The 12 Most Successful Child Stars
What were you doing when you were 12-years-old? I don’t know about you, but I was busy building Lego mansions and watching reruns of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. Fast forward to 2012, and not much has changed for me.
While I was busy enjoying my youth and being irresponsible, child actors were starring on screen and performing with innate ability. Does the name Henry Thomas ring a bell? Nope, he’s not a president. He’s the actor who played Elliot in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Do you remember him starring in anything recent? Errr… probably not.
See, it’s one thing to be remembered as a child star, but to break out as a successful actor is hard to do. Some actors spiral out of control Lindsay Lohan style, and others simply move on from acting. However, there are a select few who turn out to have long and prosperous careers.
12) Mila Kunis
Making guys feel funny in their pants since 1998.
Believe it or not, Mila Kunis’s first acting gig was for a Barbie commercial at the age of nine. Then, she received minor roles for TV shows like Baywatch and 7th Heaven, but That ’70s Show was her huge break. It didn’t matter that casting directors wanted a 18-year-old to play the part of Jackie Burkhart, and Mila Kunis was only 14-years-old at the time. Kunis was so determined to get the role that she lied about age.
The popularity of Mila Kunis faltered after That ’70s Show ended and a period of lackluster films. In 2008, however, she did manage to charm the pants off Jason Segel and audience members in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was that role that opened doors for even bigger movie parts, such as the critically-acclaimed lesbian ballerina film Black Swan. She’s got amazing projects in the future like Oz: The Great and Powerful and Blood Ties. Even Jackie Burkhurt herself would be incredulous of Kunis’s fame.
11) Chloe Moretz
She grew up to be such a sexy woman. You tell me she’s only 15? Oh….
I know what you’re thinking: Chloe Moretz is still to young to be considered a full-fledged adult actor. Let me argue for the sake of my own amusement. Sure, she’s still super young, but look at it this way; she’s only 15-years-old and already has a more successful career than middle-aged men like Adam Sandler. Like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Moretz starred in (500) Days of Summer as his sassy sister. She then went on to be in Kick-Ass, Let Me In, and Hugo. With upcoming movies like the Carrie remake and the Kick-Ass sequel, I don’t think Chloe will be slowing down any time soon.
10) Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The left picture is like foreplay, and the right picture is a climax.
Because you are reading this blog, it’s safe to assume you can appreciate Joseph Gordon-Levitt as much as me. Well, even I must admit that I was blissfully unaware that one of Joe’s first acting roles was as the cute kid flapping his arms in Angels in the Outfield. Yes, I almost shat myself too.
He also starred in the TV series 3rd Rock from The Sun and the movie 10 Things I Hate About You during his teenage years. Then between 2001 to 2008, JGL expanded his acting chops, but his movies didn’t achieve much attention from the general public. It wasn’t until (500) Days of Summer, in which people were reminded what a stallion Joseph Gordon-Levitt is. With movies like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper and Lincoln, Joe’s proven himself as an adult actor.
How can someone go from being the most adorable human being…
9) Kirsten Dunst
Those braids are so cheer-tastic!
While I was in diapers, Kirsten Dunst was an average 10-year-old girl. Just kidding, she had her breakthrough role in Interview with the Vampire, in which she sucked face with Brad Pitt. Around that age, she also starred in Little Women and Jumanji. She solidified her acting chops even further during her teen years with The Virgin Suicides. Even though her acting skills weren’t exactly showcased in Bring It On, it was cheer-fun!
She became an A-list actor when she got the role of Mary Jane in Spider-Man. Kirsten Dunst also received roles in movies like Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, Marie Antoinette, Elizabethtown, and Melancholia. With upcoming movies like On the Road, it’s easily to see that Dunst has transitioned well into adulthood.
However, her adult teeth have still yet to come in.
8) River Phoenix
With a name like “River Phoenix,” how could this guy not be a total bad ass?
River Phoenix was named after the river of life from the novel Siddhartha. Growing up, Phoenix performed in bit roles on TV series and made-for-TV movies. He gained public recognition for the critically-acclaimed Stand by Me when he was 16-years-old. Three years later, Phoenix received an Oscar nomination for his performance in Running on Empty. When it came time for someone to be cast as the young Indiana Jones in the third movie, guess who was cool enough to get the role? Yep, River Phoenix.
Phoenix also dabbled in music too. On the night he was supposed to perform with Flea, Phoenix died outside of the nightclub from an overdose of cocaine and heroin. He was only 23-years-old. River Phoenix’s life was tragically cut short, and he was forever immortalized in the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Give It Away”:
"There’s a River born to be a giver, keep you warm won’t let you shiver, his heart is never gonna wither…"
Also, you can easily guess how promising River Phoenix’s career could have been if you look at his super famous brother…
It’s Joaquin Phoenix in a kitchen, bitch.
7) Christian Bale
Wait, wait, wait. The Batman wore windbreakers as a child?
Batman. Excuse me, Patrick Bateman. No wait… John Conner. *cough* Christian Bale was first brought to attention for his role in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun when he was just 13-years-old. Sir Kenneth Branagh was so impressed with Bale that he approached him to do Henry V. During his teen years, Bale starred in Newsies and Little Women as well.
What makes Christian Bale such a brilliant adult actor is the fact that he commits to a role. Look at his performances in Velvet Goldmine, American Psycho, The Machinist, Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, and The Fighter. He is one of the most sought-after actors because of his transformations.
Oh, and being enveloped in Ewan McGregor’s arms too.
6) Ron Howard
All that ginger hair went south to make a ginger beard.
For 8 years, Ron Howard charmed the world as Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. His transition into teenage roles included involved in the TV show Happy Days and iconic movies like American Graffiti.
Unlike the other entries that appear on the list, Ron Howard gets his adult success from being a director. He’s directed a slew of films including Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, and Frost/Nixon. Ron Howard even proves that talent must run in the family— his daughter is Bryce Dallas Howard, the “bitchy” chick from The Help and 50/50.
5) Anna Paquin
Either her parents let her dress in the dark or people from New Zealand just don’t give a shit.
Not many actors can brag that the first movie they ever did got them an Academy Award. And how many can say they were 11-years-old? Well, considering she’s the second youngest Oscar winner ever, it’s safe to say that Anna Paquin takes the cake for her role in The Piano. She proved herself a valuable actress as a teenage as not-Rachel-Leigh-Cook in She’s All That and Almost Famous. She also became an X-man character when she signed on to play Rogue. No big deal or anything. Now you can see Anna Paquin and her tits on HBO’s True Blood.
4) Neil Patrick Harris
Proof he was always a ladies man, despite his of lack of interest in ladies.
Why is Neil Patrick Harris number four on the list? Well, if you look at his Wikipedia page, it states that Neil Patrick Harris is an American actor, singer, director, producer, and magician. Yes, Neil Patrick Harris is pretty much infallible. He gained success as the adolescent doctor in Doogie Howser. Harris became heavily involved with theatre and then portrayed himself in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. But what really sealed the deal for Neil Patrick Harris’s success was his horny character Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. Because the image on the left just screams, “HORNY!”
3) Claire Danes
Apparently glazed-over expressions attract Hugh Dancy.
If there’s anything you could possibly gain from reading this blog it’s this: watch My So-Called Life, watch My So-Called Life, and yes, it’s on Netflix. When people say it’s a life-changing show, they really aren’t lying to you. I watched it when I was 17, and seeing a 15-year-old Claire Danes react to how I felt as a teenager was somewhat therapeutic.
Claire Danes was also alongside Kirsten Dunst in Little Women (does everyone on this list appear in that movie?), and she vigorously made out with Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet. As an adult actor, she’s gone back to television, winning Emmys for both Temple Grandin and Homeland.
2) Natalie Portman
Most people have awkward puberty phases. Natalie Portman is not like most people.
Natalie Portman may be a robot, but most would argue that robots can’t act like Natalie can. Starting out at the age of 13 in Leon: The Professional, Portman stunned audiences with her adult-like inteligence. As a teen, she played the role of Padméin the Star Wars prequels, and she was in other movies like Anywhere but Here and Where the Heart is. Her adult acting career is vast, comprising of films like Cold Mountain, Garden State, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and Thor. This Natalie Portman… I like her. ANOTHER! [I proceed to lift Natalie Portman off the floor and throw her to the ground]
1) Jodie Foster
From child prostitute to serial killer bait, Jodie Foster has done it all.
Can you give me one good reason why Jodie Foster shouldn’t be number one? That’s right, there is none.
Jodie Foster started acting at the age of three when she was the Coppertone Girl in a commercial. 10 years later, Jodie Foster received an Academy Award nomination for Taxi Driver. Having to channel the attitude of a prostitute while starring alongside Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro when you’re 13-years-old is serious business. But she’s not all serious business; that very same year she starred in the original Freaky Friday. I bet Lindsay Lohan would do anything to trade careers with her.
Foster’s transition into adult acting is probably one of the most awesome success stories. She won two Academy Awards for both The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs. Jodie Foster’s also been in Nell, Contact, Panic Room, and Carnage. Guys, I just want to be Jodie Foster.
~Written by: Elizabeth