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Macaulay Culkin Says Dad Forced Him to Host "SNL" Without Cue Cards at Age 11

It's unheard of for anyone to host the sketch series without assistance.

Macaulay Culkin became one of the youngest stars to ever host Saturday Night Live when he appeared on the show in 1991. And at 11 years old, he went about hosting in a way that was far more difficult than the usual. During a 2018 interview on WTF with Marc Maron, Macaulay said that his father, Kit Culkin, forced him to host without cue cards, even though hosts of the sketch show always get assistance with their lines.

The former child star has been open about his relationship with his estranged father, including claiming that he was abusive. (On Marc Maron's podcast, Macaulay called his dad "a bad man.") Kit was also known in Hollywood for being demanding when it came to his son's projects, and the Home Alone star said on WTF that SNL was an example of his dad being "a crazy person." Read on to see what he had to say.

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Macaulay hosted SNL without being able to read his lines.

During his Maron interview, Macaulay shared that when he hosted SNL, his dad made sure that he wouldn't use cue cards. Using cue cards or a teleprompter is regular practice on the show, because hosts and cast members have to learn all of the sketches for each episode so quickly.

"My father was such a crazy person about it that I had to do the whole episode without cue cards," the actor said. "So also that meant that every other person in the cast couldn't use cue cards, either, in any scene that I was in." He added that Kit "didn't like when people glanced off and used cue cards."

Macaulay said this wasn't a struggle for him, however. If he forgot a line, he was able to "picture the page [he] was as reading off of" and visualize the script he had seen.

Macaulay later found out just how rare that was.

Macaulay shared that years later a friend who worked on SNL asked around to find out if anyone there had ever heard of someone doing the show without cue cards. "They were like, 'No, that's insane. That's completely insane,'" he recalled.

Macaulay is the second-youngest host in SNL history. The top spot goes to Drew Barrymore, who hosted the show in 1982 when she was only seven years old.

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He quit acting a couple years later.

Macaulay Culkin at the 2018 American Music Awards
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Macaulay stepped away from acting in 1994 after starring in the movie Richie Rich, which was a relief for him.

"After I did Richie Rich in '93 or '94, my father and my mother called it quits, which is one of the best things that ever happened," he said on the podcast. "I was able to actually walk away from the business. I'd been wanting to take a break for a while." He said his attitude was, "I hope you made all your money, because there's no more coming from me."

He returned to acting as an adult in 2003. Some of his most recent projects include starring in American Horror Story in 2021 and appearing on a couple of episodes of The Righteous Gemstones in 2022.

Macaulay's brother reminisced about the episode during his own turn hosting.

Macaulay's brother, Kieran Culkin, hosted SNL in 2021 and remembered being on the set with his older sibling three decades years prior in his monologue.

"I have been on this very stage," the Succession actor said. "I was on an episode of SNL back when my brother Mac hosted 30 years ago, almost to the day. I was nine years old. I got to be in three sketches, two of which are non-problematic."

The show cut to a clip from the goodnights at the end of that episode, showing Macaulay being lifted up into the air by cast members, while Kieran looks up at him "clearly jealous," in his own words. He then asks cast member Kevin Nealon to pick him up, too.

"I wanted to show that clip for two reasons," Kieran said during his own hosting gig. "One, in the hopes that someone will pick me up again at the end of the show, and two, because I have waited 30 years to be back on this stage and say, 'We've got a great show for you tonight!'"

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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