Doubtfire and two films in the Harry Potter franchise. All these family friendly films were based around children, but it was Home Alone that taught Columbus a lesson about working with kids.
He admitted that he was naive in not considering the kids background and family woes. He noted that Culkin’s parents were going through a tumultuous time in their relationship and Macaulay’s fortune was dragged into a legal battle. Production and cast had to take this struggle into account.
It held a record for 27 years
As soon as Home Alone hit theaters, it was clear the movie was going to become a classic. In its opening weekend, it smashed records and brought in an unprecedented $17 million, and stayed at the number one spot for 12 weeks, and staying in the top 10 until June the following year.
From this, it became the highest grossing film of 1990 and received a Guinness World Record as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically. The record was taken over 27 years later by Chinese blockbuster Never Say Die.
Going beyond a sequel
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York was the second film to be directed by Chris Columbus with a script written by John Hughes and the rest of the cast reprising their roles.
However, even though many people consider the first two films to be the classics, there were a total of four sequels that had a different cast, but staying within the same concept. In addition, there were three video games, two board games, a novel, and plenty more merchandise.
The McCallister home
In Home Alone, all of the action in the first movie happens at the Mccallister household in Chicago. Due to the success of the film, the home became a tourist attraction and it is located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois.
Unlike many films, scenes in the kitchen, staircase and foyer, were actually shot in the home while the dining room and bedroom scenes were shot on a soundstage. Despite the house being iconic in film history, it was sold for a mere $1.5 million in 2012.
Kevin’s tree house
Any child who watched Home Alone was in awe of Kevin’s tree house. The only time we really get to see his tree house is when he ziplines from the house to the tree house in an escape from Harry and Marv to call the cops.
However, this tree house was not included in the backyard and it was built specifically for production. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for the treehouse if you visit the residence you won’t find it as it was demolished after filming.
It was all filmed in Chicago
In the first Home Alone movie, the rest of the Mccallister family were stuck in Paris while Kevin was fending of the burglars in their Chicago home. There were plenty of scenes shot in the Chicago area including the O’Hare International Airport which was supposed to be the Paris-Orly Airport.
In addition, the business class seats on the flight were built on the basketball court of a local high school. This was the same school that was used to shoot the scene of Kevin running through a flooded basement.
Robert De Niro could have played Harry
Chris Columbus wanted to make sure that everyone was cast perfectly for Home Alone so when it came to choosing the actor to play Harry Lime, he had some solid options. It turns out that legendary actors Robert De Niro and Jon Lovitz both turned down the role to play ringleader robber Harry.
When Joe Pesci came to read for the part, he made it his own and immediately won the role, which actually became one of his most famous parts.
Joe Pesci tried to terrify Macaulay Culkin
Being the authentic actor he is, Joe Pesci went all method actor on Macaulay Culkin on the set of Home Alone. He tried to avoid him as much as possible in order for the child actor to be afraid of him when they filmed scenes together.
However, the fear didn’t end there and Macaulay recalled “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.”
Joe Pesci wasn’t used to family friendly films
Considering he had starred in films including Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino, Joe Pesci had his own dramatic and fiery way of acting, and adapting to a family-friendly dialogue was somewhat of a challenge.
On the set of Home Alone, he would often drop the f-bomb in many different takes without even realizing. In an attempt to curb this, Chris Columbus told Joe to use substitute the curse word for “fridge” instead.
Kevin’s deadly plan
In Home Alone, Kevin comes up with a very dangerous plan in order to deter Harry and Marv from burglarizing his home. From BB guns, paint cans to the face, blowtorches to the scalp, entering the house was nearly fatal for the two criminals.
Although they managed to survive the onslaught of attacks in the film, doctors have explained that many of these attacks would have caused blowout fractures, disfigurement and debilitating double vision as well as a rotting skull from the blowtorch. All of this from an eight-year-old.
The tarantula was real.
Granted, Marv may have been set on fire and had rusty nails plunged through his feet, but one of his worst moments was when Kevin let Buzz’s huge tarantula loose on him.
This however, was not a prop and a spider was specifically brought in for the scene. It was so terrifying for Daniel Stern that he said he would only have it on him for one take and nothing more. The sound from his scream was dubbed in later in order to not scare the spider.
John Candy filmed all his scenes in one day
Ever the slick professional, John Candy played Gus Polinski, the “Polka King of the Midwest,” in Home Alone and instead of taking days to film his scenes in the movie, he completed them all in less than 24 hours.
Candy was a regular in many of John Hughes’ movies and knew exactly what he needed to do in order to get the best take. Candy did not mess around on set, came prepared, got the job done and wrapped it up very quickly.
The truth behind Angels With Filthy Souls
“Merry Christmas you filthy animal, and a happy new year”, the line everyone loves from Home Alone was actually from the movie that Kevin was constantly playing. The Jimmy Cagney-like gangster movie actually doesn’t exist and was created especially for Home Alone, despite many people thinking it was real.
The same goes for the sequel, Angels With Even Filthier Souls that was playing in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. The movie was inspired by the the 1983 gangster movie Angels With Dirty Faces.
The “Old Man” Marley was only added last minute
In Home Alone, Kevin’s neighbor “Old Man” Marley was rumored to be a serial killer called the South Bend Shovel Slayer. However, he turned out to be a kind and caring and even saved Kevin’s life. On Christmas Eve, Marley and Kevin dismissed the rumors and explained the importance of family, with Kevin even trying to help Marley reunite with his son.
This scene wasn’t added in until the last minute when Chris Columbus felt the film needed some sentimentality and explain that Christmas is about giving, love and family.
The script was written in nine days
They say some of the best films are the ones that just flow in the writing process and come together seamlessly. This was exactly what happened with the Home Alone script and writer John Hughes wrote the whole script in just nine days.
He was suffering from travel anxiety at the time and felt he had left something behind when going away with his family. His son explained that after a Europe trip in 1989, John thought of the premise if he had left the kids behind when getting on the plane. Home Alone was born from then.
A movie without CGI
In the beginning of Home Alone, Kevin was terrified of going into the basement as the furnace was loud and imposing. However, the thing that brought him so much fear was simply two members of production pulling strings and moving around some flash lights.
Initially, Chris Columbus had wanted to use CGI to bring it to life, but the movie’s small budget did not allow for this to happen. They had to improvise by doing something else.
Macaulay makes big money
The success of Home Alone was completely unexpected and it became an absolute box office smash hit. Naturally, when it came to making the sequel, the budgets were bigger, expectations higher and the release was highly anticipated.
With all the main cast coming back to reprise their characters, they all saw a pay rise, but nobody more than Macaulay Culkin. The star of the movie made $4.5 million to play Kevin once more, the biggest salary ever paid to a 12-year-old.
Room service breakdown
At the end of Home Alone 2, Peter McCallister is given the room service bill at the Plaza Hotel where Kevin was staying alone when his family were in Florida. The mischievous youngster did what any kid would do and order everything he wanted off the room service menu.
He ended up ordering two chocolate cakes, six chocolate mousses with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream topped with M&Ms, chocolate sprinkles, cherries, nuts, marshmallows, caramel syrup, chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, whipped cream, and bananas, six custard flans, a pastry cart, eight strawberry tarts, and thirty-six chocolate-covered strawberries. It all came to a total of $967.
The pigeon fly by
At the end of Home Alone: Lost In New York, Kevin manages to direct Harry and Marv towards Central Park where the Pigeon Lady helps him out by throwing bird food all over the thieves.
At this point, the Wet Bandits are attacked by hundreds of pigeons while they let out some high pitched screams. It turns out that this scene was completely real and during shooting, one of the birds accidentally flew into Daniel Stern’s mouth. He added “It was disgusting”.
Donald Trump’s cameo
While Home Alone had an all-star cast, there was one very quick cameo from a U.S. president. When Kevin is walking into the Plaza Hotel, he asks a businessman for directions where the lobby is and he replies “Down the hall and to the left.”
Catch it or you’ll miss it but at the time, Donald Trump owned the Plaza Hotel, hence the reason for his very quick cameo. Trump allowed filming in his properties if he was given a role in the movie.
A strange request
Most kids are scared to death of thieves and burglars, but something strange happened to Joe Pesci when he played the role of Harry in Home Alone.
Pesci explained that after the film becoming a success, children would stop him in the street and give him their real home address in the hope that he would burglarize their homes, like in the movie, and they could fight back with Kevin McCallister’s tricks. Maybe they should just ask for an autograph or photo instead!
The real Duncan’s Toy Chest
One of the best parts of Home Alone 2 is when the limo picks up Kevin from The Plaza with a cheese pizza and drives him to Duncan’s Toy Chest.
The toy store is based on the famous FAO Schwarz in New York, situated on Fifth Avenue and 59th street before closing and relocating to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in 2018. However, the movie location isn’t real and is actually in Chicago and the exterior of the store is the Rookery building.
Pepsi vs Coca Cola
For decades, Pepsi and Coca Cola have been rivals with a very similar drink, catering to the same markets. When it comes to product placement, the two drinks companies have gone head to head to win the deal, and this was no different when competing for the Home Alone contract.
In the end, both companies got their goal and Pepsi took the deal in the first movie and Coca Cola won it in the second. Fuller is seen drinking both cans in each of the films.
Publicity for The Plaza
After The Plaza Hotel was heavily featured in Home Alone: Lost In New York, it became one of the most sought after hotels in the world and reservations shot up.
It was the best possible publicity for the luxury hotel and they capitalized upon the success by offering Home Alone 2 packages to visiting families. For $1,100-per-night, guests can stay in suite 411, where Kevin stayed in the movie and get the full experience at the hotel.
The turtle dove tree ornaments given to Kevin by Duncan’s Toy Chest toy store owner Mr. Duncan became one of the most loved symbols of the movie with represented friendship and love.
The original turtle doves used in the film were specially created and from then on, thousands of replicas of the turtle doves were sold for years after the film came out. People loved the sentiment that you keep one turtle dove and you give the other one away to a friend of loved one.
A fake pool
If you want to go and stay at The Plaza Hotel in New York City and use the famous swimming pool that Kevin practised his cannon balls in, you might be a little disappointed to find out that the pool does not exist in the hotel.
In fact, the pool scene was shot at the Four Seasons hotel in Chicago, where the vast majority of the film was shot. The Plaza doesn’t even have a pool and their FAQ section on their website reads “Despite Kevin McCallister’s famous cannonball, The Plaza does not currently house a swimming pool.”
Unusual stunt double
When movie stars are given a stunt double, it is usually someone who resembles the character in their image, age and features. However, in Home Alone, Macaulay Culkin’s stunt double was 30-years old!
The movie had many big stunts including riding a sled down the stairs and flying right out the front door, climbing up shelves which later fell on him and ziplining from the main house to his tree house. Larry Nicholas was the much older stunt double used for all of these scenes.
How Cedric got his name
Saturday Night Live comedian and actor Rob Schneider was never supposed to have a name in Home Alone 2. Schneider played the bellhop at The Plaza Hotel and grew increasingly frustrated with Kevin for not tipping him.
The name Cedric only came about when a name tag from The Plaza was found by someone on the production team and gave it to Schneider to wear. At this point, Schneiders character was given a name and he ended up keeping the name tag.
Home Alone started the Talkboy
In Home Alone 2, Kevin uses the Talkboy to slow down his voice and make it sound like it was his father on the phone. He did this to fool The Plaza Hotel into giving him a suite without any parent with him.
When kids saw what the device did, they wanted one too but they didn’t exist at the time. From this, Tiger Electronics jumped at the prospect and began manufacturing the devices. Talkboys were a runaway success and started flying off the shelves.
Buzz’s fake girlfriend
Kevin and his eldest brother Buzz were constantly arguing with each other and Buzz seemed like he was always out to get his little brother. In the scene where Kevin enters Buzz’s room while he was away with the rest of the family, Kevin sees a picture of Buzz’s girlfriend on the shelf.
Not the prettiest of girls, Kevin comments on the photo “woof!” In order not to offend any girls, Chris Columbus used a picture of the art director’s son who they dressed up as a girl!
The map trap
When Kevin was figuring out his plan to bring down The Wet Bandits, he drew out the map and plan of what he was going to do in each part of the house and which nasty obstacles Harry and Marv would have to face.
While most would assume this was made by the props department on the movie, it turns out that Macaulay got involved in some arts and crafts and made the entire map that was featured in the film.
A touch too cold
Despite Home Alone 2: Lost In New York being set in Manhattan, most of the filming was done in Chicago in the winter months when all the Christmas decorations were out.
Chicago is absolutely freezing at this time of year and the production teams struggled to cope with the sub zero temperatures hitting Chicago. It was so cold that several of the cameras froze during production and they had to be taken inside to warm up before filming could continue.
The airport scenes were a nightmare to shoot
After the runaway success of Home Alone, the second movie was highly anticipated and everyone knew all of the cast. When it came to filming in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the entire terminal had to stay operational but Macaulay Culkin was receiving plenty of attention.
Extra security had to be brought in to keep the fans and paparazzi at bay during the shoot. The airport scenes were shot in February and production had to make a special request to the airport to keep all their Christmas decorations up.
Sliding through The Plaza
In Kevin’s suite at The Plaza hotel in New York, everything was kept pretty much the same as when guests would check-in. However, one thing that was changed was the removal of the carpet in The Plaza lobby.
Production needed the floors to be bare so that Kevin could slide across it in one scene. When then-owner of the hotel, Donald Trump, saw the changes made to the lobby, he loved the aesthetic so much that he never put the carpet back.
In Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, Chris Columbus wanted the movie to feel as Christmassy as possible so production spent a fortune paying companies who make artificial snow to put it all over central park where they were filming.
Just when the filming of these scenes were complete, New York had a blizzard and got a couple feet of snow blanketing the city. Needless to say, this was infuriating for production and their budget as the artificial snow could have been avoided!
Practice makes perfect
Writer John Hughes wanted to ensure that he got the sequel to Home Alone just right since the first film saw such unprecedented success. When it came to writing the second, Hughes had so many ideas and took it “very seriously”, even writing multiple drafts until he decided on the finalized script.
He said of his decision to base it in New York, “I decided New York was a great place to lose him. It’s a huge city. The kid can get in lots of trouble.”
The best lines were improvised
Like many films, the unexpected lines in the movie are the ones that end up resonating with fans the most. For example, when Harry and Marv meet up in the Mccallister house, Harry asks “why the hell did you take your shoes off?”
Marv then improvised the line in response “why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?” Similarly, Macaulay Culkin came up with the line “You guys give up or are you thirsty for more?” A star was born.
Read more: The legendary career of Robert De Niro