Based on a real-life turn of events, Culkin played “King of the Club Kids” Michael Alig, who spent almost 17 years in prison for manslaughter after he and Robert “Freeze” Riggs killed and dismembered fellow New York nightlife aficionado Andre “Angel” Melendez in 1996. Riggs also served prison time for manslaughter.
To prepare for the role, Culkin visited Alig behind bars, telling Barbara Walters in 2003, “We spent four hours at the prison. I’d never been to prison before. I kind of just was listening and I was watching how his hands moved…He seemed remorseful, but at the same time he was putting up this facade. He was putting on the ‘Michael Alig’ act for me, the wild and crazy guy.”
Asked if he, too, had a dark side, the then-25-year-old actor said, “I guess you can say that. But not anywhere near as dark as him. It’s so easy to see me as this wicked, little thing, you know? This wicked little, like, you know, blond-haired kid, making trouble for everybody.”
Moreover, he recalled to Bunny Ears of the glam-rock look that was essential to Michael, “I always felt pretty, but that’s where I learned I actually was pretty. It taught me to totally understand why women put in all that time getting ready. It’s worth it and I looked awesome.”
Acknowledging his long break from the limelight, Culkin, who was appearing in his first movie since Richie Rich, told Walters, “I don’t want to do what I did before. Before it was, you know, it was like people’s livelihoods were on the line…They like built an industry out of me. It was just this really odd dynamic that I think made me uncomfortable for a lot of my young life. I’m not one of those people who needs that gratification of doing like 10 films a year…I’m just trying to be, you know, an artist.”