Whatever Happened To Macaulay Culkin?

During the early 1990s, there was no bigger child star than Macaulay Culkin. After a scene-stealing role in John Hughes' 1989 comedy "Uncle Buck," Hughes cast Culkin as Kevin McCallister in 1990's "Home Alone," which he wrote and produced. Culkin, just 10 at the time, famously played a resourceful youngster whose harried parents forgot to bring him on their vacation, leaving him all by his lonesome to defend the family home against a criminal incursion by two inept burglars (memorably portrayed by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). More big movies followed, including the 1991 coming-of-age drama "My Girl," the 1992 "Home Alone" sequel, the 1994 fantasy "The Pagemaster," and, that same year, comic book adaptation "Richie Rich." Meanwhile, the pre-teen star also made headlines for his eyebrow-raising friendship with pop superstar Michael Jackson. 

Child stars' careers have a tendency to be brief, and that was the case with Culkin; after a five-year period of dizzying big-screen success, in 1995 he stepped away from the spotlight before re-emerging years later to establish himself as a grown-up actor in his own right.

While Culkin remains best known for the roles he played before reaching puberty, his journey since then has been even more fascinating. To learn more, keep on reading to find out whatever happened to Macaulay Culkin.

He took a break from acting at age 14

The 1994 movie "Richie Rich" was Macaulay Culkin's last hurrah as a child star, completed shortly before the affects of adolescence began kicking in. "I did 14 movies in six years, which is more than two a year, and just kind of pumping them out," Culkin explained during a 2004 appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live." "And I was at this point where I really wanted to take a break ... I always joke, 'Yeah, I retired at 14.'"

Culkin made a lot of movies, and he also made a lot money making them. After all those years of solid work, the actor felt he deserved a little time off to enjoy the fruits of his labors. "I wanted a summer vacation for the first time in, you know, forever," he told Time.

Culkin was 15 when his parents separated, and their messy split allowed him the opportunity to extricate both of them from his finances. Speaking to Esquire in 2020 about news reports from that time that he'd become an emancipated minor, he explained the situation wasn't quite as it had been reported. "It's always misconstrued, that I 'emancipated' myself from my parents," he told the publication. "I legally took my parents' names off of my trust fund and found an executor, someone who would look over my finances, just in case anyone wanted to stick their f***ing pinkie in the pie. But the next thing you know, the story was that I divorced my parents."

He got married at 17 but it didn't last

Macaulay Culkin was just 17-years-old when he married fellow actor Rachel Miner, who was also 17, in 1998. Because of their ages, both required parental consent in order to legally marry. Like Culkin, Miner had also been a child actor, with credits including the soap opera "Guilding Light," and playing the sister of Anne Frank in a Broadway revival of "The Diary of Anne Frank." "We dated four times before we got married," Culkin later told New York Magazine in 2001. "She'd broken up with me three times before, and so the last time we were going out I said, 'Marry me now before you dump me again.'"

The marriage didn't last long, as the couple separated in 2000. Shortly after the separation, Culkin admitted their relationship was shrouded in uncertainty. "It's complicated," he told The Independent. "I can't say what the future has in store. We're still friends. We're trying to figure out if we can live together on a day-to-day level." They never did reconcile, and finalized their divorced in 2002. "The papers have been drawn up and are waiting to be signed," a friend of Culkin's told Fox News at the time. "They were really in love and everyone was against it, especially the parents. But it was a crazy time, and they just did it." 

Appearing on "Larry King Live" in 2004, Culkin was philosophical about his failed marriage. "Why doesn't any marriage work?" he mused.

He returned to acting by making his West End debut

After taking a six years break, Macaulay Culkin felt the urge to return to acting. "As a senior in high school you figure out what you want to do with your life," Culkin told BBC News. "I asked myself if I wanted to get back into acting and thought: 'Yes but under my own terms and nothing like it was before.'" While fans likely expected him to restart his movie career, Culkin made an unexpected left turn by venturing into theater.

His first acting gig after his lengthy hiatus was a role in a 2000 production of "Madame Melville" in London's West End. "I am not revving to do a big Hollywood comeback," he said of his decision to resume his acting career onstage instead of onscreen. "All I want is to do good things with good people," Culkin added. "It doesn't matter if it is a play or film. I just want to do my own thing." Culkin, then 20, earned excellent reviews for his performance as a 15-year-old student in Paris, and the play was a success. The following year, the show made the jump over the pond, with Culkin reprising his role when "Madame Melville" was mounted off-Broadway in New York. 

During his 2004 chat with Larry King, Culkin said he was anxious to return to the stage. "I love theater," he declared. "I'll do it in a heartbeat ... it's my favorite form."

Macaulay Culkin established himself as an adult actor with Party Monster and Saved!

Following his stage debut in London, Macaulay Culkin then returned to movies. His first project since "Richie Rich" was far more edgier fare than the films of his childhood: the 2003 indie film "Party Monster," in which he portrayed real life NYC "club kid" and convicted murderer Michael Alig. As Culkin explained in an interview with Barbara Walters for ABC News' "20/20," "Party Monster" reflected the kind of roles he saw himself taking on an adult. "I don't want to do what I did before. Before it was you know, it was like people's livelihoods were on the line ... they like built an industry out of me," he said. 

Culkin followed that film with a role in "Saved!" In the 2004 satire of born-again Christianity, Culkin played a wisecracking teenager in a wheelchair attending a faith-based high school. 

"Party Monster" and "Saved!" demonstrated Culkin wasn't interested in fulfilling people's expectations. "I have no control over people's perceptions of me at all [...] and that's one of the things I decided very early on is that I can't control the way other people think of me," he told Larry King. "All I can do, especially when it comes to my career is go out there and do cool unique kinds of things."

He was arrested on drug charges

Just as Macaulay Culkin was re-establishing his acting career as an adult, an unfortunate encounter with the law threatened to kibosh everything. In September 2004, Culkin was a passenger in a car pulled over for speeding outside Oklahoma City. According to CNN, a police search of the vehicle discovered 17.3 grams of marijuana (which was illegal in the state), eight Xanax pills and 16 clonazepam pills (a sedative); Culkin conceded he did not have a prescription for those pills. He was then arrested and hit with two charges: possession of marijuana, and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. Culkin was later released after meeting a $4,000 bail. According to the police report (via The Smoking Gun), Culkin's unusual demeanor during the traffic stop raised suspicions. "[Culkin] appeared to have a very nervous look on his face, appeared to be very pale and he had red watery bloodshot eyes and a very stressed look about his person," the report stated.

Culkin entered a guilty plea to both charges; he was sentenced to two one-year sentences, both of which were deferred, in addition to being fined $540.

Years later, Culkin insisted that tabloid reports in the wake of his arrest, claiming he'd become a drug addict, were wildly overblown. "I was not pounding six grand of heroin every month or whatever," he told The Guardian in 2016.

He wrote a semi-autobiographical novel

Following his arrest, Macaulay Culkin's next major project was neither a movie, nor a TV show or a play. Instead, he ventured into writing, authoring the experimental, quasi-autobiographical novel "Junior" in 2006. Written in a sort of stream-of-concsiousness style, the book presented vignettes apparently lifted from Culkin's life, focusing on his fraught relationship with his father, Kit Culkin. "It came from the idea of everyone wanting me to write a memoir," Culkin said of the book's origins in an interview with New York Magazine. In that interview, Culkin was pragmatic about how he expected "Junior" to be received. "I'm not expecting the American literary community to welcome me with open arms," he said. "To them I'm just some schmuck kid who wrote some book."

Culkin did, however, approach the book with seriousness, seeing it as a way for him to try to come to terms with his fame and the complicated role that his father played in his life. "This is so surreal for me, this whole thing, it's the most intimidating thing I have ever done to kind of just throw it all out there," Culkin told ABC News.

Despite becoming a published author, Culkin was loathe to describe himself that way when he appeared on "Larry King Live" in 2006 to promote his new tome. "I don't even know," he said. "I don't even know how to define myself. I'm a person who writes. It's something I enjoy, and hopefully people enjoy it as well."

Macaulay Culkin starred in a short-lived TV series with a biblical basis

In 2009, Macaulay Culkin returned to the spotlight when he joined the cast of NBC television drama "Kings." The series' concept was an audacious one, set in a fictional, modern-day monarchy and loosely inspired by the Old Testament story of King David. Culkin was cast as the exiled nephew of the king (played by Ian McShane), with Dylan Baker playing the father of Culkin's character. "My favorite thing with Dylan was when they cast Macaulay Culkin as his son," fellow "Kings" star Becky Ann Baker said in Vulture's oral history of the show. "There's a scene where you're seeing the two of them watch something, and the camera's looking at them in profile side by side. They look exactly alike. They have the same-shaped nose and cheeks. It was amazing casting."

The show earned solid reviews, but ultimately failed to attract an audience. Ratings, in fact, were so terrible that NBC rescheduled the show to Saturday nights before cancelling it entirely. 

Series creator Michael Green confirmed the show had been axed, in a lengthy missive he wrote to fans of the show. He insisted there was no nefarious agenda behind the series' demise. "The reasons for its cancellation were nothing more than the low ratings," he said, as reported by Court Historian.

He made his pro wrestling debut — and nearly became a WWE writer

In 2009, Macaulay Culkin delved into the world of professional wrestling. In a backstage bit for the WWE, wrestler Chavo Guerrero furiously searched for diminutive rival Hornswaggle. Thinking he'd finally found him, Guerrero opened a door, only to be smacked in the forehead by a can of paint swinging from a rope — the same trick that Kevin McCallister used to foil the Wet Bandits in "Home Alone." When he regained consciousness, Guerrero discovered the perpetrator of the prank to be Culkin, who deadpanned, "That's not funny." 

In 2017, Culkin sat ringside at a Bar Wrestling match, and jumped in with a bit of "Home Alone"-style interference. He also did a bit of thumb wrestling at WrestleMania 34; then, in 2019 he returned to the WWE to appear on the league's talk show, "The Edge & Christian Show," as Culk Hogan, parodying wrestling legend Hulk Hogan.

During a 2022 appearance on actor/wrestling fan Freddie Prinze Jr.'s "Wrestling with Freddie" podcast, Culkin revealed there was a point when he was tempted to join the WWE as a writer. "Oh man, there were times where I wanted to, like kind of just find six months of my life at the very least just to kinda go in there and stuff," he said, as reported by Essentially Sports. "I will say I kind of regret not [writing for WWE] ... I just never got around to it, there was always something."

He starred in an experimental film shot entirely on an iPhone

Among the stranger credits in Macaulay Culkin's IMDb profile is "The Wrong Ferrari," a surrealistic 2011 movie that's most notable for being filmed entirely with an iPhone. The film was the brainchild of Adam Green, one half of the musical duo Moldy Peaches. He enlisted his famous friends — an eclectic crew including singer-songwriter Davendra Barnhart, actor Alia Shawcat, Moldy Peaches guitarist Jack Dishel, and Culkin — to appear. 

As Green told Vulture, he came up with the idea while playing around with his new iPhone during a Moldy Peaches tour of Europe. "I got an idea for a movie, so I started to write a scene a week and film it on tour. The scenes were written on index cards and the actors got them the day of shooting. They didn't really know where I was going with it," he explained. According to Green, he and Culkin had become friendly, and the actor decided to tag along while Green shot the movie in various European locales where the group performed. As Green accompanied Culkin throughout Europe, he came to realize just how famous he actually was. "I don't think there's anywhere he's not immediately recognized," Green said. "People got excited."

Culkin reunited with Green for Green's bonkers 2016 take on "Aladdin." As Culkin told The Guardian in 2016, Green's "Aladdin" proved to be a slightly less-experimental affair. "He actually wrote a script this time," Culkin said.

He formed a comedy punk band but it wasn't well received

In 2013, Macaulay Culkin posted a video on YouTube depicting himself eating a slice of pizza for four minutes and 27 seconds. While some may have assumed it was conceptual performance art, it was actually the precursor for the announcement that Culkin had formed a band, The Pizza Underground. A riff on The Velvet Underground, Culkin's outfit combined music with comedy — and Culkin's virtuosity on the kazoo — by performing parody versions of Velvet Underground songs, but with pizza-themed lyrics

Culkin had ambitious plans for the group. In 2014, he announced they had even planned several tour dates in the U.K. The Pizza Underground's British tour did not go well. During a show in Nottingham, one of Culkin's kazoo solos was cut short when disgruntled audience members began hurling full pints of beer at the band. According to The Independent, Culkin stormed off the stage after just 15 minutes. The band subsequently cancelled all remaining tour dates. 

In 2016, Culkin announced The Pizza Underground was releasing its first album — which would also be its last. "It's intense, we have a children's choir, I hired a 120-piece symphony. It's the other side of the coin, all of our stuff is like jingly-jangly and this is this big, grand lush sound," he told the Press Association, via the New Zealand Herald. "Essentially that's going to be the end of the band and this is our gift to the world — 'thanks for enjoying our silly pizza band.'"

Macaulay Culkin launched his own media empire by parodying Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop

With The Pizza Underground no more, in 2017 Macaulay Culkin launched Bunny Ears, which Culkin described as being like a cross between Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop lifestyle site, and the news-parodying website The Onion. The site is bursting with articles reflecting Culkin's skewed sense of humor, ranging from "Macaulay Culkin Ranks His Favorite Macaulay Culkin Movies," to "Romantic Mixtape Songs That Say 'I Wanna Do Butt Stuff.'" "There's a hole in the 'celebrity lifestyle' articles market, and we're filling it with fun, unique satire," Culkin told Dazed. As the company expanded, Bunny Ears also evolved to include a podcast and various live events.

In 2018, Culkin took to his site to reveal he wanted to legally change his middle name, and solicited suggestions from fans. As Unilad reported, he winnowed those down to his five top favorites: TheMcRibIsBack, Kieran, Shark Week, Publicity Stunt, and Macaulay Culkin. He went with the latter, and announced he was legally changing his name to Macaulay Macaulay Culkin Culkin.

The following year, Culkin — wearing his signature bunny ears, of course — was invited to ring the closing NASDAQ bell on behalf of his company.

He reprised his Home Alone character in a TV commercial

Macaulay Culkin has spent the majority of his life trying to put distance between himself and the "Home Alone" character he played when he was just 10-years-old. By 2018, Culkin must have felt as if he'd accomplished his mission, and was comfortable enough to reprise the role in a clever TV commercial for Google Home.

In the spot, a grown-up Culkin awakens in the McCallister home, only to realize that he has the place all to himself. He then proceeds to recreate various scenes from the movie, including jumping on his bed — although that's cut short when the middle-aged Culkin hurts his back. He also settles in to watch his favorite movie, the not-actually-real "Angels with Filthy Souls," and then uses dialogue from the film to communicate with a pizza-delivery guy (via Google Home, of course).

Although Culkin was cool with recreating a few scenes from "Home Alone" for the ad, fans should not expect him to ever recreate his iconic facial expression from the film. Appearing on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Culkin lamented that he's constantly besieged with requests to make "the face," something he refuses to do. "I've already been there, done that already, guys," he explained. "I'm 37 now." He also revealed he's had numerous requests from people over the years asking him to sit down and watch "Home Alone" with them. "Which is, like, both flattering and creepy," he added.

Macaulay Culkin entered the world of American Horror Story

Macaulay Culkin placed even more space between his grown-up persona and his "Home Alone" role when he was cast in the "Double Feature" season of FX fright anthology series "American Horror Story" in 2021. In one of the two stories in that season, Culkin played an acid-tongued sex worker; earning critical praise for his performance.

Interestingly, Paris Jackson — daughter of Michael Jackson, and Culkin's goddaughter — was cast in an episode of the "American Horror Story" spinoff, "American Horror Stories." Prior to her audition, Jackson asked Culkin for some advice that would help her land the role. "He said overdo it at certain points," she recalled in an interview with E! News. "Kind of like, overact and kind of make it theatrical." 

As it happened, both actors were shooting their parts for both shows simultaneously. Each later shared selfies on social media from their respective sets. "I sent him a picture of my face covered in blood and then he sent me a picture of blood in his hair," Jackson told E! News. "It was cute."

He had children with his partner Brenda Song

After ending his long-term relationship with Mila Kunis in 2011, Macaulay Culkin eventually began seeing Brenda Song, a fellow child actor who'd spent several seasons on the Disney Channel hit series "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." In a 2020 interview with Esquire, Culkin revealed that the couple were looking to start a family. "We practice a lot," he joked. "We're figuring it out, making the timing work. Because nothing turns you on more than when your lady comes into the room and says, 'Honey, I'm ovulating.'"

The couple eventually got their timing all figured out. In the spring of 2021, they welcomed their first child, son Dakota. They wasted little time in expanding their family even further; during a red-carpet interview in March 2023, Culkin's brother — "Succession" star Kieran Culkin — revealed that his brother and Song had recently had a second baby. That child was subsequently revealed to be another son called Carson,  born in late 2022. 

During that same Esquire interview, Song had nothing but sweet things to say about the father of her children. "You can't be around him and not be happy," she said. "People don't realize how incredibly kind and loyal and sweet and smart he is."