Child actors may get to enjoy the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the finer things in life, but there is also a downside to gaining fame at a young age. Tiny stars are put under the public microscope at vulnerable ages, and deal with the pressures of balancing acting with school, friendships and growing up.
Keke Palmer, who starred in Akeelah and the Bee when she was a child has admitted, "As a child actor you experience a lot of depression and anxiety...Yes, I went through depression, and it was not comfortable. Yes, I struggle with anxiety and being paranoid and trying to figure out who I am."
While it's true that some child actors fare better than others, young stars who have the support of loved ones and are allowed to enjoy their childhoods usually grow up to be happy, well-rounded adults. However, like it or not, they will never truly leave the characters they became known for as children behind.
Mara Wilson got her start at a very young age when she landed a role in the film Mrs. Doubtfire, then went on to star in the movie Matilda. She has said, "I don't want to be a former child actor for the rest of my life, although in some ways I suppose I am. I am going to be that."
Read on for 15 of the most beloved child actors of all time who are nearly unrecognizable today. Would you pin them down them as the stars of some of your favorite movies and television shows if you passed them on the street?
15 Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki is most well known for playing the role of Ray alongside juggernaut stars Renee Zellweger and Tom Cruise in the 90s film Jerry Maguire. In fact, Lipnicki's adorable face, lisp and glasses may have been the main reasons why so many fell in love with the heartwarming film in the first place. Since his days as a sweet tot, Lipnicki has transformed into a man of steel.
Speaking about how he went from a kid with squishable cheeks to a man with rock hard abs, the star has shared, "I kind of became a gym rat. The more results I saw, the more dedicated I became. It is such a great feeling to see your hard work pay off. I mean, if I'm gonna skip the In-N-Out burgers, there better be light at the end of the tunnel!"
Lipnicki is humble about his awesome bod, and has shared, "I live in Hollywood. Go three feet and you will run into someone more cut and better looking than me. For me, working out is more about keeping my temperament great. Jujitsu and lifting keep me very even."
14 Bug Hall
Bug Hall gained fame as a child star when he played the role of Alfalfa in the adorable 90s remake of the classic show The Little Rascals. In the movie, his character was a debonair, put together little chap who did all he could to wind the heart of the love of his life, Darla.
Since his days spent belting out love songs in a bow tie, Bug has become a bit more, shall we say, rugged? His bushy beard, beaded necklaces and laid-back style are more casual than the digs of the character who made him a star, but he seems happy and comfortable in his own skin.
The part Bug played on Little Rascals was his debut role, and the one he is most recognized for, but he has also appeared in many other movies and television shows including Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, The Stupids, The O.C., CSI Miami and 90210. He most recently landed a lead role in the film The Long Run. He and his wife, Jill de Goff, welcomed a daughter to the world at the end of last year.
13 Abigail Breslin
Abigail Breslin firs gained notice when she landed the role of Olive Hoover in the award-winning film Little Miss Sunshine. Speaking about her childhood, she once admitted, "My mom didn't think I would take to acting because I was a very shy, very reserved kind of child. But obviously, something changed."
Despite her star-studded childhood and adolescent years, Breslin has been able to keep some semblance of a normal life. She has shared, "I have a really great family, and when I'm not filming, I go home and walk the dogs, take out the garbage, clean my room, all that stuff. My family and friends keep me in line and make sure I don't get crazy."
Breslin tries to keep things in perspective, and not put too much pressure on herself to be perfect. She has said, "It's cheesy, but having a pimple or a bad hair day isn't going to matter in five years. I don't always remember that, but I try."
12 Matthew Lewis
Matthew Lewis was cast as Neville Longbottom when he was still a young child, and grew up in front of the cameras as the eight films in the Harry Potter series were made. Because his character was a bit goofy, he had to maintain his awkward appearance throughout the filming, meaning he had to hold off on getting any sort of cosmetic work done. Since getting his teeth fixed with braces and losing a few pounds, Lewis looks nothing like his former self.
He has shared, "I wasn't allowed to have braces on my teeth, which was sh**! So I first got braces when I wrapped on the last Potter film. Whenever I go back to Leeds or see people I went to school with they always talk about my veneers. I'm like, 'I haven't got veneers, these are my actual teeth!' If I can't f***ing convince people I went to school with, how am I going to convince anyone else?"
He has also stated, "The great thing as an actor is that I don't know what my agent is going to call me with next."
11 Lark Voorhies
Lark Voorhies gained major fame after landing the role of Lisa Turtle on the hit television series Saved By the Bell. By the time the show wrapped in 1993, she was a household name, and her face still appears on television screens around the globe as fans of the show enjoy syndicated episodes.
Since the show's end, she has appeared on many other television programs including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Days of Our Lives and Family Matters. She has also worked as a singer, a spokeswoman, a model and has authored three books. She's been married three times, with her most recent marriage to Jimmy Green ending in 2016.
Voorhies is a very philosophical and self-assured individual. Speaking about herself, she has stated, "Clearly I am a very strong, top-of-the-line, always-rising-to-it personage."
She has also shared, "I have no worries about myself, nor do I exude or possess within my living stratus any reason why someone should worry on my behalf."
10 Dustin Diamond
Dustin Diamond quickly shot to stardom after landing the role of Screech on the hit show Saved By The Bell. He hasn't done a lot of acting since the show ended. He has, however, appeared in an adult film and been in a band. Speaking about the music his band plays, Diamond revealed, "Our music, you either get it or you don't...The Britney Spears fans are going to dig us."
If you ask Diamond, he's doing great compared to other former child stars. He once shared, "All these child stars grow up and they're knockin' over banks and getting prostitutes. I'm, like, one of the only people I know that has managed to dodge all of that negative crap."
Diamond may have given us a clue about what he's up to these days when he stated, "Eat some pizza, play some Xbox, watch some TV. Gross? Maybe. Me? Yes."
9 Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment started his career when he was an adorable little lad. He has grown up before our eyes, and is nearly unrecognizable today. The actor landed a series of smaller roles in television and film in the early 90s, but became a bonafide star after being cast in M. Night Shyamalan's thriller The Sixth Sense. Osment has said of his role in the film, for which he received a best supporting actor Oscar nomination, "A film like The Sixth Sense burns an image of who you are into people's minds."
After getting his big break, the talented young actor starred in the films A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Pay It Forward. Speaking about how he gets into character, Osment has shared, "Acting is not acting. It's putting on a face and dancing around in a mask. It's believing that you are that character and playing him as if it were a normal day in the life of that character."
On life after being a child star, Osment has said, "I went to New York University to study experimental theater in 2006 and was there pretty consistently until 2011...Having that college experience and a social life that didn't revolve around Hollywood was absolutely crucial."
8 Mae Whitman
Mae Whitman's first role was in the film When a Man Loves a Woman. She went on to land parts in the rom coms One Fine Day and Hope Floats and the science fiction film Independence Day. Speaking about growing up in the spotlight, the star has shared, "You do have to continue, as you grow as a human, checking in and going, 'Is this what I want? Am I giving away things that I don't want? Whom am I and what do I want to keep doing?"
Mae has gone on to star in many films and television shows including Arrested Development, Parenthood, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The DUFF.
The actress has stated, "I like to be a lot of different things at once and dress different ways and I change my hair all the time, so being an actor lets me live out the fantasy of living out 100,000 different lifetimes in one, without all of the repercussions."
7 Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Culkin is one of the most beloved of all child stars. His bright blue eyes, expressive face and comedic timing made him an instant star. Today, some have used the words "terrifying" and "horrifying" to describe Culkin. He dresses a bit eccentrically, and makes some strange facial expressions, but he's still the lovable guy we all fell in love with when enjoying the movies Home Alone and My Girl.
Culkin doesn't regret getting into acting as a child. In fact, he recently stated, "I enjoy my life. I think I have a very good life. And I think I'm very satisfied with the direction of my career and just my lifestyle and everything like that. So I wouldn't change a single thing."
The former child star is also quite a poet, and has said about himself, "I am a collection of thoughts and memories and likes and dislikes. I am the things that have happened to me and the sum of everything I've ever done...I am a bag of bones stuck to a very large rock spinning a thousand miles an hour."
What's he up to these days? According to him, "I lead a simple life. I feed the fish. I walk the dogs. I cook dinner. Occasionally, I take a meeting."
6 Will Friedle
Will Friedle is best known for his role as Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World. His long, flowing hair has been traded in for a cropped do, and he's got more facial hair than he did when oodles of female fans ogled him every time he came onscreen during the show's run, but he still looks as dashing as ever.
Since the end of the show that made him famous, Friedle has done a lot of voiceover and comedic work, and has learned over the years not to take himself too seriously. He once joked, "I don't think, until the end, I had read a positive review of Boy Meets World...Bad reviews come with everything. I've been getting them my whole life."
So what does the future hold for America's favorite under-achieving older brother? He has shared, "I'd like to do voiceovers my whole life. I get to kind of create a character and go in and play." Friedle has also admitted, "I want to be in this business as log as this business will have me."
5 Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan burst onto the Hollywood scene when she landed the role of twins in the Disney remake of The Parent Trap. She quickly became the child actor everyone wanted to work with, and it wasn't long before her life of fame and fortune got the best of her.
Lohan became a regular at many Hollywood hot spots, and spent a lot of her free time drinking and doing drugs. After stints in rehab and multiple attempts to restart her floundering career, the actress took some time out of the spotlight to reinvent herself. Unfortunately, the time she spent partying hard took a toll on her appearance, and she aged quickly.
Today, it is rumored that Lohan has converted to Islam, and the star was recently seen walking around with a copy of the Koran. She has stated, "Everyone has highs and lows that they have to learn from, but every morning I start off with a good head on my shoulders, saying to myself, 'It's going to be a good day!'"
4 Bradley Pierce
Bradley Pierce was a child actor who is best known for his appearance in the well-loved 90s movie, Jumanji. In the film, he played Peter Shepherd, a young boy who gets much more than he bargained for when he and his sister decide to play a board game. His mop of chestnut hair has been replaced by a thinning hair line. It is also interesting to note that the mole Pierce had on his upper chest as a boy is still there, and is still pretty much the same size and shape as it was way back when.
After starring alongside Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst in the hit film, Pierce went on to do a lot of voiceover work and got bit parts in various movies, television shows and commercials.
Today, Pierce is a family man. He and his lovely wife Shari Homes have been married since 2005 and have three children together. He may not be a huge star, but no one will ever forget how terrifyingly awesome it was when he changed into a monkey in the film he is most remembered for. Let's be honest: not every kid could pull off such an impressive transformation.
3 Bryton McClure
Bryton McClure, also known as Bryton James, got his start on the television series Family Matters. He played the cute-as-a-button Richie Crawford that everyone in the fictional television family doted on and adored. He has traded in his irresistible curly locks for a clean-shaven look, and angelic baby face has transformed into a chiseled, handsome one.
Since his days spent as a child actor, the hunky star has gone on to appear in various movies and television shows including The Vampire Diaries and Smart Guy. He has also done a lot of voiceover work.
He married fellow actress Ashley Leisinger in 2011, but the two parted ways in 2014. According to him, the two have remained close friends despite their split. Today, McClure plays Devon Hamilton on the popular CBS soap The Young and the Restless. He won the 2007 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series for the role.
2 Chauncey Leopardi
Chauncey Leopardi got his start acting in the movie Father of the Bride, but is most well known for his role as Michael "Squints" Palledorous on the beloved movie The Sandlot. His character was hilarious and lovable, making him a child star who will never be forgotten.
After his Sandlot success, Leopardi went on to make appearances on the television shows Boy Meets World, Freaks and Geeks, 7th Heaven, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Gilmore Girls. He played Squints once again in the 2007 straight-to-DVD reunion film entitled The Sandlot: Heading Home.
Today, Leopardi has a few more tattoos than he did when he started his career, and his goofy look has been replaced by a suave air of confidence and effortless coolness. He has a strong presence on Twitter, and tweets often under the handle _@squintz, most likely chosen to pay homage to the character that made him forever famous.
1 Alyson Stoner
Alyson Stoner was an adorable child actor who got her start when she landed a part in the film Cheaper By the Dozen. Speaking about the role, Stoner has said, "I think my favorite role was playing Sarah Baker in Cheaper By The Dozen. It was my first movie, and I worked with amazing professionals who had such strong work ethics that I immediately learned how to work in this industry."
Since her first film, Stoner has grown from a cute kid into a beautiful woman. She's made a career for herself as a singer, dancer and model. She's also had roles in the Disney show The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and the Step Up movies.
Stoner has stated, "I love what I do, and I just remember that every breath and every moment is a gift and it can be taken away at any time, so I want to appreciate it and be grateful for it while it's here."
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