They were married at a small stone church in Connecticut on June 21, 1998. To avoid press coverage, no printed invitations were given out. Instead, the 60 guests were sent on a kind of treasure hunt, with directions given to a hotel where the front desk provided directions to the church. "The wedding was very small and low-key," says Emily Gerson Saines, the manager who represents three of the seven Culkin children and Rachel Miner. "The party was like a fancy version of a family picnic. It was at someone's house in Litchfield County, and children were running everywhere, swimming if they wanted to. That's who Mack and Rachel were as a couple -- family always came first. They would go over to Pat's house and help the little ones with homework."
Though the newlyweds appeared together in a Sonic Youth video directed by Harmony Korine ("He looks like a pale prince," says Korine, who also published a book of grainy black-and-whites of Culkin with a Japanese publisher, titled The Bad Son), they spent most of their time at home, watching Culkin's 500 DVDs and taking care of stray cats. "He had this menagerie of sick animals," says Weinrib. "You walk into their apartment and you're like, 'What are these animals? It's like Noah's ark in here!' "
A few days before their first Christmas together in 1998, Culkin and Miner woke to the news that a fire originating in Patricia Brentrup's apartment had killed four people. "Two family friends basically broke down our front door and told us," says Culkin. "I ran to the television and boom, there it was: the Culkin fire. Of course, the picture they had was of a Christmas tree on fire, but it had nothing to do with a Christmas tree."
"All Pat did was turn on a radiator," says Gerson Saines. But she was sued for $80 million in damages (still pending) and Culkin was sued for an additional $113,000 (since dismissed). "They made it seem like I was running around the house naked spitting vodka on the walls and throwing matches everywhere," Culkin says. "I wasn't even there."
"Macaulay and Rachel and I went out to buy them socks and shoes and pajamas," says Saines, "and we're waiting on line at the Athlete's Foot north of Times Square -- we're in the middle of a tragedy -- and all the salespeople are staring at him till finally one of them gets the courage to ask him for his autograph. It was a surreal moment."
"My father would hide newspapers from me so I wouldn't read the stuff about him or find out how much I was making. They didn't want me running off to my friends saying, 'I just made $8 million!'"
The siblings moved in with Culkin and Miner for a time. "I had a place that was way too big for me and my wife anyway," Culkin says. "It was a nice Christmas other than the fact that all their presents got burned . . . and their house. It made me feel good that we brought it all together and made it work. It was awful, of course -- people died -- it was awful."
Though Culkin remains close with Miner, the two split before he left for Madame Melville's London run. While he was away, there were various reports of his dating, most accurately of his fleeting romance with American model Agatha Relota. "They were so behind on the news," he says. "That stuff didn't even break until right before I left in February, and Agatha and I hadn't seen or spoken to each other since late November."
As for his relationship with Miner, "it just is what it is," he says. "We still talk and stuff like that. We're gonna wait until we're in the same city to sit down and talk about it and try to figure out exactly what to do next. But, you know, whatever. It's something we'll figure out. I'm always going to love her."
Culkin's performance in London was more successful than most dared to hope. "In England, you could tell the press was just waiting to roast this kid on a spit," says Mosher. But after the play opened, the critics of London found Culkin unindictable. The Daily Mail's Michael Coveney wrote that "Culkin has eloquent body language and assured presence." Seeing Culkin's performance was "one of those rare evenings when you become suddenly aware you are in the presence of something rare and special," wrote Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph, calling him "absolutely superb."
Culkin says that one of the things that attracted him to Madame Melville was that it is a sexy play, and he is sexy in it. It isn't the self-possessed sexiness of a man but the desperate sexiness of an adolescent. "He really does that horrible teenage awkwardness," says producer Julian Schlossberg. "He reminds us of that difficulty of adolescence when you're not comfortable as a boy, but you can't possibly say you're a man."
Culkin didn't hear from his father until a few months ago, when he received a telegram in London: "It said, 'All the luck in a long successful run. You will, as always, be wonderful. Dad.' " It's more the message of a long-lost manager than a long-lost father. "It was just funny; I'm getting back to work and now he decides to make contact," says Culkin.
In fact, Kit Culkin actually flew to London, where he slipped into the theater unnoticed to see one of his son's performances. Kit now lives in a two-bedroom condo in Phoenix, Arizona, with a woman named Jeanette Krylowski. Kit would not be interviewed for this article, but Krylowski -- who sent several letters to the editors of British newspapers -- was only too happy to send a series of lengthy e-mails and to speak on the telephone despite Kit's disapproval. "If he finds out I'm talking about Patti, he'll be really angry," she says. "But I don't think he'll leave me." To hear Krylowski tell it, he'd better not: "I don't know what he'd do if I wasn't in the picture. I honestly think he'd be dead."
Krylowski is now a day trader, but when Kit first met her -- long before he and Patricia Brentrup separated -- she was working at a wildlife preserve with lions and tigers. "Now we just have a small cat and a huge iguana, a macaw, and a Great Dane that we rescued and nursed back to health." Kit, she says, aches for the children he never sees. "He rents their movies and he closes the door, and then he won't talk the whole next day."
As Krylowski sees it, Patricia Brentrup turned her children against their father. "After 1990, she got real resentful -- I think envy is a better way of putting it. My analysis is she was the only one not getting famous and she felt left behind," Krylowski says. "The kids do what Mom tells them to, because through the years, Mom had said, 'Your father doesn't love you, your father doesn't love you.'