Macaulay Culkin is one of the most fascinating actors in history. He achieved mega-fame at a young age with Home Alone and Home Alone 2, turning him into a bona fide child star. But his immense success often came at the expense of his personal happiness.
In fact, Culkin’s life has been marked with family tragedies, serious romantic drama, and the occasional clarification that he is not dead (no matter what the internet says). With respect to Culkin, we’re pretty sure that the story of his actual life is more interesting and engaging than any of his onscreen adventures.
To help prove it, we did a deep dive into this actor’s life. Here is the truth about Macaulay Culkin. Just make sure that reading it doesn’t cause you to leave a kid at home during your holiday vacation!
A humble upbringing
Famous Hollywood actors often come from rich and privileged backgrounds. Some are even Hollywood royalty, with generations of experience on the big screen.
That wasn’t the case with Macaulay Culkin, though. His family was thoroughly middle class, and his parents had no special Hollywood connections. In fact, Culkin originally went into acting hoping to become successful and financially help his family out.
While they had no history with Hollywood, acting certainly seems to be in their genes. Macaulay’s brothers Kieran and Rory went in to star in their own major Hollywood films.
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An interesting financial history
Home Alone was an instant and iconic hit, ultimately grossing nearly $500 million according to Box Office Mojo. Because of this, some Culkin fans were shocked to learn that he only earned $100,000 for that movie.
However, its success gave him leverage in negotiating for future roles. Eventually, he was making around $8 million per movie. Not that he knew all the details, though!
At the time, Culkin’s father Kit served as his manager. He helped Macaulay land some major roles, but he also drove many producers and other filmmakers up the wall with his meddling. And both mom and dad tried to hide Maucalay’s money from him in an attempt to give him a more normal childhood.
But in the case of his father, there may have been a darker motivation at play.
Dark family drama
Kit took pride in helping Macaulay achieve Hollywood success. But it turns out that Kit was abusive and controlling, often clashing with his wife Patricia. He allegedly assaulted her when she was pregnant and threatened to kill her multiple times.
They got divorced in 1995 and Patricia won full custody of the children. Meanwhile, Macaulay ceased all contact with his dad, and that continues to this day. Although occasionally he and Keiran will dish about the man. As Uproxx reports, this includes stories of Kit only bathing about once per year.
Talk about a dad who stinks!
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Culkin’s relationship with Michael Jackson
Part of being famous is that you can easily get caught in the drama of others. And in the case of Macaulay Culkin, that meant being caught in the web of rumors and allegations surrounding Michael Jackson.
There were persistent rumors that Jackson molested children when they visited his Neverland Ranch. This eventually culminated in a high-profile case in 2005 in which the King of Pop was acquitted of all charges.
Where does Culkin come in? Culkin became friends with the singer after the young actor appeared in The Nutcracker ballet. Culkin later appeared in the music video for Jackon’s “Black and White” and even became the godfather to the singer’s daughter, Paris.
During the trial, Culkin spoke in Jackson’s defense. After the singer’s death, Culkin clarified all the rumors in an interview with Esquire. “He never did anything to me. I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back.”
Unlucky in love
With his early acting success, you might expect Culkin to be married as he approaches middle age. However, this actor has been famously unlucky in love on multiple occasions.
While attending a private high school in Manhattan, Culkin met Rachel Miner. Things moved fast and the two ended up getting married in 1998 while still teenagers. It wasn’t meant to be, though, and they got divorced in 2000.
In 2002, Culkin began dating That 70’s Show star Mila Kunis. Things seemed pretty serious, and they were together for nearly a decade. Kunis apparently dumped him, later telling Dax Shepard on his Armchair Expert podcast that “I had a horrible breakup…I f–ked up. I was an a–hole in my 20s and I’ll be the first to admit it. …Yeah, you know what? I was a d–k.”
He’d later date All My Children star Jordan Lane Price, but they broke up in 2013. Fortunately, he began dating Disney Channel star Brenda Song in 2017. Things seem pretty serious, with the couple announcing the birth of their daughter Dakota earlier this year.
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Persistent drug rumors
These days, it’s impossible to talk about Macaulay Culkin without talking about those nasty drug rumors. Back in 2004, Culkin was arrested and police found drugs in his car. Around 12 years later, photos began circulating in tabloids and online showing Culkin looking very pale and gaunt. Eventually, fans put two and two together and convinced themselves Culkin had a terrible, crippling drug habit.
Eventually, a reluctant Culkin spoke to The Guardian about these rumors. While he didn’t explicitly deny drug use, he did clarify that “no, I was not pounding six grand of heroin every month or whatever.” And when asked if this was part of a larger story the actor might one day wish to share, he responded with “perhaps.”
A whole new Macaulay Culkin
After that early success as an actor, Culkin largely stayed out of the public eye for many years. Sometimes, he even stayed out of the country: he loved staying in Paris, for example, because he was less likely to be mobbed by paparazzi.
But in recent years, Culkin has reinvented himself in some interesting and sometimes hilarious ways. For example, he created a Velvet Underground tribute band named Pizza Underground. True to their name, this band swaps famous lyrics for pizza-themed lyrics, hands out pizza to fans, and sometimes even using a pizza box as a drum.
His biggest venture, though, has been creating a lifestyle website and brand called Bunny Ears. It’s a parody of other lifestyle sites and has some hilarious articles on pop culture, comics, video games, and more. Culkin also produces podcasts and videos and finds the time to appear in different YouTube videos.
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