The 18 Hap-Hap-Happiest Secrets About Christmas Vacation Disclosed

The 18 Hap-Hap-Happiest Secrets About Christmas Vacation Disclosed

It's hard to make a sequel as good as the first movie. And it's even harder to make the third installment the best in a franchise.

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>National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation managed to do just that, with the movie becoming an instant holiday favorite and one of the highest grossing films in the franchise after its release in 1989.

Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprised their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold while then-unknown actors Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki made their film debuts as their kids. 

Made with $25 million, Christmas Vacation, which was penned by the legendary John Hughes and directed by Jeremiah Chechik, went on to gross over $72 million. While its box office performance wasn't going to win Clark a bonus, the movie has gone on to become a modern Christmas classic in the 34 years since its debut. 

Still, that doesn't mean everything was holly and jolly while making the movie. One director exited the project after clashing with Chase, and Chechik later revealed he fought on set with another star. Plus, the studio was this close to cutting one of the most iconic scenes.

1. John Hughes' script is based on a short story he wrote for Lampoon called "Christmas '59." It is the last screenplay the late filmmaker wrote for the franchise, which was based on his original "Vacation '58" article. There's a small nod to the movie's origin: The label on the home movie reel that Clark finds in the attic is labeled "Xmas '59."

2. The house used as the Griswolds' neighbors home on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank is the same one used for the Murdoch home in Lethal Weapon.  

3. Chris Columbus was originally set to direct, but he ultimately passed on the project after meeting with Chevy Chase.  "It was fraught with pain and tension with Chevy Chase, but I needed the job desperately," Columbus told Insider. "At the time I was living with my wife's parents. It took everything in my power to convince myself to resign from Christmas Vacation because I couldn't make the movie with Chevy Chase."

Fortunately for Columbus, he was sent the script for Home Alone two weeks later. As he said, "The rest is history." 

4. Jeremiah Chechik went on to land the job, making his feature directorial debut despite having never watched the first two films in the franchise. "I was nervous about accepting it, because I didn't know about Chevy and I wasn't sure if it was too commercial," he admitted. "But I agreed to do it and I had just a fantastic time doing it."

5. Chechik is actually the man featured on the cover of the People magazine issue that Clark is reading in bed.

6. Per tradition, two new actors were brought in to play Clark and Ellen's exasperated children. Juliette Lewis took over the role of Audrey, telling Rolling Stone, "The fact that the Griswolds have a new set of kids each time became the thing. Your agents couldn't explain why it was acceptable; it just is. Of course, I grew up with the Vacation movie with the legendary Anthony Michael Hall. This was this huge exciting opportunity and even at 15, I knew it was a big deal."

7. Just before production began, Lewis discovered her then-boyfriend was cheating on her. "That first trip to Colorado, I took my boyfriend and caught him in our hotel room talking to another girl on the phone," she revealed to Rolling Stone. "I didn't even tell him that I heard him, I just asked who he was talking to. He lied and I said, 'Oh, by the way. You're leaving tomorrow morning.' I booked his flight and then he left, and then I went to go film."

8. Future Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki became the franchise's new Rusty after putting himself on tape and sending it in. "They flew me out to Los Angeles; it was one of the first times I was ever here," he recalled. "I read with Chevy and Jeremiah and that alone would have been enough for me. I could have been given my walking papers and sent home on the next flight and it still would have been a dream come true. Chevy told me right there in the room that I had gotten the role."