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Big Comeback!

Macaulay Culkin Returns To Spotlight

The child star 'has really pulled it together,’ a friend tells Star.

Former child star Macauley Culkin has shunned the limelight for years, but he’s just started shooting his comeback, a new comedy called Changeland. That’s good news, but a better title might be Changed Man! Spotted recently out on the town in L.A., Macauley looked fit and healthy — a far cry from his bedraggled appearance that worried family and friends in recent years.

On July 24, the 36-year-old Home Alone icon was filled out and well groomed as he arrived for dinner at Hollywood hotspot Craig’s. Gone were the pasty skin tone and unkept, shoulder-length hair that Macaulay was sporting just a few weeks ago — and happily, so was the alarmingly hollow-cheeked, glassy-eyed, pin-thin look that had onlookers gasping during a startling appearance on a Manhattan street in February 2012. “Mac has really pulled it together,” a friend tells Star. “It’s like night and day, as if he’s not even the same person.”

INCOGNITO IN PLAIN SIGHT

The friend insists that Culkin’s past grungy getups were “his way of hiding in public. Mac spent years struggling with the fame and attention he got from those Home Alone films at such a young age; he really hated that aspect of the business.”

As a result, says the friend, Macaulay distanced himself from the Hollywood scene and made fewer and fewer films, reinventing himself as a musician/DJ with the artsy, NYC-based band The Pizza Underground. But with the change in his interests came the change in his appearance — to the point that the photo of Culkin after he surfaced in the Big Apple in 2012 had people wondering if he was having a substance abuse problem.

Macaulay adamently denied it, joking that he wasn’t “pounding six grand of heroin every month or whatever.” The actor had, however, been arrested in Oklahoma in 2004 for possession of marijuana and the prescription sedative Xanax; he eventually pled guilty and was given a suspended jail sentence.

MAKING BEAUTIFUL MUSIC WITH SONG

Clearly, something seems to have made Macauley straighten up and fly right — and it may be a new love! His dinner date at Craig’s in L.A. was sexy actress Brenda Song, 29, best known for the Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. She’s also his costar in Changeland (just the third movie Culkin’s worked on in 10 years), and the duo have been spending considerable time together filming on the balmy, beautiful beaches of Thailand.

“Brenda’s been coaxing Mac out of his shell, and she’s just what he needs now,” says the friend. Culkin hasn’t been seriously linked to anyone romantically in some time, and neither has Brenda, who ended her engagement to Miley Cyrus’ brother, Trace, in 2012. The friend adds: “Brenda actually reminds Mac of Mila Kunis [whom he dated between 2002 and 2011]. They’re taking things slow, but it certainly looks to me like they’re into each other.” 

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