When Home Alone hit movie screens in November 1990, expectations were high. The holiday comedy about an 8 year old forced to fend off two house intruders after being left behind on a family vacation boasted a talented cast, and a renowned director (Chris Columbus) and screenwriter (John Hughes).
But no one foresaw it becoming one of the biggest box-office hits of all time. Its intake of nearly $477 million held the record for the highest-grossing live-action comedy for two decades. And its overwhelming success led to a 1992 follow-up featuring most of the original performers, three additional sequels and, inevitably, a 2021 reboot: Home Sweet Home Alone.
Of course, in the same way that few experiences compare to the childhood joy of unwrapping the perfect gift, there’s simply no beating the original in the minds of those who grew up watching Home Alone‘s spot-on fusion of cartoonish violence and holiday sentimentality. Here’s a look at what some of that talented cast is up to these days:
Macaulay Culkin (Kevin McCallister)
Few child actors possess the presence to carry a feature film, but it was Macaulay Culkin’s bug-eyed expressions and face-slapping gestures as Kevin McCallister that propelled him to immediate stardom—and subsequent leading roles in My Girl (1991), The Good Son (1993) and Richie Rich (1994). However, this meteoric rise fueled other problems, and a teenaged Culkin soon abandoned his screen career and removed his parents’ name from his trust fund. Over the next two decades, the reclusive former star reappeared to portray a drug-addicted club promoter in Party Monster (2003), pen the autobiographical novel Junior (2006) and launch a parody band called the Pizza Underground. Culkin then took another step out the shadows in 2021 when he announced the birth of son Dakota with partner Brenda Song, and showed that his acting chops remained intact with his lauded role in 2021’s “American Horror Story: Double Feature.”
Joe Pesci (Harry Lyme)
Fresh off the career-defining role of Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas (1990), Joe Pesci played his patented hotheaded persona for laughs as Harry, the brainier half of the Wet Bandits criminal duo, in Home Alone and its first sequel. He delivered another memorable show as the titular fish-out-of-water lawyer of My Cousin Vinny (1992), and followed with more wise-guy roles in A Bronx Tale (1993) and Casino (1995), before all but vanishing from the screen after one final turn as Leo Getz in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998). Pesci then indulged an old love for music with the tongue-in-cheek album “Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You” (1998), and surfaced in films like The Good Shepherd (2006) and Love Ranch (2010), before returning to the spotlight in 2019 as – what else? – a mafia boss in The Irishman.
Daniel Stern (Marv Murchins)
While in the midst of a successful, but little-known run as the narrator of The Wonder Years, Daniel Stern parlayed his turn as Marv, Harry’s dimwitted Wet Bandits partner, to greater name and facial recognition. He played a similarly awkward sidekick alongside Billy Crystal in 1991’s City Slickers (and its 1994 sequel), made his feature film directorial debut with the baseball comedy Rookie of the Year (1993) and enjoyed prominent roles in Celtic Pride (1996), Very Bad Things (1998) and Whip It (2009). More recently, the veteran actor has earned praise for his contributions to the series “Manhattan” and “Shrill,” though he also devotes significant time to his off-screen passion of sculpting.
Catherine O’Hara (Kate McCallister)
An alumna of the Second City improv troupe, Catherine O’Hara brought a seasoned mix of straight-man earnestness and flustered charm to her role of guilty mom Kate McCallister. She became known for her contributions to the Christopher Guest mockumentaries Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003) and For Your Consideration (2006), while also starring in weightier fare like Temple Grandin (2010), and delivering voice work for the animated films Chicken Little (2005) and The Addams Family (2019). After flying under the radar for many years, the married mother of two earned some well-deserved publicity – and an Emmy Award – for her role as matriarch Moira Rose on the hit series “Schitt’s Creek.” She also earned some love from her home country, which appointed her an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2018.
John Heard (Peter McCallister)
Recently seen in less-than-heroic light in the 1988 films Big and Beaches, John Heard returned to audiences’ good graces with his Home Alone role of dad Peter McCallister. His career thereafter was perhaps not as buzzworthy as it had been in the ’80s, but Heard still landed in high-profile films like In the Line of Fire (1993) and Snake Eyes (1998), starred in a TV adaptation of John Grisham’s The Client and scored an Emmy nomination for his performance as crooked Detective Vin Makazian in “The Sopranos.” Later performances included roles in the series “Prison Break” and the unlikely hit TV movie Sharknado (2013), before the actor passed away in 2017 at age 71.
Devin Ratray (Buzz McCallister)
Devin Ratray hit all the right notes as Kevin’s obnoxious big brother Buzz, although, as with his younger cast mate, he found that the film’s success spawned headaches from producers who expected him to reprise the character for unrelated projects. Seeking a fresh start, he shelved acting to study film at NYU and the School of Visual Arts, before reemerging with roles in Surrogates (2009) and Nebraska (2013) and a steady stream of TV appearances. Ratray did manage to shake the typecasting constraints, thanks to roles that varied from Detective Nate Henry in “Mosaic” to Tinfoil Kevin in “The Tick,” though he couldn’t resist returning as a grown-up Buzz McCallister for Home Sweet Home Alone.
Kieran Culkin (Fuller McCallister)
Yep, that’s Macaulay’s little brother making his feature film debut as the Pepsi-guzzling, bed-wetting Cousin Fuller. Kieran Culkin began compiling his own impressive resume by way of appearances in Father of the Bride (1991), The Mighty (1998) and The Cider House Rules (1999), leading to a Golden Globe nomination for his starring role in Igby Goes Down (2002). Still, the middle child of a family of actors avoided the spotlight with carefully chosen parts in stage productions of This is Our Youth and the big screen’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), before he finally embraced stardom with his Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated performance as Roman Roy in “Succession.” Culkin also embraced family life with his marriage to London-born Jazz Charton, with whom he had his second child in 2021.
Roberts Blossom (Old Man Marley)
Roberts Blossom’s Old Man Marley may not have been a serial killer, although the actor did play one in 1974’s Deranged, along with virtually every other type of character imaginable in a stage and screen career that spanned more than five decades. He followed Home Alone with appearances in Doc Hollywood (1991) and The Quick and the Dead (1995), before receiving a treatment afforded to few character actors with the retrospective documentary Full Blossom in 2000. Retired from the profession, Blossom revived a love for poetry in his twilight years by delivering readings and publishing a collection titled JO&Y, until his death in 2011 at age 87.
John Candy (Gus Polinski)
John Candy was already known for his scene-stealing roles in Splash (1984) and Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) when he re-teamed with erstwhile Second City co-star O’Hara to help save the day as Gus Polinski, the “Polka King of the Midwest.” Candy went on to less-than-memorable leading man roles in Only the Lonely and Delirious (both 1991), but he delivered a winning performance as Coach Irv Blitzer in the heartwarming comedy Cool Runnings (1993), and began exploring off-screen business interests as the co-owner of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and the House of Blues concert-hall chain. Sadly, the beloved funnyman, who battled weight problems for most of his life, died from a heart attack at age 43 while filming Wagons East in 1994.