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The path to success is rarely linear and often hinges on random moments of luck, especially in the entertainment industry. Finding the right project at the right time involves a lot of factors that aren’t in an actor‘s control. There’s no way to know if that chance presents itself early in a person’s career or after decades of less glamorous work.

A recent Reddit thread mentioned that Macaulay Culkin and Lin-Manuel Miranda are in the same age range. They both inspire beloved fanbases for a reason. But their paths to reaching that point (and what happened to them afterward) couldn’t have been more different. 

Reddit users compare the achievements of creatives who are the same age

On the celebrity gossip subreddit r/Deuxmoi, user MikeX1000 started a thread asking for examples of actors or musicians who are close in age but became famous in different decades. The most upvoted comment comes from the relatably named imtootiredforthisugh who confirms that 41-year-old Culkin and 42-year-old Miranda are of the same generation.

“Macaulay will forever be a child in my head,” they concluded. This fact shocked several users who replied to the comment. “Mind. Blown. Wow,” wrote TropicalPrairie. Chae_xcx echoed the sentiment by admitting that “I genuinely thought lin manuel was in his 50’s…”. 

You can understand why this surprised so many people. Their careers have not overlapped in any obvious way, and Culkin’s age in particular has a way of making older millennials feel the passage of time. That’s the main reason why Culkin’s tweet about turning 40 is one of the most-liked tweets of all time. But you can’t argue with a birth certificate!

Macauley Culkin and Jaleel White at the 5th Annual American Comedy Awards in 1991
Home Alone star Macauley Culkin with Jaleel White in 1991 | Daniel Watson/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Macaulay Culkin and Lin-Manuel Miranda show how stardom can happen in different ways

Culkin became a household name at the age of 10 when he starred in Home Alone, transforming him from just another child actor to a full-blown star. After the movie’s success, Culkin appeared in films like Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, My Girl, and The Good Son. He also hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live and appeared in the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Black or White.” 

Eventually, the weight of his fame wore him down and Culkin retired from acting in 1994, just four years after his signature performance. He made his comeback in 2003 and has continued to act on a less regular basis, most notably in American Horror Story: Double Feature.

Culkin also performs in a short-lived comedy band The Pizza Underground, runs a comedy website called Bunny Ears, and recently became a parent with his partner Brenda Song

By contrast, Miranda had to stay low and build before earning his big break. Growing up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, he developed his interest in musicals as a teenager. Miranda wrote the first draft of In the Heights when he was 19, although the play didn’t debut until 2005. He admitted on Twitter that while he was pursuing his dreams, he worked other jobs such as data entry and substitute teaching to make more money. 

Hamilton changed everything for Miranda. The musical won multiple Tony awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. It became one of the rare Broadway shows to become a mainstream point of conversation years before it was available on Disney+.

In addition to making him rich and famous, Miranda gained the cultural cache to be bigger in Hollywood. He wrote songs for Moana and Encanto, adapted In the Heights into a film, and directed Tick, Tick… Boom! for Netflix. 

The inevitable backlash to some of his work has happened. But after biding his time, Miranda has achieved more in the last few years than he could’ve ever imagined. 

Why do the most glaring examples of this tend to include child actors?


Lin-Manuel Miranda Is 1 Step Closer to Achieving the Nearly Impossible EGOT Distinction

The other examples in the thread show how the unique trajectory of former child stars makes it easier to forget how old they are. “So many of the ex-Disney channel stars will always seem way older than me because of seeing them on TV when I was a kid when in reality they’re only like 3-4 years older than me lol,” wrote charlotie77.

That sentiment holds a lot of truth in it because the idea that Selena Gomez and Cardi B were both born in 1992 (Gomez was born in July, Cardi in October) sounds impossible, but it is factually accurate. The same goes for Amanda Bynes and Chrissy Teigen both being 36. For whatever reason, it’s harder to comprehend that child actors age like every other person on the planet. 

Another comparison is between Barack Obama and Princess Diana Spencer would both be the same age had the former British royal not tragically died in that car accident in 1997. Diana was born on July 1, 1961, while the former president was born on August 4 of the same year. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: Everyone’s journey in life is different.