Macaulay Culkin is the former child star who stole our hearts starring as Kevin McCallister in the 1990 classic Christmas comedy, Home Alone. Despite being just ten years old at the time, Culkin soon became a household name. But with this came the perils of fame.
So, where is Culkin now? Despite his stardom, his life soon took a sinister turn, and some of these facts might just leave you reeling.
20. He’s been in show business since the age of 8
Like many child stars, Culkin was thrust into the limelight from an early age, performing in off-Broadway shows. This included a stage production of Bach Babies at the New York Philharmonic. By the age of eight, he already had two major films under his belt.
At age nine, Culkin stole John Candy’s thunder when he starred in the 1989 comedy Uncle Buck. This soon led to other opportunities flooding in, including a film you might just remember… This was, of course, Home Alone.
19. There were doubts over casting him in Home Alone
Home Alone was one of the most popular movies of the 20th century, and remains so to this day. We just couldn’t imagine the film without Culkin in the starring role, and luckily, we don’t have to. But it could have all been very different. Writer John Hughes wrote the part of Kevin McCallister with Culkin in mind, although director Chris Columbus was initially skeptical.
The director was reluctant to cast Culkin as he had recently starred in Uncle Buck and, according to Columbus, he didn’t want to be seen as a ‘pushover in the film industry’. He would audition over 200 young actors before finally conceding that Culkin was the best fit for the role.
18. He got married at the age of 18
Many child stars end up going off the rails at an early age. But Culkin just decided to get married instead. He met his wife-to-be, fellow actress Rachel Miner, at the Professional Children’s High School, and the pair kept in touch after Culkin dropped out during his senior year.
The pair were wed in 1998 when they were both just eighteen, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. Troubles started to arise when Miner made it clear she was ready to settle down and start a family, whereas Culkin was keen to continue pursuing his acting career. The couple ended up calling it a day after just two years of marriage.
17. He quit acting at 14
At the age of 14, the pressures of fame became too much for Culkin and he decided to take a break from his life in the limelight. He longed for a ‘normal life’, free from the constraints of stardom, and decided to enrol at a Manhattan private school. But his new low-key lifestyle was not to last.
In 2000, he landed a starring role in a West End show in which he played a student who is seduced by his french teacher. The show then moved to Broadway for a four-month stint, and Culkin followed. He also began pursuing different avenues, and even appeared in the music video for ‘Sunday’ by the Sonic Youth in 1998.
16. He was in a relationship with Mila Kunis for eight years
Culkin started dating actress Mila Kunis in 2002, when she was just eighteen. The couple have remained tight-lipped over their relationship but were together for over eight years, with Kunis once describing Culkin as ‘her rock’.
Kunis has spoken candidly about how Culkin’s fame threatened to destroy the relationship, explaining that ‘fans acted in a very abnormal way around him’. The pair split up in 2011, although they would remain close friends. In a recent interview, Kunis opened up about the demise of their relationship, claiming that she ‘f***ked it all up’.
15. He had a turbulent childhood
For many, fame at an early age comes with its fair share of struggles, and Culkin was no exception. By the age of ten, he was earning $1 million for his acting roles and apparently living out everyone’s childhood dream. But beneath this wholesome facade there was trouble brewing. Culkin’s father Kit Culkin took on the role of his manager, and was soon considered one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.
Culkin, alongside his six siblings (including Kieran), was one of the most sought after actors in the industry, with directors desperate to cash in on the child star. When Culkin’s films started to tank after some dubious casting choices, Kit was the scapegoat for directors and audiences alike. This caused a rift between the family, and ultimately resulted in Culkin’s mother initiating a bitter custody battle.
14. He’s the godfather of Michael Jackson’s children
Culkin first met Micheal Jackson whilst backstage at a Broadway show, when the pair were introduced by none other than Donald Trump. In 1991, he would be featured in Jackson’s music video for Black or White. The pair would enjoy a close friendship, with Culkin describing Jackson as ‘my best friend growing up for a stretch of my life’.
When Jackson’s first son, Prince, was born in 1997, he asked Culkin to be the godfather. Culkin is also Godfather to Jackson’s daughter, Paris, with whom Culkin later struck up a close friendship.
13. He reportedly struggled with addiction
We all remember the infamous picture of Culkin looking ever so slightly gaunt and disheveled that went viral just a few years ago. The snap led to speculation over Culkin’s drug habits, with some sources reporting he was battling a serious heroin addiction. Culkin has since publicly refuted these claims.
‘No, I was not pounding six grand of heroin every month or whatever,’ Macaulay stated in a 2016 interview with The Guardian. More recently, it was reported that he had taken up smoking over 60 cigarettes a day, and could often be spotted walking the streets of Paris, the place he now calls home, ‘puffing away’.
12. His middle name is Macaulay Culkin
Remember what happened when NERC asked the internet to help name their new shipping vessel? Boaty McBoatFace happened, that’s what. And if you thought we would all have learned from their mistake, then you thought wrong. In November of 2018, Culkin took to the internet to enlist the help of his followers in choosing his new middle name. Once again, the internet certainly did not disappoint. The winning vote by a substantial margin was Macauley Culkin.
This means that Culkin’s name is now officially Macauley Macauley Culkin Culkin. It really doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Other contenders in the running included Kieran (suggested by his brother, Kieran), Shark Week, Publicity Stunt and lastly, the super catchy The McRibsIsBack.
11. He recently recreated Home Alone
With Disney recently announcing the upcoming remake of the family favourite movie, Culkin decided to give us a bleak insight as to how the sequel might really look. The former child star took to Instagram to post a hilarious photo of him slumped on his sofa, beer belly on show, clutching a bowl of instant noodles. Whilst we can probably all agree that the remake is a terrible idea, we’re pretty keen to see Culkin’s slightly grittier version!
He also reprised the iconic role in an ad for Google Home, in which Kevin enjoys some alone time (although this is slightly less problematic than in the original movie when Kevin was eight, not 38.) He then utilises a very advanced Google Home system to set a mannequin and cardboard cut out in motion, creating the illusion of people partying in the house which soon discourages the pesky robbers waiting outside.
10. He started a Velvet Underground tribute band that sang only covers with pizza-based lyrics
After the fall out of his acting career, Culkin decided to try something a little…different. He had the bright idea of starting up a Velvet Underground tribute band, called the Pizza Underground. The group’s repertoire largely consisted of parodies of Velvet Underground songs, often with pizza-themed lyrics such as Pizza Morning and Pizza Rolls.
Unfortunately, some fans took this a little too seriously, finding the material offensive and claiming that it mocked the original band. One of the more notable moments of the band’s career was when they were booed off the stage in Nottingham, right in the middle of Culkin’s rather impressive kazoo solo.
9. He wrote a book
These days, we’re bombarded with memoirs detailing the exploits of endless fame-hungry celebrities. However, if you’re tired of being regaled with tales of celebrities taking ketamine and making awful life decisions, Culkin’s autobiography might just be for you. The memoir/novel, Junior, whilst mildly amusing, could also be considered incredibly pretentious, consisting of a collection of poems, letters and comics.
According to the advertisement tagline, ‘everything in it is entirely true, except for the large portions that are completely fictional’. The book failed to make a splash in the literature world, with Publishers Weekly’s scathing review reading ‘this self-indulgently infantile book is a novel in only the loosest sense: it looks and reads more like a book-length zine’.
8. Two of his brothers are also successful actors
Culkin is one of seven children, and he’s not the only actor in the family. In fact, his younger brother Kieran also appeared in Home Alone and its sequel, playing one of Kevin’s cousins. He also went on to enjoy a successful acting career, with roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and TV’s Succession.
Rory Culkin, ten years younger than Macaulay, starred as the young Richie in Richie Rich, also appearing in M Night Shyamalan’s Signs in 2002. He went on to roles in Scream 4 and Lords of Chaos, and more recently appeared in TV miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven.
7. He retired from working when he was 35
After returning to acting from a brief hiatus, it dawned on Culkin that he didn’t actually need to work because he was incredibly rich. So, at the grand old age of 35, he decided to retire. But this left the actor with a lot of spare time, leading to him taking up a new hobby. ‘I’m a big fan of jumping on people’s tour buses, making myself useful, doing load-ins and outs,’ the actor explained.
Culkin has made quite a name for himself behind the scenes, roadying for the likes of Adam Green from The Mouldy Peaches and Har Mar Superstar. Being surrounded by songwriters such as these, it’s hardly surprising that Culkin was inspired to test out his own musical hand in the form of the Pizza Underground.
6. He’s estranged from his father
Throughout his turbulent childhood, Culkin’s father was a constant figure in his life. But this wasn’t as much of a comfort as you might think. After he shot to fame, Culkin’s father, Kit (pictured above left), acted as his manager, which meant the pair spent a lot of time together. Culkin claimed that their relationship had always been poor, which was only exacerbated by their close confines.
‘I’m going around the country locked in a room with a man who didn’t like me,’ Culkin said. ‘He was a bad man. He was abusive. Physically and mentally’. Since then, Kit has publicly denounced his son after he failed to make contact when he suffered a stroke.
5. He defended Michael Jackson in court
If you’ve not been living under a rock for the past thirty years or so, you might recall the scandalous accusations that have emerged surrounding ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson. Jackson was a prominent figure throughout Culkin’s childhood, but it seems Jackson was more of a child than Culkin himself, leading to speculation over the dark truth hidden behind the walls of Neverland.
After numerous individuals came forward claiming they had been sexually abused by the star, it was Culkin who stood by him to the very end. He even testified in open court, stating that whilst as a child he had slept in the same bed as Jackson (a fully grown adult), nothing untoward had ever happened.
4. He’s currently dating Brenda Song
You might remember Song best from her stint on the Disney show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, in which she played loveable ditz, London Tipton. A fellow former child-star, Song and Culkin bonded over the trials and tribulations of a life in the spotlight, as well as a shared love of cats.
The couple met on the set of Changeland, a comedy-drama written and directed by Culkin’s long-time friend and collaborator, Seth Green. The couple live in Paris and prefer to keep their relationship out of the press, but it’s reported they had their first child in 2021 and are engaged to be married.
3. He had a t-shirt battle with Ryan Gosling
It was now been over six years since Gosling was first spotted sporting a t-shirt adorned with the iconic ‘shocked face’ picture of Culkin in Home Alone. But this was a fashion decision he would soon come to regret. In retaliation, Culkin released a photo of himself wearing a t-shirt featuring an image of Gosling wearing said shirt.
But it didn’t end there. Oh no, this celebrity battle-of-the-shirts had only just begun. Just a few days later, Gosling was spotted wearing a shirt (bear with us here) featuring a picture of Culkin wearing a shirt with a picture of Gosling wearing a shirt with Culkin’s face on. Nailed it.
2. He was arrested for drug offences
If you thought Culkin would leave his child-star years behind him and emerge relatively unscathed, then you thought wrong. In 2004, he was involved in a brush with the law when a car he was a passenger in was pulled over for speeding.
Officers found illegal substances in the car, and arrested Culkin on suspicion of possession. The then-24-year old pleased guilty to the charges and was given a one-year deferred jail sentence and ordered to pay £300 in costs.
1. He used to live with Pete Doherty
Macaulay Culkin was introduced to notorious British rocker Pete Doherty through mutual friend and The Moldy Peaches singer, Adam Green, and the pair soon struck up a friendship of their own.
After returning from a tour, Culkin decided to make Paris his new home, and resided with the Libertines front man for several months. Since then, Culkin has clearly taken a shine to the city, as he now resides there with his girlfriend, Brenda Song.