His fall from the heady heights of fame was nothing short of spectacular considering that by the age of 10 he was commanding Dh36 million a movie and had starred in the biggest-grossing film of 1990 – Home Alone. And recent shots of the super-reclusive Macaulay Culkin looking tired, skinny and bedraggled seemed to play into the popular image of the former child star as having been destroyed by the Hollywood machine; there were even rumours of a life-threatening heroin addiction and whispers that the 32 year old only had six months to live.
But New York sources, where the former actor now calls home, insist that the ‘months to live’ talk couldn’t be further from the truth, and that Mac, as his friends call him, is the happiest he’s ever been, living off the multimillion dirham fortune, which destroyed his family, hosting monthly themed parties in which he DJs via his iPod and popping up at Natalie Portman’s summer wedding in Big Sur, California – all the while surrounded by what insiders call a “protective bubble” of pals who refuse to talk about him to the press. Even his former girlfriend of eight years, Mila Kunis, has never spoken publicly about their relationship.
“There’s a general air of protectiveness that surrounds Culkin,” says one Hollywood-watcher. “There’s a fragility there that compels the protective bubble his friends and family have established around him. It’s not about coddling the precious princess, it’s about protecting the guy who, despite talent and plenty of connections, has pretty much walked away from his career in order to save his sanity.”
Scene reveals what Mac’s up to these days, and why he’s the only star in T-Town that no one is selling out…
His recent public appearances have been sporadic and random to say the least. In August of this year Macaulay popped up at Natalie Portman’s wedding to ballet dancer, Benjamin Millepied, with a source saying the two had been “friends for years”. Before that there was the 2009 advert for UK-based company, Aviva Insurance, to help promote their rebranding; a cameo in WWE Raw, and the starring role in the 2011 music video for musician Adam Green’s experimental film, The Wrong Ferarri, which was shot on an iPhone.
And insiders claim that he’s recently launched a new career as an artist, with the former actor appearing in a YouTube video to promote Three Men And A Baby – an art collective he has formed with two pals.
“We cleared out everything, laid down plastic and went a little nuts at the art supply store,” he says in the video of the trio’s approach to creating their works. “We use a lot of iconography from our youths and stuff like that.” Adding, “The sillier and the funnier, the better.”
Dinosaur iPod parties
Macaulay has also been gaining an, albeit underground, reputation as the host of a series of New York-based parties with a different theme each month, with guests finding out about the events by word of mouth. Spilling about an ‘iPod Dinosaur Birthday Party’ he attended back in June, dailybeast.com journalist, Ramin Setoodeh, revealed, “The bouncer hands me a paper hat featuring an orange T-Rex about to swallow a smaller blue dinosaur. I put it on, with the understanding that I’m about to attend a birthday party. Nobody will tell me whose… A publicist for the event said that I could attend, but that I couldn’t interview or photograph Culkin under any circumstances. [Brett] Tabisel and all of Culkin’s friends also declined my request for an interview.”
And it appears Culkin has been hosting his theme nights all year, also holding a prom-themed event at which he crowned the king and queen.
“Even in a crowded, packed room, Culkin is impossible to miss,” said Setoodeh. “In the dim light, he sometimes looks like an adolescent and sometimes like an old man. But never, from any distance or light, does he look his real age of 31 [he is now 32]. When Culkin finally speaks at around midnight, his voice is high-pitched and androgynous. ‘Hi everybody, welcome to the dinosaur party! Thank you for all coming, it’s been a blast.’” Adding, “Culkin never self-destructed before our eyes, but what’s unclear is his current state of mind. I couldn’t tell whether his dinosaur party was ironic. Since we’ve all trapped him as a child, perhaps he wants his guests to be there with him… I couldn’t tell whether he is bitter and angry, or whether he needs some friends and this is the safest way for him to hang out in public.”
“He likes to live as a child”
As famous for his dysfunctional family life as he was for being a child star, some insiders have insisted that Macaulay suffers from a form of arrested development, which has effectively trapped him in the mind of an adolescent.
“He likes to live as a child. Growing up has not been good to Macaulay,” insisted one. “[He] is a sad and lonely figure,” adding that the 32-year-old’s depression is behind his failure to win new acting roles.
Having married actress Rachel Miner back in 1998 when he was just 18 – with the pair divorcing in 2002 – and dating Black Swan star, Mila Kunis, from 2002-2010, Macaulay hasn’t been spotted with a new girlfriend, but is said to have remained close friends with Mila, who is now dating Ashton Kutcher. And insiders claim that his laissez-faire attitude towards his appearance and his money (he made Dh180 million between 1990-95) is down to the fact that his mother, Patricia Brentrup never encouraged materialism in her children.
“[She] appeared happy with her role, even before the big money started coming in; the family has never seemed much concerned with material things,” said one Hollywood-watcher. “It wasn’t until Home Alone in 1990 that [the family] relocated from their cramped quarters in a two-bedroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to a five-apartment spread in a high-rise near Lincoln Centre. Before the move Mac was already famous and he was still sleeping on a cot in the living room.” Adding, “People who know the family say that although the kids are remarkably unspoilt and sweet, at times they tend to run a bit wild.”