John Candy & John Hughes' Iconic Uncle Buck
John Candy teamed up with John Hughes to make an '80s comedy classic. amazon
The 1989 comedy hit, “Uncle Buck”, featured two legends of laughter: John Candy and John Hughes. At that point, Hughes had just ripped off an incredible run of writing and directing “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and “Sixteen Candles!”
Candy, on the other hand, stood about 15th in line for the starring role behind some real heavyweights of Hollywood. The film featured many Hughes staples including eventual child star, Macaulay Culkin and a very familiar Chicago high school. Here are some fun facts and delightful details about “Uncle Buck.”
“Ever Hear Of A Ritual Killing?”
Decades later it’s difficult to imagine anyone playing the hilariously incorrigible Uncle Buck. When casting first started, the odds looked long for Candy. The list of actors who turned down the role reads like the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The actors approached were Bill Murray, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Jim Belushi, John Travolta, Joe Pesci, Robin Williams, Danny DeVito, Jack Nicholson, Steve Martin, Michael Keaton, and Tim Allen! Candy’s work with Hughes on “Planes, Trains, And Automobiles” helped him secure the role.
Many of Hughes’ most iconic movies, 13 in total, are set in Chicago. Ironically, they attempted a change of pace, originally planning to film in Missouri. However, nature intervened with an unusually warm winter, forcing them back to Hughes’ bread and butter city.
To even deepen the connection to other Hughes movies, they filmed at New Trier West High School in Winnetka. That’s the same school where they filmed “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Sixteen Candles,” and apparently inspired the title of “The Breakfast Club.”
New Trier West High School Lineage
The production of “Uncle Buck '' probably got more mileage out of a high school than any other movie ever. Literally, every set used in “Uncle Buck'' took place on that campus. The crew erected the Russell’s posh two-story home and other famous sets all within the school’s gymnasium. They also converted other buildings to sound stages while installing production shops for wardrobe and make-up. Even the special FX and editing bays all occurred at New Trier West High.
“I’m A Kid That’s My Job”
Perhaps the most iconic scene from “Uncle Buck” occurs when a precocious Macaulay Culkin grills Candy with rapid-fire questions. The back and forth peaks with Candy thanking Culkin for noticing his abundance of nose hair. Without missing a beat the child star-to-be responds with, “I’m a kid that’s my job”.
Culkin went on to star in Hughes’ most successful movie ever, “Home Alone” along with Candy. Apparently, the scene where Culkin interrogates Amy Madigan actually inspired Hughes to write “Home Alone.”
Only One Buck
Thanks to essentially the entire filming taking place in one location, “Uncle Buck” only cost $15 million to make while grossing nearly $80 million! Taking notice of such a solid return on their investment, the powers-to-be hastily tried to put together a spin-off TV show.
In their exuberance to make more money, they failed to even consult with Hughes about the show. In fact, he didn’t even learn about the project until they requested exterior shots of the Russell’s Chicago home. Predictably, it failed along with another belated attempt to recapture the Candy-Hughes magic. They learned the hard way that there’s only one Uncle Buck!
Tags: John Candy | John Hughes | Macaulay Culkin
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