Why Macaulay Culkin Took A Break From Acting

American actor Macaulay Culkin may be one of the best-known film stars of his generation. Having been in the acting industry since age 4, Culkin was only 9 when he starred in the first "Home Alone" movie and became a household name shortly afterward. Named by VH1 in 2005 as the second greatest child star of all time, Culkin was also nominated for a Golden Globe for his appearance in the iconic Christmas film. He also won that year's Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a film role.

"Home Alone" (and its sequel, "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," released two years later in 1992) may be his most recognizable performance. However, Culkin continued to act for years afterward, including in "My Girl" in 1991, "The Good Son" in 1993, and the comedy film "Richie Rich" in 1994, per IMDb. Like many other young actors in the industry, Culkin eventually decided to take a (temporary) break from acting in his teenage years. Fans may be surprised to learn exactly why he made such a life-altering decision. 

Macaulay Culkin quit acting to seek a normal childhood

In a 2018 profile on his younger brother Kieran, Vanity Fair reported that Macaulay Culkin decided to leave the acting industry at age 14 in 1994, shortly after he appeared as the lead in Donald Petrie's comedy film "Richie Rich." He took this step essentially because he felt tired of the industry and his parents' control over him. "I'm done, guys," he recalled telling his parents. "Hope you all made your money because there is no more coming from me." This led to a bitter court battle in which the teenager took his parents to court in an effort to prevent them from having control over his $17 million earnings. 

The Culkins do not have a great relationship with their father, Kit (who has eight children, two of whom are deceased). Macaulay, for instance, has spoken about how he was abusive to them growing up. In a 2019 profile with Esquire, Macaulay portrayed his father as a controlling, bullying man who pushed his sons into the acting business because he couldn't achieve success there himself.

"You hurt people a lot, you know," he wrote in an open letter to his father, per Vanity Fair. "I am not just talking about your family and the other important people around you; you hurt our name. I should know ... You made a lot of people cry. You made my mother cry."

Macaulay Culkin originally intended for his Hollywood exit to be permanent

Although Macaulay Culkin has since returned to the screen — most notably as part of the 10th season of FX's "American Horror Story" — he didn't always want that to be the case. As he told Esquire, acting "started feeling like a chore. I started vocalizing that and not being heard: I was saying, 'I wanna go to school.'" Furthermore, he also told Time magazine in 2001, "When I stopped, I just thought it was over, and I was never, ever going to do it again ... I was just hoping to disappear off the face of the earth." However, he added, the six years he spent away from the industry taught him that "you can't back out of this." 

During his break, Culkin married his girlfriend, fellow actor Rachel Miner, in 1998 when they were both 18. However, the marriage did not last; they separated in 2000 and officially divorced two years later. Culkin and Brenda Song have been together since 2017 and welcomed a son in 2021. Currently, Culkin and Song seem to be in a good place. "I'm with a lady right now, and she is so good to me that they feel like blows," he told CNN in 2018. "She just does nice things, and I feel like at first, I didn't know how to be treated well in that kind of way. It was a strange, almost foreign concept."