First Kisses, Pranks and Crying on Cue: These My Girl Secrets Will Have You Feeling Like Sunshine

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Related: Anna Chlumsky – 2017 Golden Globes E! Glambot

Once upon a time, the world met a girl with a lot to learn about life, including why you can never wear enough blue eye shadow.

Her name was Vada Sultenfuss, a quick-witted and candid 11-year-old living in a funeral parlor with her widowed dad, struggling with hypochondria, bossing around her best friend, crushing on her school teacher and generally figuring out life on the cusp of womanhood. She was, of course, the star character My Girl, the hit coming-of-age film starring Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky and Home Alone‘s Macaulay Culkin along with Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis.

With Chlumsky as Vada and Culkin as her sweet sidekick Thomas J, the ’70s-set movie served as a moving tale of growing up and facing puberty, friendship, change and loss. For a generation of youngsters who grew up with the film in the ’90s, it was a constant in the VCR player. 

Now, as Friday, Nov. 27 marks the 29th anniversary of its release, there’s no better time to revisit Vada’s world—and everything we learned from it. 

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Macaulay Culkin’s Memorable Roles

Go behind the scenes of the hit movie—but first, all together now: “I’ve got sunshineeeee on a cloudy day…”

A 15-Time First Kiss

Perhaps the most iconic image from the movie is when childhood friends Vada and Thomas J. decide to practice kissing. Because, why not? They were kids after all. It marked the characters’ first time ever smooching and, in a moment of life imitating art, it was also both actor’s first on-screen kiss—except for the fact that they had to peck upwards of 15 times in the process of shooting the scene. As Chlumsky said on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee in 1991, “We just wanted to get it over with.” 

By the time filming began for My Girl, Culkin was already the blockbuster child star of Home Alone. However, he was still an 11-year-old boy, especially when it came to the kissing scene. “We got along very well,” he recalled to Ellen DeGeneres in 2018, “but at the same time it was also like, ‘This is so embarrassing.'”

As fate would have it, the two ended up winning the 1992 MTV Movie Award for “Best Kiss.” Chlumsky quipped in her acceptance speech, “Gee, I have my first kiss and I get an award.”

Acting School on Set

Though Chlumsky has grown up and bid farewell to her My Girl days, the six-time Emmy nominee has carried with her some facial exercises she learned from co-stars Curtis and Aykroyd all those years ago, including what she calls silent scream and tiny face. “It gets energy in your face when you’re kind of losing energy,” the actress explained to ET in 2015, “and if it’s cold outside, it makes you warm. Yeah, I definitely do. I still use that.”

Macaulay the Prankster

Much like his famed Home Alone character, Culkin shared a penchant for pranks—one he revealed while working on My Girl. As Chlumsky recalled on The Arsenio Hall Show, her co-star got some double-stick tape from the wardrobe department and put it on the toilet seat in the school trailer. Chlumsky confirmed she and their tutor fell victim to his trap. 

Out of the Mouth, Into the Jar

With two kids leading the film, the adults had to be extra cautious about what words they used on set. As a result, Curtis established a swear can in which the older actors had to pay up if they cursed. “I’m a bit of a vulgarian,” she told Vanity Fair in 2019. As she recalled of the scene where the youngsters jump into the water, “We had helicopters and cranes and 15 cameras. The water was three feet deep. They had guys in scuba and they had stuntmen, ambulances. I mean it was insane and I grabbed the two swear cans and in front of the entire crew I said, ‘Macaulay, Anna—congratulations. You’ve wrapped the movie. Go f–k yourselves,’ and I handed them each a can and I think it had 500 dollars in it each.”

Tricking the Bees

A pivotal moment in the film strikes when Thomas J. is attacked by a swarm of bees after kicking a hive in the forest while searching for Vada’s mood ring. In the scene, the youngster is scarily surrounded by a swarm of bees as he waves his arms to fend them off. Off-screen, Culkin revealed it was actually what was on his hands that kept them coming! “They put pollen on each finger, so every time I’d swing, they’d go after my fingers,” the youngster told Bobbie Wygant in a 1991 interview. While he ultimately only suffered a scratch from a bee’s stinger, let the record show the kid was acting with real bees. “They kept on throwing them in every time,” Culkin recalled, “so that’s why it looks like it’s a lot of bees.”

Morbid Thoughts

Toward the movie’s end, Chlumsky delivered a tearful, heart-wrenching performance when her character (spoiler) faces the death of Thomas J. and sees him in a casket at his funeral. In an interview on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee, the child star explained that her mother helped her prepare for the emotional scene up to an hour before filming and she would have to think of “sad things.” Years later, in an interview on HuffPost Live, Chlumsky recalled, “My mom was like, ‘Well, picture me in that casket.'”

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