Macaulay Culkin Wasn’t Allowed to Use Cue Cards When He Hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’ at 11 Years Old

In Hollywood, there’s one sign that indicates actors have really achieved success. When you’re big, have a sizable fan base, or have officially reached stardom, you’ll likely get an invitation to host Saturday Night Live. The late-night show of comedy sketches has been showcasing actors and top talent for decades now.

Macaulay Culkin smiling
Macaulay Culkin | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Any actor who’s had the privilege of hosting the show will also say it’s incredibly grueling. There’s a week of prep and non-stop momentum, and you have one shot to pull off the skit in front of a live audience. That’s a lot of pressure for an adult, let alone an 11-year-old kid, which is how old Macaulay Culkin was when he hosted SNL. But it wasn’t the show that had him pressured back then; it was his dad. In fact, Culkin wasn’t allowed to use cue cards when he hosted SNL because of his father.

Macaulay Culkin’s career with his dad as his manager

Macaulay Culkin was a child star of the ’90s, with iconic box office film hits like Home Alone and My Girl. He was the first child actor in history to land a million-dollar contract for his role in the latter. And it was about a week before the premiere of My Girl that Culkin hosted Saturday Night Live.

Culkin’s not the first child actor to have a parent serve as a manager, either. Macaulay’s dad, Kit Culkin, had tight reins on Macaulay throughout his budding childhood career. But the relationship between the two was far from professional or loving, for that matter. Kit forced all the Culkin children into acting, according to The List, and was reportedly a bit of a tyrant in his management style.

During those successful years of acting, Macaulay said his dad was ultra “controlling and had him on a very busy filming schedule” for that four-year run. BuzzFeed also shared that Kit would make Macaulay stay up every night to study lines for the following day’s filming. Apparently, the same controlling behavior applied during Macaulay’s appearance on SNL.

His dad was ‘such a crazy person’ about control

Hosting SNL isn’t a walk in the park. And countless actors have recounted in interviews just how intense it can be with one week to learn a skit, super-fast costume changes on the fly, and trying to be funny at the same time. And it’s customary for the cast to rely on cue cards to help them through the ever-changing script, sometimes up to the minute before going live. But Kit Culkin wouldn’t have it when it was Macaulay’s turn to host.

Macauley called him “such a crazy person” for not letting him nor any of the other cast use cue cards. According to Kit, glancing at a cue card would detract from the performance. Uproxx talked about how insane of a request it was and that no one had ever insisted on such a bizarre request before at SNL. Reports say for that episode, all the actors obliged begrudgingly, and the show went well despite the added stress of memorizing lines last-minute.

Does Culkin have anything to do with his father today?

It was years since that SNL when Macaulay and his siblings spoke up about Kit’s controlling behavior. Macaulay eventually took both his parents to court to remove them as legal guardians and to cut them off from his acting earnings. The Culkin parents divorced, too, and Kit publicly said he would “not reconcile with his child” and took it another step further by saying he didn’t “consider him a son anymore,” according to CinemaBlend.

Reportedly, none of the Culkin children speak to their father to this day. Macaulay has been open about his dad being a “bad man,” with allegations of physical and mental abuse to him, his siblings, and his mother. 

It seems like not using cue cards on SNL was only one example of Kit Culkin’s controlling nature. And it’s likely all the Culkin children all say they’re better off without him in their lives.

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