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Interview With Macaulay Culkin

Aired May 27, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a prime-time exclusive. Macaulay Culkin.



KING: From highest paid child star in movie history to a bitter break with the dad who drove his career, to teenage marriage and divorce, and years as a recluse.

Macaulay Culkin, a rare one-on-one, a prime-time exclusive is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Great pleasure to finally welcome Macaulay Culkin to LARRY KING LIVE. His new film, by the way, is "Saved." It opens Friday. It's already earned some amazingly good reviews. You'll be seeing clips from it.

You don't do a lot of interviews.

CULKIN: No, overall I kind of try to avoid them.

KING: Because?

CULKIN: I don't know, sometimes I feel uncomfortable, and I just -- I try to keep my private life private, overall. You know, I have this kind of opinion that once you start giving people things and they start expecting them, and so I just try to, you know, keep a distance.

KING: Did you have that when you were a kid, too, I mean, when you were young, when you did that first movie?

CULKIN: Yeah, no, I mean, it was crazy. I don't even remember half the stuff. I remember sitting one time doing 100 interviews in a day, and they're all television interviews and they're kind of -- and you just sit there and they bring these people in and out, and in out. You're seeing all the...

KING: It's called a junket.

CULKIN: It's a junket, exactly. And it's like, you don't -- no fresh air, no windows, no nothing. And I remember one time I actually fell asleep in the middle of one. This guy walked in, he was number like 70-something, and he just talked so slow -- and the next thing I know, I'm out. And just like that was what it was like, I was kind of just constantly.

KING: Do you buy this recluse thing, is that an unfair rap?

CULKIN: I don't know. I mean, I try not to label myself anything really, but you know, I'm definitely an indoorsy person, and I definitely kind of just try to, you know, stay away from life in the public eye at least.

KING: But you choose a profession that puts you in it.

CULKIN: Yeah, I know. Well, that's the funny thing, you know, because I've been doing this since I was 4 years old. You know, and it's not that I just don't know any better, it just kind of like -- it oddly found me in this weird way.

KING: How does one get to be -- and I've interviewed many over the years, people who got famous young, get to be a child star, like did your parents take you around to auditions?

CULKIN: I did a bit of that.

KING: You're a cute kid, and they said you should be on.

CULKIN: Kind of. Gosh, I couldn't even talk right until I was about 6 years old or something like that. But it just kind of happened. It was just kind of one of these weird things, where a friend of ours, a family friend, lived around the corner, she was a stage manager at this small theater and they were looking for a 6- year-old boy. And she had this big family around the corner, because I'm third of seven. And so she figured she'd find someone the right age and the right gender, and then plucked me out. And I remember, at some course during that audition I ended up on the table, doing my lines, standing on the table doing my lines. And...

KING: Did it come naturally to you?

CULKIN: Yeah, I always enjoyed the attention that came with being on stage. I never really liked all the other kind of stuff. I didn't really like photographers hiding in the bushes. I didn't appreciate that kind of attention, but I...

KING: But you liked it when the lights were on and there was an audience.

CULKIN: I loved it. And you know, I still do. I love, you know, when the lights are on and everything like that, and I almost feel more comfortable doing that than anything else in the world.

KING: How did you get "Home Alone"?

CULKIN: How did I get it? It was funny, because I was coming off of "Uncle Buck," which was also written by John Hughes...

KING: Great movie. CULKIN: Oh, thank you.

KING: That was a funny movie.

CULKIN: It was a good one.

KING: You were how old in that one?

CULKIN: I was 8 during that one. And so I -- and then...

KING: The late John Candy.

CULKIN: Yes, John Candy. You know, he was great.

KING: What a man.

CULKIN: But -- yeah, so he couldn't promise me the part, but he kind of wrote it with me in mind a bit. And so the thing is with child actors overall, the most important thing is that you have to know your lines. They're always worried about the kid's going to forget his lines. So, what my father, you know, who was clever -- one of the things he did was, you know, they'd give me these scenes, like scene 12 and scene 20 or whatever, and they were very, very short scenes. So what he would do is he'd go through the script, find the longest like monologues and longest, hardest scenes for a 9-year-old to do, and had me memorize them. So when I'd go into the room, they'd go, oh, do scene 12, I'm like, you know, I'm a little 9-year-old, I go, but no, I practiced scene 4. Do what you know. You know? And the next thing you know I'm rattling off this whole thing.

KING: Is it for a kid really an unreal world? I mean, is it...

CULKIN: Kind of -- I mean, I was kind of, you know, I was a kid. So it was kind of weird for me. And it's kind of -- I had to look at everything kind of in hindsight. But you know, I almost didn't know anything else. That was the thing. I mean, I realized that I was leading a very unique life and I was doing things other kids my age weren't doing, but at the same time, it was, you know, it was just crazy. It didn't really dawn on me until....

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tutors for you?

CULKIN: Tutors. All that stuff. I mean, I did go to school when I wasn't working, but it was still kind of difficult overall.

KING: And now, the unusual thing that happened to you that maybe never happened to other child stars, maybe Shirley Temple had it, a fantastic hit. How did you react to that?

CULKIN: You know, I was fine with it. I didn't really -- I was never really one of those cocky kids. I mean, my parents were very good about not telling me how much I was getting paid, so I wouldn't run to the kids in the neighborhood and say, hey, guess what, you know.

KING: But "Home Alone," you were 9. CULKIN: I was 9 for that one, yes.

KING: But you knew it did well. You knew it was...

CULKIN: I knew that, but at the same -- I mean, but to me, my mentality, is that all movies do that well. You know? You're in the movies and you're a movie star and that's what happens. And you know, that's me. I'm 9 years old. I never really even thought about it.

KING: What was it like when you went to see yourself?

CULKIN: I kind of had a blast. I mean, it's one of these things also overall that like, you know, you don't really like watching yourself, like you hear your own voice on your message machine, and you're like, I don't sound like that. It's the same thing. It's I don't look like that, I don't sound like that.

But at the same time, it was -- it was fun. I mean, I kind of just -- it was just a part of who I was. Like I said, I almost didn't know any better.

KING: What happened after? Where did Macaulay Culkin...

CULKIN: Where did he go?

KING: Where did he go? What happened? Your father, the whole...

CULKIN: It was all crazy.

KING: What happened?

CULKIN: Well, it was just crazy. And I kind of -- after a while, I mean, I did 14 movies in six years, which is more than two a year, and just kind of pumping them out. And I was at this point where I really wanted to take a break, and it was just a break even, and I really wasn't given that opportunity. I really didn't feel like anyone was listening to me when I was saying those things, and so when I, you know, when I was put in a position where I could take control of my own life and my own destiny and make decisions that were solely for my benefit and not for anyone else to make money on, or anything like that, I did, and I jumped in there and I kind of just -- I said, I'm retired. You know...

KING: At what age?

CULKIN: 14. I know, it's kind of -- it's kind of funny. I always joke. Yeah, I retired at 14.

KING: You made this adult decision.

CULKIN: Essentially, I had to take control. I was going crazy by that point. I knew it was, you know, if I just kept on doing it, I'd go nuts.

KING: And this caused the separation from your parents? CULKIN: From my father. Yeah, but that was kind of a part of me being able to take a step backwards, the fact that he wasn't there anymore. And so...

KING: By your decision?

CULKIN: No, not necessarily. Actually, it was my mom's decision, really, and it was really kind of -- it was great to see her really kind of empower herself and say, you know, get the heck out of here, because you know what...

KING: Was he overbearing?

CULKIN: He was overbearing. The thing is, the funny thing about him is is that when, you know, people ask me about him and things like that is that, you know, he was always the way he was. I mean, before money, before fame, before anything like that, I mean, he just wasn't always a good person.

KING: Controller?

CULKIN: Yes, he was very controlling, very, you know, just -- he played games with you, just to make sure you were still in your place. I remember, you know, when I was -- this is near the end, and I was making God knows how much money, you know, and I didn't have a bed. I didn't even have a room. I was sleeping on the couch. Me and my brother were sleeping on the couch, you know, he had -- and I don't even want to talk about how big his bed was or how big his television was, or anything like that. It was more to prove a point, I think.

KING: Did you win the law case?

CULKIN: Well, no, it was actually, it was a custody trial.

KING: Of yourself?

CULKIN: It was over me and my younger siblings, everyone who was basically under 18 at the time.

KING: Who was fighting?

CULKIN: My parents were, for custody, basically. And -- see, yeah, I always joked that other people's stories get mixed up with mine all the time. Like...

KING: What's yours?

CULKIN: Well, I didn't amend to pick myself from them. What happened was is that, you know, my parents after a while -- and this is a long, drawn out process, yeah, and so after a while, my parents were spending all their money on lawyers bills, and things like that. And they couldn't -- you know, my mother couldn't pay the rent anymore. And it was just absurd that we were going to get evicted. You know, I don't even -- I didn't even know how much money I had in the bank at the time. So what happened was is that both my parents had legal guardianship of about 20 percent of my money, and the other 80 percent was in a trust that no one could touch, not even me, until I was 18 years old. And so what I did was is I took both their names off of it, and replaced it with an accountant friend of mine who was actually very familiar...

KING: At age 14?

CULKIN: I must have been 15 maybe at the time or 16...

KING: Now, are you totally estranged from your dad?

CULKIN: Yes, yes, I am.

KING: Don't see him, don't talk to him.

CULKIN: No, and don't really have any desire to. It's kind of the way it is. I mean, it's unfortunate, you know, but at the same time, you know, people are like, oh, isn't it sad that you don't see your father anymore? And it's like, you know, he's the only father I knew, and he wasn't like taking us to, you know, baseball games or anything like that.

KING: Do you know where he is?

CULKIN: Vaguely, yes, but at the same time, not, you know, I don't really want to know. As long as he's not, you know, standing outside my door, you know, I'm fine.

KING: We'll talk about "Saved." You'll be seeing clips of it. It opens Friday. Our guest is Macaulay Culkin. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


CULKIN: So, how did you end up at American Eagle? I mean, you're Jewish, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, after I got expelled from my last school, it was either here or home schooling. Figured I could handle these freaks better than my parents.

CULKIN: Well, lucky me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you playing footsies with me?

CULKIN: Wheelies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, look is that...

CULKIN: Mary. What is she doing downtown?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's only one reason Christian girls come down to the Planned Parenthood.

CULKIN: She's planting a pipe bomb?





ANNA CHLUMSKY, ACTRESS: Close your eyes.

CULKIN: Then I won't be able to see anything.

CHLUMSKY: Just do it.

CULKIN: Okay, okay.

CHLUMSKY: On the count of three, one, two, two and a half, three.


KING: That famous scene from "My Girl." We're going to look back at what Macaulay had to say about that kiss. By the way it won the movie award for best kiss. He was 11. Here's what he said at the time.


CULKIN: Well, it was a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It was like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the whole thing. She went -- I went, like this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you get real embarrassed?

CULKIN: Not really. It was like this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many takes did you have to do on it?

CULKIN: About 15.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it wasn't one of the best parts of the day.



KING: Was it weird?

CULKIN: It's kind of weird. It's funny. It's almost like home movies some of this stuff.

KING: Is it weird to look at yourself?

CULKIN: It is. It still is. I think it's weird for anyone to look at themselves.

KING: Grown-up looking at themselves.

CULKIN: Exactly. It's this funny odd form of home movies where, you know, my life has been chronicled through television.

KING: We have to cover it so let's ask about it.

What's the relationship you had with Michael Jackson?

CULKIN: Had or have?

KING: Both.

CULKIN: Whatever.

KING: Let's go with had to have.

CULKIN: He's a good friend of mine and still is. Everything that's going on is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved, and you know...

KING: When did you first get to meet him?

CULKIN: I first meet him -- kind of called me randomly out of the blue, hi, it's Michael. It's like hey. And the thing is...

KING: This after "Home Alone."

CULKIN: This is after "Home Alone." I had actually met him before I was doing "Nutcracker" at Lincoln Center. I was playing Fritz, and he came back stage one day. And I actually met him very briefly and he kind of recognized me because it was after I had done "Uncle Buck." And so, he kind of mentions something. Than he calls me up kind of out of the blue and it's just this weird, random kind of thing. Why don't you come over to my house?

Think is, I didn't react to him the way most people did. Most people are like Michael Jackson, and you know, he was a god to people. And to me, I knew he was a pop singer but beyond that, I wasn't one of the fans. I think that's one of the reasons why we connected was the fact that -- believe me, I call him a jerk all the time. I call him a fat head and this and that and he gets it.

KING: And brother (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to..

CULKIN: Yes. We all did. He was a family friend.

KING: What happened at the house? That's what all the things that people are concerned about.

CULKIN: That's what's so weird.

KING: What did happen?

CULKIN: Nothing happened. You know, nothing really. I mean, we played video games. We, you know, played at his amusement park.

KING: Did he sleep in the bed?

CULKIN: The thing is with that whole thing, oh, you slept in the same bedroom as him. It's like, I don't think you understand, Michael Jackson's bedroom is two stories and it has like three bathrooms and this and that. So, when I slept in his bedroom, yes, but you understand the whole scenario. And the thing is with Michael he's not good as explaining himself and he never really has been, because he's not a very social person. You're talking about someone who has been sheltered and sheltering himself also for the last like 30 years. And so, he's not very good at communicating to people and not good at conveying what he's actually trying to say to you. So, when he says something like that people -- he doesn't quite understand why people react the way that they do.

KING: Why do you think he likes young people so much?

CULKIN: Because the same reason why he liked me, was the fact that I didn't care who he was. That was the thing. I talked to him like he was a normal human being and kids do that to him because he's Michael Jackson the pop singer, but he's not the God, the "king of pop" or anything like that. He's just a guy who is actually very kid- like himself and wants to go out there and wants to play video games with you.

KING: Did your parents encourage it?

CULKIN: They weren't against it. It wasn't like they encouraged it or pushing me upon it. I wanted to hang out with him and they were fine.

KING: What do you make of what he's going through now?

CULKIN: Like I said, it's unfortunate, and you know, it's a circus.

KING: Do you think it's a bad rap?

CULKIN: You know, I think so. Yes. Listen, look what happened the first time this happened to him. If someone had done something like that to my kid, I wouldn't settle for some money. I'd make sure the guy was in jail. It just really goes to show as soon as they got the money and they ran. I mean, that's what really what happened the first time. And so I don't know. It's a little crazy and I kind of have taken a step back from the whole thing, because it is a bit of a circus. And you know, if the same thing was happening to me, I wouldn't want to drag him into it and vice versa. So I try my best to take a distance from it, but like I said he was still a friend of mine.

KING: If they asked you to be a character witness, would you appear? CULKIN: I guess so, but probably not. Like I said, it's crazy, and I don't really want to be a part of it.

KING: You like him.

CULKIN: I like him and he's a friend of mine. I'm not saying I wouldn't. It hasn't been brought up to me and I don't think he'd want me to either. Just because, like I said, if the same thing was happening to me...

KING: What reaction has happened to you from all of this?

CULKIN: What do you mean?

KING: Do people inquire of you a lot about it?

CULKIN: Sometimes. You know, people always have their opinions. It's funny. People always talk to me about him, because you know, I'm one of these people who will tell you anything about my life, really, to get me going. You know, so yes, I mean, I've openly and freely talked about him and stuff like that. But overall, you know, s' just a good friend of mine.

KING: You wish him well.

CULKIN: Of course I do.

KING: What got you into drugs?

CULKIN: What got you into -- wow!

KING: We slide into it easily.

CULKIN: Yes. There was a nice transition there, you know, very smooth. I don't know.

KING: I'm going to talk about the movie too, because I'm fascinated by the plot.

CULKIN: I don't know, you know, it's the same as any kid. That was the whole thing. I mean, you know, everything that I do for some reason becomes this big crazy thing, you know, even though any normal person does it. Like, yes I'm a kid, I had a beer, I smoked a joint. Big deal? You know, what I'm saying, it's not something I make a thing out of.

KING: Did you ever have a problem?

CULKIN: No, I never had a problem.

KING: Never go to Betty Ford.

CULKIN: Contrary to polar popular belief, never jail or rehab and may parents didn't steal all of my money and all those other child star cliches.

KING: How many lies have you read about you in the tabloids?

CULKIN: Millions. Yes. I mean, forget about it. It just comes with the territory. I remember I got a call from my lawyer one day. Calls me up and goes hay Mac, are you there? I go, of course, I'm here. I just checking because I just got a call from CNN that you died of a drug overdose?

And I go, no, I'm still here, but thanks a lot, thanks for calling, talk to you tomorrow. It was so just surreal, you know it was just one of these things. It's like a cliche.

KING: There are people 50-years-old that can't handle that.

CULKIN: At that time, especially because I was taking a step back and I wasn't working, everything, you know, like when I quit, I just basically said you can have it. You can have the Macaulay Culkin. You can have that image and you can control it and you can say whatever you want with it, my mom or my dad or the newspapers, whatever, because I didn't care. It wasn't mine and I was never going to do this again. I was never planning on acting or going into this ever again. So, that's why I really didn't care. So, I never hired a publicist to like protect me or anything.

KING: Why did you come back?

CULKIN: Because like I said, it's something that comes naturally to me and I kind of did miss it. It's something -- like I said, I didn't go out there and seek it. I didn't find it. It found me in this way, and I feel I like it.

KING: Did you protect your money?

CULKIN: Yes. No, I still got it. I actually live below my means. I lead a very, very simple life.

KING: So you have enough that you could -- don't have to work.

CULKIN: I'm not doing. Yes, I'm not working because I have to work or anything like that. Actually, I have all the money I need. So, it's all about just me wanting to go out there and do cool interesting things.

KING: I'll ask about that in a minute.

How are your siblings doing?

CULKIN: Fantastic.

KING: Are you close?

CULKIN: Yes. I'm still close with everyone. With my mom and all my brothers and sisters.

KING: Are they all out here?

CULKIN: No. They're all in New York, that's where we were born and raised. My brother just moved...

KING: So, you're still a New Yorker.

CULKIN: Yes, basicly. I've been splitting my time in the last year or two between New York and L.A. But yes.

KING: We'll go to break with Macaulay Culkin in "Uncle Buck." Watch.


CULKIN: Where do you live?

JOHN CANDY, ACTOR: In the city.

CULKIN: Do you have a house?

CANDY: Apartment.

CULKIN: Own or rent?

CANDY: Rent.

CULKIN: What do you do for a living?

CANDY: Lots of things.

CULKIN: Where is your office?

CANDY: I don't have one.

CULKIN: How come?

CANDY: I don't need one.

CULKIN: Where's your wife?

CANDY: I don't have one.

CULKIN: How come?

CANDY: It's a long story.

CULKIN: Do you have kids.

CANDY: No I don't.

CULKIN: How come?

CANDY: It's even a longer story.

CULKIN: Are your my dad's brother?

CANDY: What's your record for consecutive questions asked?

CULKIN: Thirty eight. CANDY: I'm your dad's brother all right.

CULKIN: You have much more hair in your nose than my dad.

CANDY: How nice of you to notice.

CULKIN: I'm a kid. That's my job.




CULKIN: I took a shower once and everybody thought it was actual soap including all the major crevices, including in between my toes, and in my belly button which I never did before but sort of enjoyed. I washed my hair with the dark form of the shampoo. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I can't seem to find my toothbrush so I'll pick one up when I go out today. Other than that, I'm in good shape.


KING: Did you ever have a chance to be a kid?

CULKIN: Overall, I guess, yes. I mean, my own kind of unique abnormal way.

KING: Went to a private school?

CULKIN: I went to Catholic school and then I went to private school and whenever I was home I tried my best to be social.

KING: You have friends?

CULKIN: I had friends. You know, I always joked I had a million acquaintances and only a couple of close friends.

KING: Yes, but did you have a couple of 8-year-olds who went to see "Home Alone" and went, hey, Mac, you're a star.

CULKIN: Exactly. It was a little weird sometimes, like certain kids would react oddly especially when you put them in a group and they're all trying to one-up each other and kind of, like, whatever.

KING: How did your brothers and sisters do?

CULKIN: In their own different ways, you know, my older brother, he got very kind of protective of and wanted to make sure no one would take advantage of me but at the same time he watched someone like Rory (ph), my youngest brother who is working now, he kind of more was able to watch and learn and now I think he's a lot more savvy than he should be when he's 14.

KING: For want of a better word it was a weird existence.


KING: Certainly not the norm.

CULKIN: It's unique. How's that?

KING: That's a good word. Tell me about "Saved!." You're in a wheelchair.

CULKIN: I play Roland. He's in a wheelchair. It's kind of a dark comedy, set in a Christian town. We were definitely treading that fine line.

KING: What's the story about? Is that girl supposed to be Jewish?

CULKIN: Yes, she's the only Jewish girl in this small town. It's about a girl named Mary played by Jena Malone and she's a good Christian girl, living a good Christian life, in a good Christian town, good Christian friends, the whole works and she finds out her good Christian boyfriend is gay.

KING: That's you?

CULKIN: No, no, not me. It's this actor, Chad Faust, his name is. So what she does, she wants to degayify (ph) him basically and she tries several different things and eventually ends up giving him her virginity and in the process gets pregnant. He gets shipped away Mercy House which is a degayification (ph) center.

KING: And you are?

CULKIN: I'm one of the people, now that she's pregnant, that kind of helps hide it from the rest of the community, me and my Jewish girlfriend. So we're a bit of the outcasts. I'm in the wheelchair and she's the Jew.

KING: Are you Catholic or Christian?

CULKIN: I'm really neither. I was a practicing Catholic for a long time. I did get baptized, had my first holy communion, the whole kind of thing but I kind of -- I'm more spiritual than anything else. I guess I believe in God but God's also kind of a label.

KING: Why did you take this movie?

CULKIN: Because it was fantastic. When I first read it, I said I'll do the lights, I'll hold the microphone if you want me to, I'll do whatever you want. I just want to be a part of it. It was so smart and funny and so well-structured. I loved the cast and the people involved. I was friends with Sandy Stern and Michael Stipe, the producers. We were friends before this whole thing...

KING: Do you see a lot of scripts?

CULKIN: I see a good amount of scripts, yes, and it's kind of, you know, it's funny because when there is something good out there, everyone's going for it. That's the thing. So it's hard to make good stuff.

KING: Are you ever going to be allowed to be grownup? You're how old now?

CULKIN: I'm 23.

KING: In "Saved!" are you 23?

CULKIN: Actually, no, I'm, like, 17.

KING: When are you going to be cast as 25?

CULKIN: I have no control over people's perceptions of me at all and that's one of the things I decided very early on is that I can't control the way other people think of me. All I can do, especially when it comes to my career is go out there and do cool unique kinds of things. I don't want to do the same parts over and over again. I don't want to put myself in a box and say yes, I'm only going to do things that take place high school or I only do things where I get to carry a gun. Because then you're putting yourself in a box.

KING: But do you think you are a box?

CULKIN: I hope not. I try not to do. I try doing different kinds of things. I go to London and do a play, I do something like "Party Monster" and I do something like this. I try to do different kinds of things. It's just more for my personal satisfaction than it is for anything else. It's not about money.

KING: You get as much kick out of theater?

CULKIN: Yes, I love theater. I'll do it in a heartbeat. If there's some good material out there...

KING: You'd go to Broadway?

CULKIN: I'll do it in Leningrad, I don't care. I'll go anywhere you want me, if it's good material, it's my favorite form.

KING: What's it like at your age to be financially secure?

CULKIN: It's weird. Like I said, it's always been the way it is. It's comforting, sure.

KING: You must have had very good contracts then.

CULKIN: Yes, and not that I even knew. It wasn't like there was like, hey, you know...

KING: Did you have a piece of the film like "Home Alone?"

CULKIN: I think I did get some back end stuff and things like that. I wasn't really -- I really didn't know the details in my contracts. That was done on purpose. My parents made sure I didn't really know what was going on, at least, on the financial side.

KING: That would have been bad.

CULKIN: When I turned 18, I sat down in my accountant's office, it was basically the day where he put down a piece of paper in front of me and said this is how much you're worth. It was interesting, because it was one of these moments where it was like I felt like this little boy worked really hard and I inherited all of his money. I felt like I inherited this money in some odd way.

KING: We'll take a break, go to your phone calls for Macaulay Culkin, and as we go to break, another scene from "Saved!." Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen, I'm really sorry I ditched you yesterday.

CULKIN: Look, this year's been great. Before you, it was all about Hilary Faye dragging my (UNINTELLIGIBLE) around all the time and when you left yesterday, I stuck on my own. It was OK.


CULKIN: So, I realized that I might just be relying on you. The same way I was relying on Hilary Faye.


CULKIN: I don't want to be the guy who is with the girl because he needs her. I want to be the guy who is with the girl because he wants her. And I want you.





CULKIN: Hey, Mr. Walker, sorry I'm late. I figured since I'm a lawyer now, I should probably have a suit. So I stopped off at the Men's Warehouse, but my credit card got declined, so I had to call my mom. But not to worry, I got the suit and I'm ready to get medieval on law's ass.


KING: That was on "Will and Grace." Why did you take that?

CULKIN: It was fun. I had never done television before. And it was one of these things where it was just a new forum, and they called me up -- they wouldn't let me see the script, because they don't do that. So they kind of described the part to me. And I had never seen the show before.

KING: No? CULKIN: No. So I had them send me some tapes, and I actually thought that was to my advantage kind of going in there fresh.

KING: You like comedy?

CULKIN: Yes, actually, I do. It was funny, before that, my friend Seth Green, who I did "Party Monster" with, we were doing promotions somewhere. He was saying, you're a funny guy, you should do comedies. And I go, you know, half of what I've done is comedies, you know. It was one of these things where it's, oh, I guess other people are forgetting. So I thought, let's go out there and do something, you know, funny.

KING: We go to calls for Macaulay Culkin. The new film is "Saved." It opens Friday. Norristown, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Macaulay.

CULKIN: Hello.

CALLER: How often do people ask you to slap your hands on your face and scream Howard Stern?

CULKIN: It actually happens all the time.

KING: It's a regular daily (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CULKIN: It's one of those things -- you know, it's one of these things where it's kind of sad, you know. I feel like I'd be disappointing people because I've gotten older. You know, and it's like they would be like, oh, he's old and it's pathetic now. And so, you know, I almost don't want to let people down, so I don't really do it.

KING: Toronto, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Just want to tell you, one of your best roles was "Uncle Buck." And what was it like working with John Candy? What memories do you have?

KING: Good question.

CULKIN: Well, he was -- yeah, he was funny. I mean, he was fantastic. I mean, it's weird, because I was 8 years old at the time, so I kind of only have very kind of these loose memories. I remember it was John Hughes' birthday and he got...

KING: The director.

CULKIN: Yeah, yeah, and so he got a clown on the set that day, and he was calling him little Johnny boy, and like put a little hat on him and everything like that. And then he got a stripper later on. But I wasn't there for that. And so he was just a fun, funny kind of joyful guy.

KING: Did you realize when you saw it back at 8 how funny that scene was with the questions?

CULKIN: It's so -- I haven't seen some of these things in so long. So yeah, I mean, it's funny stuff, but you know, who am I to say?

KING: John overate though, did he not?

CULKIN: What's that?

KING: John did not take care of himself.

CULKIN: No, and that was just the way it was.

KING: Hemmett (ph), California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I was wondering how you liked working with Marilyn Manson there in "Party Monster?"

CULKIN: He was fantastic, actually. We always look forward to having him on the set, because -- you know, he only worked I think like the very first day and like the last week, basically, and he was just -- he was -- actually he's a very, very intelligent person, and you have to be to do what he's done, to pull this off, basically.

KING: He's a little nuts, isn't he? No?

CULKIN: But that's kind of -- that's a part of...

KING: That's his schtick.

CULKIN: That's his thing. I mean, he's a bit crazy. You know, but at the same time, he's kind of that's what he wants people to think. And he is a smart, funny guy. He had this very specific image of what he wanted the character, what kind of cigarettes he smoked. And he brought his own fake boobs to set and everything. All the wardrobe was his, basically.

KING: Cleveland, hello.



CALLER: How are you? My question is, Macaulay, do you think that you're the happiest that you've been in your life right now, at this point in your life?

CULKIN: I'd say so. Yeah, I mean, I have a pretty good life, you know. I'm doing some -- you know, I'm doing some cool movies, you know, and I got my dog and I got my apartment, and like all of those things. I mean, I have a pretty good, good thing going.

KING: And a cute girlfriend, too.

CULKIN: And I got a cute girlfriend, too.

KING: When was the unhappiest?

CULKIN: Gosh, that's the thing. I don't really remember a lot of my younger life being unhappy.

KING: Even the squabble with your father?

CULKIN: It was kind of the way it was. And actually, you know, once he was gone, it was actually a good thing. I mean, despite all like the craziness and the media and how people just treated the situation, because it was a very private, personal, family problem that was kind of, you know, on the cover of "The New York Post" every day. But at the same time, we were just glad that he was gone. And so that was -- you know, we were actually happy, you know, even throughout that whole stuff. Even though it was confusing.

KING: So you don't even view that as a great, troubling period?

CULKIN: No, not really, you know. I kind of just -- I try to keep my head on straight, and that's all.

KING: To St. Joseph, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yeah, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. I was just wondering how you were able to get over your bout with agoraphobia, because I have something similar to that as well.

CULKIN: It's just one of these things. I didn't even realize I wasn't leaving the house a lot. I kind of just -- I just kind of, you know, there was always photographers in the bushes and things like that, and there was a lot of things out there that were trying to consume me.

KING: Do you ever go out of your house?

CULKIN: So I almost never left the house. And it was just one of these things, where, you know, one of the reason why I got the dog was to get me out of the house three times a day, at least to just walk around the block and things like that.

KING: If you're a true agoraphobic, you can't go out.

CULKIN: You can't really go out. I mean, it wasn't like -- I wasn't even -- like I was more of just -- it was more of a self- diagnosed agoraphobic. It wasn't like I went to a therapist and he said it. It's just I realized -- I started going outside, and it felt like the buildings were going to eat me. So I kind of just...

KING: That's what happens, right?

CULKIN: It is kind of what happens. And so it is one of those things...

KING: Is it true that you make plans to go out and then always change them?

CULKIN: Sometimes, things like that. Yeah, and you know, I kind of -- but I just kind of started dragging myself out of the house a little bit more and more. I guess the dog helps and things like that. But it's just kind of...

KING: Did you do it yourself, you did not have help?

CULKIN: It was just a matter of realizing where was this coming from, and kind of just figuring it all out for myself. And why was I, you know, why, you know, am I this way, why did I feel the need to, you know, do these things to myself.

KING: You almost wrote to J.D. Salinger...

CULKIN: We were joking about that.

KING: ... a famous writer who's a recluse.

CULKIN: Yeah, yeah, and so I was thinking, you know, when I was especially in that place where I wasn't leaving the house at all, I was like, yeah, wouldn't that be funny if I wrote him a letter. It's like you don't leave the house, I don't leave the house; let's talk.

KING: Do you understand recluses?

CULKIN: Do I understand -- yes, I do. Very much so.

KING: You know what drives them to want to be...

CULKIN: Overall, I'm by nature I think I'm the same way. I mean, overall...

KING: But you're a charming interviewee, you're responsive.

CULKIN: Well, thank you. But at the same time, I prefer being at home. You know, I prefer, you know...

KING: Rather be alone.

CULKIN: Alone at my home.

KING: Home alone.

Castle Rock, Nevada, hello. Hello, are you there? Is anyone there? Hello?

CULKIN: We lost them.

KING: We lost them. We'll take a break and be back with more of Macaulay Culkin right after this. The new film is "Saved," it opens Friday. Don't go away.



CULKIN: I took a real good look when my kid brother Richard drowned in the bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your brother drowned?

CULKIN: He's completely blue. I looked at his eyes and lips, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up about my mom!

CULKIN: Don't get mad. I am just trying to be scientific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just shut up or I'll hit you!

CULKIN: Try it. I'll throw you down there.




CULKIN: What's your name?


CULKIN: Where's your wings.


CULKIN: Listen can you help us get this door closed. You get to do it from the outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if I do that, then I won't be able to come.

CULKIN: If you do this now, you'll be one of us and the next time I'll make you VIP, very, very important person.

Come on, now. Be an Angel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael, you're out of your mind.

CULKIN: Oh, please, party in the truck.


KING: We're back with Macaulay Culkin.

The film "Saved" by the way, opens in five select cities Friday and opens wide June 10th.

What happened -- you had a fire? CULKIN: There was a fire, yes, a couple of years ago, two or three days before Christmas in New York. I don't remember what year it was, it must have been like '99, something like that. And yes, it was a fire. I basically woke up, had two friends of mine pounding on my door saying there's a fire in your apartment, and I actually thought there was a fire in my apartment. But it was at my mom's place with the kids and everything. It started in their -- their apartment. Basically I wasn't there. But it was one of these things where I think sparks came out of the radiator. And some of the plastic blinds on fire.

Yes. Everyone from my family got out. Some people did die in the building.

KING: Really.

CULKIN: Yes. It was very unfortunate and very sad. And it was just one of the things you never want to happen to everyone.

KING: Santa Barbara, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for Macaulay Culkin is, with a generation of young people what advice do you have for young adults and parents to get motivated to make change?

And in your own life who did have as a role model to get motivated?

KING: What motivated you?

CULKIN: Motivated me? Gosh, I was just looking for stability, and happiness. I was just trying to -- I just have had a very unique existence overall and so it's almost like I almost have no place giving any normal human being any advice about what it's like to be happy. It just, you know, but at the same time, you know, just be a good person. Be good to the people around you.

KING: What led you with all the things that you happened in your life to get married?

CULKIN: It was just -- that's one of the things. Like I said, when I do normal things people think I'm crazy.

KING: You were how old when you got married?

CULKIN: I was 17 when I got married.

KING: That's normal?

CULKIN: Not necessarily normal. It's not the norm or the average age but, you'd be surprised how many letters I've gotten, we were married 50 years and we got married when we were 17.

KING: How old was your wife?

CULKIN: Seventeen as well, also. KING: Why didn't it work?

CULKIN: Why doesn't any marriage work. You know, it just happened sometimes. You never want something like that to happen. And of course when we got married we thought we'd be together forever. I mean...

KING: You didn't know how much you were worth then.

CULKIN: Around that point -- around that point I was starting to figure it, sort of put it all together.

KING: Are you friendly with her?

CULKIN: Yes, basicly, I'm friendly, I haven't really spoke on it her in a while but yes.

KING: St. Paul, Minnesota, hello.

CALLER: Hi, yes. How are you doing, Macaulay?

CULKIN: Good, thank you.

CALLER: I would like to know, in the future, if you have children, would you consider putting them in show business and if so, what would you do differently than your father did to guide their career?

KING: Good question.

CULKIN: I'm not sure I would -- I would put them into the business. If it's something that they really wanted, like they were crying and bawling and "I want to be in show business," like maybe. But essentially, I'd just say wait until you're 18. There's so much more you can learn. So much more can do. And do it when you're an adult. There's no reason to start now.

KING: Do you wish you had had a more normal child?

CULKIN: No. I like the way I am. And I like the way, you know, I've ended up. I'm very happy right now. So there's no reason. If I changed one little thing I wouldn't be the person I am today.

KING: Was it your father that encouraged to you get in?

CULKIN: No. I was one of those kids who had a lot of energy, enjoyed -- like I said the attention that came with being on stage. And it kind of just all happened. Yes.

KING: Frederickton, New Brunswick, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Hi, Macaulay.

CULKIN: Hello.

CALLER: My question is, in the near future do you happen to see yourself doing any directing or possibly teaching acting to young actors and what advice would you give to any aspiring young actor?

CULKIN: I'm of the opinion overall like of course, yes I want to direct and things like that. But I hate it when actors are out there saying I'm going to direct and produce. And you know, what I loved about Ron Howard, was -- he said I'm going to be a director and did it. And it wasn't like he was all talk. You know, he actually went out there and did it. So, if I'm ever going to do something like that I would go out and do it. I don't need to announce it to the world or anything like that. And I have a lot to learn before I go down that path, if that's what I decide for myself.

KING: What advice would you give young people?

CULKIN: Gosh, you know...

KING: The odds are against you to begin with. The lowest paying business in the Screen Actors Guild are the lowest paid people in America.

CULKIN: It can be. Yes. I mean, you know, it's crazy. You've just got to kind of keep your head on straight. There's a lot of people who put emphasis in the wrong places, like being at the right parties or things like that. And it's all about going out there and doing good work. Ultimately I'm of the belief that 90 percent of the time the cream rises to the top. And people who are talented are going to stay and withstand the test of time. As opposed to the people who are more in it for the celebrity aspects of it.

KING: To Santa Ana, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Macaulay.

CULKIN: Yes, hi.

CALLER: Hi, I'd like to know -- you seem like you are really leading your life really great.

CULKIN: Thank you.

CALLER: And you've got a good head on your shoulders and everything. And I feel like you're my kid in a way. I feel really proud of you.

CULKIN: Thank you.

CALLER: And I was wonder, where do you see yourself, in let's say, 20 years down the road?

CULKIN: I have no idea. I always joke around, that like oh, I'm going to get this acting thing out of my system by the time I'm 30, so I can go off and be a writer like I really want, and this and that. I mean, I try not to plain that far into the future.

KING: You want family? You want...

CULKIN: Yes, of course. I want a family and I want the house and the yard and, you know was is it, 2.2 kids now. I don't know what the average is now. I want to do all of those things, but I want to work. I want to see what's out there for me. I want to do it until it doesn't stimulate me anymore.

KING: Is there still a lot of Catholicism?

CULKIN: There's the -- there's the respect/fear of any, you know, that's been instilled in me from that very early age towards Catholicism. My father worked in the church, so he was the sacristan, which means, he kind of cleaned the place up. But one of his duties was setting up Mass. And so, he'd take the waivers and the wine, put it on this gold tray and he'd bring it out there. I remember all of these people out there, this big holy thing, it's the body of Christ, the blood of Christ. I'm like this is crackers and wine, just put out there. You know, it's like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to me, you know. It just gave me this tainted view of religion, at least the ritual aspects of it.

KING: Were you an altar boy?

CULKIN: No, I wasn't actually, I think my brother was, though.

KING: To Lincoln, Nebraska, hello.

CALLER: You were so wonderful in the "Good Son" and at such a young age. And after doing the "Home Alone" movies, how in the world did you make that switch and be able to stretch to such a part at such a young age?

CULKIN: Gosh, you know, that was one of the movies that I really, really wanted to do. I knew it was different than anything else I was doing before. And you know, I wanted to kind of go to those places. I wanted to see. It was just kind of more almost acting more on instinct than anyone else. It wasn't like I had any formal training. It wasn't like I had ever played a part like that before. So, I was just trying my best to portray this character and tell the story.

KING: Do you find yourself interested, like the kid from, "I see dead people."

CULKIN: Haley Joel Osmond.

KING: Yes. What do you think of him?

CULKIN: I like him. I think, he's incredibly talented. And you know, other child actors keep an eye out for every else, and kind of make sure that everything is going OK and seeing...

KING: What do you hear about him?

CULKIN: You know, I hear he's a good kid. I don't know. I wouldn't presume to act like I know anything about him. Because one of the things I hated, especially growing up, was when other child actors grow up and say I know what you're going through, and I know, exactly what you're like. I'm like no you don't. You don't know me and don't know what it's like to be me. And you know, I wouldn't presume to pretend like I know you So, I would not even presume to comment on his life, and you know the way he acts, because I don't know.

KING: When you watch other actors work, do you ever say I'd have done it this way?

CULKIN: Well, in what capacity, any actor?

KING: In any capacity.

CULKIN: Sure, I guess. I think other actors do that also. It's not just me. It's one those things..

KING: It's your profession?

CULKIN: Yes, it's a part of what I do. So, yes. Sure, I can do that. It's so easy to say.

KING: Our guest is Macaulay Culkin. We'll be back with our remaining moments. The film "Saved" opens in five select city Friday. What are they?

CULKIN: You've got New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and D.C.

KING: And on June 10th it will open wide.


KING: Wide. We'll be back right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is! Whoa!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah, I got you! I got him, Harry! I got him. Harry, get up, give me a hand. I got him. Harry, help me! Get up.




CULKIN: Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richie, dear, are you sure you don't want to dine with us?

CULKIN: It's OK, mom. I really don't like that guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's all right, dear. Neither do I. But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is very good for you. Liver is rich in protein. CULKIN: It's so tasty, too. Bye, mom.


CULKIN: That's me.

KING: Are you writing a book?

CULKIN: Oh, kind of, yes.

KING: What do you mean kind of? You are or you aren't.

CULKIN: I write and it's something that's very kind of sacred and something that's very kind of personal to me. So it's just...

KING: By the way, when it comes out, I know it's kind of personal but usually you have to promote it. I hate to break it to you, but you sort to of have to go out...

CULKIN: I was thinking of publishing under a pen name.

KING: Or maybe writing for yourself and not even publishing. Just write it and read it in your room.

CULKIN: That's what I'm thinking about, too.

KING: Go to your room and read it. Yet you have a girlfriend who's also -- she was in television, right?

CULKIN: Yes, she is.

KING: She was in, what, that "70s" girl.

CULKIN: Sure, you're saying it. I'm not. It's not like I'm embarrassed about my relationship...

KING: "That 70s show." There she is.

CULKIN: Oh, there she is. It's something -- like I said, once you start giving people things and they start expecting things and so I try keep my private life private overall.

KING: OK, OK! Killeen, Texas, hello.

CALLER: I've been a huge fan for years and I wanted to know what is the movie that you're most proud of?

CULKIN: The movie that I'm most proud of? Gosh, it almost would be unfair to really say, oh, you know, this of my favorite, that was my favorite. To be totally honest and it's not just because I'm here promoting but I think "Saved!" might be my favorite. I had such a good time, great cast, there's actually people my own age on set and things like to that. I think it's the smartest thing I've ever done and just the coolest thing I've ever done.

KING: Chicago, hello. CALLER: I'm Sylvia. I saw "Home Alone" 50 times because of you. I just want to know, what did you think about working in that beautiful home and did you ever consider college or think about it or do you hate it? Anyway, I love you.

CULKIN: Thank you.

KING: Was that in Chicago?

CULKIN: Yes, Chicago. It was in -- I think it was Winnetka, something with a W. I think it was Winnetka. Beautiful house. Actually, we shot the whole first one -- like we did a lot there. The second one we only shot half a day there. They figured out how to build it and shoot around it. They actually printed up T-shirts and everything. They were so supportive of the film before we even came out or anything like that.

KING: Santa Barbara, California, hello.

CALLER: Macaulay, which actors and directors would you most like to work with?

CULKIN: It's so hard. I have actually been asked this before. I almost wouldn't exclude almost anyone. Of course, I'm not the only actor out there that wants to work with, like, Martin Scorsese or like Johnny Depp or...

KING: Or Ron Howard.

CULKIN: Sure, I'd love to. I wouldn't say no.

KING: Don't. Ottawa, Canada, last call, hello. Go ahead. hello.

CULKIN: We can't hear you.

KING: He's afraid to talk. Must have been a kid. Sort of like an early Mac.

CULKIN: Earlier version of me.

KING: Maybe a reclusive kid.

KING: He dialed the phone, he thought he'd say something but he just couldn't say it. So our advice to him would be, get a dog.

CULKIN: Yes, get a dog.

KING: What is next?

CULKIN: What is next? I actually don't have anything that I can sit here and promote right away. I'm looking at some projects and different kinds of things but I am in no hurry. I don't need to go out there and do ten projects a year to make myself feel better as a creative artistic person. I'll do one cool small project a year that I'm really, really proud of. KING: You have no economic pressure.

CULKIN: Exactly. I'm very, very fortunate.

KING: Mac, it's been a great pleasure finally having you with us.

CULKIN: There you go.

KING: Macaulay Culkin and the film is "Saved!" It opens in five cities Friday and wide on June 10. I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Hey, they have a winner and a runner-up in "American Idol." We got them both tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. Plus a follow-up on the latest stewings of the royals.


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