Macaulay Culkin, longtime friend of the late Michael Jackson, recalled an allegedly awkward interaction between him and James Franco over the two-part HBO documentary Leaving Neverland in his new Esquire profile.
Culkin, now 39, became friends with Jackson as a child, around the time Culkin was the star of the Home Alone franchise. They were so close that Culkin was named godfather to Jackson’s daughter Paris, now 21. Culkin’s last interaction with Jackson, who died in 2009, was during the singer’s 2005 trial for allegations of sexual abuse against a then 13-year-old boy. Culkin was called to testify in Jackson’s defence, and Jackson was eventually acquitted of the charges.
The 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland resurfaced the abuse claims against Jackson, with two alleged survivors of Jackson’s sexual abuse coming forward to speak out against him.
Culkin shared that Franco, an acquaintance, once brought up the documentary to him, leading to an uncomfortable conversation.
“I ran into James Franco on a plane. I’d bumped into him two or three times over the years. I give him a little nod as we’re putting our bags overhead. ‘Hey, how you doing?’ ‘Good, how ya doing?’ And it was right after the Leaving Neverland documentary came out, and he goes, ‘So, that documentary!’ And that was all he said,” Culkin explained. “I was like, ‘Uh-huh.’ Silence. So then he goes, ‘So what do you think?’ And I turned to him and I go, ‘Do you wanna talk about your dead friend?’ And he sheepishly went, ‘No, I don’t.’ So I said, ‘Cool, man, it was nice to see you.’”
Culkin has repeatedly stated that Jackson never abused him, and reiterated this in Esquire.
“[Michael] never did anything to me. I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back,” he explained. “The guy has passed on. If anything — I’m not gonna say it would be stylish or anything like that, but right now is a good time to speak up. And if I had something to speak up about, I would totally do it,” Culkin told the outlet.
Refinery29 reached out to Franco for comment.