It appears that the legendary John Candy was paid peanuts for appearing in one of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
Remember the Candy cameo in “Home Alone”? The comic genius played Gus Polinski, the “Polka King of the Midwest,” creating some of the most memorable moments of the holiday classic.
But instead of negotiating top dollar for his appearance, Candy showed up for scale as a favor to the movie’s producer, John Hughes. The comic legend was paid only $414 for his appearance in the film. (“Home Alone,” by the way, grossed a worldwide total of $476.7 million, against a production budget of just $18 million).
Why would a big box-office star work on the cheap? Well, Candy kind of owed his career to Hughes, who cast him in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” The two also made movie magic with “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” and “Uncle Buck.” So, Candy thought he was just doing his friend a solid by appearing for scale in his low-budget holiday pic with an unknown kid as the star.
Apparently, John Candy was even offered a slice of the “Home Alone” profits for his cameo in the film – but he chose to turn it down. Instead, all he wanted was the opportunity to improvise all of his dialogue, so every word spoken by Candy in “Home Alone” was complete improv.
In an interview, director Chris Columbus said, “None of that stuff was in the script. 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.”
Before you feel too bad for the late, great John Candy, know he was on set for only 22 hours. The cast and crew worked around the comic’s schedule to get him in and out in a day.
Still, the guy worked for pennies in a film that went on to make millions. According to Columbus, the legendary comic harbored some bitterness about it (which is so very Uncle Buck of him).