Daniel Stern played a bungling burglar along with Joe Pesci in two Home Alone movies.
He was a brilliant man but a big silly goofy guy underneath. Everybody made each other laugh on our silly movies. His writing style stands out to me because when you read the scripts, they’re so specifically funny. They’re almost storyboards. They’re shot-by-shot. With the Home Alone scripts, it wasn’t just, “The guys walk in and take a pie in the face.” It was a close-up of the pie. Shot of feet walking. Pan up to see me. Cut back to pie. His writing was brilliant that way. There was nothing left to chance. It taught me a ton about comedy in terms of how you set up a joke. Our silly slapstick routines in the Home Alone movies were just like perfect pieces of craftsmanship and how you build the anticipation in an audience to laugh. There was some sort of science that he caught onto. It was amazing. So when you read it you’re laughing out loud because you’re watching the movie.
On the second [Home Alone] we really started giggling together. He showed me the script for this other movie he’d written called The Bee. It was a guy – it was John really – an architect who was trying to finish his project that day and a bee comes into the house and the guy gets distracted by the bee. And the entire movie is the bee forcing the guy to destroy his own house and take his life apart. It was like this incredible dance he wrote. I was going to direct it but we never got to shoot it. So we got to be laughing friends.
He was cynical about the way the world works. He wasn’t naive. But there was all that humor there. I would consider him light when I knew him. I don’t know if he got the hell beat out of him after that. He seemed like an obsessive writer and compulsive worker and had a lot of ideas and was hitting walls along the way, I’m sure. At some point you just don’t want to hit the walls anymore. And if you’re big fat and happy and rich, it’s like wait a minute, what am I doing? I tried to find him a few years ago… every year I’d try to track him down but he kind of disappeared. His name wasn’t popping up in the movie ads. Then I called and didn’t have the right number. Then I tried to track him down and just lost touch. That was way too big a talent not to be tapping into.
PHOTO CREDIT: Everett Collection
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