The Stunning Transformation Of Catherine O'Hara

In 2020, Catherine O'Hara won her first acting Emmy for her hilarious performance as the Schitt's Creek matriarch, Moira Rose (via The New York Times). However, while many fans first fell in love with the star for her work on Schitt's Creek, O'Hara is hardly new to the biz. 

In fact, even if you've only come to be familiar with O'Hara after binging Schitt's Creek, she's probably made you laugh out loud in at least one of her many iconic roles. The legendary comedic actress has made a name for herself by portraying perfectly pitched, wacky characters in films like Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and For Your Consideration. And if you were a kid in the 90s, you'll likely also remember her as Kevin's concerned mother in the Home Alone series.

Despite her impressive career, O'Hara actually came from fairy humble beginnings. She grew up in a small Canadian suburb as part of a large, Catholic family (via The Canadian Encyclopedia). And while she's a total comedic legend today, O'Hara didn't necessarily plan on being such a star. Here's a look at the stunning transformation of Catherine O'Hara.

Catherine O'Hara grew up in a big, playful household

Catherine O'Hara's comedic roots date all the way back to her childhood. 

The actress was born in 1954 in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up in Etobicoke — a Toronto suburb. Her family was certainly a large one; she was the second youngest of seven children (via The Canadian Encyclopedia). By all accounts, the O'Hara family was a jovial one. As the star explained to The New Yorker, "Everybody in my family's funny." O'Hara continued, saying, "Being funny was highly encouraged in our family, I think." 

Growing up in this happy, funny family gave O'Hara the foundation she needed for a career in collaborative comedy. She told Time that the family dynamic she experienced while growing up instilled within her a love for working with other comedians. "I've never, for a second, been drawn to the idea of doing a one-woman show," she explained. For O'Hara, funny runs in the family!

Both of Catherine O'Hara's parents taught her about comedy

Catherine O'Hara learned a lot from her large family about working with other comedians; however, she also credits her personal comedy style to both of her parents. 

Speaking to The New Yorker about the influence her mother and father had on her sense of humor, O'Hara explained that her dad preferred jokes, while her mother's go-to was imitating people. As O'Hara revealed, she picked up her mother's talent for impersonations. "I impersonated people for my dad, and that would really make my dad laugh," she recalled.

O'Hara also learned a lot from her dad's comedic style, too. "My father was a beautiful, shy man," she told Vanity Fair, recalling that he worked a regular, boring desk job, but would still somehow manage to return home with amazing jokes. "I like to think I'm a combination [of my parents]," O'Hara said. According to what we know about them from her stories, it's safe to say the star is definitely a healthy mix of her mom and dad. 

Catherine O'Hara was not lucky with her love life in high school

For Catherine O'Hara, comedy has always seemingly come easy. However, the star hasn't always been so lucky in the love department.  D

Speaking to Marie Claire in a January 2020 interview, O'Hara divulged some interesting tidbits about her younger self's love life. Apparently, the Schitt's Creek star used to have a real thing for the conventionally attractive, tall, dark, and handsome guys. She joked that if she could give her younger self advice, she'd say, "That 'sexy' dark, brooding guy isn't a higher-level thinker." O'Hara continued, joking, "Turns out, he actually has nothing on his mind."

She went on to explain that she certainly had some "poorly-chosen crushes" throughout her youth — something to which just about every person can relate. However, according to O'Hara, she never had a steady boyfriend while attending high school. "I guess I was too busy hanging out and goofing off with my lovely girlfriends," she explained. Considering she's made an entire career out of goofing around, we'd say O'Hara's high school self made the right call!

Catherine O'Hara met Gilda Radner through her brother — which led to her job at Second City

Catherine O'Hara's chance meeting with another comedy legend changed the course of her life forever — and it's all thanks to her brother.

According to Vanity Fair, O'Hara's life "changed forever" when she met Gilda Radner as a teenager. Of course, Radner eventually went on to become a comedy legend, known for her work on Saturday Night Live (via The Independent). And while Radner eventually married fellow comedian Gene Wilder, she was dating O'Hara's brother at the time, and had just been accepted into the cast of the stage musical Godspell. O'Hara had auditioned for the play, as well — and while she didn't get a part, she was inspired by seeing the cast both backstage and onstage.

O'Hara's relationship with Radner opened her eyes to the possibility of a life in show business. For O'Hara, Radner's lifestyle was "cool and chic and exotic," the Schitt's Creek star explained to Vanity Fair. The pair had sleepovers, went shopping together, and eventually, when Radner joined Second City, a Canadian improv troupe, O'Hara became her understudy. The rest, as they say, is comedy history!

Being on SCTV and Second City taught Catherine O'Hara about improv and creating oddball characters

Catherine O'Hara sharpened her comedic skills through improvisational comedy, much like many other comedy legends we know and love today.

After landing a job with Second City as Gilda Radner's understudy in 1976, O'Hara's life became all about her new comedic improv troupe. The improv team included other legends-to-be, such as Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Andrea Martin, and Eugene Levy. O'Hara recalled the exciting, creative time as being similar to being in a band. "You are creating your own material like a band. It's so musical," she explained to Time. She went on to say that the show gave her the freedom to explore her unique method of character creation using improv. Using collaboration and research, O'Hara is able to create characters that are simultaneously larger than life and incredibly realistic.

The troupe became lifelong collaborators and friends after their six seasons on SCTV. As she explained to Vanity Fair, being a part of the successful comedy troupe opened a lot of doors for her and really got her career off to a great start.

Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy dated for a little while, but became lifelong friends

Apparently, Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy have more of a history than some Schitt's Creek fans probably realize!

Of all of the friends O'Hara met through SCTV, the one who has perhaps been the most influential is Eugene Levy. The pair have collaborated on projects together for over 40 years, with four Christopher Guest films, multiple voice projects, and (of course) Schitt's Creek under their belts. And you'd be forgiven for thinking they were a real-life couple based on their intimate relationship and long work history. Even though both actors now have long-term partners and families of their own, it turns out, they did actually date briefly when they first met.

As O'Hara explained on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, "There's nothing sexier than laughing together and having someone who makes you laugh, so everybody at Second City Theater tried to date everybody." The star added that it was pretty lucky in the end, as their friendship (and brilliant working relationship) may have been ruined by their romantic relationship.

Catherine O'Hara almost missed out on her Beetlejuice role

Even though Catherine O'Hara was finding plenty of success as a cast member on SCTV, her career really started to take off when she was cast in a few big-budget Hollywood films. 

As longtime fans may recall, O'Hara's first few film roles were secondary characters. She played Gail in Martin Scorcese's After Hours in 1985, as well as Betty in the Meryl Streep film Heartburn in 1986 (via IMDb). In fact, it wasn't until she'd left Second City that she landed her first really big role as the evil stepmother in Tim Burton's 1988 classic, Beetlejuice.

As O'Hara told The New York Times, she had been asked to audition for the film by producer David Geffen. Apparently, she didn't know who Burton or Geffen were at the time — and when she finally agreed to fly from Toronto to L.A. for the Beetlejuice audition, she got lost. When she finally arrived two hours after her set audition time, Burton had left. Nevertheless, he clearly loved her previous work, as she got the part a few weeks later.

Catherine O'Hara moved from Canada to Hollywood in the '80s to marry Bo Welch

Eventually, Catherine O'Hara made the big move from Toronto, Canada to Los Angeles, USA. However, she didn't move to Hollywood in order to pursue her acting career. As it turns out, the actress made the move for love. 

While filming Beetlejuice, O'Hara fell in love with Bo Welch, the film's production designer. She recalled that Welch was "very attractive," and revealed that she was elated when he "finally" asked her out. The couple began dating while they were filming on location, O'Hara explained to The New Yorker. And when the movie finished shooting, she moved to L.A. to be with him. In 1992, the lovebirds made things official by tying the knot. 

Needless to say, it's pretty lucky that O'Hara fell in love with someone in the film industry, as her move to L.A. ended up helping her win even more exciting acting roles throughout the years. We're sure she's happy to have found her soulmate!

Catherine O'Hara wasn't always the superstar actor she is now

Catherine O'Hara steals pretty much every scene she's in, whether you're watching her in Beetlejuice, Home Alone, or Schitt's Creek. So, it's hard to imagine that she ever struggled to find success in the movie industry. 

However, as O'Hara revealed to Vanity Fair, she hasn't always found show business easy — especially when it comes to auditions. Speaking with the publication, O'Hara recalled meeting the head of a Canadian network early on in her career. According to the star, when he asked her if she could do any characters, she ended up giving him some pretty poor descriptions instead of actually showing off her skills.

Later, O'Hara was up for a big role in a Robert De Niro movie. Apparently, she was asked to read a scene that took place in bed — so she slid down in her chair and stretched her legs out. As O'Hara explained to The New Yorker, this particular audition is one of her most embarrassing memories. "When you're on the job, it's so collaborative. It's about everyone," O'Hara said, explaining why she's never been a fan of the audition room. The star continued, saying, "When you're auditioning, it's only you."

Catherine O'Hara was shocked by the success of the Home Alone series

In 1990, Catherine O'Hara took on what would become one of her most iconic roles as Kate McAllister in the Home Alone film series, in which she delivered the scream heard around the world

As O'Hara told Vanity Fairshe was lucky enough to be offered the role in Home Alone without having to audition — which was good for the star, considering she hates auditioning. And while she was happy to land the part, O'Hara revealed that she and other cast members were downright shocked by just how successful the film proved to be. O'Hara gave an interview to ABC News in 1992, explaining that no one predicted the movie would take off in the way that it did. According to the star, when the cast reunited to film the sequel, they all said, "Do you believe what happened?"  

Speaking with The Movie Waffler years later, O'Hara said, "I had no idea Home Alone would have such a long life in the hearts and minds of movie goers." However, regardless of whether or not O'Hara knew it at the time, Home Alone certainly proved to be a career-defining moment.

Catherine O'Hara had two sons who went on to work in set design

Catherine O'Hara and her husband Bo Welch eventually started a family, welcoming their first son, Matthew, in 1994. Three years later, in 1997, the couple welcomed their second son — Luke (via Yahoo!).

Little is known about the two Welch sons, as the family likes to keep their lives pretty private. However, O'Hara did reveal to Time that she envied her character in Schitt's Creek for getting to spend so much time with her grown-up children. "I'm always wondering where my kids are," O'Hara joked.

According to Vanity Fair, both of O'Hara's sons decided to pursue careers in the movie industry, just like their parents. One of O'Hara's sons is a set dresser, while the other works in set construction. And as it turns out, both actually worked with O'Hara on Schitt's Creek! Considering her co-star and on-screen husband Eugene Levy also had his two kids, Dan and Sarah on set, filming Schitt's Creek sounds like a fun (and funny) family affair.

Schitt's Creek and its cast became incredibly important to Catherine O'Hara

Perhaps Catherine O'Hara's biggest career-defining role came in the form of Schitt's Creek's Moira Rose. As fans know, the role earned the star her first acting Emmy award, and she soon became a cult-like hero amongst viewers. However, O'Hara almost didn't take the role.  

As O'Hara explained in a behind-the-scenes interview for Schitt's Creek, she hesitated to accept when her old pal Eugene Levy initially asked her to join the cast. Needless to say, she's now embarrassed about her hesitation. "It's lame to talk about not wanting to do it in the beginning," O'Hara said. She continued, "How stupid would I have been not to have done it?"

As she told Advocate, Schitt's Creek quickly became massively important to her. According to the star, she even cried while filming the final season, and again when she was watching the final episodes of the show. One thing's for sure: It's clear that being involved in Schitt's Creek was transformative for both O'Hara's career and personal life.

Catherine O'Hara can't imagine another career high like Schitt's Creek

Catherine O'Hara will always have a special place in her heart for Schitt's Creek.

When Schitt's Creek came to an end in 2020, O'Hara expressed that the show may have been a career high for her — or, the career high. In 2019, after the show's end had been announced, she told The Los Angeles Times, "It's going to be hard to let go." She continued, saying, "I've been able to do this show where I get to play this ridiculous but lovely character." The star went on to add that most roles for older women are about "death, divorce, and disease."

In an interview with Vanity Fair, O'Hara confessed, "I don't see trying to top this. How greedy can one person be?" While we would love nothing more than to see O'Hara get another amazing role, we have to admit — it's pretty hard to imagine a character that could possibly compete with Moira Rose!

In 2020, Catherine O'Hara received two Canadian awards to honor her long career

Though Catherine O'Hara was understandably sad to see Schitt's Creek come to an end in 2020, the year was definitely momentous and exciting for her, as well. In addition to her Emmy win, O'Hara was also honored by Canada (her native country) for her impressive career achievements. In fact, she received not one, but two Canadian awards in one year!

The first was the 2020 ACTRA National Award of Excellence, for which O'Hara was selected to win by ACTRA, a group of Canadian actors, "for her outstanding contribution to Canada's entertainment industry." In a statement about the award, O'Hara said, "I am forever boasting about all things Canadian. Thank you so much, fellow ACTRA members." O'Hara continued, joking, "If I wasn't a good Canadian, I'd brag about this lovely honor, too."

The second Canadian award O'Hara scored was the 2020 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Governor General's Performing Arts Award – an incredibly high honor. It's clear that O'Hara's home country is incredibly proud to have raised O'Hara — and the star is equally proud to be a Canadian!