Over the years, the “Home Alone” character Kevin McCallister has inspired countless spoofs, pop culture parodies and mythic adventures. But the one that stayed with children the longest is the extravaganza that aired after “A Christmas Story” on Christmas Day 1988.
In the Home Alone sequel, aired on Dec. 24 and “A Christmas Story: The Sequel,” “Mrs. Sawyer” — played by Kate Nelligan — hopped on the $32,000 dream vacation ship crossing the Pacific with her husband, who was incarcerated on Christmas in Dublin.
She, along with her son, 8-year-old Kevin, patriarch Albert and Kevin’s rat, Santa Cuz, didn’t have it easy, but the family had fun, including pie on Dec. 25.
Nelligan, 73, said her character, who has a fascination with cruise ships, kept her on her toes.
“Mrs. Sawyer was very particular,” Nelligan said in a phone interview. “She wanted to eat prawns the whole night. It really made you gulp. She wanted to take Kevin on this fantastical night. It got us there, but, by the end of the night, he was drooling, and I’m thinking, ‘Where’s the fun in that?’”
Above all, Nelligan said, Mrs. Sawyer kept a wonderful balance between attitude and naivete.
“I think she was very happy to be there,” Nelligan said. “To this day, I think it was one of the happiest experiences I’ve ever had, to bring Kevin to a situation where he got what he wanted.”
The concept of playing a frazzled mom in a successful Christmas vacation drew Nelligan to the film, she said. She didn’t even use a character reference because the part was fictional.
“I thought, well, she needs to be more panic-stricken,” Nelligan said. “Why not do that?”
As for the idea of the twist ending: “I thought, oh, I’ve used my imagination too much,” Nelligan said. “We could change anything. It could be non-existent. I thought that was a neat idea.”
As for what makes the home so magical: “The wooden floorboards,” Nelligan said. “That got Kevin into the attic. But it was his running back and forth between two bedrooms that was beautiful.”
Even the famous Kriss Kringle motif is due for an update. The choir in the movie is a musical, Nelligan noted. “We didn’t get to play the choir,” she said. “Maybe we could have caught a zap from a battery.”