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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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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.”