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Catherine O’Hara Recalls Her ‘Crush’ on Friend John Candy: ‘He Was Always Really Lovely’ (Exclusive)

The two comedians appeared together on 'SCTV' and in 'Home Alone'

<p>Anna Webber/Variety via Getty; Harry Langdon/Getty</p> Catherine O

Anna Webber/Variety via Getty; Harry Langdon/Getty

Catherine O'Hara and John Candy

Catherine O'Hara recalls having “such a crush” on her friend and costar John Candy.

The star of the new movie Argylle tells PEOPLE the comedian’s kind and giving personality drew her in when they worked together in Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe and later on its spin-off show, SCTV, which ran from 1976 to 1984.

“He was just as lovely as you want him to be,” the actress, 69, recalls of Candy, who died in 1994.

Her feelings, however, were one-sided: O’Hara says Candy was already in a relationship with his wife Rosemary, with whom he remained married until he died.

“I wouldn’t claim he was interested in me that way,” she says. “But he was always really lovely to me in Second City Theater.”

O’Hara became a cast member in the 1970s after waitressing at the venue, and Candy helped her hone her skills.

“He would always be willing to do an improv with me after the show. You do a show and then you do improvs after the show. That's how you build the next show at Second City Theater. And he was always willing to try any idea,” she says.

Related: 'Home Alone' Cast: Where Are They Now?

<p>Courtesy Everett</p> Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara in 'SCTV'

Courtesy Everett

Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara in 'SCTV'

He would frequently engage with fans, too, using the two rules of improvisational comedy: “yes, and…” as well as “no, but…”

“People always say ‘yes, and…’ but ‘no, but…’ is just as important,” she explains. “ ‘Are you the doctor?’ ‘No, but I played one in commercials.’ He was the king of that."

“You’d be on the street with him, in a mall, and somebody would come up and just want to do a comedy bit with him, and he would always pick up on it right away and give something back and see their eyes light up, like, ‘Oh, I’m doing a bit with John Candy,’ ” she recalls.

<p>20th Century Fox</p> Catherine O'Hara and John Candy in 'Home Alone'

20th Century Fox

Catherine O'Hara and John Candy in 'Home Alone'

“It's so nice to be able to not have to make up any bull, because people loved him,” she says. “And when people ask, ‘What was he like?’ they want to hear what they think he'd be like. And it's so lovely to be able to validate their guesses about what he would be like in person.”

Related: Dua Lipa Shines as Golden Seductress in First Trailer for Spy Thriller Argylle

The star of Uncle Buck and The Great Outdoors “was just so generous and larger than life. Maybe not larger, but [what] life was supposed to be,” she says.

O’Hara also starred with Candy in the 1990 Christmas classic Home Alone, which she calls a “perfect movie.” He played Gus, the "Polka King of the Midwest," who gives O'Hara's character a lift to get home to her son (Macaulay Culkin).

The actress met her husband, production designer and director Bo Welch, on the set of the 1988 comedy Beetlejuice.

For more on Catherine O’Hara, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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