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Succession star Kieran Culkin talks losing his sister Dakota

Succession star Kieran Culkin has opened up about the overwhelming grief he still feels over the death of his sister – 13 years after she was killed in a car crash in LA. 

Kieran, 39, will return to screens in his scene-stealing role of Roman Roy in HBO’s mega-hit Succession later this month, confessed that he still ‘weeps about’ his sister Dakota’s passing, while voicing his devastation at knowing she will never have the chance to meet his two children.  

In a rare interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the very private actor, who is the younger brother of former child star Macaulay Culkin, described his sister’s death as ‘the worst thing that’s ever happened’, recalling how her passing left all of the Culkin siblings ‘torn up inside’. 

‘That’s the worst thing that’s ever happened, and there’s no sugar coating that one,’ Kieran said when asked about the death of 29-year-old Dakota, who was struck by a car when she stepped off the curb and in front of a moving vehicle.  

‘Each one of us handled it very differently,’ the father-of-two – who has four brothers, Macaulay, Rory, Quinn, and Shane – added of his siblings’ reactions to Dakota’s death. ‘I think everyone was just torn up inside.’  

Candid: Kieran Culkin opens up to The Hollywood Reporter 

'I still weep about it': Succession star Kieran Culkin talks losing his sister Dakota who died aged 29 in a car accident

‘I still weep about it’: Succession star Kieran Culkin talks losing his sister Dakota who died aged 29 in a car accident 

In the 13 years that have passed since his sister’s passing, Kieran admitted that he has never truly been able to come to terms with the loss, confessing that he doesn’t think ‘it’s ever going to be fine’.   

‘What has it been, 13 years now? Holy s**t. That’s crazy. Jesus f***ing Christ,’ he said. ‘I accepted at the time that this is going to be forever and it’s never going to be fine.’ 

He continued: ‘It’s always going to be devastating. I still weep about it out of nowhere. Something funny she did will pop in the head and make me laugh and then I’m weeping.’

‘Sometimes it’s knowing that she’s not going to meet my kids and they don’t get to have her and it’s hard to describe what she was like.’

Tragedy: Dakota is pictured far right with her family, parents Pat and Kit, and siblings Macaulay, Kieran, Christian, Shane and Gwen

Tragedy: Dakota is pictured far right with her family, parents Pat and Kit, and siblings Macaulay, Kieran, Christian, Shane and Gwen

Child stars: Kieran had often lived in the shadow of his mega-famous older brother Macaulay Culkin but is now one of the the breakout stars of Succession

Child stars: Kieran had often lived in the shadow of his mega-famous older brother Macaulay Culkin but is now one of the the breakout stars of Succession 

Kieran has been married to his wife Jazz Charton since 2013, and the pair share two-year-old daughter Kinsey Sioux, and a baby boy, who they welcomed in August this year. 

The profile notes how the reluctant actor has always ‘played tag’ with Hollywood over the years, running away from success, particularly when he quit the business in 2002 after his Golden Globe-nominated turn in Igy Goes Down.

‘I was definitely not ready. I would not have been able to handle it, and I think I knew that,’ he explained about his decision at the time. ‘I would not have been able to handle whatever kind of success or attention came from that. So I quite literally ran away from it.’

Breakout: The actor is hitting is stride as the scene-stealing Roman Roy in HBO's huge hit Succession

Breakout: The actor is hitting is stride as the scene-stealing Roman Roy in HBO’s huge hit Succession

Long time coming: The actor says after 30 years in the business he is finally ready to embrace his craft

Long time coming: The actor says after 30 years in the business he is finally ready to embrace his craft

Hollywood child star: The actor has spent much of his life in front of the camera

Hollywood child star: The actor has spent much of his life in front of the camera 

However, it was after working on the first season of Succession – which has received unanimous praise for its quality writing –  that made Kieran feel ready to commit again.

‘I’m trying to remember the exact moment it hit me I think it was at the end of the first season. I remember coming home and thinking, “This is what I want to do with my life. I think I want to be an actor.” I was like 36. I’d already been doing it for 30 years.’ he said. 

Kieran is one of seven children born to Patricia Brentrup and Kit Culkin, who became parents-turned-acting managers, and took 15% of son Macaulay’s pay when he was earning up to $8million per film. 

Talking about his chaotic upbringing with his parents, who seemed eager to make all their children actors, Kieran said: ‘It got to a place of like, “Sure, you want kids? What gender? What age? Yeah, we got a bunch. Here, take this one.”‘ 

Wild child: Kieran returns this month in Succession, as the scene-stealing Roman Roy

Wild child: Kieran returns this month in Succession, as the scene-stealing Roman Roy 

Signs of family struggle emerged early on in their careers, after it was claimed that Macaulay had ‘divorced’ his parents. 

But, years later, Macaulay clarified that he ’emancipated’ himself from them and taken their names of his trust in order to protect his fortune. 

Their father Kit has recently suffered ailing health after a stroke, and Kieran talks in the interview about having reunited with him. 

Speaking with him for the first time in 17 years backstage on Broadway, Kieran said: ‘He carried cards around with him that said, “I’m not stupid. I understand you. I just had a stroke.’ He was telling me that his girlfriend had dementia and it was pretty bad.’

‘And so, I said, “So, when you guys go places, she doesn’t know where you’re going and you can’t communicate how you’re get- ting there.’ And he goes, “Yeah — we’re quite a pair.”

Succession Season 3 returns to Sky Atlantic and NOW from 2am on October 18, 2021. Seasons 1-2 are available to catch up now on Sky On-Demand and NOW. 


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