Macaulay Culkin’s disappearance from showbiz didn’t go unnoticed. However, no one would have suspected the sad reason behind the child star’s sudden move at the peak of his career.
“Home Alone” star Macaulay Culkin became one of the most sought-after child stars in the nineties. But just when the world could not have enough of him, the idol suddenly disappeared from the screens, cutting short a promising future in showbiz.
Although he’s made headlines on occasions ever since, for good and bad reasons alike, the resulting publicity was nothing compared to his years of stardom. So why exactly did this once-promising young actor abandon the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a life of reclusion?
Let’s Start From The Beginning
Macaulay Culkin landed the planet on August 26 1980 to a family of nine in New York City. As the third of seven kids born to an actor, the youngster found himself in the spotlight from the young age of four.
His parents Christopher “Kit” Culkin, a former Broadway actor, and Patricia Brentup capitalized on the young lad’s passion for the arts. At the time, Kit had all but given up on his acting dreams and took a job as a sacristan in a catholic church after recording low success on Broadway.
Hence, he probably saw Culkin’s passion as an opportunity to live his dreams vicariously through his son. By the age of four, the actor was already being dragged to auditions and making appearances in stage productions.
He also studied the performing arts to further broaden his knowledge. He received training at Balanchine’s School of the American Ballet despite his young age.
Ultimately, Culkin found himself making headway in various television commercials throughout his early years.
Road To Stardom
Macaulay Culkin made his screen debut at the age of eight in the 1988 movie “Rocket Gibraltar.” Barely a year later, the child actor cemented his name in people’s hearts with his role in “Uncle Buck.”
The following year, the all-time favorite Hollywood child actor’s career took an overwhelming turn after landing his role on “Home Alone.”
Playing Kevin McCalister in the holiday comedy remains his most notable role to date. It also represents his dramatic rise to global stardom. The film became the highest-grossing film of the year, spawning various sequels in the years that followed including the 2021 release “Home Sweet Home Alone.”
He went on to star in “My Girl,” “The Good Son,” and “Richie Rich,” among other favorite 90s movies. However, his increasing success spelled doom for the child star in his personal life.
Growing Up Famous
At the peak of his career, Culkin reportedly earned paychecks worth millions, unknown to the actor, as his dad managed all the funds. Notably, Kit had enough to quit his job as a sacristan and become his son’s manager.
Managing the most sought-after child actor in the world also had its perks. One of them was making Kit the 48th most powerful person in Hollywood. But the father of eight abused those powers.
Using his standing, he managed to push his other kids Christian, Dakota, Kieran Shane, Quinn, and Rory into the spotlight, sometimes bullying producers to achieve that.
Soon, his name was rumored to be blacklisted. But that didn’t stop Kit from laying his hands on his child’s money as his legal dad and manager.
A Troubled Kid Behind The Cameras
Eventually, Culkin’s success, which should have been appreciated as the family’s ticket to affluence became a source of discord.
The boy’s achievements became a constant reminder to Kit that his son excelled at everything he failed at his whole life even before turning ten.
In a 2018 interview, Culkin admitted such thinking bred jealousy towards him in his dad’s heart. This pervaded him so much that he began physically and mentally abusing the child actor.
The beloved showbiz icon endured his dad’s tortures behind closed doors. Yet, he still managed to put up the best performances in front of the cameras, with the world in the dark about his dreadful secret.
The Ugly Side Of Family
After twenty years together, Culkin’s parents, Kit, and Patricia, who never wedded legally, announced their split. The breakup of the influential duo resulted in a bitter battle for their kids’ custody.
The actor’s mom accused her partner of excessive drinking, unfaithfulness, and physical abuse. Following a heated battle, Patricia emerged victorious, gaining custody of the children who reportedly took her side during the proceedings.
However, another war brewed soon after. The parents began battling over the then sixteen-year-old’s fortune.
The publicity surrounding their feud opened Culkin to the reality that he was worth a whopping $50 million. His dad strived to hide that fact from him his whole life by forbidding him from reading newspapers.
Seeing the situation becoming uglier by the day, the teenager was forced to file for emancipation. With the court’s approval, he cut his parents off as his legal guardians, giving him full control of his career and money. He also sued his parents for 13 million Euros.
In a later interview, the former child star admitted the move was the only way to reclaim his fortune from his dad.
Until then, Kit served as his manager and failed to release the money to his family despite knowing they were about to be evicted from their home. The father-son duo has remained estranged ever since.
Having experienced this ugly side of what fame and money does to people, the teenager decided to quit acting altogether. He returned to high school afterward, hoping to add some normalcy to what was left of his childhood.
Life After Fame
Following his retirement from Hollywood, the once-beloved child actor lived through some troubled times. He once described the phase as playing with some fire.
In the early 00s, rumors of drug addiction plagued this actor and his seemingly shabby appearance did little to curb them. Then in 2004, the cops busted him with 17.3 grams of marijuana and other controlled substances without prescription in Oklahoma.
He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor drug charges during his 2005 trial and received a one-year deferred sentence on each. He later debunked the rumors of his addictions
That same year, Culkin, who forged a lasting friendship with Michael Jackson as a child became entangled in his molestation trial. He vehemently defended the legendary King of Pop during the trial, tagging the allegations of child abuse as absolutely ridiculous.
Notably, Culkin is a godfather to Michael Jackson’s two oldest kids, Prince Joseph Michael Jackson and Paris Jackson.
Macaulay Culkin’s Personal Life And Relationships
At eighteen, Macaulay Culkin found love in actress Rachel Miner. The duo tied the knot in 1998. However, their union lasted barely two years, ending in 2000. The former couple finalized their divorce in 2002, marking the official end of their whirlwind romance.
Culkin moved on to actress Mila Kunis, whom he dated for almost a decade before going their separate ways. The actress described their breakup as a horrible one.
Next, the 41-year-old began dating actress Brenda Song. The duo, who have been together since 2017 welcomed a son in April 2021.
Macaulay Culkin and Brenda Song named their baby Dakota, after Culkin’s late sister who tragically died in a car accident in 2009.
The lovebirds announced their engagement in January 2022, leaving the world anticipating their upcoming nuptials and perhaps Culkin’s reinstatement as a showbiz favorite.
This isn’t to say the former Hollywood heartthrob has completely vanished from the screens. He made a comeback with the 2003 film “Party Monster” following a long hiatus. He also appeared in 2004s “Saved” and 2007’s “Sex And Breakfast,” as well as various commercials.
But the world would forever remember him as the mischievous, clever kid who first spent Christmas alone in 1990, defending his home from bandits after his family accidentally left him home alone and embarked on a vacation.