Macaulay Culkin: ‘Stop acting so freaking shocked that I’m relatively well-adjusted’

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This Esquire cover dropped a few days ago and I kept putting it off because I thought it was going to be a bummer, and I thought Esquire would reveal that Macaulay Culkin is, like, a damaged, problematic a–hole or something. Guess what? It’s not a bummer. It’s a well-written, thoughtful piece about an interesting guy who had some awful years as a child star, but has grown up to be a nearly-40 dude who seems pretty well-adjusted, self-aware, happy and reflective. He’s vaguely promoting his website, Bunny Ears, and his podcast, but even then, he’s not really promoting anything. His girlfriend/partner Brenda Song wants him to get back into acting and get out of the house sometimes, so he basically agreed to an interview and a photoshoot to make her happy, but in a nice way. Anyway, the piece is interesting and I would recommend reading the whole thing – go here. Some highlights:

He’d rather be with his lady & cats than doing the photoshoot: “Yeah, this is waaayy better than being home wearing my pajamas. Oh, yeah. Why would I want to be home in my bed right now? With my cats? And my lady? That would be terrrrible…. This is not really my cup of tea. These are all lovely people, but the poking, the prodding—honestly, it’s part of why I don’t do this anymore. Any of it.”

He’s not crazy: “People assume that I’m crazy, or a kook, or damaged. Weird. Cracked. And up until the last year or two, I haven’t really put myself out there at all. So I can understand that. It’s also like, Okay, everybody, stop acting so freaking shocked that I’m relatively well-adjusted. Look: I’m a pretty peerless person. If I was an accountant, I could look left and right, and there’s other accountants sitting next to me in the office. It’s not like that. It’s one of those things where, like, the cliché that we’re all snowflakes? That we’re all unique? Well, you know what? I actually am a snowflake.”

He didn’t really divorce his parents: “We [me and my siblings] didn’t want to go with my father. It’s always misconstrued, that I ‘emancipated’ myself from my parents. 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–king pinkie in the pie. But the next thing you know, the story was that I divorced my parents. I just thought I was doing it cleanly—taking my father’s name off, taking my mom’s name off, so my opinion is unbiased. And when I did that, the whole thing kinda ended a lot faster.”

Child stardom: “But: It coulda been worse, you know? I wasn’t working in a coal mine. I wasn’t a child soldier. My father was not sexually abusing me. Certain f–ked-up things happened, but f–ked-up things happen to kids all the time and they don’t come out the other end. I’ve got something to show for it, man. I mean, look at me: I got money, I got fame, I got a beautiful girlfriend and a beautiful house and beautiful animals. It took me a long time to get to that place, and I had to have that conversation with myself and go, like, Honestly, Mack? It’s not so bad. I want for nothing and need for even less. I’m good, man.”

His animals: They have two cats—Apples and Dude—and a fish named Cinnamon. (“I tend to name all the animals as if I was a five-year-old,” Mack says.) They have a Shiba Inu, Panda. And they have a bird, a blue-headed pionus, a relatively quiet species of parrot, that was named Nacho when Andy Richter had it for ten years but that Mack calls Macho.

His friendship with Michael Jackson: “Look. I’m gonna begin with the line—it’s not a line, it’s the truth: He never did anything to me. I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back. The guy has passed on. If anything—I’m not gonna say it would be stylish or anything like that, but right now is a good time to speak up. And if I had something to speak up about, I would totally do it. But no, I never saw anything; he never did anything.

On drugs: “Um? Listen. I played with some fire, I guess is the best way to put it. At the same time, I’ve never been to rehab or anything like that. I’ve never had to clean out that way. There were certain times when I had to catch myself, once or twice. You’re having too good a time, Mack. I mean, I’ve had friends who ask me, ‘How do I get clean?’ And I go, I’m the last person you should ask, because I’m gonna give you the worst advice, which is: Just stop. Just stop! And that’s not the way it works. But I never went so far down that road where I needed outside help. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had drugs in my life at some point or another. I had some illuminating experiences—but also it’s f–kin’ stupid, too, you know? So besides the occasional muscle relaxer, no, I don’t do drugs recreationally. I still kinda drink like a fish. I drink and I smoke. But I don’t touch the things. I do love them. They’re like old friends. But sometimes you outgrow your friends.”

[From Esquire]

There are some really lovely little asides about how quiet his life is with Brenda Song, how he takes care of the house and waters the plants and takes care of her while she’s working, and he’s always bringing her food (and she bakes for him too). He sounds… yeah, well-adjusted. Like he came out of everything damaged, but aware of the damage and able to understand what happened. Now, I’m sure that some people won’t believe what he says about Michael Jackson, but… I kind of do? I think MJ saw himself in Culkin, saw a kid who was being mistreated by his father, and Michael wanted to be his friend. Who knows though.

Cover and IG courtesy of Esquire.

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42 Responses to “Macaulay Culkin: ‘Stop acting so freaking shocked that I’m relatively well-adjusted’”

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  1. Eleonor says:

    For the Mj thing.
    I believe him and Corey Feldman: predators are masters in separating their lives, he knew they were too famous I think.

    • Aims says:

      I agree. Just because it didn’t happen to them, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

      • dofcol says:

        Yup, and he’s not saying it didn’t. Just that people need to stop expecting him to make things up about himself for a story.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Also, they *conveniently* provided cover.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        This. Predators don’t prey on everyone, and they know how to use their non-predatory relationships as a defense against abuse allegations. There probably was real affection there, but the friendships were also useful and convenient.

    • Erinn says:

      I think it also helped to have a kid that had a positive relationship with him around. As sketchy as that is, I can imagine if you have a famous child actor saying that you’ve been respectful of him it would help with access and deniability.

    • Polyanna says:

      I believe Cory and Mack also. I was raised by a predatory, abusive mother. She did things to me in private, physically and emotionally and psychologically abusive things, that my sisters never experienced or knew about, even growing up in the same small home.
      They believe and support me, and she did things to them that she never did to me. And I believe and support them.
      Abusers analyze what they can get out of their “prey”, especially those who abuse children. I was pigeon-holed as the one to take rage out on. My sisters had different purposes in her sick mind so she did different things to them, some more subtle and less overtly damaging, but still wrong.

      Sad stuff. Hard stuff. But I think he handles it well, telling his truth while not invalidating anyone else’s truth. What else can you do?

      • MeghanNotMarkle says:

        I had a similar experience, Polyanna. So, I believe Cory and Mack but still believe that MJ was a predator.

      • Polyanna says:

        Oh yeah Meghannotmarkle I 100% believe those men who were so brave and came forward. I can’t even look at pics of MJ after watching the documentary, what an absolute travesty and a nightmare for those boys.

  2. Becks1 says:

    Oh I’ll have to go read the whole article. It sounds interesting. He’s a good follow on Twitter if anyone isn’t already following him.

    he does seem surprisingly well-adjusted. Even taking his parents names off his trust fund seems like a really mature move. And I believe him about Michael Jackson. Same way I believe that Harvey Weinstein never assaulted or harassed Jennifer Lawrence. Abusers don’t abuse every person they come into contact with.

    As an aside, we watched Home Alone this year with my kids for the first time…and it was like, omg, what? You have to totally suspend disbelief for it. I know I know, its a movie, but still. The airlines would have found a way to have gotten the mother home. The cops wouldn’t have just knocked on the door and then walked away. After the wet bandits are arrested, Kevin just goes back to his house? And then cleans it all up?

    I know I know I KNOW. movie. But watching it as an adult I just couldn’t get over all of that lol. But my kids loved it.

    • janey says:

      we watched it with my 7yo this Christmas too. It’s hilarious and we loved it, but my son’s face was a picture. He thinks it’s the best thing he’s seen in his life, apart from the goonies (he constantly truffle shuffles…) , but yeah it’s unbelievable.

    • Maria says:

      Watched Home Alone recently too– I can’t say for sure because I was 3 when it came out but I think the circumstances with Home Alone don’t make sense according to standards of today but back then, they would. The being able to run up to the airport gate with NO security; a pretty close knit community with a local police department that’s more official than anything; the airlines being completely booked (shades of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles).
      Also I thought they did a good job showing Kevin could be semi-self-sufficient. The tar on the stairs is the most implausible thing, lol.

    • Erinn says:

      Hahaha, I’ve only watched that Home Alone once. I was 7 when Home Alone 3 came out, and I watched that movie over and over and over. Was it good? No. But I loved it because I was the perfect target age for the movie. And I was CONVINCED that I would be able to handle any bad guy that tried to break in to our house hahaha.

      I find Mack really likable. He’s a bit awkward at times, but I find it to be in an endearing, sort of nerdy-ish way. He just seems like he’s made it through as unscathed as possible, given all the things that went on in his life. I also REALLY appreciate his comments on MJ. That was a really mature take on the situation, and I’m sure it’s weird for him to constantly be wondered about in respects to MJ.

    • Gab says:

      This exactly. Harvey Weinstein didn’t assault Jennifer Lawrence, she was too successful by the time he came across her. Same situation with MJ and Mac or Crey Feldmen. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe his other victims.

    • not_telling says:

      The Home Alone Trilogy was on repeat in my house for about 6 weeks this holiday season, and as much as it was a delight to see kids/cousins all gathered around watching and enjoying – it got to the point where I could not watch without at least 1 drink or dessert in me or else I would just have to walk away because of the craziness of it all.

    • Cheryl says:

      I had the same feelings recently of watching it lol I was like “as if that would ever happen” lol. Then again though, it WAS the 90s lol parents weren’t exactly known for their rapt attention to their kids in those days lol some children basically raised themselves. It wasn’t unusual for kids to be gone from the house from sunup till sundown. Step on a rusty nail? That’s okay! No need for silly tetanus shots, here’s an Epsom salt soak, and then walk it off! You’ll be fine. It truly was a surreal time when I think back about how it was those days and compare it to today. Maybe those sorts of things wouldn’t have happened to a tee, but I could see law enforcement and parents being a lot more lax and less hyper-responsive about it than if it were to happen in this day and age.

    • SpnForTheWin says:

      My husband and I just watched the first two Home Alone movies for the first time as adults this past Christmas. Way unbelievable. What mom gets on a plane with multiple children and doesn’t do a seat check before take off to make sure everyone is accounted for? Especially the youngest! I have three kids and two stepkids and I always try to keep my youngest close because real young kids like to wander and daydream. Very easy to lose them. The cops would have found a way to make entry to the house, the airport wouldn’t have taken an f-you approach to getting the parents a flight. Then the second movie was even more unbelievable. Besides Trump briefly depicted as a nice man (my local station cut him out and I LOVED it!), how do you lose the kid again?! My husband looked at me and went, “Someone needs to call child protective services at this point.” Still, we both laughed and my kids enjoyed watching an “olden time movie” as my five year old puts it, I’m suspecting simply to make me feel old….

  3. Lucy says:

    Mack seems so cool! He’s been through a lot and came out the other side. I believe him when he says he has a truly happy and fulfilled life, and I also believe him about the MJ part. The best part of that story though is when he shades James Franco.

  4. Sen says:

    He looks like Steve Buscemi now.

  5. WendyWoo says:

    Of course MJ never touched him, he wasn’t from a vulnerable, cash-strapped family. Mack was the lure, not the prey. Predators set things up very carefully. Mack was the Shirley Temple of our time and MJ wasn’t an idiot.

    Also: he’s funny in the Red Letter Media videos. That’s all I got.

  6. Originaltessa says:

    I read the whole thing. He’s seemingly doing well, but some parts of the interview were a little bit cringe for me. Overall it was nice to hear from him. I was born in 1983, so Mack was everything growing up. My Girl was the first time I felt like I was watching a grownup movie, and I cried my eyes out.

  7. Amy says:

    I throw some side eye on the drugs portion. I was concerned for him a few years ago when he was looking very skeletal and thin. Maybe he had health stuff going on, but that sort of thin is common amongst heavy users. I’m glad he’s looking so good and healthy now either way though!

  8. Helen says:

    He can say he’s relatively adjusted, but I remember those pictures of him walking out in public looking gaunt and unkempt, around the time he was with Mila Kunis. He can say it, but I’m not buying it.

  9. SJR says:

    I like Mack.
    And I do think MJ never did anything to Mack because MJ knew that Mack was a huge celeb/money maker w/a rotten Father..same as how he was treated as a child.

    Wendywoo, very well said, you are likely spot on.

    I’m glad Mack seems OK. When you realize he was 6 y/o at Home Alone….geez.
    How did he turn out OK? He makes a good point also..who were his peers?
    At their heights of fame, Liz Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, etc. the studios had lots of child stars…Mack has been famous before he truly had time for a childhood.

  10. Onomo says:

    I wonder if they tried interviewing any of his siblings? His brother is almost too good at his role in Succession – snarky, entitled, but weak at the same time. I wonder who their family or longtime friends are. Also, the brother on Succession looks youthful – like what I think Macauley would have looked like if he hadn’t done drugs.

  11. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    I’ll have to go read the full article later. I’ve always like Mack and look forward to seeing what all he has to say.

  12. LP says:

    It’s a great interview- the best part for me is when he says James Franco saw him on a flight and tried to ask him about Michael Jackson. Imagine not knowing someone and having the audacity! He shut Franco down pretty quickly!

  13. not_telling says:

    Macaulay Culkin = my new hero/spirit animal/high level crush. Dude is very self possessed but in the best way possible.

  14. Moco says:

    Awesome article, interesting dude. We’re the same age so I loved all of his movies as a kid, but I appreciate his performance a lot more as an adult. He commands a camera and carried movies in a really remarkable way for such a young kid.

  15. Case says:

    He sounds like a nice, grounded guy, and he is really cute with Brenda Song. Good for him.

    As an aside, I watched Honey Boy last night, which was written by Shia Lebouf about his childhood as an actor. Excellent film that’s both disturbing and touching. High rec!

  16. bobafelty says:

    I really like him on Red Letter Media

  17. Jenn says:

    Years ago, I remember hearing, he’d throw massive parties but not really attend them. I’m so happy that he’s managed to find a little bit of peace.

  18. Jessica Cozzola says:

    I like him. He’s living the life he wants, doing his thing w/ pizza underground (is that actually still happening)? But still…very odd dude but in a refreshing & fun way. I would be his friend.

  19. C-No says:

    He bummed a cigarette from me a million years ago. Some dude on the street of NYC asked for a cigarette and I gave it to him. Recognized him but he did not look good. That was 15 years ago. I was 19 or 20, he’s only 3 years older than me but man he looked old and strung out. Of course he’d done a lot more living by 20 than I had. Glad to see he’s doing better.

  20. Ellie says:

    Not sure if he is still posting but his website was HILARIOUS – look it up and enjoy

  21. No Doubt says:

    He’s a treasure. I love his quirky personality and that he recognized at a young age that he needed to cut out toxic people from his life.