What Happened to the Iconic Former Child Star, Macaulay Culkin?

When it comes to former child stars, Macaulay Culkin is a big one. The Home Alone star is a nostalgic hero and takes us back to a simpler time. He was raking in millions as one of the most sought out child actors in Hollywood. He worked hard for the fame and fortune he has, but life wasn’t all glamorous. It wasn’t easy growing up in the public eye, and Mac’s family didn’t make things easier for him, particularly his father.

Macaulay Culkin screaming while looking upwards in Home Alone 2 / Macaulay Culkin
Photo by 20th Century Fox, Kobal, Shutterstock / Source: Instagram, culkamania

Nowadays, Macaulay Culkin is 38 years old and understands that the ups and downs he dealt with made him the man he is today, but it took him a while to get there. He went through a phase where people thought he was on drugs, and even death rumors swirled for a while.

This is the crazy life of the iconic blonde boy who took Hollywood by storm- Macaulay Culkin.

Humble Beginnings

Macaulay Culkin was brought into the world on August 26, 1980. He was born into a pretty modest family in NYC. His mom, Patricia, worked as a phone operator, and his dad, Kit, was a stage actor who also worked in theater production. Macaulay’s grandfather was in PR, and his grandmother was a writer, and she was the one who loved the arts.

Macaulay Culkin and Burt Lancaster in 1988.
Macaulay Culkin and Burt Lancaster in 1988. Photo by Snap / Shutterstock

At the tender age of 4, the gifted Macaulay hit the stage in order to help his parents financially. The family of nine lived in a two-bedroom apartment, and his support certainly helped his struggling parents raise his six siblings. Although he felt an immense amount of pressure, Macaulay’s talent spoke for itself.

‘Dad-ager’

Macaulay’s father Kit was an actor himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it in the cut-throat industry, so he threw his children into it and acted as their manager. But calling him a ‘stage dad’ is an understatement. Macaulay’s brothers, Rory and Kieran, were professional actors as well, but Macaulay was the star.

Patricia, Christopher, Kieran, and Macaulay Culkin posing together in the living room in 1990.
Patricia, Christopher, Kieran, and Macaulay Culkin 1990. Photo by Steve Wood / Shutterstock

By age 8, the adorable blonde was landing movie roles, and his dad enjoyed the fame, money, and attention that came with it. However, Kit got controlling when it came to his son’s career and demanded higher paychecks for Macaulay to star in a film. Unfortunately, this rubbed producers and directors the wrong way.

Acting Genes

Everyone knows that Macaulay starred in Home Alone, but he wasn’t the only one in his family to star in the hit Christmas blockbuster. Kieran, his little brother, played his cousin, Fuller. Kieran went on to have a notable acting career in his own right, appearing in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II. His last movie role was in 2017’s Infinity Baby.

Kieran Culkin standing behind a cash register in Movie 43
Kieran Culkin in Movie 43. Photo by Greenstreet Films / Kobal / Shutterstock

Their other brother, Rory, followed in his siblings’ footsteps. He appeared in several films, including Scream 4, You Can Count on Me, and several others. Although he wasn’t as famous as his brothers in his younger days, he has been getting back into acting in more recent years. His latest role is in 2018’s Lords of Chaos.

He Was Scared of Joe Pesci

No matter how many years go by, the two burglars in Home Alone remain hilarious, but Joe Pesci, known for his “tough guy” character, often scared little Macaulay on the movie set. Before playing a comedic thief in a child-friendly film, he portrayed a cold-blooded mobster in the hit crime movie Goodfellas. Yikes! That would scare any 8 year old!

Macaulay Culkin and Joe Pesci in the window behind him in Home Alone
Macaulay Culkin and Joe Pesci in Home Alone 1990. Photo by 20th Century Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock

However, Pesci scared Macaulay on purpose! He wanted his reaction to be authentic, so he completely avoided him on set. That way, Culkin would actually be scared of him. Other than scaring the children on set, it was difficult for Pesci not to use swear words while reading the script. In order to help him stop, the actor developed his now-infamous gibberish muttering.

Bringing in the Cash

When you think of a Christmas movie that was a smash hit, Home Alone immediately comes to mind. For a comedy with a $70 million budget, the popular film earned $500 million worldwide! Sequels are never as good as the original, but Home Alone II made almost the same amount of money. Ten-year-old Macaulay Culkin got an $8 million paycheck for starring in the second movie.

Macaulay Culkin
Photo by Steve Wood / Shutterstock

However, fame and fortune can be a burden on celebrities, especially when it comes to child actors. For this reason, Macaulay’s parents tried to keep him away from the tabloids. They also tried to hide his millions to avoid spoiling him.

Accomplished Child

Macaulay Culkin was at the peak of his career when the 11-year-old casually hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live. His performance was brilliant, and he got phenomenal reviews. To this day, Culkin’s performance is still seen as one of the top ten hosting gigs in the show’s history. Well, that’s impressive!

Macaulay Culkin hosting Saturday Night Live season 17
Macaulay Culkin hosting Saturday Night Live season 17. Source: Flickr

That’s not all Macaulay accomplished as a child. He also got his very first kiss at a young age on the set of My Girl. Mac had to kiss his co-star, the adorable Anna Chlumsky. This kiss was so innocent and touching that at the MTV Movie Awards, it won the award for Best Kiss.

Struggles at Home

At the height of his career, little Macaulay Culkin made 15 movies in only seven years. The child was being worked to the bone, and finally, in 1994, he decided to take a well-deserved break. Unfortunately, he was also dealing with issues at home. His parents’ marriage was crumbling, and they divorced in 1995.

Kit, Macaulay, and Patricia Culkin
Photo by Stuart Ramson / Daily Mail / Shutterstock

That wasn’t the end of Macaulay’s personal struggles. His relationship with his dad started deteriorating, and tension between them was heating up. Among other things, Kit couldn’t handle his son’s success. Details about the family drama, particularly about Kit, started to surface during the messy divorce. They weren’t the happy family that fans thought they were.

Heartbreak and Tragedy

When Macaulay’s parents split up, it became public knowledge that Kit wasn’t a great dad or husband. He was allegedly abusive. When his wife was pregnant, Kit reportedly hit her and threatened to kill her on more than one occasion. All seven children moved in with their mother following the divorce. Macaulay just wanted to live a normal life and signed himself up to a private high school in Manhattan.

Macaulay Culkin and his brother Rory
Macaulay Culkin and his brother Rory. Photo by Alan Davidson / Shutterstock

Several years after his dealing with his parents’ divorce, Macaulay tragically lost two of his sisters. His half-sister, Jennifer Adamson, died of a drug overdose, and his sister, Dakota, was killed in a car accident. Strangely, the sisters were both 29 when they passed away. Such heartbreak was devastating for the sensitive actor.

Insecurities Eating Him Up

Despite the family problems he was dealing with, Culkin was still determined to be a successful actor. In 2000, he took his talents to the stage and acted in the London production of Madame Melville. He practiced for hours every single day to make his vocal delivery as perfect as possible. Another thing that helped Culkin with his lines was practicing tongue twisters.

Macaulay Culkin walking in the Stage Door
Macaulay Culkin 2000. Photo by David Rose / The Independent / Shutterstock

Every human being on the planet has to deal with insecurities, but being an actor can amplify that. Being exposed to the public and having eyes on you constantly can really take a toll on celebrities. Thanks to trolls who point out every imperfection, Macaulay found out his eyes aren’t the same size. This flaw is something that has really affected the adorable actor.

Agoraphobia Diagnosis

Since he was already a child star at the age of four, Macaulay got a lot of publicity and attention as a little kid. The pressure and anxiety built up, and Culkin began suffering from agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that acts up in situations where a person feels their environment to be unsafe with no easy way to escape. This usually happens in open spaces like shopping centers or on public transit.

Macaulay Culkin and a dog sitting on a red leather chair
Photo by Snap / Shutterstock

Agoraphobia is a scary condition that often leads to panic attacks. However, Culkin decided he wanted to face his fear with the help of his dog. He took his pup on daily walks, and, eventually, he overcame his phobia. His childhood fame will always affect him, but at least he is headed toward a healthier life.

Best Friends with MJ

What many people don’t know about Macaulay is that he used to dance ballet. He studied at the prestigious School of American Ballet in NYC, and he even played the role of Fritz in the live ballet version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Michael Jackson was impressed with his performance and invited him to be in his music video, Black or White. The two famously became friends.

Macaulay Culkin and Michael Jackson with other boys drinking in a booth in 1991
Macaulay Culkin and Michael Jackson 1991. Photo by Ernie Mcreight / Shutterstock

When Michael Jackson came under fire for sexual abuse allegations, Culkin was the first actor to defend the singer in court. Macaulay supported Michael through the whole trial and explained their relationship. He said they got close because Michael Jackson understood what it was like to be famous at a young age.

Not Guilty

Macaulay continued to defend the deceased singer when allegations started to surface again in 2019 following the docuseries Leaving Neverland. He attested that he did sleep in Michael Jackson’s bedroom, but there was never any sexual abuse. Furthermore, Culkin said that Michael liked to hang out with kids because deep down, he was a child himself.

Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin in Bermuda
Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin in Bermuda 1991. Photo by Ernie Mccreight / Shutterstock

Culkin and Michael remained close friends until Jackson’s death. The two were seen together all over Hollywood. They had such a strong relationship that Jackson even chose the young actor to be the godfather of his daughter Paris. Macaulay still believes that Michael Jackson is innocent and that the allegations against him are false.

Father-Goddaughter Bonding

As her godfather, Macaulay and Paris Jackson got close through the years. They never let the media affect their relationship at all. The godfather/goddaughter duo decided to get matching tattoos of a red spoon on their forearms. The spoon theory tattoos represent the invisible pain they are experiencing.

Paris Jackson and Macaulay Culkin
Paris Jackson and Macaulay Culkin. Source: Flickr

For Culkin and Paris, the spoon tattoos were a symbol of the struggles and hardships they had to deal with in life, and how they overcame them. From growing up in front of cameras and paparazzi to losing family members, the pair did experience pain and heartbreak, but they are determined to grow and become better because of it.

Disastrous Fire

Macaulay’s mom Patricia accidentally started a fire in her apartment building back in 1998. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a small fire; it ended in tragedy. Four people died in the fire, and 22 others suffered serious injuries. Naturally, some people took this opportunity to take advantage of Macaulay Culkin’s wealth.

Kieran and Patricia Culkin
Kieran and Patricia Culkin. Photo by Bei / Shutterstock

It’s common for celebrities to have to deal with people trying to get money out of them, and some people take it too far. Many lawsuits were filed against Macaulay himself, despite the fact that his mother who started the fire and he wasn’t even near the building at the time. The situation is tragic… but the things people do for money!

High School Sweetheart

Macaulay seemed to be living every child’s dream; he was landing role after role and enjoying fame, money, and popularity. Despite his successful acting career, Macaulay longed for a normal childhood. He attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School and the Professional Children’s Prep School, which taught students who worked on NYC stages.

Macaulay Culkin and Rachel Miner on the red carpet 1999
Macaulay Culkin and Rachel Miner 1999. Source: Shutterstock

Considering his fame, it’s not surprising that Macaulay was a popular kid. He met actress Rachel Miner in high school, and the pair tied the knot when they were 18. Unfortunately, the relationship wasn’t smooth sailing. Over the two year marriage, there were multiple breakups and makeups before they got divorced in 2002.

Scavenger Hunt Wedding

It wasn’t all bad. Miner and Culkin had some happy times together, but it wasn’t enough to keep them together. They made a few public appearances but mainly tried to stay out of the limelight. Nevertheless, the media was still interested in the pair. They enjoyed staying home watching movies and taking care of stray animals together.

Macaulay Culkin and Rachel Miner at their wedding
Macaulay Culkin and Rachel Miner. Source: Pinterest

Even though Culkin and Miner were both famous actors, there were no security guards at their wedding. Instead of wedding invitations, they sent guests a scavenger hunt message to fend off the media. The clues led them to a house in Connecticut where the wedding took place. Wow! What a fun and creative idea.

Dating a Rising Star

After his divorce and playboy days, Macaulay started dating the one and only Mila Kunis in 2002. At the time, she was relatively unknown, but rising to fame. The relationship lasted eight years before they split up in 2011. They had a loving, peaceful relationship that many people didn’t know about because they tried to stay away from the media.

Mila Kunis and Macaulay Culkin
Mila Kunis and Macaulay Culkin. Source: Imgur

Culkin didn’t waste too much time after his breakup with the beautiful actress. In 2013, he started dating All My Children actress, Jordan Lane Price. They were seen in Paris holding hands and dancing in the streets. They looked happy and cheerful, but, unfortunately, their relationship didn’t last very long.

Party Boy

In September 2004, Macaulay had a few run-ins with the law. He enjoyed his fame and everything that came with it, but he fell into the same trap as many other child stars. He started partying a lot. He was arrested after police found illegal substances in his car in Oklahoma City. He was released on a $4,000 bail.

Macaulay Culkin
Photo by Diyah Pera / Mgm / Single Cell / Kobal / Shutterstock

Macaulay wanted to make a comeback after his arrest and decided to return to the stage. He landed the lead role in the play Madame Melville. The play was set in Paris in 1966, and Macaulay played Carl, a 15-year-old student who was seduced by his French teacher Claudie. As you can imagine, the play was controversial and earned mixed reviews.

His Short-Lived Writing Career

Macaulay decided to write a memoir in 2006. With such an interesting upbringing, it was only a matter of time. It was a semi-autobiographical novel titled Junior, inspired by his own life. Macaulay touched on details about his emotional issues, fame, and his estranged relationship with his father.

Macaulay Culkin at his book signing in 2006
Macaulay Culkin at his book signing in 2006. Photo by Picture Perfect / Shutterstock

He shared personal and dark secrets about his life in the spotlight in a fictional way. Culkin took readers on a tour of his wild imagination and even gave the book seven different endings. Unfortunately, the memoir wasn’t as successful as he hoped. It wasn’t received well by the public or his fans, who were starting to lose interest in him.

Cigarette Addiction

As he was rising to fame, Macaulay developed a smoking habit at a surprisingly young age. This wasn’t just a cigarette or two here and there. At one point, the former child star was smoking 60 cigarettes in one day. Obviously, we all know the dangers of compulsively smoking, but Culkin’s nicotine addiction was getting out of control. He was always seen with a cigarette between his lips.

Macaulay Culkin with Irene Jacob in the play “Madame Melville”
Photo by Nils Jorgensen / Shutterstock

In many pictures of Culkin, he appears pale, sleep-deprived, and unnourished. Many people assumed he was a drug addict, but he was never hooked on drugs. Apparently, he just stopped caring about his appearance and what others think. He did look scary at times, but thankfully, it’s not because of drugs.

Other Ventures

As a successful child star, Macaulay Culkin earned enough money to last him a lifetime. However, he still continued to work and pursue different projects like The Wrong Ferrari, a bizarre movie filmed on an iPhone. Other people think he outgrew his career and remained the cute blonde kid left behind.

Macaulay Culkin, Adam Green, and Toby sitting with artwork around them
Macaulay Culkin, Adam Green, and Toby. Source: Pinterest

It was clear that Macaulay had loved performance art (and other forms of art) since he was a toddler. In 2012, he established an art collective called Three Men and a Baby (3MB). He and co-founders Toby Goodshake and Adam Green were inspired by the “capitalist culture we live in.” Green explained that they are “just literally three people standing in front of the canvas with paintbrushes and painting at the same time.”

Tribute to … Pizza

The idea to start a pizza-themed tribute band to The Velvet Underground came from Macaulay Culkin’s imagination. He thought it was a cool and original concept. Macaulay also added a twist and named the band The Pizza Underground. It makes sense considering all their songs are about pizza.

The Pizza Underground performing
The Pizza Underground performing. Photo by Mediapunch / Shutterstock

As expected, Culkin’s band had a pretty big obsession with pizza. They were so dedicated to the cheesy deliciousness of their favorite food that the drummer played on real pizza boxes. They also used regular instruments, and Culkin was on the kazoo. Plus, audiences who come to their live shows get free pizza! Sounds like a win-win to me.

Cheesy Goodness

If it wasn’t obvious, Macaulay Culkin is obsessed with pizza, and who can blame him? Pizza is delicious and a popular favorite food. But apparently, Macaulay was inspired after watching Andy Warhol eating a Burger King Whopper in the documentary 66 Scenes from America. That’s when he decided to co-produce a direct homage video eating a massive slice of pizza.

Macaulay Culkin in the video tribute to Andy Warhol eating pizza
Source: YouTube

People found the video hysterical, and it went viral. His band, The Pizza Underground, stopped performing in 2018, after parodying songs by The Velvet Underground for five years. There seem to be split opinions about the band as a whole. It’s like people either love them or hate them—no in-between.

Death Rumors

Since fame took over his childhood, Culkin wasn’t too keen as making public appearances as an adult, especially when he looked like a homeless drug addict. Since he was out of the spotlight for a while, rumors started to spread about his supposed death. Culkin had no problem dismissing these reports in a creative way.

Macaulay Culkin at the music awards
Photo by Stewart Cook / Shutterstock

He invented the Death-O-Meter to prove he is very much alive. However, we know how much people love to gossip, so the new death rumors surface every few years. In February 2020, Culkin jokingly tweeted: “I just woke up and saw I was trending. Can someone explain what’s going on? Did I die again?” At least he has a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Paris Escape

It’s no secret that Macaulay has had a very alienated relationship with his father Kit. Apparently, their relationship is still estranged and might be that way for a while, given their history. After divorcing Macaulay’s mom Patricia, Kit started dating Jeanette Krylowski until she died in 2017. He is now living in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Macaulay Culkin posing for the camera
Source: Instagram / culkamania

Macaulay, on the other hand, wanted to escape the drama and media that had consumed most of his life. He decided to get out of the country, and he moved the Paris. The actor has been residing there for a few years and loves it. Of course, he is still recognized and gets approached sometimes, but it’s less intense than how it is in America.

Reprising His Role

Here is a fun fact that many of you will be pleased to hear. Not many people know, but Macaulay actually reunited with his iconic Home Alone role, in a slightly different way. You know, the part he tried to distance himself from for the past 20 years. In the true Macaulay style, he did it creatively. You can find the video on YouTube, where he shows Kevin as an adult, still dealing with the trauma of being left Home Alone.

Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone eating a bowl of ice cream next to him doing the same thing today
Source: MoviestillsDB.com, Copyright: 20th Century Fox / YouTube

These days, Macaulay Culkin has cleaned up his act. He smokes less and is healthier than ever. He pays more attention to his appearance and doesn’t look like he’s on crack anymore. He even starred in a new comedy-drama directed by Seth Green called Changeland.

#RelationshipGoals

With his life back on track, Culkin also found love. He has been dating actress Brenda Song, but they also tried keeping their relationship under the radar. After secluding themselves for several years, Macaulay was a guest on the Anna Faris Is Unqualified podcast and shared details about his relationship. The pair were co-stars on Changeland and Culkin explained she spoils him:

Macaulay Culkin and Brenda Song leaving Paris
Source: Flickr

“I’m with a lady right now, and she is like so good to me that they feel like blows. Like, she just does nice things, and I feel like I’m almost like, at first, I didn’t know how to be treated well in that kind of way.” It’s really wonderful to see how great he is doing now.

His Lifestyle Brand

In addition to his professional and personal life, Culkin continues to venture out and pursue new passions. His creativity never stops, and he founded a new brand called Bunny Ears. The company’s website focuses on modern lifestyle choices and supports mental wellness and healthy relationships.

Macaulay Culkin sitting with bunny ears on near a fireplace
Source: bunnyears.com

The brand is inspired by the child star’s rocky personal life. Besides for making funny, and sometimes strange videos, they sell bunny ears! You can order your very own pair right now! They also write light-hearted articles with interesting content. I highly recommend checking it out! I’m glad that he got his life together and is continuing to do what he loves.