December 10, 2019

It’s been nearly three decades since Kevin McCallister’s family left him home alone for the holidays and an instant movie classic was born. But even if you watch Home Alone every holiday season — or many more times throughout the year —there are probably some things you still don’t know about John Hughes and Chris Columbus’ joint masterpiece.

Home Alone first hit theaters on Nov. 16, 1990 and skyrocketed Macaulay Culkin to child stardom. Since then, the story of 8-year-old Kevin’s successful foiling of Wet Bandits Harry Lyme (Joe Pesci) and Marv Murchins’ (Daniel Stern) plan to rob his family home has become one of the most beloved holiday movies of all time.

Here are 10 surprising facts about Home Alone that you can use to impress your friends and family this holiday season — as long as you don’t forget to invite them over.

That tarantula was real

A lot of horrible things happen to the Wet Bandits when they try to break in to the McCallister home, but the booby trap that elicits the strongest reaction is when Kevin puts his older brother Buzz’s (Devin Ratray) pet spider on Marv’s face to distract him long enough to escape. That likely has to do with the fact that Daniel Stern agreed to let a real tarantula crawl across his face — as long as they nailed the scene in just one take.

Marv’s hilariously bloodcurdling scream had to be dubbed in later though, as they didn’t want to risk frightening the spider by having him do it in real time.

Cousin Fuller is now your favorite Succession sibling

Remember in the beginning of Home Alone when Kevin doesn’t want to share a bed with his cousin Fuller (played by Culkin’s real-life younger brother Kieran Culkin) because he’s afraid Fuller will “pee all over” him? Well, turns out the McCallister family’s notorious bed-wetter was destined to grow up to be the snarkiest member of Succession‘s first family: Roman Roy.

That’s right, the kid who refused to go easy on the Pepsi is now the Chief Operating Officer of Waystar Royco. Dream big everyone.

The script came together in less than 10 days

John Hughes on the set of the movie 'Curley Sue' in Chicago, Illinois, on November 28, 1990.
Getty Images

According to James Hughes, the son of beloved screenwriter John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles), his father wrote the script for Home Alone in less than 10 days after traveler’s anxiety sparked the idea for the movie ahead of the family’s first trip to Europe in 1989.

“Two weeks later, after returning home, he revisited the premise: What if one of the kids had been accidentally left behind?” James wrote in a 2015 piece for Chicago magazine. “Over the next nine days, he completed the first draft of Home Alone.”

James added that John knocked out the final 44 pages of the screenplay in just 8 hours. “Before finishing, he’d expressed concerns in the marginalia of his journal that he was working too slowly,” James wrote.

The McCallister house is now worth over $1.5 million

The 4,250-square-foot, red-brick, Georgian-style house in Winnetka, Ill., that director Chris Columbus picked to be the titular home in which Kevin would be left alone sold for $1.585 million in 2015 after nearly a year on the market, according to the Chicago Tribune. However, its owners were clearly expecting more for the iconic property; its original listing price was $2.4 million.

It’s a 27-year world record holder

Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone
Twentieth Century Fox

Home Alone took the domestic box office by storm during the 1990 holiday season and continued to dominate throughout the first half of the following year, maintaining its No. 1 spot for 12 weeks and remaining in the top 10 until June 1991. In the process, it earned $285,761,343 and became the highest grossing movie of 1990 as well as the highest-grossing domestic live-action comedy ever. It held onto that world record until 2017 — 27 years after its release — when the Chinese blockbuster Never Say Die knocked it out of the top spot.

Joe Pesci accidentally really bit Macaulay Culkin

According to Culkin, while rehearsing for the scene near the end of the movie when the Wet Bandits finally manage to catch Kevin and threaten to bite all his fingers off, Pesci accidentally really did bite him. As of a 2004 interview with Rule Forty Two, Culkin still bore the scar from his co-star’s mistake.

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“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,’” Culkin told Rule Forty Two. “And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.”

The sacrifices actors make for their craft.

Robert de Niro could’ve been a Wet Bandit

Robert De Niro attends the Premiere of Netflix's "The Irishman" at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on October 24, 2019.
FilmMagic—Getty Images

According to Mental Floss, before Joe Pesci was cast as Harry Lyme, the role was offered to another famous mob movie star: Robert De Niro. In fact, Pesci wasn’t even second in line. After De Niro turned down the part, Saturday Night Live‘s Jon Lovitz also passed on it. Thankfully, Pesci was the perfect man for the job.

It spawned its very own Elvis conspiracy theory

Although Home Alone didn’t hit theaters until 13 years after Elvis Presley died of a heart attack at his Graceland estate, upon watching the movie, some Elvis-is-still-alive conspiracy theorists became convinced that the King had made a cameo. If you pay close attention during the scene in which Kevin’s mom Kate (Catherine O’Hara) is arguing with a ticket agent at the Scranton airport, a bearded man wearing a sports coat and turtleneck that bears some resemblance to Elvis can be seen behind her .

However, others claim the extra was a man named Gary Grott who appeared in a number of Chris Columbus’ movies. We’ll let you come to your own conclusion.

Buzz’s girlfriend is actually a boy in costume

When Kevin takes advantage of Buzz’s absence to go through his stuff, he finds a framed photo of Buzz’s girlfriend that he’s, let’s say, less than impressed by. His exact words: “Buzz, your girlfriend…Woof!”

But according to Devin Ratray, the girlfriend in question was actually a boy in costume. Ratray told Yahoo in 2013 that the producers thought that casting a girl in the role would be just plain cruel, so they opted for a boy instead.

“They decided it would be unkind to put a girl in that role of just being funny-looking,” he said before explaining where they found the perfect man for the job. “The art director had a son who was more than willing to volunteer for the part. I think if he had known it would become the highest-grossing family comedy of all time, he might have had second thoughts about it.”

Old Man Marley originally wasn’t in the movie at all

John Hughes’ first draft of the script didn’t include Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom), the neighbor who Kevin originally believes is a serial killer but turns out to be a kindly old man who saves him from the Wet Bandits. Hughes added the character, whose name is a nod to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, after Columbus suggested that the story could do with some more heart.

Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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