We knew him from the role he played in Home Alone Films. The innocent looking, blue eyed kid stole million hearts from his performance in Home alone movies. Fondly known as “Mack” in his friend circle, he first came into showbiz at 4 years, appearing in a string of Off-Broadway shows such as the New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker.
In 1990, writer John Hughes turned his finished Home Alone script over to director Chris Columbus with a suggestion to consider Culkin for the lead. Though Macaulay was the first kid Columbus saw, he was skeptical about having him in the lead and saw over 200 other possible actors and he admitted that no one came as close to being as good as Culkin.
By the callback interview, Mack had memorized two scenes, and Columbus was sure he found his “Kevin McCallister”. The movie grossed more than $285 million in the US alone, becoming one of the highest grossing movies of all time and making Macaulay Culkin one of the biggest movie stars of the time.
His next big project was My Girl (1991) in which he played a boy who seems to be allergic to everything. The film featured his first kiss and despite some controversy over the ending it turned out to be a great hit. People had started to realize by then that Culkin was a star in making and had a bright future awaiting him.
By the time he turned 14, he did a bunch of flops like The Pagemaster (1994), Getting Even with Dad (1994) and Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994) but was heftily paid for those movies. He was paid $8 million for the last two, making him the highest paid child actor of that time.
By then many people speculated his decline and some even called him “overrated”. He was certainly no longer that cute tiny kid they saw in Home Alone (1990). Problems did not end here for him as in 1995 his parents, who were never married, separated and started a greedy legal battle over the custody of their kids and Mack’s fortune.
In 1996, Culkin had reportedly said he wouldn’t accept any roles until his parents settled their custody dispute. That case would not be resolved until April 1997 when Kit Culkin relinquished control to Brentrup.
In 1998, Macaulay married actress Rachel Miner, but separated in 2000 because Rachel wanted to start a family and Mack wanted to get back into acting. There had been a gap of eight years since his last movie Richie Rich.
He made a comeback on stage in 2001, appearing in a London production of “Madame Melville”. He portrayed Michael Alig in Party Monster and with an estimated fortune of $17 million he clearly never has to work again, if the roles don’t appeal to him.
Macaulay Culkin has seen it all. From once being the highest paid child actor in the world to fighting to get back decent roles in the movies, his life has been a perfect case study of how child actors, who get into movie bizz by luck, must not take things granted and continue to strive for the best as for many this does not long very long.