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John Candy Went Out of His Way to Treat The Extras on ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / classicman / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / classicman / MovieStillsDB

Filming of the 1980s holiday classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles took a lot longer than intended. As such, one of the stars of the film, John Candy, was on the road for far longer than was originally planned. That never stopped him from being the kind and generous person he’s remembered as. In fact, Candy went out of his way to make sure everyone in production was treated well.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was kind of a big risk

Steve Martin and John Candy looking at one another in a snow covered, destroyed car from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"
Steve Martin and John Candy starred side-by-side in the hilarious 1987 holiday comedy, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. (Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / murraymomo / MovieStillsDB)

With headlining actors John Candy and Steve Martin starring side-by-side in a movie directed by the genius filmmaker and writer John Hughes, it seems hard to believe that there was ever any question about the success of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

When it was in production, however, many wondered if Hughes would be as successful in telling a story about adults as he was with teenagers. Additionally, Martin, one of the country’s biggest comedians at the time, was taking on a role that was far more serious than he’d done before. In Planes, Trains and Automobiles, he was hoping to be seen as more of an intellectual character rather than the token “funny guy.”

Of course, we know now that when the film was released on November 25, 1987, it became an instant classic. Not only was it one of the funniest films of the ’80s, but it quickly became a favorite holiday staple.

Candy held a little shindig in his hotel room

John Candy, John Hughes, and Steve Martin posing for a photo
John Candy, John Hughes, and Steve Martin at a press conference for Planes, Trains and Automobiles, circa 1988. (Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic)

During filming, the entire production crew had to chase the snow – meaning they had to travel all over the place to get their shots. As such, many of the extras also had to come along for the journey. One of them was Troy Evans. Evans is credited as the “antisocial trucker” and was scheduled for a one-day, one-line role. That turned into a 51-day tour with production.

On one of the evenings, Candy held a gathering in his hotel room and called Evans to join him. Evans explained, “It was the night of the Oscars. And the phone rings, I’m sitting in my underwear in my room, eating room service and watching the TV. And the phone rings. ‘Is this Troy?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Troy, this is John Candy. I’m having a few folks up to watch the Oscars, and wondered if you’d like to join us.'”

Evans was very excited about the invitation. He immediately got ready to join the festivities in Candy’s hotel room. “I didn’t have any dress clothes, but I cleaned up as best as I could, and went up to John Candy’s room,” he recalled.

Evans thought he was going to meet the hotshots

John Candy, Steve Martin, and John Hughes on set together
John Hughes had a star-studded cast with Steve Martin and John Candy headlining this 1987 film. (Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / CaptainOT / MovieStillsDB)

Evans expected that Candy was inviting him to hang out with the production company’s big names. “You know, John Hughes will be there. The producers will be there. And maybe I’ll meet Steve Martin,” said Evans. When he finally arrived at the hotel room, he was met by a completely different group of people.

“John Hughes wasn’t there. The producers weren’t there. And Steve Martin wasn’t there. Who was there was everybody who was like me on the movie. He went through all the down-the-ladder actors and invited them all up to his suite,” explained Evans. Candy had made sure to invite every single extra on set to his hotel room that evening.

An unexpected treat

John Candy as Del
John Candy as Del (Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / ClassicMan / MovieStillsDB)

But that wasn’t all Candy did for the extras. He had the entire thing catered. “And then he got like, a thousand dollars’ worth of room service. He got like 20 pizzas, and just the food just kept coming all evening,” said Evans. “And so as I was leaving, I tried to slip him $200 to help with the food.”

Candy politely refused Evans’ gesture, telling him, “Troy, that’s been taken care of.”

That was just how Candy was

Headshot of John Candy with his hands to his cheeks
John Candy was always kind to everyone on set, including the extras. (Photo Credit: Patti Gower / Toronto Star / Getty Images)

This wasn’t the first time Candy had shown kindness to extras and lower-ranking employees on film sets. His daughter, Jennifer Candy, said that he was just like that. “It’s like, you’re part of a crew, they’re part of your family too…You’re with these people, you better like them and you better treat them the way you want to be treated. And he genuinely showed interest in what everyone did.”

More from us: The Bizarre True Story of How Steve Martin Met Elvis Presley

His publicist, Robert Crane, once described Candy’s generous demeanor: “John Candy acted, to me, like the old Alfred Hitchcock stories that I’ve heard. I heard on Hitchcock’s sets, he knew every crew member’s name, first name, and would thank them at the end of the first day, and go up and the whole crew and cast was there on the stage. And Hitchcock went up, shook everybody’s hand, thanked them by name. And that was John Candy.”

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!