Upon getting that out of the way, Mack was ready to get into a whole host of other topics that are likely also infinitely more interesting, at least to him. It turns out that he was not super into giving the interview but was there at the behest of his publicist, with whom he has worked since he was 10 years old.
While dressing for the magazine shoot, he said, “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.”
The truth is, as Esquire points out, this is his first shoot in about 15 years. So he might also have been just a teensy bit nervous.
As just about everyone who has followed the actor knows, he grew up in a bizarre kind of fishbowl of fame. His role in Home Alone catapulted him to the kind of stardom that few experience, adults or kids, and he was a very young child, at that. At this point, he’s been famous for most of his life, even though he’s not particularly interested in fame.
Before the shoot got started, he paused and said, “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.” But, as the interviewer pointed out, when it was time to work, Mack was right there, working.
“And yet here he is, and on the set, when it’s time to pose, he is golden. He awaits instruction, a pillar amid swirling photographer’s assistants and helpers and a groomer and production people. He occasionally warbles along with the radio, but otherwise he says little, stands where he is asked, politely obliges when a different angle of the neck is requested.”
Macaulay shared a funny anecdote about how he’d been thinking of changing his middle name and finally landed on changing it to … Macaulay Culkin. So his name would be Macaulay Macaulay Culkin Culkin. “I still haven’t officially done it,” he said. “There’s a lot of hoops you gotta jump through. I have a high-powered, high-priced attorney all over it, and he goes, ‘It’s not as easy as you’d think.’ But yeah, no, it’s happening. This gag is like a year old. I gotta do this.”
He was also in a cheery mood because his younger brother, Kieran, was nominated for a Golden Globe. He texted his brother a congrats, and started talking about other projects he’s involved in.
It turns out that his time as a child superstar is what has enabled him to do whatever weird thing he wants to do these days. And trust us, there are a lot of weird things.
He was recently in the movie Changeland, which was directed by his friend Seth Green. The movie is a buddy comedy, featuring a pair of friends who happen to meet up in Thailand. For Mack, one of the best parts was that he didn’t have to do any press for the film. Not having to do any press seems to be a bit of a life goal.
The interviewer pointed out that this was his fourth movie in 20 years and wondered why Macaulay doesn’t do more of that — acting in films and not promoting them. Mack acknowledges that he could.
“No, it’s true. It’s just — I enjoy acting. I enjoy being on set. I don’t enjoy a lot of the other things that come around it. What’s a good analogy. The Shawshank Redemption. The way he gets out of prison is to crawl through a tube of [expletive], you know? It feels like to get to that kind of freedom, I’d have to crawl through a tube of [expletive]. And you know what? I’ve built a really nice prison for myself. It’s soft. It’s sweet. It smells nice. You know? It’s plush.”
He added: “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.”
Mack’s story begins with his dad, who by all accounts was not super great. As a failed actor, he seemed pretty desperate to make sure that someone in the family made it. Details of his childhood are essentially public domain these days, but if you need a refresher: Mack’s dad stuffed seven kids and two adults into a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, and “shove[ed] his offspring into the business using shame and threats — that was it.”
Once Mack’s career started to take off, his dad began to sink all of his efforts into him, often at the expense of everyone involved (including Macaulay). He got a role in the John Hughes movie Uncle Buck, and from there, John Hughes essentially wrote Home Alone for Macaulay. And at first, he loved it.
“I was enjoying it at that point. I was a bit of an attention [expletive]. ‘Hey, I’m a kid, look at me!’ But I was not tugging on my mother’s or father’s sleeve saying, ‘Mommy, Daddy, I want to be a thespian.’ I enjoyed it because I was good at it and I knew it. I was at least sharp enough to understand good attention.”
His sudden fame took his family, especially his younger siblings, by surprise. “It wasn’t until my classmates in the first grade were telling me about my own brother that I realized, Oh, everyone knows him. Wait, is he everyone’s brother? I don’t get it. And I guess in a sense, he was,” his brother Rory said.
From there, his dad turned him into a bit of a family ATM. Mack starred in several movies, including My Girl, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Good Son, and Richie Rich. He started to get burnt out: “It started feeling like a chore. I started vocalizing that and not being heard: I was saying, ‘I wanna go to school — I haven’t done a full year of school since first grade.'”
His parents split up, and a custody battle ensued. Also at stake was Mack’s trust fund — his earnings were reported to be $15 million to $20 million. “We didn’t want to go with my father,” Mack said. “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 [expletive] pinkie in the pie. But the next thing you know, the story was that I divorced my parents.”
Surprisingly, Mack is pretty laid-back about everything these days: “Look, I mean, it sucks. 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 [expletive]-up things happened, but [expletive]-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.”