The actor appeared on Michael Rosenbaum's "Inside of You" podcast on Tuesday for a 75-minute, wide-ranging interview, where the two touched on his days as a child star, his complicated family life and his untraditional friendship with pop sensation Michael Jackson.
While the King of Pop didn't come up until the very end of the conversation, we'll bump it up a bit for you and start there. Rosenbaum noted he heard the two became friends because Jackson related to Culkin, as a former child star himself, and wanted to "protect" the young actor.
"He reached out to me because a lot of things were happening, big and fast with me and I think he identified with that," Culkin explained. "At the end of the day, it's almost easy to say it was weird or whatever but it wasn't because it made sense. At the end of the day, we were friends."
In Culkin's mind, people only think there's something odd about it because Jackson "was the most famous person in the world." As for the age gap, he added, "I was a peerless person. Nobody else in my Catholic school had even this much idea of what I was going through and he was the kind of person who'd been through the exact same frickin thing and wanted to make sure I wasn't alone."
Of Jackson, he said the late singer was "hilarious," "sweet" and "funny," noting how the two would often prank call people. "He was f--king hilarious," Culkin continued, "He was charming, f--king funny, silly."
"For me, it's so normal and mundane," he added. "I know it's a big deal to everyone else, but to me it was a normal friendship."
Speaking more about his time growing up in the public eye, Culkin said he never "got caught up in too many wrong crowds," saying he was "relatively sheltered," in part because he grew up in New York and not Los Angeles.
He also never really fell hard into drugs, saying he's never done heroin in his life, though hasdabbled" in other substances. "One of the reasons why I never did [heroin] was because I thought I'd really like it," he explained. "So yeah, never did that. I haven't always treated myself properly, I used to dabble more, I like to taste everything to a certain extent."
Culkin was arrested in 2004, after police found marijuana, klonopin and Xanax in his car after he was pulled over for speeding. Calling it "a bit of a shakedown" while speaking to Rosenbaum, Macaulay said it "was a slow news day" when his arrest made headlines. "Funny enough, ["Terminator 2" star] Eddie Furlong got arrested the exact same day for overturning a lobster tank," he joked. "He was trying to free the lobsters from a super market. He was really lucky he got arrested the same day as me, nobody talks about that!"
The other major topic of conversation was Culkin's family life, specifically his volatile relationship with his father.
"He was a complicated man. Honestly, he was a mean bastard," Culkin explained. "He really shouldn't have been a father, to be honest."
The actor went on to say the elder Culkin was not a loving person, adding that "the word proud never came across his lips." He also said his parents did believe in corporal punishment, saying he was hit with a switch, belt and even a spatula.
Culkin hasn't spoken to his father in "about 23 years," though his dad did attempt to reconnect about 18-20 years ago. But he's not mad about it, saying, "it's the way it's supposed to be."
"Here's the thing, I love me man, I think I'm frickin cool and awesome, I wouldn't want to change a thing," he added, "I'm happy."