HE will forever be known as baby-faced Kevin McCallister, the impish 8-year-old who stole the show in Home Alone and inspired a generation of naughty kids.
But incredibly, Macaulay Culkin has overcome a very turbulent few years to come out happier than ever as a new dad to his first child with longtime girlfriend Brenda Song, who welcomed their baby son Dakota last week.
While Macaulay and Brenda revealed the happy baby news to Esquire on Monday and said they're "overjoyed,” the Home Alone actor hasn't always felt that way throughout his life.
His characters in the Home Alone and Richie Rich movies were hugely privileged and largely care-free, but the star's childhood off-screen couldn't have been more different.
Following his meteoric rise to fame, he watched his family slowly fall apart, before going through a painful emancipation from his parents – where he accused his father of leeching off his success.
The actor suddenly stopped appearing in movies and appeared unrecognizable on public outings, before later getting married at 18 and allegedly getting hooked on drugs.
However, he's appeared to be loving life on recent outings as he puts the troubled times behind him. Here's a look at how he's beaten the odds to come out on top as a happy new dad at age 40.
Poor childhood was like the 'Beverly Hillbillies'
While Macaulay earned millions practically overnight with his role in Home Alone, his family was reportedly very poor beforehand.
According to E! Online, Billy Hopkins, a New York casting director who gave a 6-year-old Macaulay his first part, said: "Macaulay would crawl under the bleachers at the theater (sic) to look for change that had fallen out of people's pockets. They were like the Beverly Hillbillies."
At the time it's claimed Macaulay's father Kit had got a job at a local Catholic church, helping him to get staff rates at the parish school, while his wife Patricia worked at a call centre.
However, all that changed when Macaulay began landing major roles in films like Rocket Gibraltar and comedy film Uncle Buck, which eventually led to Home Alone.
It brought him instant fame – along with a rumored $104K (£76,000) pay check for the first movie and £3.4M earnings for the second – and proved enough for Kit to quit his job in the church to help manage his son, alongside his wife.
The movie offers came rushing in and the next Home Alone movie reportedly grossed around $359million (£273M) – followed by more high-paying roles in My Girl and Richie Rich.
Macaulay went on to become the second-youngest celebrity to host Saturday Night Live, aged 11, and he also quickly established a highly publicized friendship with Michael Jackson – which subsequently meant he became caught up in the later child sex scandal surrounding the singer.
Macaulay has always denied anything inappropriate happened, however.
In an interview on the Inside of You With Michael Rosenbaum podcast, he explained how their friendship came to be and said: “A lot of things were happening, big and fast with me and I think he identified with that."
'Abusive' dad was 'jealous of Home Alone success'
Macaulay's sudden fame meant his siblings, Christian, Dakota, Kieran, Rory, Shane, and Quinn, were also thrown into the limelight.
And with them, their father Kit became hugely prominent in Hollywood too – so much so, Premiere magazine rated him the 48th most powerful person in Hollywood in 1993.
However, as he began to try and take more control over his son's movies, it's claimed his name was blacklisted – particularly when Richie Rich failed to receive the rave reviews of Home Alone.
Macaulay has since alleged that his father became abusive in his younger years too.
In 2018, the actor told Marc Maron's WTF podcast that his father was "physically and mentally" abusive and that he was "jealous" of what he had achieved at such a young age.
"Everything he tried to do in life, I excelled at before I was 10 years old," he added.
Bitter custody war cut parents off
Kit and Patricia announced they were separating after 20 years in 1994 – and it sparked the start of a bitter custody war.
In her legal petition, Patricia accused Kit of “excessive drinking, physical abuse and unfaithful behaviour", all of which he denied.
While Macaulay reportedly sided with his mom at the time, he later effectively 'divorced' both his parents when they began fighting over his fortune.
He sued his parents for £13million when he was just 15 years old and had them removed as his legal guardians, meaning they had no control over his career or money.
It also prompted him to eventually quit acting altogether.
"I even wanted to take a break for a while and eventually I was like 'I'm done guys, hope you all made your money because there is no more coming from me'," he told the WTF podcast.
Kit went on to move to Arizona where he lives a reclusive life now and is thought to have no contact with his son.
When a Daily Mail reporter previously asked if he heard from Macaulay, Kit allegedly replied: "I don't consider him a son any more."
Whirlwind marriage at 18
Having retired aged 15, Macaulay went on to marry actress Rachel Miner in 1998, aged just 18.
Sadly, the couple separated in 2000 and divorced in 2002.
He went on to date actress Mila Kunis for almost a decade, and she told Women's Health of their relationship in 2009: "You find a steady rock in your life and that’s all you need."
When they eventually split, Mila told the Armchair Expert podcast: "[It was] a horrible, horrible breakup. I f***ed up."
Macaulay has also been plagued by rumours of heroin addiction in the past – something he later denied, telling The Guardian: "I was not pounding six grand of heroin a month."
However, he did plead guilty to misdemeanour drug charges in 2005, one for possessing medication without a prescription and the other for marijuana.
He was given a one-year deferred sentence on each charge.
Overcoming the troubled times
Macaulay has since looked happier and healthier than ever and in a recent interview with Esquire, he said: "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."
He added: "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."
Since July 2017, Macaulay has been in a loving relationship with actress Brenda Song, who is a former Disney star.
On April 5, 2021, the Disney Channel alum gave birth in Los Angeles to their first child together, son Dakota, weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces.
The couple told Esquire that they're "overjoyed" and named their baby boy after Macaulay's late sister.
Dakota Culkin was killed in a car accident in 2008 when she was just 29.
She “was struck by a car when she stepped off the curb and in front of a moving vehicle," according to E! News.
Eight years earlier, Macaulay had lost his half-sister, Jennifer Adamson, after she died in 2000 from a drug overdose.
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Aside from being dad to son Dakota, Macaulay's also got a strong bond with his goddaughter Paris Jackson, daughter of his late friend Michael.
He told the WTF podcast: "I'm going to warn you now, I am very protective of her so just look out…
"I am a very open book when it comes to things but like with her, she is beloved by me."
The star looks to be the happiest he's been in years on recent outings, having firmly put the difficult times behind him.
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