The former child star whose 1990 Christmas movie classic is required watching during the holiday season was this close to becoming one of the biggest names in television.
Home Alone actor Macaulay Culkin revealed during a recent appearance on Joe Rogan’s Joe Rogan Experience podcast that the minds behind CBS’ The Big Bang Theory offered him a part on the show – but he turned it down three times.
The reason? He was put off by the series’ concept — and wasn’t interested in being a part of a sitcom or television show in the first place.
“I couldn’t see myself doing a sitcom or a television show kind of thing. A good one, I’d do. Like, NewsRadio is a fantastic show,” Culkin explained, referencing the ’90s sitcom on which Rogan starred as electrician and handyman Joe Garrelli. “They pursued me for The Big Bang Theory. And I said, like, ‘No’ … ’cause it was kinda, like the way the pitch was, was kinda just like, ‘Alright, these two, like, astrophysicist nerds and then a pretty girl lives with them—yoinks!’ That was the pitch … I said, ‘Yeah, no, I’m cool, thanks.'”
Culkin continued, detailing CBS’ inability to take “no” as a valid answer.
“They came back at me again, and I said, ‘No, no, no. Again, flattered, but, like, no.’ Then they came back at me again, and even my manager was like twisting my arm,” the actor said.
After finally backing down and accepting that Culkin wasn’t going to agree to starring on The Big Bang Theory, CBS and the series’ creatives ultimately selected Johnny Galecki to play experimental physicist Leonard Hofstadter, Jim Parsons to portray theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper, and Kaley Cuoco to play their bubbly, girl-next-door neighbor Penny.
Galecki, Parsons, Cuoco, Simon Helberg (who plays Howard Wolowitz), and Kunal Nayyar (who portrays Rajesh Koothrappali) are some of the highest-paid actors working in Hollywood today — with Parsons reportedly earning $27.5 million a year and each of the five actors taking home an estimated $900,000 per episode.
So, does Culkin regret turning down the gig — particularly now that he knows how massive his paychecks could have been?
Surprisingly, not at all. The actor got candid in explaining that, for him, the drawbacks of accepting the job far outweigh the financial upside.
“I’d have hundreds of millions of dollars right now if I did that gig,” Culkin said. “At the same time, I’d be bashing my head against the wall.”
Culkin shied away from the limelight after starring in 1994’s Richie Rich — the 15th movie he made in just 7 years — but returned to acting in 2000, circling back to the movie scene three years later as Michael Alig in the Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato-directed film Party Monster. In the decade and a half since then, Culkin has appeared in a handful of movies, guest-starred on a few television shows, released a semi-autobiographical novel, and formed and toured with the now-defunct comedy rock band The Pizza Underground.
Today, Culkin looks forward to starting a family with his girlfriend, actress Brenda Song, and anticipates the release of his newest movie (and his first in three years) Changeland, written and directed by Seth Green. Not too shabby for a guy who could have been TV’s brightest star, huh?