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11 Former Child Stars Who Haven’t F**ked It All Up Just Yet

By Agent Bedhead | Seriously Random Lists | August 22, 2012 | Comments ()


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This column was inspired by relative success of the 11 Aussie Actors Who Haven't Fucked It Up Just Yet column as well as the (more recent) erroneous claim (on behalf of Jodie Foster) that Kristen Stewart should be given a free pass because she's a child star. While I'm not even going to try to touch (in this venue, anyway) the fact that Kristen is being fired upon (much more than her male accomplice) for her sins against the Twihard universe, I'm simply making issue of Jodie's odd framing device because Kristen wasn't really even a "child star." Hell, Kristen wasn't even well-known until she was a 17-year-old starring in the first movie of the Twilight franchise, so the term doesn't even apply. In that spirit, here are some other (relevant) examples of actual former child stars who haven't, you know, pulled a Lindsay Lohan. Yet.

Joseph Gordon Levitt: He's Tommy Solomon no longer. JGL has done quite well for himself and is now (for better or worse) a Christopher Nolan favorite.

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Danica McKellar: Winnie Cooper grew up good. She's a New York Times bestseller thanks to her math-centered books, which include Math Doesn't Suck, Hot X: Algebra Exposed!, and Kiss My Math.

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Jason Bateman: C'mon, who didn't love "Arrested Development" and welcome this guy back from his Teen Wolf Too days? Lest you think he's always playing the same straight-man role, remember how unrecognizable (both appearance and demeanor-wise) he was in Up In the Air?

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Claire Danes: She'll always be Angela Chase to me, but she's made her own way by appearing in both commercial productions (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Romeo + Juliet) as well as quirky little indies (Shopgirl, U Turn).

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Daniel Radcliffe: You guys could just sense this guy falling into oblivion with his angry, naked booty in the Equus stage production, right? Wrong.

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Dakota Fanning: Perhaps this entry is premature since she's taken some time off to attend NYU, but that's also a sign that she won't go off the rails anytime soon.

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Natalie Portman: True, she's the only Oscar winner of the bunch and has arguably only embraced her independent spirit in order to counteract the awfulness of the Star Wars prequels. But hey, she could be lying in a ditch and smoking meth right now, and she clearly is not doing just that.

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Neil Patrick Harris: Yeah, I really hate stoner comedies and those bloody Smurfs, but I can't help but love this guy. At least he has reputable work in television, right?

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Christian Bale: For whatever reason,I feel that Bale should be held to a very high standard (because he can handle it). Most of the time, he meets that standard. Other times? Not so much.

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Emma Watson: You just know that some enterprising paparazzo would love to get a photo of topless Hermione Granger, but that won't be happening anytime soon.

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Mila Kunis: Does "Jackie" from "That '70s Show" count as a child star? Sure as hell she does, and she's the hottest one of the bunch. Plus she hung out with all those Scientologists in the cast without falling prey to the madness. Too bad about that Seth MacFarlane nonsense, but that's also a huge reason for her success.

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Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Jess @ Sparrow + Sea

    Sarah Michelle Gellar!

  • Jezzer

    What? No one has chimed in to call Claire Danes a "homewrecker" yet? Are all the judgey people asleep?

  • Nadine

    My favourite thing about Mila, amongst all the things I love, love about Mila, is that, apparently, when she went to audition for That 70's Show she was actually fourteen or fifteen, but told them she was older. They asked if she was 18 or sixteen and as her actual (15th?) birthday was approaching she said 'I'll be 16/18 on my birthday!'

    She just didn't specify WHICH birthday. But by the time they found out it was too late to change, or they just loved her so much that they kept her.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    Mila Kunis was in Gia when she was like...what? 7? 8?
    I think that counts as child star.

  • rubeloo

    Kristen Stewart was 12 when she filmed Panic Room with Jodie Foster. And she's been working steadily ever since, even if you don't count Twilight. Just saying...

  • Jackie Cooper and Mickey Rooney made out ok.

  • kirbyjay

    Mickey Rooney was married 8 times.

  • not quite the same as adult onset meltdown though, eh? rich people often seem to go through more marriages than us hoi polloi

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    The jury is still out on Bale because they never did find all those dead bodies, did they?

    What's that? Just a movie, you say? Right. You just keep believing that. And feel free to spend as much time in a dark alley with him as you like. I'll be over here where it's safe.

  • caro

    not a fan of AMERICAN PSYCHO?

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Love the movie. Bale scares the ever-loving shit out of me. Not sure he was acting.

  • Nadine

    Dude, I would spend ALL THE TIME in a dark alley with Bale. Wait, that sounds messed up. I want to lick his face, is basically what I'm saying.

  • 1) Christian Bale won an Oscar...same year as Portman, right?
    2) Anna Chlumsky. [full disclosure: Our parents are friends. She has no weird off-the-rails stories that I know of.]

  • Jezzer

    I adore Anna on "Veep." I might have actually squeed when she first appeared on the show.

  • Christian Bale has won an Oscar, as well. So he and Portman have that accolade.

  • JJay

    Umm, Christian Bale won an Oscar. THE SAME YEAR AS NATALIE PORTMAN.

  • PDamian

    I'd add Sara Gilbert to this list. Years and years as Darlene Conner on Roseanne, then time off to study and graduate from Yale, then a stable career on TV as a host and an occasional guest spot. Good job.

  • hellena

    So do these underwear-missing upskirt photos of Emma Watson not count? I guess she has to be topless, then.

  • Jezzer

    Try to consider the idea that the upskirt photos were most likely taken without her consent. I know thinking is hard, but your brain will get stronger the more you use it.

  • Bandit

    Has anyone actually ever worked out the ratio of child stars that messed up to ones that didn't? There seems to be a lot of former child stars that grew up to be pretty stable (Christina Ricci, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Mayim Bialik, Dicaprio, Jake Gyllenhaal, etc).

  • Snath

    Danica McKellar also voices Miss Martian in the supremely excellent Young Justice show.

  • Jezzer

    Supremely excellent and, sadly, apparently canceled. :(

  • Snath

    What? Where'd you hear that? Wikipedia doesn't mention it, and THEY'RE NEVER WRONG.

    YOU HEAR ME?!

    *ahem*

    I like this show a lot. I bought the second half of season 1 the day it came out on DVD. I might be kind of obsessed.

  • Jezzer

    It's a rumor I read on another site a few weeks ago, supposedly from an inside source. Mattel canceled the toy line due to poor sales, the series went into extended hiatus during season two, and according to the rumor, the creative team has been let go and season two's remaining episodes will be broadcast, but there will be no season three.

    Which, bummer if it's true, because this might be the best DC animated adaptation I've ever watched. The first few episodes of season one were a little bumpy, but the show improved drastically episode after episode, and wasn't afraid to touch on adult themes and darker storylines. It's pretty much continuity porn for comic fans.

  • Snath

    That is very disappointing. I love the five-year gap and the new characters that were introduced, and I wanted to see how season three improved things even more. Bah.

  • Green Lantern

    Hel-LO, Snath!

  • denesteak

    i missed that 11 crappiest movies of Christian Bale list when you guys did it but man, did that comment section get angsty on you, bedhead.

    Regarding Mila Kunis, wasn't she 16 when she started on That 70s Show? And if you are discounting Kristen Stewart bc she was 17 on the Twilight series, is 16 around the same age range? Unless if MK acted before in anything else and I just don't know about it...

  • Snath

    I thought Kunis was 14 when she started. If I remember the story, she lied to get the part.

  • EB III

    Kunis was 14 when she started That 70's Show. She lied about her age to the producers who wanted actors to at least be 16 in real life. Also think it is hard to pass judgement on any of these till they hit 30 without issues.

  • kirbyjay

    Mila actually started acting when she was 8 or 9. She played a young Angelina Jolie in Gia, and worked along side the Hulkster in Santa With Muscles as well as commercials, Baywatch and other tv guests shots. She was a month away from 15 when she started That 70's Show.
    As for issues, she kicked Kevin McAllister to the curb for his drug use, is very close to her parents, and obviously feels comfortable with Mr. Douchnozzle and knows him better than we do.
    Besides, the babies will be beautiful!

  • lowercase_ryan

    Mila shouldn't be on this list. She "fucked it all up" when she fucked Ashton. Why do I have to keep bringing this up? Seriously, it feels like I am forced to remind you all at least once a week.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Sorry but if you date, not just sleep with, but date someone who maintains the persona of a vapid douchebag and that person has also cheated on his wife, then I will lose respect for you.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    does that count for the men who sleep with vapid airheads who've cheated on their husbands? I'm going to guess no.

  • lowercase_ryan

    rupert sanders, eddie sibrian, etc. Pieces of shit.

  • Anne At Large

    We're talking "pulled a Lindsey Lohan" here, not slept with one dumbass in between keeping one's shit together and making successful movies.

  • Mrs. Julien

    a. I don't care who she dates.
    b. I only just realised that she used to be on a show with Kutcher.

  • dizzylucy

    A few others - Leo DiCaprio, Christina Applegate, Scarlett Johannson.

  • I wonder about Jodie Foster's tendency to come down on the side of folks who just don't need that kind of support.

    Mila Kunis - certainly pretty, but I do not get the "hottest of the bunch" accolades she always gets. She looks good and seems rather charming, but kind of a meh actress.

    Everyone else on this list are very good actors.

  • e jerry powell

    I don't like to give Kunis much credit either, but let's remember that she sits next to Ashton Kutcher. She gets better when you consider that comparison.

  • m

    Unfortunately, she's currently sitting ON Ashton Kutcher as well. Minus eleventy points from Mila.

  • m

    Me again. See also: lowercase_ryan, below.

  • dizzylucy

    Mayim Bialik, Raven Simone, and Kenan Thompson have all managed to hang in there too, and to go back a little further, Ron Howard.

  • e jerry powell

    Well, none of whom would be considered to have anywhere near A-list pull in the business recently. Bialik took a lot of time off in earning three degrees and hasn't been in the public eye much save for the What Not To Wear episode and a few TV guest spots since (ditto for Mindy Cohn, though at least Cohn has a few more indie film credits under her belt since her WNTW spot the year after Bialik). Raven-Symone is more a tween empire unto herself, a la the Olsen Twins (and if I remember correctly, Mary-Kate and Ashley are being out-buzzed by their sister these days), and Kenan Thompson has a slightly more elevated profile due to SNL, but what has he done other than that lately?

    Seriously, can we say that the three you mention have had the quality of workload of a Bale or a Portman since moving into adulthood? While they certainly aren't, say, a Danny Bonaduce or a Todd Bridges in terms of negative exposure, they're hardly shaking the world with their career trajectories.

  • Snath

    WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

    OOOOOOOO-WEEEEEEE!

    WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

    Yeah, now THAT'S in your head.

  • e jerry powell

    You forgot the Bill Cosby impersonations.

  • dizzylucy

    A list, no, but I was thinking of child stars who continued working in the business and have managed to have successful careers as adults without going all Lohan.
    Also, Mayim just got a best supporting actress Emmy nomination for Big Bang Theory. I personally can't stand that show, but it gets huge ratings and she's been on it for a year or two now, I think, so she's doing pretty well.
    Also, I really like and admire Danica McKellar too, but she doesn't have the "A list pull" of Bale or Portman either. That's not what the list is about.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Come to think of it, Jodie Foster herself could be included on the list.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Jamie Bell?

  • Vdub

    Yup, Bale won the best supporting actor Oscar.

  • BWeaves

    Elijah Wood's been working steadily since he was 5, and you never hear anything cracked out about him.

  • FrayedMachine

    Yeah, I'm surprised about that one, honestly. I'm pretty sure he's one of the most successful ones, too.

  • desirevines

    I couldn't agree more. He's a solid one.

  • Lemon_Poundcake

    Pepper needs new shorts!

  • Snath

    I forgot Bale was a child star. It's been a while since I've seen Empire of the Sun.

  • CMooreVerdad

    Also, Newsies.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    and Swing Kids! and Little Women!

  • Snath

    Ah, yes. I forgot because I've never seen it.

    Don't hit me.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I won't hit you. I'll just feel sad for you.

  • Kenny G.

    What about Anna Paquin? She won an oscar for THE PIANO when she was a child star...

  • Fabius_Maximus

    No. That vampire soap opera is an even worse fate than Twilight, which at least made it to the big screen.

  • BWeaves

    Ah, The Piano. My mother's favorite "western." I've discussed that before.

  • eduardo

    and why is not christina ricci on this list?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    The same reason why Thora Birch isn't on it. Because she once was a promising child actress that got stuck in shitty indie productions and second rate horror flicks.

    In Ricci's case, I blame it on her getting freakishly thin, which makes her look like an alien.

  • Anne At Large

    Love her. I will always adore her as Wednesday Addams (and Penelope, even though she was much too cute for that plot device).

  • eduardo

    um... christian bale is also an oscar winner

  • Tinkerville

    I think a few of these are too early to say (the Harry Potter bunch, etc. ) but I'm sure as hell rooting for them and hoping they have great careers.

  • Samantha

    Psst. Christian Bale has an Oscar, too. Same class as Portman, even. :)

  • mtgcolorpie

    Er, didn't Bale win an Oscar as well?

  • Fredo

    For The Fighter, right?

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