Culture

Macaulay Culkin Sounds Like He's Doing Great, and Honestly? Good for Him

The actor opened up to 'Esquire' about fame, Michael Jackson and a disastrous 'Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood' audition.
12 February 2020, 8:30am
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Macaulay Culkin, who many know as a member of the Pizza Underground (he was also in that one movie Home Alone), hasn't been up to all that much lately, acting-wise. The 39-year-old former child star has a podcast and runs a satire website called Bunny Ears, but hasn't really been in many movies recently, save for Seth Green's Changeland. But according to a new Esquire cover story, that's all right by Culkin. Speaking to writer Ryan D’Agostino, Culkin asks to be called "Mac," and offers a pretty revealing interview about his life, grappling with fame, and how he managed to survive the darkest parts of being a child star.

Among the many things you should know about Culkin is that he has a bunch of cats, is dating actress Brenda Song, smokes Parliaments, and is currently playing WrestleMania 2000. Honestly, his life sounds delightful, as he tells the magazine, "You know what I’m going to do after this? I’m gonna take care of my back—I’m gonna take a hot bath. I have a video queued up: the history of Castlevania, the Nintendo game. It’s 55 minutes long, and that’s the perfect bathtime amount of time." It's truly fascinating that the man who once starred in the film Home Alone likes spending time home, alone!

The profile tackles how life hasn't always been easy for Culkin. His rise to fame was particularly turbulent and full of burnout, and his relationship to his pushy father was pretty tenuous. He also lost his sister to a devastating car crash in 2008 and in a moment where Culkin talks about how he mourns his sister on the anniversary of her death, he says, “Her favorite drink was Budweiser. So I’m gonna drink some Budweisers tomorrow. And listen, I’m not gonna get into it. But it’s my day, when I mourn my sister. So yeah.”

With this in mind, seeing him genuinely happy in an interview is quite touching. He divulges about his relationship to drugs, where his alleged use was the subject of countless gnarly tabloid rumors:

“One of my favorite jokes: I’ve been accused of having a drug problem, but nothing could be further from the truth. Drugs are the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” He cracks up at this.

But, really, how bad did it get with drugs?

“Um? Listen,” he says, “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 fuckin’ 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.”

He clarifies his relationship with Michael Jackson:

“Look,” he says. “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.

Culkin had an awkward run-in with James Franco after Leaving Neverland came out:

“Here’s a good Michael Jackson story that doesn’t involve Michael Jackson at all: I ran into James Franco on a plane. I’d bumped into him two or three times over the years. I give him a little nod as we’re putting our bags overhead. Hey, how you doing? Good, how ya doing? And it was right after the Leaving Neverland documentary came out, and he goes, ‘So, that documentary!’ And that was all he said. I was like, ‘Uh-huh.’ Silence. So then he goes, ‘So what do you think?’ And I turned to him and I go, ‘Do you wanna talk about your dead friend?’ And he sheepishly went, ‘No, I don’t.’ So I said, ‘Cool, man, it was nice to see you.’ ”

He had a bad audition recently:

He auditioned for Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, the Quentin Tarantino movie from last year. The audition did not go well. Actually: “It was a disaster. I wouldn’t have hired me. I’m terrible at auditioning anyway, and this was my first audition in like eight years.”

Cheers, Mac.

Esquire/ROBBIE FIMMANO