He had a rather unusual upbringing as a budding young actor in Hollywood, always somewhat in the shadow of his then-mega child star older brother Macaulay Culkin.
But now, after hitting his stride as the scene-stealing Roman Roy in HBO’s huge hit Succession, Kieran Culkin is getting candid about how he is finally ready to embrace his acting career at age 39 – after 30 years in showbusiness.
The actor got personal in a rare interview with The Hollywood Reporter and also spoke about the impact the death of his sister Dakota had on him, who was killed in a car accident at the age of 29 in 2008.
‘That’s the worst thing that’s ever happened, and there’s no sugar coating that one,’ Kieran says when asked about the tragic passing of his sister, was struck by a car when she stepped off the curb and in front of a moving vehicle.
Candid: Kieran Culkin opens up to The Hollywood Reporter
‘I still weep about it’: Succession star Kieran Culkin talks losing his sister Dakota who died aged 29 in a car accident
‘Each one of us handled it very differently. I think everyone was just torn up inside. What has it been, 13 years now? Holy shit. That’s crazy. Jesus f***ing Christ. I accepted at the time that this is going to be forever and it’s never going to be fine.’
He continued: ‘It’s always going to be devastating. I still weep about it out of nowhere. Something funny she did will pop in the head and make me laugh and then I’m weeping.’
‘Sometimes it’s knowing that she’s not going to meet my kids and they don’t get to have her and it’s hard to describe what she was like.’
Tragedy: Dakota is pictured far right with her family, parents Pat and Kit, and siblings Macaulay, Kieran, Christian, Shane and Gwen
Child stars: Kieran had often lived in the shadow of his mega-famous older brother Macaulay Culkin but is now one of the the breakout stars of Succession
Kieran has been married to his wife Jazz Charton since 2013, and the pair share two-year-old daughter Kinsey Sioux, and a baby boy, who they welcomed in August this year.
The profile notes how the reluctant actor has always ‘played tag’ with Hollywood over the years, running away from success, particularly when he quit the business in 2002 after his Golden Globe-nominated turn in Igy Goes Down.
‘I was definitely not ready. I would not have been able to handle it, and I think I knew that,’ he explained about his decision at the time. ‘I would not have been able to handle whatever kind of success or attention came from that. So I quite literally ran away from it.’
Breakout: The actor is hitting is stride as the scene-stealing Roman Roy in HBO’s huge hit Succession
Long time coming: The actor says after 30 years in the business he is finally ready to embrace his craft
Hollywood child star: The actor has spent much of his life in front of the camera
However, it was after working on the first season of Succession – which has received unanimous praise for its quality writing – that made Kieran feel ready to commit again.
‘I’m trying to remember the exact moment it hit me I think it was at the end of the first season. I remember coming home and thinking, “This is what I want to do with my life. I think I want to be an actor.” I was like 36. I’d already been doing it for 30 years.’ he said.
Kieran is one of seven children born to Patricia Brentrup and Kit Culkin, who became parents-turned-acting managers, and took 15% of son Macaulay’s pay when he was earning up to $8million per film.
Talking about his chaotic upbringing with his parents, who seemed eager to make all their children actors, Kieran said: ‘It got to a place of like, “Sure, you want kids? What gender? What age? Yeah, we got a bunch. Here, take this one.”‘
Signs of family struggle emerged early on in their careers, after it was claimed that Macaulay had ‘divorced’ his parents.
But, years later, Macaulay clarified that he ’emancipated’ himself from them and taken their names of his trust in order to protect his fortune.
Succession Season 3 returns to Sky Atlantic and NOW from 2am on October 18, 2021. Seasons 1-2 are available to catch up now on Sky On-Demand and NOW.
Wild child: Kieran returns this month in Succession, as the scene-stealing Roman Roy