"The first time I saw Jodie Foster in a habit it was pretty scary," says onetime Catholic school student Kieran Culkin, 19, who plays Foster's prankster pupil in the black comedy The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. "It took me back. Without thinking about it, I knew exactly how to act, how to hold your hands together on top of the desk. And I knew what it was like to have a scary nun for a teacher. That I remember clearly."
Out of the classroom Culkin learned a different sort of lesson when the 1990 blockbuster Home Alone (in which he had a bit part) made his brother Macaulay, now 21, the highest paid and most closely watched kid star. "It was a really crazy experience for him and a very weird time," says the single New Yorker. Though he and Mac don't talk shop to "give each other space," Kieran drew his own conclusions: "I don't know what I think about fame other than it's not something I am aspiring to."
And that exasperates his manager to no end. When Culkin, who favors roles in indie films like Altar Boys and Igby Goes Down, recently told her he liked a script she had sent him, he recalls with a laugh, "she said, 'Of course. This is a small movie that probably few people would see, so I knew vou'd love it.' "