Macaulay Culkin says he turned down a role in ‘Big Bang Theory’ three times


This post is just a reminder, to me, that I have no idea what Macaulay Culkin has done for the past two decades, really. I know he dated Mila Kunis for years. And… that’s really all I know about him. Does he even live in LA? All of the photos we have of him from the past five years are pics of Mac on the streets of New York. How has he supported himself financially all this time? Did all of the money he made as a child actor really get wisely invested, to the point where he doesn’t have to work at all now? The reason I’m so curious is because Macaulay chatted this week on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast (which exists?!?) and he spoke about how he was offered a role in The Big Bang Theory, and he turned it down flat repeatedly. Like, all of those actors and gazillionaires now. Bad move?

Macaulay Culkin was almost one of TV’s biggest stars. Culkin revealed in a new interview that he was approached to star in The Big Bang Theory but turned it down — three times. The Home Alone actor, 37, appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast where he admitted to passing on the CBS hit, though he doesn’t specify which role.

“They pursued me for The Big Bang Theory,” Culkin said. “And I said no. It was kind of like, the way the pitch was, ‘Alright, these two astrophysicist nerds and a pretty girl lives with them. Yoinks!’ That was the pitch. And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m cool, thanks.’ And then they came back at me again, and I said, ‘No, no, no. Again, flattered, but no.’ Then they came back at me again, and even my manager was like twisting my arm.”

But despite the paycheck he could’ve collected, Culkin doesn’t regret passing on the show.

“I’d have hundreds of millions of dollars right now if I did that gig,” Culkin said. “At the same time, I’d be bashing my head against the wall.”

[From People]

I understand how true artists would never deign to take a role just for a paycheck, even when it’s that good network-TV money. But again, does Mac have a lot of money saved? I’m really asking. I think I would say some dumb “Bazinga!” sh-t every day if it meant that I would have $100,000,000 in the bank. That being said, I kind of doubt Mac was offered the role of Sheldon, which is played by Jim Parsons. For some reason, I just don’t see that. I bet Mac was offered the role Johnny Galecki plays. He could have all that money… but he didn’t want to sell out and spend more than a decade saying stupid crap on TV. But here’s another question: do you really think Mac has a reputation as being a guy who would never sell-out? I mean…


Photos courtesy of Backgrid and Avalon Red.

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43 Responses to “Macaulay Culkin says he turned down a role in ‘Big Bang Theory’ three times”

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  1. Ashley says:

    I believe him. I think because he was so affected by childhood stardom.

    • Aims says:

      Yeah his dad was a son of a bitch. Apparently he was a nightmare of a stage parent. I’m sure that was traumatic as a child.

      • petee says:

        Yes he’s Dad is a jerk.As for the rest of the article the Sheldon and Leonard character’s were rock solid from the beginning so I think he was offered one of the other two.In the original pilot Penny wasn’t even Penny.And who knew that show would take off the way it did?It took years for the three main character’s to earn what they asked for and getting now.

  2. Muffy says:

    He’s worked steadily as an adult, doing voiceovers and smaller movies. He was paid like $8million for Richie Rich so I’m sure some of that money got socked away.

    • raptor says:

      He also has a podcast and humor website, both called Bunny Ears. His Twitter gives me life. I love Macaulay Culkin.

  3. Muffy says:

    He’s worked steadily as an adult, doing voiceovers and smaller movies. He was paid like $8million for Richie Rich so I’m sure some of that money got socked away.

  4. PPP says:

    Man, that description of Big Bang Theory is on POINT.

    • Erinn says:

      Right? I actually laughed at that.

    • KK2 says:

      Yes. And this made me like Culkin even more because BBT is a terrible, unfunny show.

      I completely believe him. He has actively avoided too much public attention for years, until pretty recently he has come out a little more. But he has done projects here and there, things that he personally find amusing or for his friends. I don’t think he’d want the grind of a network tv show, especially a crappy one.

      • BengalCat😻 says:

        He’s in a Velvet Underground cover band too! Not sure if they generate a lot of $ but that makes me love him! I’m glad he didn’t do that awful show. Respect.

  5. Darla says:

    Nobody else could play Sheldon, that’s Jim Parsons all the way. Hey I’m a big fan, I don’t care. But yeah, Galecki’s role? Anyone could have played that. That’s probably the role he turned down. He may look down his nose at the show, I know a lot of people do, but Parsons has gotten me through some bad times. Prior to my surgery two years ago, which was for a large tumor, and the doctor didn’t know if it was cancerous, I was very scared and couldn’t sleep, and I would watch TBBT on TBS on demand. And Sheldon made me laugh even at my worst times. He still does.

    • balticprincess says:

      I love the BBT, too, and I am not ashamed of it. But MKC as Leonard? Why not!

      • Darla says:

        Yeah, I could see it.

        Someone must love TBBT, because it’s the number one comedy for years! But on the internet it’s very looked down upon. I have had people tell me only seniors watch it because it’s CBS. My senior mom hates it, and I love it, but that’s anecdotal. Either way, like you, I’m not ashamed.

      • Becks1 says:

        We watch BBT because it’s basically Friends, but stupider (in its trying-to-be-smart way). And I can skip 4 episodes and then watch it and not feel like I missed anything. It’s so repetitive and predictable (WHY is penny so awful? and how did she land this amazing job with no education? And why is Bernadette treated like a nagging wife? and why is Amy so weird and annoying?)

        the first few seasons were cute and now its just dumb. Like really really dumb ha.

    • petee says:

      I love it too.Sorry about your health issues.That show got me through alot also.I don’t understand the dislike for this show on this site.Granted the last few seasons aren’t the best but the first seven were hysterical.

  6. valthegal says:

    The JRE podcast is huge! I love it, Joe Rogan gets to talk/interview a weird mix of people so I highly recommend it. The episode with Mac was fun, he seemed super down to earth and happy. He’s dating Brenda Song too!

    • Erinn says:

      I watch it relatively often on youtube. There are some episodes that I won’t go near because I refuse to watch whoever is on the show, or because I’m too upset by the topic. But for the most part I have a weird kind of admiration for Rogan in that he’s not afraid to discuss anything with anyone. I don’t agree with some of his points of view, but some of the time he’s dead on. And there are a lot of interesting people that he talks to. I enjoyed the Leah Remini one.

      • Marlene says:

        Yes, Rogan is a really good interviewer. He can talk to pretty much everybody.

        PS. If you liked the episode with Leah Remini, you may also like the one (#947) with Ron Miscavige. 🙂

  7. Kealeen says:

    He said in a recent interview that he was fortunate enough to have enough money from working constantly as a child, that he has the choice of what he wants to work on as an adult. He also said that it felt odd and almost unearned when he gained full control over the money he made, because he was so far removed from that time in his life.

    • Eleonor says:

      I believe this.
      If you are rich enough to live a comfortable life without blowing too much than you can choose to work or not. He made millions, still has royalties and it seems he has never bought crazy stuff. Good for him.

    • Becks1 says:

      I can believe that. Think of every time Home Alone gets aired during the holidays and the royalties he must still get from that movie.

  8. Algernon says:

    He’s never said how much he has, but Mac has spoken about the money he made as a kid and it does sound like he has a lot of money now. Not too long ago in an interview he mentioned having enough money to not have to work and do whatever he wants, and think about how much Home Alone is on during Christmas. His fourth-quarter royalties must be a lot, even today.

  9. minx says:

    My sense is that he also didn’t want to be tied down to the grind of a network tv show.

  10. Biting Panda says:

    I think more to the point, he doesn’t see himself as an actor who wants to work that much, if at all. I don’t think it’s that he turned it down to stay available to smaller projects, I think it’s that he doesn’t want to live his life in such a commercial way. That is to say, I doubt he’d take any episodic role offered. Maybe becoming an iconic character as child showed him what he would never want to do again.

  11. Ramona Q. says:

    The internet says he has a $15 million net worth.

    • Algernon says:

      Those sites are never right. They’re extrapolated from the few details that trickle out to the public, like if a star’s payday is mentioned in a trade or they get a big fashion deal. I bet they’re basing Mac’s worth on the last public financial records relating to him, which was when his parents divorced. His worth was recorded as $17 million in the 1990s.

    • Veronica says:

      I’m actually thinking that’s an inflation, since it typically includes non-liquidated estates and the like. I see him closer in the range of $7-10 million in actual cash assets at best – which is still incredible money, don’t get me wrong. If you aren’t blowing it left and right on extreme excess, you can easily live very well off the interest alone.

      • Algernon says:

        There is really no way to know, but by his own words he maintains homes in several of the most expensive cities in the world, travels a lot, and does nothing to earn a living. Home Alone airs so much during the holidays his annual royalties are probably millions, plus whatever interest he’s compounding from investments, plus he had *way* more money back in the day than the $17 million outlined in his court case. That would have been the portion of his money accessible to his parents for his care and upkeep, the rest would be in trust as mandated by law (to protect child actors from predatory managers/parents). He’s obviously got enough that it’s not a worry.

  12. Amelie says:

    He is now dating Brenda Song of The Suite Life Of Zac and Cody from the Disney Channel. She used to play the London Tipton character which was a very thinly veiled reference to Paris Hilton. And I think he dodged a bullet by not doing The Big Bang Theory. It is not a good show and has never been able to hold my attention.

  13. amanda says:

    In another part of the interview he talks about moving to France on a whim and it sounds like he is just living his best life. He referenced not wanting to get back on the circuit and was poking fun at Johnny Depp’s wasteful spending and crappy pirates franchise. So it seems like he is financially sound and can pursue what interests him and turn down what doesn’t.

  14. Aren says:

    I’m very glad he didn’t take that role because I don’t like that show but I love Macaulay now.
    Never cared for his child-star movies, but fell in love with him after that Dryvers sketch.

  15. tealily says:

    Good for him. He also did that pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band, The Pizza Underground! #neverforget

  16. Veronica says:

    Honestly, I think Culkin had his taste of fame early enough to know he never wants it again, especially given the ugliness it revealed in his own family. He’s from the same cast as the Olsen twins – they put their time in, and now they’ve earned their privacy. His regrets, if any, strike me as passing.

  17. RspbryChelly says:

    He still has his place in NYC that he’s had for years but stated I think on Marc Marons podcast that he moved to Paris 5 yrs ago but still travels to NYC & L.A frequently.

    • Anners says:

      I was in Paris 5 years ago and saw him out front of the Louvre. Almost didn’t recognize him, but definitely Macaulay. It’s my claim to celeb fame!

  18. Lala11_7 says:

    I never thought “BBT” was a pile of crap…I think its a decent show..and I don’t think Mac is talking about doing the show as being a “sell-out”…I think he’s talking about it would KILL him if he had to be part of the rigidity/discipline that is needed to be on a weekly television show…I don’t think Mac is ABOUT THAT LIFE!

  19. JustSway says:

    I could see him as Leonard. Then again, he didn’t and he doesn’t appreciate the brilliance of The Big Bang Theory so he obviously doesn’t deserve it, so he can suck a lemon.

  20. Grey says:

    I love Mac. If follow his interviews, he’s talked about his wealth. His parents saved most of his money for him – he’s not a huge spender and is happy being able to spend his time pursuing hobbies since he knows he doesn’t HAVE to work. He’s still working smaller roles for fun. He lives a NYC hipster life – maintains a normal apt from what I’ve seen on Insty, plays in bands, paints, does silly shit, roadies for his friends bands, and recently started the Bunny Ears podcast where he just hangs out with people he likes.

  21. Donut nut says:

    I watched/heard most of the podcast, very interesting stuff. Mac is def an odd duck, but seems really healthy and happy now.

    I think BBT is like Nickelback in that everyone likes to crap on it. BBT isn’t as bad as some people claim, but it repeats jokes and could have ended after, say, season 5. But if people watch it, why kill a cash cow?

    Joe Rogan is my fave podcast, which surprises anyone who knows me. I like the health experts he has on, and he gets interesting ppl like Mac on too. His political views can’t be put in one box. He will say some things that may make you uncomfortable or have people I don’t like, but it’s about what interests him, not you or me or anyone else. It just happens to be the same stuff a lot of people end up finding interesting.

  22. Ladiabla says:

    I remember when he did a guest appearance on Will & Grace as Karen’s young divorce lawyer. He was really funny in that role, wonder if that’s what caught the attention of the folks at TBBT.

  23. Michael says:

    Mac has a lot more money than people realize. Celebrity net worth is never correct but his is one of the closet to being accurate. It was widely reported that he had 17million cash in a trust account that he was going to get when he turned 18. then he bought a 2 million dollar apartment in 1999, thats where the 15 million dollar number comes from. So hes actually worth more than 15 million because that apartment is worth more 20 years later.

  24. Original T.C. says:

    Good for him, I hate BBT. Like watched it several times and not a laugh was had. It’s number 1 so I’m sure many love it but having money gives you the chance to turn down dumb sounding jobs. Mila implied he lives a toxic life I hope that’s no longer true.

  25. Bell says:

    Don’t have much to say about MC but the podcast exists (unfortunately), and it’s misogynistic drivel loved far and wide by incels, men’s rights activists, and free speech warriors. JR is the hero of many a mediocre man, world over. Surprised to see it covered here, but content is content, I suppose.