's career began in the 1980s as a child actor. He began in stage productions in New York City before moving into television and film. His breakout role in led Culkin to become one of the biggest child actors of the 90s. He starred in films like and , becoming an icon of the decade.
However, there was one role was offered which he wasn't so excited about. When offered a role on , Culkin turned it down. However, it wouldn't be the last time he was asked nor the last time he would say no.
What role was he offered? How many times was he asked? What does his career look like today? Let's find out.
Macaulay Culkin began acting when he was four years old. He began as a stage actor in New York City, appearing in a stage production of at the New York Philharmonic. He moved into television and film, appearing in in 1985 and in 1988. He later appeared alongside John Candy in the movie .
would lead to Culkin's breakout role in the movie . The Christmas movie starred Culkin as a young boy who is mistakenly left home alone when his family takes a trip to Paris for the holidays. During this time, he is forced to fight off two burglars who attempt to break into the house.
The film made Culkin a household name and remains a classic around Christmas time. However, in an appearance on
"I don’t really watch them all that often," Culkin said, adding that when the cast reunited for the DVD's 15-year anniversary commentary, it was the first time he had seen the film in years.
One of the reasons Culkin says he doesn't watch it, is due to him being distracted by memories of what happened behind the scenes.
"I’m remembering that day on set, like, how I was hiding my Pepsi behind the couch. I can’t watch it the same way other people can."
on the sitcom , but turned it down. The part ended up going to Johnny Galecki. This was after Culkin was pursued by the show repeatedly, turning down the role each time.
"They pursued me for The Big Bang Theory," he said.
"And I said no. It was kind of like, the way the pitch was, ‘Alright, these two astrophysicist nerds and a pretty girl lives with them. Yoinks!’ That was the pitch. They were like, ‘We’ll get some real physicists to do the math,’ but I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m cool, thanks.’ And then they came back at me again, and I said, ‘No, no, no. Again, flattered, but no.’ Then they came back at me again, and even my manager was like twisting my arm."
Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, and Galecki all made about $1 million per episode since the show's eighth season. The show ended up running for 11 seasons. When speaking to Rogan, Culkin said he was very aware of how much money he lost by turning down the role.
"I’d have hundreds of millions of dollars right now if I did that gig," he said. "But at the same time, I’d be bashing my head against the wall.."
Culkin experienced a resurgence in 2021 when he joined the cast of , the show's 10th season. His performance was praised by critics and his co-star Leslie Grossman. working with Culkin on set, as she told .
"I want to say that it was an absolute joy to work with Macaulay," she said. "And I didn't know him, I hadn't met him, we had a friend in common. We're both friends with Kat Dennings, and, when she first found out that he was going to be on the show, she immediately texted me and was like, 'He is an angel from heaven, you're going to love him.'"
Grossman continued by saying that she wasn't prepared for some of the things Culkin brought to the table.
"What surprised me the most about him was his total vulnerability," she said. "And he is not somebody who has some hardened exterior, or is super protective of themselves. He absolutely does not take himself too seriously. He's incredibly self aware, and has a really good perspective on who he is and what his past is, and the baggage that he brings with that."
Culkin's time on shows that he is still a talented actor, even if he's not as active as he used to be.
"This is where he's grown up," Grossman said. "This is like homecoming for him, you know, in a way that—I didn't start out until I was in my 20s. So he has grown up on sets, and you really feel that."