What was Macaulay Culkin like when "Home Alone" came out? We dipped back in the archives and found our story with him from 1990.
LOS ANGELES -- Forget the latest in video games. What 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin really wants is a bedroom security system.
"My brothers and sisters come in there all the time and mess things up," the star of "Home Alone" and "Uncle Buck" explains. "I have a TV there, too, and I don't want anything to happen to it."
An ear-piercing alarm, he says, would alert him to intruders no matter how cagey. Some traps (like the trusty bucket over the door) have worked in the past. But the older of his six siblings have started to catch on.
And now, Culkin says, he's forced to think state-of-the-art: "They just won't leave me alone."
In "Home Alone," a new comedy that opens today, Culkin plays an ingenious 8-year-old who comes up with a battery of clever traps designed to thwart two bungling robbers. The child has been left home by mistake and must defend the family manse at all costs. Every step of the way, he proves smarter than the two thieves.
In one instance, Culkin reports, he even was able to trick Joe Pesci, one of the actors who play the crooks, off-camera. "I pulled out a nickel and said, 'Heads I win; tails you lose,' and he fell for it," the boy says slyly.
A broad smile spreads across his impish face.
Macaulay isn't a patsy for anyone. Indeed, when writer/director John Hughes wanted the boy to improvise with John Candy in "Uncle Buck," the human Bart Simpson was more than up to the challenge.
The two batted questions for hours and came up with the "Dragnet" sequence that launched Culkin's career and led to the starring role in "Home Alone."
"I had Mac in the back of my mind when I wrote 'Home Alone,' " Hughes says. "I had so much fun editing that scene that I wanted to work with him again." Though Hughes didn't direct "Home," he did write and produce the film. Chris Columbus directed.
According to Culkin, Columbus did a great job. "I really didn't have to prepare," he says. "He told me what to do and I did it." Proof? "There's a scene where I put on after-shave and he showed me how to make the face."
Culkin duplicates the moment in a flash and punctuates it with a believable scream. By anyone's standards, he's a born actor who loves to joke, speak into microphones and win hearts. Show him a tape recorder and he'll start crooning a 10-year-old's version of "New York, New York": "Start spreading the news...all over your shoes."
Suggest that there's a bit of devil in him and he immediately folds his hands in prayer and acquires a shroud of innocence. "Who me?" he says. "I'm an angel."
The truth be known, Culkin got into a bit of allowance trouble recently -- he used to get $5 a week -- because he refused to make a week's worth of beds and go grocery shopping.
"That's a lot of stuff for five bucks," he pleads. Rather than spend the money he makes acting, he banks it for college, he says.
To celebrate the work he has done on a film, "I either get one big toy or a lot of little ones."
Currently, "I'm doing everything I can to get another part."
Since his parents choose the roles he'll do, Culkin doesn't have a list of artistic requirements before he says yes. "They choose 'em. I do 'em."
Case in point? "Jacob's Ladder." "It didn't make any sense," he says. "One second you see the guy in Vietnam. The next, he's in a bathtub filled with ice.
"My older brother didn't understand it. My dad didn't understand it. Who would?"
Culkin shrugs his shoulders, then pushes up the sleeves of his navy blue blazer. He's dressed in California chic jeans -- tennis shoes and an oxford cloth shirt. He assumes the posture of a veteran actor.
"I've been doing this a long time," he says of acting. "Since I was 6."
Other siblings have followed in his footsteps. His younger brother appears as a cousin in "Home Alone."
CBS, perhaps fearing that he was too expensive, didn't ask him to reprise his role in the television version of "Uncle Buck."
"I don't really like it," he says of the series.
"That kid's supposed to be me? He doesn't even look like me."
Should anyone need proof, ask Culkin to see the huge "Home Alone" posters that feature his surprised face. "I've got four of 'em in my house," he says with a big smile. "They're great.”
From the Sioux City Journal, Nov. 16, 1990