Too-demanding dad gets Macaulay dropped from show

April 10, 1992|By New York Times

NEW YORK -- Macaulay Culkin may be home alone more than he expected this spring, now that "Sam I Am," the off-Broadway show in which he was scheduled to star, has told him "no thanks."

It seems as if Macaulay's father, Kit Culkin, a former child actor himself, has seen "Gypsy" once too often.

Billy Hopkins, the show's director, and Keith Reddin, the playwright, both say Mr. Culkin demanded rewrites of the script in the form of threats.

"He would say, 'Either make the rewrites or get yourself someone else to play the child,' " Mr. Reddin says. (This method works better in movies than the theater, where the playwright owns his work and has the final say on changing it.)

Mr. Reddin also says that Mr. Culkin objected to the ensemble nature of the play, which was written for five actors to play 10 parts. "He said that the audience would be confused to see the same actors play different roles," Mr. Reddin says.

The other actors in the play are Leslie Lyles, John Christopher Jones, Marian Seldes and Boyd Gaines.

Mr. Hopkins says Mr. Culkin decided that he wanted Ms. Lyles and Mr. Jones to play only one role apiece. After deciding which role, he changed his mind.

Mr. Reddin says that Mr. Culkin said, " 'Either you do it this way or you can find someone else for the boy's role.' And I said 'fine.' It just got to the point where the play wasn't worth doing because so many compromises had to be made."

It was Mr. Hopkins who gave Macaulay his first acting job, in Mr. Reddin's "Big Squirrel" at the Ensemble Studio Theater in 1987.

Mr. Hopkins, also a casting director, cast Macaulay in "Uncle Buck," directed by John Hughes, who later cast the child in "Home Alone."

After that film became such a hit, much was written about the fact that Mr. Culkin had threatened 20th Century Fox with taking Macaulay out of "Home Alone II" if he could not also star in another Fox picture.

Mr. Hopkins says, " what I'm hearing now from people looking for children is 'Macaulay is too expensive and his father is too much trouble. Find another kid.' " That's too bad, Mr. Hopkins says. "Macaulay is the easiest kid to work with, a thorough professional. I'll work with him when he's 18 and out of his father's control."

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