And while he says he knew the sequel would have “the same, if not more, energy and enthusiasm as the original,” he also ended up suffering for his craft.
“In addition to the expected bumps, bruises, and general pains that you would associate with that particular type of physical humor, I did sustain serious burns to the top of my head during the scene where Harry’s hat is set on fire,” Pesci told People in an interview published Tuesday.
But, he said, he was “fortunate enough to have professional stuntmen do the real heavy stunts.”
Pesci won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “Goodfellas” in 1991, and proved his comedic chops in “Easy Money” (1983) and “Lethal Weapon 2” (1989). But he recalled production of the booby-trapped “Home Alone” franchise being far more demanding.
“It was a nice change of pace to do that particular type of slapstick comedy. But the Home Alone movies were a more physical type of comedy, therefore, a little more demanding,” Pesci told People, adding that the sequel had “more spontaneity and creativity on the set” than the first.
The first two films, directed by Chris Columbus, star Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a young Chicago boy whose family unwittingly leaves him behind while taking their Christmas vacations. The New York-set sequel sees Kevin encounter Harry (Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), his thieving nemeses from the original, yet again.
“I remember Macaulay as being a really sweet kid and, even at his age, very professional,” Pesci told People. “I intentionally limited my interactions with him to preserve the dynamic between his character, Kevin, and my character Harry.”
Pesci’s efforts to “maintain the integrity of the adversarial relationship,” as he put it, may have worked a bit too well. Culkin told Conan O’Brien in 2004 that Pesci actually, genuinely bit him during a rehearsal for the first film, and that he still has a scar on his finger.
“He broke the skin and everything!” Culkin told O’Brien, who asked whether Culkin got angry about that at the time. “Yes, I did! I got really mad at him. I was like, ‘I don’t care how many Oscars you have! You’re biting a 9-year-old, what the heck’s wrong with you?’”
While some fans would love to see them return for another “Home Alone” film, Culkin appears to have fully retired from acting. Pesci himself only briefly returned to the industry in 2019 for his Oscar-nominated role in “The Irishman,” and he has little faith that a new “Home Alone” installment would make sense (not that this has stopped people from trying).
“While you never say never, I think that it would be difficult to replicate not only the success but also the overall innocence of the originals,” Pesci told People. “It’s a different time now; attitudes and priorities have changed in 30 years.”