Child stars who made it and those who didn’t
CHILD actors have given us some of the most memorable scenes in film and television history.
The only problem is, they grow up. Being adorable and precocious can only get you so far in this industry. Plus, as Macauley Culkin has found out, everybody always wants you to pull "that" face or say "that" famous phrase.
Mighty Ducks scene stealer Shaun Weiss this week became the latest former child star revealed to have fallen on hard times, the now 38-year-old arrested in California on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and intoxication. The actor, who won hearts as the battling Ducks' goalie, had two stints in jail last year for theft and drug possession.
But while others have made a brilliant transition into the adult world of acting, there does not seem to be a formula or recipe for success - although coming from an acting family does appear to help. Sometimes.
With that in mind, here are 10 child actors who kept going - and 10 who live on only in endless re-runs.
She was adorable in ET. Although, next to that rather grotesque puppet, anyone was going to look good. She followed that up as the child with special powers in the adaptation of Stephen King's Firestarter.
Perhaps because she came from an acting family - or perhaps despite that - she made it through some troubled years before kicking on, particularly in the 1990s and early 2000s with a string of hits, moving from bad girl roles to rom-coms.
Her work with Adam Sandler and Hugh Grant has been especially good. Obviously she became used to playing opposite a hideous puppet. Savagely funny in Netflix zombie series Santa Clarita Diet, the thrice married star has also worked as a producer on multiple projects including her Charlies Angels films.
Before he put on the cape as Batman, he was a little English boy trying to survive the Japanese occupation of Shanghai during World War II in Empire Of The Sun.
He was a genuine child star and even had a lead role in a Disney musical, The News Boys, as the singing and dancing leader of the young paper sellers who went out on strike.
I'm sure it was much more entertaining than it sounds. Since then he's become not just a brooding action hero but also a serious actor, whose next film role will see him make it all the way to the White House - playing former vice president Dick Cheney.
Given he made his mark as a time-travelling hitman in Looper, it's easy to believe he could be a child actor. After multiple TV roles, he cracked the big time as the child star of Disney's Angels In The Outfield, a baseball movie.
He slipped into adult roles with Looper, the mind-bending Inception and the acclaimed Dark Knight Rises, where he was Robin to Bale's Batman. Luckily, unlike poor Chris O'Donnell, his version of Robin didn't feature a suit with rubber nipples. He returns to the big screen later this year in action thriller 7500.
She was the go-to girl for child and teen roles with a dark twist in the 1990s. If you wanted cute with a side order of slightly freaky, then she was your girl.
She was Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family movies and then starred in Casper as well. You couldn't really say she has been a headliner since then but she's been busy. You can't say that about too many child actors.
Another from a family of actors who kicked off his career as Billy Crystal's son in City Slickers. (He was the human one, not the calf called Norman that Billy adopted in the movie.
It's an easy mistake to make.) After that, he had more leading child roles in the likes of Donnie Darko and as the Bubble Boy.
He shifted into teen roles in The Day After Tomorrow and then made the jump into adult roles as the cowboy who falls in love with Heath Ledger in the acclaimed Brokeback Mountain. He's also rumoured to be playing the villain Mysterio in the new Spider-Man movie.
Long before he was wandering the wilds of New Zealand crying: "Mr Frodo! Mr Frodo!" Sean Astin was Mikey in the 1980s classic film The Goonies.
He backed that up with a bunch of teen roles before becoming Samwise Gamgee in Lord Of The Rings. Has moved more into TV, with a great role in Stranger Things as well as being the voice of Raphael in the Nickelodeon version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons.
Not to be confused with the 17 or so other versions of TMNT.
She was Oscar-nominated for her role as a child prostitute in Taxi Driver, while she won an Oscar for her role as a gang-raped waitress in The Accused.
A couple of lighthearted, cheerful roles there. But it was as rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling in The Silence Of The Lambs that she became a rolled-gold star, while co-star Anthony Hopkins put human flesh and Chianti back on the menu.
She has also become a brilliant director and gave work to Mel Gibson when nobody else in Hollywood would touch him. Goes to show she'll take anything on.
Today we know him as an acclaimed director, with a huge string of hits (Coocoon, 1985; Apollo 13, 1995; Solo: A Star Wars Story, 2018) as well as an Oscar for Best Director (A Beautiful Mind, 2001).
Many also remember him when he had red hair, as Richie Cunningham in the legendary 1970s TV series Happy Days (set in the 1950s).
Yet he was 20 years old when Happy Days began and he had actually risen to fame much earlier in The Andy Griffith Show as the star's son. That ran for eight seasons and was a huge hit - giving him three stages of stardom and three radically different haircuts.
She kicked off her career as a young girl reluctantly adopted by an assassin in Leon before striking true child stardom in the Star Wars prequels.
That could well have been the end of her career but she kicked on with a string of great roles in films such as V For Vendetta and Black Swan, which won her an Oscar in 2010. She slipped back into shlockbuster territory with the two Thor films but the spectre of Jar Jar Binks no longer hovers above her.
She received an Oscar nomination for an acclaimed portrayal or Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie (2016) and this year returned to the big screen in sci-fi horror flick Annihilation.
Starred as Holly Hunter's daughter in the haunting The Piano, which featured Sam Neill as a man with an amazing set of mutton chop whiskers and also starred New Zealand as a stage place. A natural fit on both counts. She later featured in the X-Men series as the troubled Rogue but really hit her straps as the lead in the long-running cult vampire series True Blood (2008-14).
THOSE WHO DIDN'T GO THE DISTANCE
After a string of minor roles and TV movies, she hit the big time in the original Jurassic Park and its sequel. The shot where she holds a spoonful of jelly and it wobbles as the dinosaurs approach is a classic.
That sort of thing takes real skill. It is surprisingly then, that she has switched her focus to art. Her artist website features a shot of herself from Jurassic Park, of course, and you can order a picture from her.
Probably best not to ask for a portrait of a T-Rex though.
He was Elliot's annoying big brother in the brilliant movie ET who went on to become a mailman. He had a few other minor roles but nothing really after 1988.
Reportedly he said about the fact Drew Barrymore went on to become an A-lister and he didn't: "She's a star and I never saw myself as a star at all. I always saw myself as an actor who got lucky".
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids/Honey I Blew Up The Kid
After a bunch of small roles she hit the big (or should that be small?) time as Amy, the daughter of Rick Moranis in this classic film.
She was the stereotypical annoying older teen sister, obsessed with telephones and shopping who turned out to be good-hearted and ended up falling for the ridiculously handsome next-door neighbour.
Yet, after the sequel, she only had some minor roles before disappearing from the scene in the mid-1990s. Has anyone checked the garden for her?
Sean Astin kicked on after starring in this movie but his hilarious sidekick, Chunk, he of the Truffle Shuffle dance, never did. He had pretty much the funniest lines in the movie but moved on into law at university.
Now slim and balding, he's pretty much the visual opposite of Chunk. Reportedly said: "It was fun being an actor, but by the time college rolled around, I was ready to try some new things. By the time I graduated, I realised I enjoyed having a normal life and I never went back".
This astonishing 1980s film, powered by the Giorgio Moroder song of the same name, inspired a couple of sequels and, more importantly, inspired kids to read.
Sure, the effects look rather dated today but the tale of the bullied boy who reads about a fantasy land being slowly destroyed and has to step into the story to save it is a classic.
Oliver played the boy, Bastian, but after several more child roles in films such as Cocoon, he stepped into the world of photography instead. Or did he just fly away on a white fluffy dragon?
Stephen King's terrifying book was turned into a heart-stopping movie by Stanley Kubrick, with Jack Nicholson as the loving father turned into a deranged killer by the secret evil in a mountain hotel. Danny played Jack's son, also called Danny.
Reportedly Kubrick was so careful of the then-six-year-old that he didn't realise he was in a horror film until years later.
It's a bit cheap to call his career a horror story as he decided to work as a science teacher instead. Although, faced with a choice between a classroom of teen students and a maniacal Jack Nicholson, I'd go for Option B every time.
She was the adorable kid in the Robin Williams classic Mrs Doubtfire who became an even more adorable kid in the 1994 version of Miracle On 34th Street and then followed it up as the irresistibly adorable star of Matilda.
Nobody could do wide-eyed and open-mouthed childlike joy like Mara. Sadly, those roles seemed to be in short supply once she grew up.
Instead she has forged a career as a stage actor and voice actor. Which goes to show she's smarter than many others.
Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
Easily one of the most magical movies of the last 40 years, Peter was Charlie in this musical version of the beloved Roald Dahl book.
It made binge-eating on chocolate acceptable, even if you did make an Augustus Gloop of yourself. Reportedly he was offered a three-movie deal afterwards but turned it down.
Unlike many of the other child stars, who at least racked up the guest roles and TV movies, he never worked again as an actor, instead turning to veterinary science. That's the official version. I like to think he's just living in a chocolate factory with a bunch of Oompa Loompas. Nothing weird about that.
The 1980s was the golden era of action movies and Aliens was one of the all-time greats, headlined by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, one of the best female action roles of all time.
Carrie played Newt, the lone survivor of the space colony and the little girl who became Ripley's adopted daughter. Like Ostrum, she never acted in anything else.
This is despite her obvious talent for screaming in terror and crawling through small spaces. Still, if you're only going to be in one movie, you might as well make it a brilliant one.
Mrs Doubtfire/Independence Day
Mrs Doubtfire had three lovely child actors. We've already talked about Mara Wilson. Brother Matthew Lawrence has had recurring roles in TV shows while older sister Lisa came back with another strong teen role in Independence Day, as the troubled daughter of Randy Quaid. (Is there any other kind?)
She had a variety of other small roles but, since 2000, gave up acting and apparently has no plans to return. She reportedly said: "It's okay to decide that being happy is worth more than … being an actor because you think you're incapable of doing anything else".