Even though Macaulay Culkin may have grown up, the Home Alone spirit remains alive and well with Christian Martyn, a 12-year-old Canadian actor who gets his turn roughing up some would-be burglars in ABC Family’s Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, premiering tonight at 8 as part of the network’s “Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas.”
It’s the fifth flick in the popular franchise, which began in 1990 with what became the highest-grossing comedy of all time. Culkin returned as Kevin McAllister for the 1992 sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, before handing over the reins to Alex D. Linz for 1997′s Home Alone 3. After that, the series went to TV with Michael Weinberg starring in 2002′s Home Alone 4.
Martin does not play Kevin McAllister, but instead a more introverted boy named Finn. Finn is mortified as his family is relocating from sunny California to frigid Maine, just in time for a snowy holiday. But his problems get much worse when a trio of crooks (Malcolm McDowell, Debi Mazar and Eddie Steeples) want to break into the creepy estate to get their hands on a priceless Edward Munch painting. In true Home Alone fashion, they prove no match for Finn’s inventive traps that put them all through a world of hurt and, eventually, into the clutches of police.
The industrious young star talked with me about continuing the Home Alone legacy, and the big future he has planned for himself.
Channel Guide Magazine: Had you seen the other Home Alone movies before getting this job?
Christian Martyn: I have seen all of them and I love them. I’ve been watching them through my whole childhood. It’s my favorite movie from when I was a kid. They’re funny. I’m a kid, so people getting hurt, that’s humorous to me. And I also found it cool how he made these contraptions for the thugs. He made these traps, and I always thought it was so cool how he did it. I probably wouldn’t be able to do it myself, and I’ve always wanted to be able to build something like that.
CGM: How does The Holiday Heist keep that spirit alive?
CM: I think that the same thing, they’re home alone, or he’s home, I guess, and he has no one else to help him. Finn just tries to come up with the same things. Traps, and the thugs fall into them. There are some they use from the original Home Alone. Lots of gags, and inventive traps.
CGM: You’re working with some great actors in this, like Malcolm McDowell, Debi Mazar, Eddie Steeples. How aware were you of all their past work?
CM: I learned about them. I wasn’t that familiar with them actually. I’d heard of Eddie Steeples, and I’d seen a couple episodes of My Name Is Earl. I thought that was cool. We would hang out a lot, and people would come up to him and recognize him and I thought, “Wow.” It would probably be a pain, but just that he’s known by strangers, that I find cool.
CGM: Did any of them take you under their wing and give you advice on being an actor?
CM: Pretty much all of them. They were all giving me little tips as we went along. “Why don’t you try this? I think that would be better.” Yeah, they were really nice. A few of them were comedians, which I found pretty awesome. I’ve always wanted to do standup comedy. I’ll be like a mini-Dave Chappelle.
CGM: This was the first time you’d been the lead, so how was that for you?
CM: Yeah, that was pretty cool, because I’d never actually had a main character lead. I thought that it would be tough to memorize everything. It wasn’t that tough. It was a lot of fun, because I got to do the most gags, the most entertaining things to me.
CGM: How similar are you to your character, Finn?
CM: I’m pretty similar to Finn. I mean, I don’t have the same hair color as him. I’m a blond. I’m a smart blond, I think. I find that Finn is still in his childhood mode, like scared of ghosts. I just found that Finn was scared of a lot, yet he was scared of the fake stuff, then when it came down to something real that was actually happening to him, he found the courage to fix the problem himself.
CGM: Being a Christmas movie, you could now be part of an annual tradition for families. Are you excited about that?
CM: Yeah, because it would be played every single Christmas, so I can see myself. I’d also want to see what I’ve done recently, and see what I’ve done better, what I’ve improved on. That’ll be pretty cool. Christmas is always a fun time, so if I can give people joy and get them to enjoy this movie, I would feel happy that I’m making other people feel happy.
CGM: You’re still a pretty young guy, but do you foresee yourself always being an actor?
CM: I want to do that, but then sometimes I want to maybe change it up a little bit. I want to do a little writing, and maybe some directing. I want to get all experiences of the movie industry. If I’m going to be in the film industry, I want to learn everything about it, and be a total master.
CGM: So what other projects do you have coming up?
CM: I just finished a movie called Be My Valentine, and another movie called Split Decision, which is coming out sometime next year.
CGM: Pretty sure I know the answer to this, but would you be open to playing Finn again?
CM: Oh yeah. It was so much fun. It was fun just to do comedy, where I can actually come up with jokes that they can use in the film. I’ve had that problem so many times, where I suggest jokes and they say they’re funny, but we can’t use them because they weren’t comedies. But here they actually let me contribute some things. Line changes, like, “I think this would be better.”
Photo: Credit: Allen Fraser/FOX