John Candy Was Bitter About Only Making $414 for His ‘Home Alone’ Role

John Candy is one of the most beloved figures in the history of Hollywood. The late celebrity‘s presence on-screen led to a dominant stretch in the 1980s and 1990s, where he headlined several of the funniest movies at the cinema.

One of his final roles, however, was done as a favor to a friend. When that role, his brief part in Home Alone, became part of a classic, Candy regretted not taking more money for the rest of his life.

John Candy’s career

John Candy
John Candy | Patti Gower/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Candy got started as a little-known television actor in the early 1970s. However, after appearing on the hit Canadian comedy series SCTV, his star rose brighter. He began to get more prominent roles in Hollywood movies. From Steven Spielberg’s 1941 to his role as a police officer in The Blues Brothers, Candy’s star was rising. 

The actor’s charismatic screen presence made him a favorite to audiences both in his native Canada and to their neighbors down below. From Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to Spaceballs, Candy’s work speaks for itself. Unfortunately, his career was cut tragically short when he passed away of a heart attack on the set of Wagon’s East. 

Still, several of his roles remain classics to his devoted fans, but his Home Alone cameo still holds a special place in people’s hearts. 

Candy in Home Alone

Candy might not be the first thing people think of when they mention Home Alone, but his brief appearance on screen remains one of the film’s iconic moments. When Kevin’s mother Kate, played by Catherine O’Hara, desperately tries to get back to Chicago and her forgotten son, Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin, she has to take what she can get. This means traveling with a polka band called the Kenosha Kickers

Riding in the back of a truck, she gets to meet Candy and his bandmates. Lamenting the situation she’s gotten herself into, however, rather than judging her for leaving her child home alone, Candy’s character speaks about the time he left his son inside a funeral parlor. While the film is filled with slapstick jokes and over the top reaction, it’s a rare, subtle moment that helps bring the film to its emotional climax. 

Candy was only on set for one day and received the SAG version of minimum wage. However, after Home Alone became an unlikely smash hit, he grew bitter about his lack of pay. 

Sour Candy

Chris Columbus spoke about the impact that Candy had on the set and the film’s ensuing success. When asked about the effect that the film had on its audiences, Columbus opened up to Insider about how he delivered his famous speech without a script and drew, instead, from his sensibilities as a person and an actor. 

“John Candy in the movie is a perfect example,” he told the website. “He was on the movie for only one day, but it resulted in so much great improvisation. 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.”

That performance didn’t cost much, either. Candy was paid just $414 for the role, a decision that he’d later regret. 

“There was certainly a little resentment on John’s part,” Columbus said. “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. We did a movie together after that, “Only the Lonely,” and there were a couple times on set when he would make a cutting remark about Fox and what he was paid.”

This story not only tells the magic of Home Alone and how the work its actors, crew, and director bled onto the screen beyond the script at hand. Candy passed away just a few years after its release, but part of the magic of his career is performances like the one he gave in Home Alone. He might not have made a lot of money from it, but it helped secure his legacy long after his untimely death