Chances are if you grew up in the ’90s, you’ll remember Michael C. Maronna as “Big Pete” on Nickelodeon’s oddball hit, The Adventures of Pete & Pete. He also played Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) older brother Jeff in the first two Home Alone films. After appearing in a few more films (including 2002’s Slackers – which we’ll get back to shortly), Maronna moved to a more behind-the-scenes role as electrician, where he has worked on such films as Be Kind Rewind (2008), and Men in Black 3 (2012), as well as a host of TV shows. He also currently hosts a podcast, The Adventures of Danny and Mike, with former Pete & Pete co-star Danny Tamberelli (which can be found at dannyandmike.com, as well as on various podcast apps).
Recently, Maronna allowed me to graciously pick his brain (just a bit). One of the first things I wanted to ask him was if he actually knew at the time what a unique pop culture phenomenon he was involved with during Pete & Pete’s original run. He tells me; “I’m not sure I realized I was involved with such a thing at the time, I was just busy soaking up new music, books, films, photography, etc. I didn’t have cable TV growing up – we only got it after Pete & Pete went into series production. So we used to go down the block on Sunday nights to my sister’s friend’s house to watch the first 60-second episodes air in between a couple of other Nickelodeon shows.”
I of course wanted to know what it was like filming the original Home Alone, too. He explains; “I remember Chicago and the vast amounts of snow in the winter, eating lots of deep-dish pizza, mostly hanging out with Angela Goethals (who played Linnie), and playing video games a bunch. I took a library book out of the Chicago Public Library about the American Civil War and I still have it somewhere!”
As far as how he views the film today, Maronna says; “I haven’t watched Home Alone in a very long time. My son is 4 years old, so he’s just a little too young for it still. Probably the next time I watch it will be with him, though. It was a confluence of good factors (script, direction, actors, style) that added up to a good (if violent) family Christmas film.”
I was also curious how he felt about it’s 1992 sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, as well as it’s subsequent sequels, to which he says; “Lost in New York is a different movie, about the city being a character in the film. It’s more of an homage to ’80s NYC movies like After Hours or Big, with the Home Alone structure overlaid onto that. I haven’t seen any of the other sequels.”
If you’ve ever seen the film Slackers, you know Maronna has one, er… ‘standout’ scene to say the least (I won’t go any further into detail, just watch the film if you haven’t already!) that I had to ask him about. He informs me; “Dewey Nicks directed Slackers, and the sock scene was his idea. Basically I think he was trying to come up with something outrageous, and I said ‘yes’ to it. A guy approached me at the wrap party saying, “A lot of people have mistaken me for you,” and identified himself as the penis puppeteer, a.k.a. the ‘stunt’ performer!”
And of course I had to ask just how he made the transition to electrician. He explains; “I was always interested in the technical aspects of film production and spent my whole life on sets, whether film, TV show, or commercials. I have worked in the theater as well and have family in the stage business but it didn’t hold the same allure for me. On Pete & Pete, production was on location and shot on 16mm film, as opposed to a television show shot on videotape in a studio. This afforded me a lot of opportunities to get to know the process and the equipment and to ask the crew a lot of questions. After the first season of half-hour episodes, the grips gave me a tool belt with some tools as a wrap gift. It was very sweet. A couple of seasons later, I just kept asking questions of the gaffer and eventually he offered me a job after the show ended. My first proper electric job was on a film called Six Ways To Sunday. I auditioned for the lead role and ended up driving the electric truck for it. A lot of crew from Pete & Pete worked on the job so it was a nice transition. The pandemic shutdown put a lot of shows on hold for a few months but I’ve been back to work for a while. Currently I’m working on Dickinson season 3, starring Toby Huss (Artie the Strongest Man in the World of Pete & Pete fame and many other great roles).”
You can follow Maronna on various social media platforms, and don’t forget to check out his podcast with former Pete & Pete co-star Danny Tamberelli!