(NEXSTAR) – Like a rusty paint can to the face, “Home Alone” left audiences in stitches upon its release in 1990. The film became an instant Christmas classic, thanks in no small part to the comedic chops of Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, and a relatively unknown child actor by the name of Macaulay Culkin.
When the film was still casting, however, director Christopher Columbus was considering yet another comedy ringer for the part of a Santa impersonator — until he blew his audition.
In an interview with The Independent, Columbus confirmed that future “SNL” funnyman Chris Farley had auditioned for the role, but “the audition did not go particularly well.”
According to Columbus, he and Farley had known each other and even attended the same church for a time. He was the “sweetest guy in the world,” Columbus said, but he arrived for his audition early on a Saturday morning a little worse for wear.
“He came in and I don’t think he had gone to sleep that night, so the audition did not go particularly well,” Columbus told the outlet in 2020. “I regret it. I think he would’ve been great in the film but I do love the guy who played Santa Claus. He was very funny.”
That “guy” who eventually won the role — Ken Hudson Campbell — was also auditioning the same day as Farley, sharing his memories of that morning in an oral history of “Home Alone” compiled by Chicago magazine in 2015.
“Apparently, [Farley] was out all night and had just been dropped off after a night of shenanigans,” Campbell claimed.
“He walked in [for his audition] and walked right out. I felt I went in and hit what I wanted to hit. A few weeks later, I got the call,” Campbell said.
But Farley, then a member of Chicago’s Second City improv group, didn’t remain anonymous for too long. Shortly after he was passed over for “Home Alone,” he joined the cast of “SNL” for their 16th season in 1990, quickly becoming a breakout star. In fact, a few years later, Farley’s popularity caught the attention of a Hollywood studio that was seeking a star for a little Christmas movie called “Elf,” nearly a decade before it went into production with Will Ferrell instead.
“Elf” screenwriter David Berenbaum, however, appeared in a recent episode of “The Movies That Made Us” and explained that he wasn’t completely sold on the idea.
“They wanted to make this a Chris Farley movie, which would have been a different movie,” Berenbaum said. “A very different movie.”