‘Succession’ Star Kieran Culkin Revealed Macaulay Culkin Was Harassed on the Street as a Child

Kieran Culkin has gained acclaim in his Emmy-nominated role in HBO’s Succession, but his current level of fame doesn’t come close to his brother, Macaulay Culkin. Macaulay was one of the biggest child actors of all time before his retirement at the age of 14. Kieran explained that the way people treated Macaulay made him wary of the entertainment industry.

Macaulay Culkin and Kieran Culkin as children wearing tuxedos.
Macaulay Culkin and Kieran Culkin | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Kieran Culkin and Macaulay Culkin grew up in show business

The Culkin family lived in a railroad-style apartment in Manhattan. For the eight Culkin children, show business was always the primary goal. A neighbor worked for the Light Opera of Manhattan and helped cast the children in a production.

“He was like, ‘Well, I know these people. They have six or seven of them and I think the father was an actor. Maybe they would be interested,’” Kieran told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s how it started. Soon it got to a place of like, ‘Sure, you want kids? What gender? What age? Yeah, we got a bunch. Here, take this one.’”

Macaulay Culkin paints Kieran Culkin's face with a wine cork. They both wear dark shirts.
Macaulay Culkin and Kieran Culkin in 1990 | Francis Apesteguy/Getty Images

Though Kieran described his early acting days as fun, Macaulay had a different experience. Macaulay says that his father was physically and emotionally abusive, marring his memories of acting.

“My father was jealous of me,” he said on WTF with Marc Maron. “He was a bad man. He was abusive. Everything he tried to do in life, I excelled at before I was ten years old.”

Macaulay Culkin faced harassment from strangers

According to Kieran, Macaulay’s massive fame sometimes brought him unwelcome attention from strangers. He looks enough like his brother that people would often confuse them. 

“When I was doing one of the Father of the Bride movies, this woman ran up to me and said, ‘Are you Macluckly Macluckly?’ And I went, ‘No,’” he said. “She goes, ‘Can I get a picture?’ I said, ‘I’m not him.’ And in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Nobody’s that.’”

Still, any attention Kieran got didn’t compare to what Macaulay faced.

“He would get harassed on the street,” Kieran said. “One time, a woman pulled off his hat and looked at him and said, ‘Yeah, it’s him! You’re not that cute.’ And then handed the hat back and walked away.”

This treatment made Kieran wary of show business in general, particularly as he gained more prominent roles for himself.

“I think he has a healthy suspicion for the seedy sides of show business,” said his Succession co-star J. Smith-Cameron.

Kieran Culkin would be open to seeing his siblings on ‘Succession’ 

Though Macaulay retired from acting at 14, he has picked up a few roles — including a recent part on American Horror Story — since then. A younger Culkin sibling, Rory, has also found success as an actor. Given his siblings’ career paths, Kieran said he would be happy to see any of them join the Succession cast.

“That would be cool, wouldn’t it?” he told ET at the Succession Season 3 premiere. “Would love to see that. Yeah, I would be game for that. That would be cool. Why wouldn’t I be game? That sounds fun.”

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