The legendary comedy force John Candy has collaborated with filmmaker John Hughes on memorable projects like Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, The Great Outdoors, and Uncle Buck. However, his small involvement in the Hughes-produced classic Home Alone reportedly didn’t make him happy due to his small pay.
John Candy’s role in Home Alone may have been small, but it was very important for the movie. He played “Polka King of the Midwest” Gus Polinski who offered to give Kate McCallister a ride to Chicago back to her son. Candy brought charm, humor, and personality into the heroic role that truly helped make it a John Hughes classic. Shockingly enough, though, Business Insider reported that Netflix’s show The Movies That Made Us revealed the former SNL alum only made $414 from the holiday comedy.
Considering Home Alone made more than $476 million at the box office, its director Chris Columbus claimed that John Candy wasn’t happy about the small pay he got.
“There was certainly a little resentment on John’s part,” said the American filmmaker. “It was a deal between him and John Hughes at the time. I never met John Candy before he came on the movie. I don’t know if John ever got any kind of compensation from Fox.”
The small sum was due to John Candy being in the movie as a favor to his pal John Hughes. Columbus continued to say the Canadian actor was still bitter about the Home Alone pay even as the two worked together in Only the Lonely a year later.
“There were a couple times on set when he would make a cutting remark about Fox and what he was paid.”
What’s Something Special John Candy Brought to Home Alone?
According to news.com.au, The Breakfast Club director was very protective of his script. So, only he would let his good friend and collaborator have the liberty to improvise his lines.
“None of that stuff was in the script,” said Columbus to Business Insider. “The funeral-parlor story, that was all improvised at 4:30 in the morning. We could barely keep a straight face on set just listening to John.”
He improvised even the parts when he talked about his polka band and the hits they made! I give Catherine O’Hara a lot of credit for keeping a straight face the whole time. John Candy died a few years later at 43, but he made his role of Gus Polinski incredibly iconic. It proves a small part can make a big difference to audiences.