In a new interview with Esquire, the Home Alone star was upfront about his friendship with the Thriller singer. “I’m gonna begin with the line—it’s not a line, it’s the truth: He never did anything to me,” the actor commented. “I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back. 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. But no, I never saw anything; he never did anything.”
The two were publicly known to be close, but that bond has been under renewed scrutiny following the release Leaving Neverland, which re-examined Jackson’s past relationships with underage boys. However, Culkin insisted that he and the pop star (who was 22 years his senior) had only a platonic friendship, stemming from similar childhood upbringings. Jackson later named Culkin the godfather of his daughter, Paris, and the two have remained close over the years. According to Esquire, they even have matching spoon tattoos.
The last time Culkin saw Michael Jackson was at the Santa Barbara County Superior Courthouse in 2005. Culkin was testifying on Jackson’s behalf after he had been charged with intoxicating and molesting a 13-year old boy (he was later acquitted). The actor ran into Jackson in the bathroom, and the pop star allegedly told Culkin, “We better not talk. I don’t want to influence your testimony.”
Yet after all these, and as more allegations of wrongdoing have come to light, Culkin is still willing to go to bat for Jackson:
“Here’s a good Michael Jackson story that doesn’t involve Michael Jackson at all: 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. 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.’ ”
Read the full interview over at Esquire.
Overall public opinion concerning Jackson’s lasting legacy remains split, with artists like Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, and T.I. voicing their support of the singer, while others including Drake and “Weird Al” Yankovic have pulled all trace of his pop hits from their concerts. Disney has removed the Jackson-featuring episode of The Simpsons from its Disney+ streaming platform, and a number of radio stations have ceased airing Jackson’s music altogether.