One of the Sticky Bandits is in a revealing mood
Actor Daniel Stern, who played the Sticky Bandit who wasn't Joe Pesci, has been revealing some great on-set stories from his time working on the Home Alone movies.
The first two movies, which went on to make almost a billion dollars back in the early '90s (although due to inflation, that figure would be much higher today) and be regarded as some of the best Christmas movies of all time, feature Stern as a burglar who comes afoul of Culkin's underage home defender.
The following are taken directly from the actor's Facebook page.
The first entry talks about his working relationship with his partner-in-crime, Joe Pesci:
"Harry and Marv were always intended to be a classic comic duo. John Hughes wrote it that way and Chris Columbus directed it that way... Joe and I bought into that into that idea from the very beginning. We had already done one other movie together called “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can” so we were already friends, so when we got together for the first rehearsal we were already talking about what our comic duo was going to be. I think we both started with some of our favorite cartoon characters: Wile E Coyote, Bugs Bunny and other classic cartoons. Our physical types were as different as Laurel and Hardy and we set about making our own version of those guys. You'll notice Joe even invented his own cartoon language that he spews when he gets really frustrated. The evolution of the characters and chemistry came from the love that we all had for the classic comic duos and from the brilliance of my dear friend and partner in crime, Joe Pesci."
Next, he talks about one of his favorite scenes in the films:
"One of my favorite scenes from Home Alone 2 is when I get electrocuted at the water spigots. The reason it is so dear to me is because when I shot that scene we hadn't yet rehearsed so I didn't really know what to expect. Our director, Chris Columbus, had given me the basic blocking- to walk into the basement, make my way to the sink, grab hold of the spigots and then act like I was being electrocuted. From the corner of the basement they would be running two cameras, a wide shot and a closer angle, at the same time.
Take one began and I went over and grabbed the spigots and started shaking violently. I wiggled and screamed and shook and did everything else I could think of to be electrocuted in the funniest ways I knew how. But the director didn’t say “cut”. I figured I wasn’t giving him what he wanted so I just kept going, getting sillier and sillier, my voice traveling octaves above my normal voice. And still no “cut”. I was out of moves so I decided to abandon ship by shivering and shaking my way out of frame and onto the floor. I figured Chris would have to end the shot now. But still no “cut”!
Now on the floor, I writhed and squirmed and spasmed, hoping that I wasn’t completely humiliating myself, but figuring there is always the forgiving “take two”. With a final flourish of my ridiculous ‘death scene’, I finally lay still on the floor. And still no “cut” from Chris. Exhausted and out of ideas of what to do next, I wondered for a second if the crew had all gone to lunch or something. I broke character and rolled on my side to see what the heck was going on. And that is when I saw Chris Columbus, my fearless leader, lying on the floor as well. He was underneath the camera, howling with laughter, unable to say “cut” because he was going through his own spasms.
To make Chris laugh that hard was one of the greatest accomplishments of my acting life and I will never forget the feeling of locking eyes with him, both of us rolling around on the floor, kids making each other laugh on the funnest playground ever invented."
Then he talks about what his parents thought of the movie:
"So a few weeks after Home Alone opened, I get a call from my parents telling me that they had seen the film. The film had opened to incredible reviews, lines at the movie theaters and #1 box office hit, but I knew that would have no effect on my parents’ reaction. The first time they ever saw me in a play in high school, I asked them what they thought and their reaction was, “It was incredibly sad to see that, for some reason, you feel the need to show off this way in front of people. Are you sure everything is okay with you?” Not what I expected. When I told them that I landed my first movie role in “Breaking Away”, their first words were “Why would they pick you?” Again, hoping for something a little more positive but my parents are the most humble people on this earth and wary of the ego or self-aggrandizing traps of show business, as am I.
I had so enjoyed the making of Home Alone and the audiences were howling with laughter, and my parents loved it too. They went on about the little boy and the mother and the neighbor and the music... everyone but me. Okay, I’ll bite. “What about me? Did you think it was funny?” Their reaction was thus- “Cape Cod. It is the same stuff you have been doing since Cape Cod”. And they were right.
When I was very little, maybe age 3-7, we shared a beach house with another family on Cape Cod for a few summers. My bossy big sister and the bossy big sister of our dear family friends would insist on ‘putting on a show’ almost every night for the entertainment of our parents. The girls would do all of the big stuff- songs, scenes, romance- and the littler kids would get the scraps- changing ‘sets’, background players, etc. My job was to entertain the crowd between those various acts. I was pretty shy and not a very verbal kid (I didn’t speak or walk until way past the point of parental concern), so my act, every time, consisted of stuffing a pillow up my shirt, falling down and rolling around on the floor. I would mix it up a little by standing up and bumping into a door or a table and then fall down and roll around again. The parents would howl with laughter and my sister and Debbie would get really mad at me because I was "ruining the show". But I was hooked. I had gotten my first high of getting laughs, of making my sister mad and applause. But mostly, I was hooked on how fun it is to do physical comedy.
My favorite cartoons, Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, Dick Van Dyke Show, early Woody Allen movies. I had eaten all of it up my whole life and loved making my friends and family laugh. I got to play many kinds of parts in my acting life, but nothing like Marv. The opportunity to do all of the fall-down-with-a-pillow-in-my-shirt silliness in Home Alone touched a very primal part of who I am and have always been. Maybe that is one of the things the audience enjoys when they watch the film- watching a grown man having the chance to step back to the magical time when his three year old self was awakened to joy of making people laugh, especially the grown ups. And as usual, my parents saw right through me.
So blessed to still have them both in my life."
His latest written entry is on performing those painful stunts from the movies:
"I’ve talked about the stunt guys doing crazy things, I’ve talked about my love of doing physical comedy, but one of the most surreal moments of the film was the scene with the tarantula crawling across my face. People who meet me are always curious if the tarantula was real, if my scream was real, and if I was scared, crazy or both. The answer to all three of those questions is “Yes.”
My memory might be off and I will happily stand corrected if anybody has better info but here is how I remember it:
When I first read the script and talked to Chris Columbus, I thought the tarantula in the scene was going to be a mechanical one and when I showed up on set, sure enough the incredible crew in the prop department had made a very life-like spider replica which could move a bit, as well as a version that didn’t move. I told them I thought I could help sell it, with my great acting abilities and all… They were polite but not convinced. To insure that the “gag” was going to work, they brought in a different crew member, this one from the animal wrangling department. He had a cage and in this cage was an exact replica of the replica that the prop department had made. But you could definitely see by the way it moved that this was no fake, but a creature of royalty in the natural world. I was a little intimidated for the first time in the movie. The wrangler introduced me to "Barry the Tarantula” (possibly mis-remembering his name, apologies). They had Barry crawl around on my hand and head. I asked if Barry was trained and was told they had been working with him for a few days but tarantulas are kind of tough to train. I asked if his poison had been removed, and was told that if the poison was removed, Barry would die. I said, “Right, but if the poison isn't removed, then I'm gonna die. See where I'm going here?!” “Just don't make any sudden, threatening moves and you'll be fine.” “But I’m going to be screaming in Barry's face. Do you think he'll feel threatened by that?!” “Barry doesn't have ears. He can't hear. Relax."
I think I made one last feeble attempt to honor the hard work of the prop department and use the replica, but once the director saw Barry in action, the Barry Action Figure was put on the sidelines. I remember Barry crawling around my face. I remember trying not to piss off Barry. Once I got used to him and what he was doing, he turned out to be a great scene partner. I think I felt comfortable enough to have let out that scream right at him in the scene, but there's another legend that says I only mimed it and added in the scream later. (I would love for the powers-that-be at 20th Century Fox to release the original footage to see if I screamed or mimed, so we can settle this “controversy” once and for all - and the world can finally be at peace.) Either way, the scream came out pretty good and was an homage to the shower scene in “Psycho”. I then had to beat Joe Pesci with a crowbar. And we all know that even though it was pretend and funny and a fake crowbar, it's a thousand times more dangerous pissing off Joe Pesci than pissing of a venomous spider that's crawling on your face.
Here’s to Barry! The greatest tarantula I have ever acted with!"
And finally, he put a reaction video to the news that Kevin McAllister has returned...