At the height of his fame, Macaulay Culkin was regarded as one of the greatest child actors since Shirley Temple. But after starring in more than 15 projects before he was 14 years old, Macaulay faced serious burnout and left Hollywood for nearly a decade.
Despite his time away from the spotlight, he still made headlines — mostly for the wrong reasons. From his parents’ nasty custody battle to his odd relationship with Michael Jackson, read about the controversial life of one of our favorite child stars and see where he is today. Macaulay has even opened up about what really happened at Neverland Ranch.
Macaulay Culkin Was Destined For Stardom
Macaulay Culkin was born on August 26, 1980, in New York City. He was raised by his father Kit, and his mother Patricia, although the two were never married. Kit was a Broadway star, and Macaulay’s aunt, Bonnie Bedelia, was an actress.
With acting in his blood, Culkin began appearing in various roles on stage as early as four years old. Macaulay’s career showed promise almost immediately, and soon enough, he would transition from the stage to the big screen.
Macaulay Lands Bigger Roles
Macaulay started his acting career in various theater productions but soon transitioned to television and film. He starred in the ‘80s television series The Equalizer as well as a made-for-TV movie, The Midnight Hour.
In 1988, Macaulay made his big-screen debut in the drama Rocket Gibraltar. His performances led to more roles the following years including See You In the Morning and the family-favorite, Uncle Buck. All of this was preparing him for the role that would put him on the map.
Home Alone Changed Everything for Macaulay
By 1990, 10-year-old Macaulay had already been acting for six years, but everything would soon change with the release of Home Alone. He scored the lead role of Kevin McCallister in what is now considered an iconic Christmas classic.
The film put Macaulay on the map and solidified him as a true Hollywood star. The move was a huge success, pulling in a whopping $476.7 million with an $18 million budget. Interestingly enough, the writers and directors of Home Alone specifically designed the character of Kevin McCallister to fit Macaulay’s personality.
Macaulay Was The First Child Actor To Make $1 Million For a Film
With the immense success of Home Alone, Macaulay was in demand in Hollywood. The following year he starred in My Girl alongside Anna Chlumsky and earned a cool $1 million for his role.
Macaulay had no time to slow down as filming for Home Alone 2: Lost In New York started in 1992. The sequel cost $20 million to make, and although it didn’t pull in quite as much as the first, it was still a commercial success, earning $359 million. Macaulay Culkin was arguably the busiest child actor in the business — and his schedule was about to get more hectic!
Shifting To More Serious Roles
In 1993, Macaulay took on a role that was unlike any role he had done before. He starred alongside Elijah Wood in The Good Son, where he played Henry, a troubled boy who terrorizes his cousin.
Although Macaulay was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain, the movie didn’t do as well as expected thanks to its graphic nature and mature themes. Still, Macaulay’s career didn’t slow down, and he starred in three films the following year: Getting Even with Dad, The Pagemaster, and Richie Rich.
Macaulay Takes a Break From Hollywood for Nearly a Decade
Macaulay starred in 15 films in a seven-year period. That’s a lot for any actor but is particularly mind-blowing when you consider that he was between seven and fourteen years old during that time.
After wrapping up filming for Richie Rich in 1994, he found himself longing for a “normal life.” He decided to take a break from his career and enrolled in a private high school in Manhattan. Over the next decade, Macaulay remained relatively off the radar. Soon, however, he would find himself in headlines for his unique friendship with Michael Jackson.
Macaulay Culkin and The King of Pop
Macaulay Culkin and Michael Jackson’s friendship was nothing short of controversial. He became friends with the then-middle-aged superstar around the time the first Home Alone movie was released. The two became close, spending lots of time together, and Culkin even appeared in Jackson’s music video for “Black and White.”
People couldn’t help but think that the odd friendship was inappropriate, considering the stark age difference between the pair. When Jackson was accused of sexual abuse and child molestation, things only got more intense. Many speculated that Jackson had sexually abused Macaulay. In 2003, Macaulay testified at Jackson’s trial.
Macaulay Testified at Michael Jackson’s Hearing
Macaulay and Michael Jackson remained friends until Jackson’s death in 2009. When Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation in 2003, Macaulay spoke at Jackson’s trial.
During his testimony, he admitted that he had slept in Jackson’s bedroom on numerous occasions, but that the bedroom was arranged over two stories and nothing inappropriate happened. In another statement, the child star referred to the allegations as “absolutely ridiculous.” Jackson was eventually acquitted, but rumors swirled that he had bribed Macaulay to keep quiet about their inappropriate relationship. Macaulay finally opened up about his time at Neverland Ranch in 2018.
Macaulay Culkin Opens Up About His Time at Neverland Ranch
Macaulay has always led a private life. But he opened up about his time at Neverland Ranch in 2018 when he was a guest on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast. During the interview, Macaulay said, “He enjoyed my youthfulness. He liked being a kid with me. It never struck me as odd. I never felt uncomfortable. That was just the way he was.”
Macaulay added that following the trial, Jackson didn’t want to go back home because everything in his life felt tainted. “That was what happened with that last trial [in 2005], everything felt tainted,” Macaulay said. “The only thing that was important to him was his immediate family.”
Caught In The Middle
Throughout his early career, Macaulay’s father Kit had acted as his manager. Macaulay’s career was undoubtedly successful, but his dad subjected him to extreme methods for memorizing lines and rehearsing to “help” him succeed.
Soon, Macaulay found himself in the middle of a custody battle. In 1995, his parents decided to split up. While Patricia claimed that Kit’s drinking had gotten out of hand, Kit said he was fine. In the end, the court ruled that Kit’s excessive drinking made him unfit as a parent. Patricia won the custody battle and Macaulay became estranged from his father.
His Parents’ Custody Battle Almost Cost Him Millions
Macaulay may have played Richie Rich, but his own fortune was in danger thanks to his parents. During his parents’ nasty custody battle, Macaulay’s net worth — which was estimated to be around $17 million — was right in the middle.
In court papers, entertainment lawyer Kenneth Weinrib wrote that the Culkin’s were quickly running out of money and could no longer pay their rent. With Macaulay’s fortune, rumors swirled they were vying to get their hands on his bank account. But because Macaulay was a minor at the time, lawyers needed court clearance to spend a single dollar of his money. In the end, Macaulay’s trust was put in the hands of the family accountant until he reached adulthood.
Macaulay Got Married at 18
Macaulay Culkin is notoriously private about his personal life, especially when it comes to romantic partners. But in 1998, he turned heads when he married Rachel Miner. The two were both just 18-years-old. Miner, an actress, made her debut in Woody Allen’s Alice and earned critical acclaim in 2001’s Bully.
Their relationship didn’t last long and the two separated in 2000 and were divorced by 2002. Just a few months later, Macaulay started dating That ‘70s Show actress, Mila Kunis. The couple dated for nearly nine years before calling it quits, but remain close friends. Mila even showed her support for Macaulay and attended Michael Jackson’s funeral with him.
Drug Possession and Stint In Jail
By 2004, Macaulay had been out of the spotlight for years. He began making headlines for all the wrong reasons, mainly his legal issues. In September of that year, he was arrested in Oklahoma City for possessing more than 17 grams of marijuana and two controlled substances.
He spent a brief time in jail before being released on $4,000 bail. In a later court appearance, he pled not guilty to the misdemeanor drug offenses, but later reversed his plea to guilty. He got off relatively easy, receiving just a one-year suspended prison sentence and minimal fees.
Macaulay Returns To Acting
After nearly a decade-long break, Macaulay returned to television in 2003, making a guest appearance on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace. It seemed he was ready to take a deep-dive into acting again, and later that year played a drug-addicted murderer in Party Monster.
Soon after, Macaulay had a supporting role in Saved! His portrayal of a wheelchair-bound, atheist high school student at a Christian academy received rave reviews and showed that Macaulay was more than just a child star. That same year he also tested the waters of other creative projects, appearing in a South Youth music video and doing voice-over work in Robot Chicken. Despite his on-screen success, Macaulay was still struggling with family issues.
Macaulay Is Still Estranged From His Dad
Following his parents’ divorce, Macaulay became estranged from his father. In 2006 he revealed the sad details about their rocky relationship in his novel Junior. Then in 2018, Macaulay appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast and opened up about their strained relationship.
“We didn’t like each other,” Macaulay said. “He was a bad man… He was a bad dude.” In the interview, Macaulay said his father’s bad behavior was experienced by the rest of the family as well and admitted that forgiveness is tough.
Dakota Culkin’s Tragic Death
In 2008, Macaulay’s older sister Dakota was killed after stepping in front of a car in Los Angeles. She was rushed to the hospital but ultimately succumbed to her massive head injuries and passed away on December 10th.
Dakota, who was born one year before Macaulay, had been drinking with friends when she was struck outside of Brennan’s, an Irish bar. This was especially devastating to the family, as Macaulay’s half-sister, Jennifer, died of an overdose a few years prior.
A Suspected Drug Problem
At this point, Macaulay was considered a wild card. His early career, dad drama, prior arrest, relationship with Michael Jackson– no one was sure what he would do next. But when pictures of Macaulay emerged in 2012, people couldn’t help but noticed his sunken cheekbones and disheveled appearance.
Although the star was 32 at the time, he appeared much older. Some speculated that he turned to drugs due to his family issues and his break-up with Mila Kunis.
In 2014, Macaulay reemerged in the spotlight, only this time for music. Along with five friends, he started a band called The Pizza Underground. The comedy rock band performed parodies of Velvet Underground songs around Brooklyn before taking their talents abroad.
While we’re sure the band was very talented in their own right, the crowd didn’t agree and began booing the group at a Rock City show. Thanks to the band’s poor reception, they decided to split for good.
Macaulay Culkin Today
Today, Macaulay appears happy and healthy. He’s still working as an actor and starred in the 2015 film Adam Green’s Aladdin and was a guest star on eight episodes of The Jim Gaffigan Show. Most recently, he has been working on an upcoming comedy-drama written and directed by Seth Green, called Changeland.
For the last five years, Culkin has mainly been living in Paris, but still spends lots of time in New York. And while he still occasionally turns up in a tabloid, Macaulay says “I’m a retired 30-something, walking around with a baguette tucked under my arm, living the romantic life.”
He and Paris Jackson Are Close
Macaulay and Michael Jackson were so close that Jackson made him Paris’ godfather. Today, Macaulay and Paris share a tight-knit bond and spend lots of time together. The two even have matching spoon tattoos!
Macaulay is fiercely protective when it comes to Paris. In an interview with Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, he said “I am close with Paris,” when asked about their friendship. ‘I’m going to warn you now I am very protective of her so just look out,’ he added. “I am a very open book when it comes to things but like with her, she is beloved by me.”
Macaulay Begins Dating Brenda Song
In October of 2017, Macaulay was pictured with his Changeland costar, actress Brenda Song, and the two appeared to be more than friends. Their romantic relationship was confirmed and the couple remains together, a year later.
There’s a seven-year age gap between the pair, who both began their careers as a child. Song began her career in modeling acting at age six when she moved with her mother to Los Angeles. In 2002, she signed her contract with Disney, which launched her career on the network through 2010.
He Says He Wanted To Have Babies With Her
In August 2018, Macaulay was interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. When asked about Brenda, he decided to open up about something unexpected- fatherhood. He told Rogan, “This one’s a good one, so I’m probably going to put some babies in her in a little bit. I mean, we’ve definitely been practicing.”
Continuing the interview, the 38-year-old made it clear that he was thinking of making a family sooner, rather than later. “I have a pretty little family- a pretty girl, a pretty dog, a pretty cat, and all that stuff. We’re gonna move. We’re doing the house thing and all that kind of stuff.”
The Couple Announces The Birth Of Their First Child
Macaulay Culkin and Brenda Song announced that they had welcomed their first child on April 5, 2021. They named their son in honor of Culkin’s late sister, Dakota, who passed away in 2008.
The new parents told Esquire that they are “overjoyed” with the birth of their first child and are happy and strong together as a couple, too. Now Culkin has a family of his own, as a new father!
He Still Does Some Media Stunts
Macaulay knows that people are paying attention to what he’s doing, but now at 38-years-old with a fortune to his name, he’s focused on being his authentic self. He also doesn’t mind what the media has to say about him and doesn’t pass up an opportunity to stir the pot.
On September 26, 2018, he tweeted to J.K. Rowling, requesting that she write him into the next Harry Potter movie. He jokingly tweeted, ” I’m Macaulay Culkin (From Home Alone: The Movie) and I was also a Pagemaster (experienced with magic)…”
Culkin in the Wrestling Ring?
We already mentioned that Macaulay knows how to pull off a publicity stunt. We’re not sure what he was thinking with this next one, however. In December 2017, the actor appeared at a wrestling match in Los Angeles, wearing his bunny ears. He’s actually a big fan of wrestling, so it kind of makes sense…
Then he entered the ring, emptied a bucket full of balls in the ring to make the wrestlers fall, and fought with former WWE wrestler Swoggle. The video circulated the internet, leaving people utterly confused.
Things Got Weird In Billings, Montana
In 2014, Macaulay Culkin and his band The Pizza Underground were in Billings, Montana to play music. At least one of their shows also included R&B singer Har Mar Superstar. While the band played a cover of “Never My Love,” originally performed by The Association, things got a little weird.
First Culkin and the R&B singer begin dancing, then, they get a little too touchy-feeling for the Montana crowd, and finally, they end up laying on the stage kissing each other. People left the show more than a little bit confused.
His 2018 AMAs Appearance Shocked Everyone
Following the 2018 American Music Awards, Macaulay Culkin had Twitter up in arms with his seemingly flawless appearance. By this point, everyone thought that Culkin had gone off the deep end with his emaciated looks of recent, but he appeared at the 2018 AMAs looking quite healthy and dapper to present Favorite Male Artist to Post Malone.
It was a relief, but mostly a shock, to many people who weren’t expecting to see Culkin take to the limelight any time soon. But if they were paying any attention, they’d know that Culkin was doing just fine for himself with his band and his relationship with Brenda Song.
He’s Quite The Jokester On Twitter
If you follow Macaulay Culkin on Twitter, you’d know that he often pokes fun at a lot of things. In October 2018, his Twitter hi-jinks reached an all-time high when he and fellow actor Devon Sawa began “trolling” each other.
It all started when Culkin, who runs a lifestyle parody site and podcast, began wearing a shirt that said “Devon Sawa” with an arrow pointed at his face. The actual Devon Sawa and did the same thing, except with a shirt that said “Macaulay Culkin.” The pranks got so out of control that Sawa ended up with a GoFundMe page and an account on FarmersOnly.com!
He’s Artsier Than You Think
In 2013, a video of Macaulay Culkin went viral on YouTube. The clip, which is almost five minutes long, depicts Culkin making his way through a slice of pizza. At the end of the clip he says, “My name is Macaulay Culkin, and I just finished pizza.” He apparently did the video to promote his band, The Pizza Underground.
Culkin was actually paying homage to “Andy Warhol Eating a Hamburger,” which is featured in 66 Scenes From America by Danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth. The original was shot in 1981 and at that time, Warhol was a frequent collaborator with the band Velvet Underground.
He Sees A Lot Of Plot Holes In Home Alone
The first and second Home Alone movies are what put Macaulay Culkin on the map, but there are plenty of things wrong with the movie that Culkin has noticed since becoming an adult. In March 2018, Culkin appeared on The Tonight Show, where Jimmy Fallon asked him if there was anything he would change or if there was any questions he had about the movie looking back.
“This kid’s a really clever kid, right? But these guys are about to break in, why doesn’t he just call the cops? …I think that’s an enormous plot hole,” Culkin said.
He Could Have Been On The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory has been one of the most successful shows of the present day and Macaulay Culkin passed up a chance to be on it. In fact, the producers of the show really wanted him to star in it, but he kept turning them down.
The show did just fine without Culkin, whose name honestly might have overshadowed its potential to succeed in the way it had. But Culkin has no hard feelings, telling the Joe Rogan Experience, “I’d have hundreds of millions of dollars right now if I did that gig. At the same time, I’d be bashing my head against the wall.”
He Can’t Even Watch Home Alone
Home Alone is one of the quintessential holiday movies in America, but one person who doesn’t sit down to watch it come the holidays is Macaulay Culkin himself. He appeared on The Ellen Show in April 2018, where he said, “I don’t really watch them all that often. We did like a 15-year anniversary DVD commentary and I realized I hadn’t seen in in like, 15 years.”
He continued to say, “It’s background radiation at Christmastime. I’ve had people who want to sit down and watch it with me, which is both flattering and creepy.”
He Can’t See It The Same Way Everyone Else Does
For most people, Home Alone is one of those movies that never gets old. Despite the fact that what happens to Kevin is actually pretty terrifying, it’s also pretty amusing. Unfortunately, Macaulay Culkin doesn’t see the film the same way everyone else does.
He told Ellen, “When I’m watching it I’m remembering that day on set. Like, how I was hiding my Pepsi behind the couch or something like that. I can’t watch it the same way other people do.” He also confessed that he avoids leaving his house during the holidays for the very fact that Home Alone is shown on a constant loop.
He Used To Be A Professional Ballet Dancer
Before Macaulay Culkin won the hearts of America as a child actor, he studied ballet at the School of American Ballet as a child. He would do his films on the side before returning to the stage to dance.
He told Ellen, “I was almost a ballet dancer first for a while. Like I’d go off and do Uncle Buck and then I’d turn around and go back home to do The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. So I did that for a number of years… but I definitely don’t do ballet anymore. My feet and my hips appreciate it.”
He Grew Up As Part Of A Litter
Macaulay Culkin grew up as the third of seven children. Together with their parents, the seven Culkin kids lived in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan with their parents. Culkin joked on The Ellen Show that his mom didn’t have a family, “she had a littler.”
“Pretty much nine people, seven kids and two parents. We lived on top of each other. They were literally stacking us, they were stacking bunk beds. It was like sardines. But it was a good time. We were a close-knit family because of that. There’s no such thing as privacy,” he said.
He Went To A Real High School
Macaulay Culkin had achieved so much success as a child that at one point he had done 14 movies in as little as six years. By the time he was 14, he took a decade-long break from acting. He told The Ellen Show, “I was tired of it, to be honest… I was away from home a lot, I was away from school, I needed something else.”
He continued, “I needed to grow and develop as a person. I was looking forward to high school, like I was actually looking forward to going to school… It was great to be around people my own age.”
His Earnings Are Still Paying Off
For the first child actor to make $1 million for a film, Macaulay Culkin’s salary was up there with some of Hollywood’s A-list actors and actresses. But since he was a kid, most of that money wasn’t readily available to him until he turned 18 years old.
He admitted on The Ellen Show that coming into millions of dollars as a young adult was a bit overwhelming and disorienting. “I felt like some kid worked really, really hard and I inherited all of his money… It allows me to treat everything like a hobby,” he said.
The Truth About His Appearance All Those Years Ago
When Macaulay Culkin reappeared in headlines after photos surfaced of him looking gaunt and emaciated, people quickly assumed that he had become a drug addict. But in 2016, he finally addressed the rumors in an interview with The Guardian.
Culkin was asked if people were right to be worried. He said, “Not necessarily. Of course, when silly stuff is going on – but no, I was not pounding six grand of [drugs] every month or whatever. The thing that bugged me was tabloids wrapping it all in this weird guise of concern. No, you’re trying to shift papers.”
His Split From Mila Kunis Reportedly Wasn’t Friendly
One of the more surprising facts about Macaulay Culkin was the fact that he quietly dated Mila Kunis for eight years. The couple split as Kunis’s star-power was growing. When promoting Black Swan in 2011, Kunis’s people confirmed the “amicable” split, but in 2018, Kunis revealed that it was anything but.
Kunis appeared on Dax Shepard’s podcast where she admitted that she did Culkin wrong. “I was a [expletive] in my 20’s and I’ll be the first to admit it… And it’s [expletive] up what I did. It’s [expletive] up what I did and it’s [expletive] up how I did it,” she said.
Kunis Said That Being With Him Was Weird
As actors, one of the challenges is trying to go out in public and live everyday life. Both Macaulay Culkin and Mila Kunis deal with that today, but it was especially hard on Kunis when they were going out.
Kunis revealed on The Howard Stern Show in 2016, “He was huge. You couldn’t walk down the street with him. He always had this weird attraction, like fans just screamed when they saw him. They didn’t know how to react. It wasn’t like a normal response to a celebrity. Fans responded in a very abnormal way to him.”