50 Child Stars Who Became Successful Adults In Hollywood

You probably recognize many of these children in your favorite movies, but never realized who and how famous they are now.
Harriet King May 24th 2018 Entertainment
We're all familiar with the failed child actor narrative. So many kids make a big impression in Hollywood and then we never hear from them ever again. Sometimes they get addicted to drugs or decide to focus on their school work. Sometimes they simply lose interest in an acting career.
When it comes to child stars, we're not too sure what ends up going so wrong. It's probably very easy to gain access to drugs when you're rich and famous, but that can't be the only thing holding people back! Luckily, not every tiny star falls into disrepute. Some become megastars.
The best ones definitely tend to stick around and we're here to celebrate them now! So, sit back and let's reminisce about these child stars who became successful Hollywood actors. You have probably seen #50 in movies when she was a child, but never realized that she was this successful actress!
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1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
This is one former child actor that we'd definitely recognize in the street! We still remember him as the adorable Tommy Solomon in the television series, 3rd Rock from the Sun. As a child, he also appeared in the films, A River Runs Through It and Angels in the Outfield. When the time came, he stopped acting in order to pursue his education at Columbia University, however, he soon realized his true passion and dropped out to pick up acting again.
We're so glad he did, because his career has only continued to flourish as an adult. We loved him in 10 Things I Hate About You, as well as The Dark Knight Rises, (500) Days of Summer, Inception, and Snowden. He brings every character he plays to life, which is why the movies he stars in always do so well at the box office.
2. Lacey Chabert
We know what you're thinking: Lacey Chabert! Of course we'd recognize her on the street! But have any of you guys actually seen Party of Five? Chabert started on the show playing Claudia Salinger when she was just ten years old and you can barely tell it's her if you go back and watch it. Known for her distinctive voice, Chabert also portrayed the character of Eliza Thornberry in the animated kid's television series, The Wild Thornberrys.
Since her break out role in Party of Five, Chabert's acting career has remained steady. She appeared in films such as Lost in Space, Daddy Day Care, Dirty Deeds, and Not Another Teen Movie. Probably her most famous role as an adult was her portrayal of Gretchen Weiners in the blockbuster hit, Mean Girls. We've watched it way too many times to count.
3. Brett Kelly
Who could forget dorky Thurman Merman from Bad Santa? This unknown kid practically stole the show, which is difficult to do when you're starring alongside Billy Bob Thornton. Brett Kelly was only ten years old when he scored his first big time role and he has since starred in a bunch of other stuff too, including Trick 'r Treat, The Sandlot 2, Like Mike 2, Unaccompanied Minors, and, of course, Bad Santa 2.
Fortunately for Kelly, his career has been going well and he hasn't developed any drug addictions. He is 24 now and continues to snag pretty decent acting roles. His most recent blockbuster film credit is Bad Santa 2, which was released in 2016. You can tell that he's Thurman Merman despite all of the growing up he's done, but we still probably wouldn't recognize him on the street!
4. Patrick Fugit
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Patrick Fugit first captured our attention back in 2000 when he graced our screens as William Miller in the blockbuster hit Almost Famous. Starring alongside Kate Hudson is a pretty great way to introduce yourself to the world! He came back to us in 2002 in the film Oleander, and then again in 2004 with Saved.
Though Fugit didn't give up acting or turn to partying, he certainly never starred in anything that had the same impact as Almost Famous. Having said that, he has still had a solid career with some respectable roles under his belt. He appeared in films including The Amateurs, Wristcutters: A Love Story, and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, and he currently stars in the television series, Outcast. Keep up the good work, Pat!
5. Alexandra Kyle
Alexandra Kyle had the dream break out role when she first hit the big screen in 1996 as an eight-year-old. She got to star alongside both Sally Field and Kiefer Sutherland in the psychological thriller, Eye for an Eye. Kyle really stole the show with her portrayal of adorable Megan McCann. In that same year, she also got to appear with Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey in A Time to Kill.
Kyle continued her acting career, however, she never quite made it back to Sally Field's co-star levels of fame. She appeared in 13 Going On 30, which starred Jennifer Garner, as well as a few television shows, including The Practice, Days of Our Lives, and Without a Trace. Her most recent role on television was as Roz in the series, Justified.
6. Jaleel White
It must be such a weird feeling to have played one of the most iconic TV characters of the '90s. Jaleel White portrayed the nerdy Steve Urkel in Family Matters and became an instant sensation. In fact, he went from a supporting character to the main character because of how popular he was. Everybody remembers the line "Did I do that?" and Jaleel White was the one who really brought it all to life.
Funnily enough, White was almost a star on The Cosby Show before someone else was chosen instead of him. But as it turned out, everything worked out for the best! White hasn't starred in anything major since Family Matters, but he has appeared in the film Dreamgirls, as well as television shows Boston Legal, House, Psych, and Dancing with the Stars.
7. Kyla Pratt
Like so many child actors before her, Kyla Pratt started her acting career by appearing in television commercials. At age eight she was starring in Nike commercials, which is pretty high profile. If you're going to do commercials, at least make sure it's with one of the most famous brands in the world, right? She also appeared in episodes of Friends, Sister Sister, Family Matters, Lizzie McGuire, and Moesha.
Today, she is probably best known for voicing Penny Proud in the Disney animated series, The Proud Family. She did manage to score a role in a blockbuster comedy trilogy - she starred alongside Eddie Murphy in Dr. Dolittle, Dr. Dolittle 2, and Dr. Dolittle 3, as Maya Dolittle. All in all, Pratt has not done badly in the entertainment industry. Plus, she's also a professional singer.
8. Michelle Trachtenberg
For someone who started out as a three-year-old in a detergent commercial, Michelle Trachtenberg has done pretty well for herself. After appearing in more than 100 commercials, she eventually landed her first real acting role on the Nickelodeon series, The Adventures of Pete & Pete. At the same time, she played Lily Montgomery on the soap opera, All My Children. She was certainly a busy young lady!
Her first big film was Harriet the Spy in 1996, in which she played the lead role of Harriet M. Welsch. She also appeared in the Inspector Gadget film in 1999. One of her major roles was as Dawn Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as a leading part in comedy film, Euro Trip. As an adult, she is probably best known for playing Georgina Sparks in television series, Gossip Girl.
9. Rider Strong
At just nine years old, Rider Strong was well on his way to a prosperous career in acting. He appeared on stage as Gavroche in the San Francisco production of Les Miserables and soon after landed the role of Julie Andrews's son in Julie. But his best-known work was most definitely as Shawn Hunter in the television series, Boy Meets World. He starred on the show for seven years and also appeared in the spin off, Girl Meets Boy.
In terms of acting roles, Strong never really managed to outdo his Boy Meets World gig. He did star in the horror film, Cabin Fever, but started turning to off screen jobs after that. He has written, directed, and starred in various short films and has enjoyed some pretty impressive success in the entertainment industry as an adult.
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10. Marques Houston
This is one talented guy, right here. A successful actor and singer, it seems like there's nothing Marques Houston can't achieve within the entertainment industry. Houston began his acting career in the 1992 animated film, Bebe's Kids and has only moved up since then. He also appeared in the film, House Party 3, as well as the television series, Sister Sister for five of its six seasons.
When it comes to passions, Houston loves singing, and it's now the main thing he focuses on, career wise. He was a member of the R&B group, Immature (also known as IMx) between 1990 and 2001, before deciding to go solo in 2003. He has since released six studio albums: MH, Naked, Veteran, Mr. Houston, Mattress Music, and Famous. He still continues to reunite with his old band members and collaborates with them regularly.
11. Sara Gilbert
After doing a bit of television commercial work as a child, Sara Gilbert really hit the big time with a regular acting gig. She managed to land a role on the hit comedy sitcom, Roseanne, and ended up staying for the entire nine-year run. She was just 13 years old when she started playing Darlene Conner, the middle child known for her biting sarcasm.
Since her days on Roseanne, Gilbert has enjoyed a prosperous career as a TV actor. She has appeared on The Simpsons, Will & Grace, 24, Private Practice, and ER, amongst others. More recently, she has appeared on Big Bang Theory and has been a co-host on The Talk, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award. She is now starring as Darlene Conner again in the 2018 revival series of Roseanne.
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12. Ethan Hawke
When he was just 14 years old, Ethan Hawke's acting career seemed like it might have been doomed to fail. He scored a role in the 1985 movie, Explorers, alongside River Phoenix, and everyone predicted he would become a star. Unfortunately, the film was a box office flop and definitely didn't deliver the international attention he was hoping for. After the failure of Explorers, Hawke disappeared off the scene for a while.
Nobody expected what happened next: Hawke was suddenly back in business, starring in Dead Poets Society. And the rest is history. Since then, he has enjoyed a long and successful career as one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. We particularly loved him in Wes Anderson's Before Sunrise trilogy. He has also been nominated for two Academy Awards - one for Training Day and one for Before Sunset.
13. Natalie Portman
Now one of the most highly paid actors in the world, it's hard to imagine Natalie Portman being anything other than wildly famous. However, she too had her humble beginnings. Portman was discovered by a modeling rep in a pizza restaurant when she was just eleven years old. One year later she was slaying on screen in 1994 film, The Professional.
Since then, Portman has been seen on our screens more times than we can count. While she was still in high school, she appeared in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, followed by the other two films in the prequel trilogy. In 2010, Portman won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of troubled ballet dancer, Nina Sayers. She's one of those actors who only seems to get better with age!
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14. Christian Bale
Christian Bale grew up with parents who were performers, so it's no wonder he entered the entertainment industry at such a young age. His first real gig was appearing on a fabric softener commercial when he was eight years old. Clearly, he has moved onto much more lucrative jobs since then! Though he starred in some minor productions before then, his big break hit in 1987 when he played Jim Graham in the Steven Spielberg film, Empire of the Sun.
Now, Bale is recognized as one of the most successful actors in the world. He has starred in American Psycho, The Machinist, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Fighter, American Hustle, and The Big Short, amongst others. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Fighter.
15. Ryan Gosling
Everybody's favorite hottie got his start where it seems like half of the celebrity world got their start: on The Mickey Mouse Club. Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Keri Russell are just some of the famous people we know who graduated from the popular TV show. Gosling was just twelve years old at the time and he credits it for really getting his career going.
Since then, he has become one of the most famous (and best looking) actors in Hollywood and has a long resume of film credits to prove it. We first noticed him in a big way when he starred in The Notebook alongside Rachel McAdams, though he did have a few minor roles before that. He has also appeared in Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, Crazy Stupid Love, The Big Short, La La Land, and much more.
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16. Emma Watson
We all met her when she was eleven years old and portraying the one and only Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Emma Watson then went on to play the same character in the remaining seven Harry Potter films, which set her career up in a big way. Though she made more than enough money from the Harry Potter franchise, Watson continued to star in blockbuster films, cementing her career as a serious actress.
Most actors who are known for playing one character can fall into the trap of never working outside of that role again - but not Watson. Since Harry Potter, she has starred in My Week with Marilyn, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Bling Ring, Noah, Beauty and the Beast, Regression, Colonia, and The Circle. She's also a feminist activist with the United Nations.
17. Danielle Fishel
Danielle Fishel kicked off her career on the stage at the age of ten. She was involved in performances of The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, which both gave her the drive to pursue acting as a serious career. After a string of commercials, Fishel finally landed a regular role as Topanga Lawrence-Matthews in the television series, Boy Meets World.
Things were looking promising for Fishel, who even took home a Young Star award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series. Since Boy Meets World, Fishel has enjoyed modest success acting in several films, as well as appearing in the Boy Meets World spin off, Girl Meets Boy. It wasn't quite the super big acting career we're sure she was after, but she has still done a pretty good job.
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18. Lori Beth Denberg
Anyone remember the Nickelodeon sketch comedy series, All That? If you do, you'll probably recognize Lori Beth Denberg as one of the original cast members. Engaging and fun, it seemed like Denberg was really going places as an actor. So many child actors start at Nickelodeon, so it was something everyone was thinking at the time.
Unfortunately, things didn't quite take of for Denberg and she has only appeared in a few things here and there. Most of the time it's for very minor roles. We're not sure what happened along the way, but some people clearly aren't cut out for the big time. Denberg's most recent work was a reunion of All That on MTV's show, Wild 'N Out. She also appeared on a 2012 episode of comedy series, Workaholics, and played herself.
19. Neil Patrick Harris
Fans of the sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, would barely even recognize Neil Patrick Harris in his earlier work. At the tender age of 15, Harris not only starred in the 1988 critically acclaimed hit, Clara's Heart, he was also nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. In the film he starred alongside the inimitable Whoopi Goldberg - what a way to kick off your career!
Since then, Harris has done too much work for us to keep track of. Most know him as womanizing Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, or Doogie Howser, his previous sitcom. He also appeared in the Smurfs movie franchise, as well as Gone Girl. Harris has always been a lover of the stage and continues to star in Broadway productions whenever the right role comes along.
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20. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
These two were actual newborns when they first appeared on our screens playing youngest daughter, Michelle, on comedy sitcom, Full House. The twins shared the role equally for eight years, so, for almost a decade all they knew was how to be on set. They were clearly destined for greatness and they didn't disappoint us.
In addition to their stint on Full House, the Olsens have appeared in films together, including Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, It Takes Two, and New York Minute, amongst many others. However, as they grew up, their interests turned towards fashion. The two have released a range of fashion lines together and have even won awards for some. One thing is for sure - these famous twins have certainly made it big. They never have to work again if they don't want to!
21. Justin Timberlake
Well, Justin Timberlake can just do everything. He's primarily known for his pop career, but he's also an actor, song writer, dancer, and music producer. Like so many famous little kids, Timberlake started out on The Mickey Mouse Club (where he first met future girlfriend, Britney Spears) when he was twelve years old. Just a couple of years later, the band that would make him famous, NSYNC, was formed.
By 2002, Timberlake became a solo artist and went on to become one of the most well-known pop stars in the world. Though his main earner is his music career, Timberlake has more than dabbled in acting projects. He has actually starred in some mainstream blockbusters, including The Social Network, Bad Teacher, and Friends with Benefits. When you're starring alongside actors like Cameron Diaz and Mila Kunis, it's a little more than a hobby.
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22. Jodie Sweetin
When she was just five years old, Jodie Sweetin was cast in the wildly successful sitcom, Full House. As an actor with great comedic delivery, she stole the show as Stephanie Tanner, the middle sister. She stayed on the show until it ended in 1995 and then completed her high school studies. Unfortunately, like many other child stars, Sweetin turned to drugs not long after Full House finished up. She was only 14 and she claims it was because she was bored.
Her substance abuse problems almost certainly account for her acting career going south. Since recovering, she has reentered the entertainment industry, but nothing has really stuck. One good thing is that she has reprised her role as Stephanie Tanner in the Full House revival, Fuller House. The show has been well received and is still running.
23. Ron Howard
When we talk about child stars who became wildly successful, Ron Howard is one of the best examples out there. Born into a family of actors, Howard may have gotten his start in showbiz fairly easily, but he certainly proved that he had the talent to make it last! He got his first big break when he was six years old and playing Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show.
By the time he turned 19, Howard had really hit the big time with his role as Richie Cunningham on one of the most loved shows in history, Happy Days. Though he enjoyed acting, Howard felt more passionate about pursuing a career on the other side of the camera. He has since directed massive blockbusters, including Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon, and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
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24. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan is perhaps the most famous child-to-adult actor there is. We all know her work and we probably all have a favorite Lindsay Lohan film. Ours are The Parent Trap and Mean Girls! In fact, The Parent Trap was probably her first real big break (she had appeared in other things, but this was when she really started to get noticed).
Anyone with an internet connection will be able to tell you that Lohan has had her problems with substance abuse. She definitely went of the rails for a while and was often photographed partying late at night. Her main problem was alcohol abuse, but she also dabbled in other party drugs. After several stints in rehab, she seems to be back to her old self again, but she hasn't done anything major since starring alongside Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman in the film Georgia Rule in 2007.
25. Wenwen Han
Wenwen Han is truly a woman of many talents, who really hit the big time when she starred in Harold Zwart's film, The Karate Kid, as Meiying (she was 15 years old at the time). Han is also a violinist and dancer, which is what we meant when we said she's good at a lot of stuff! We don't know why she didn't continue her acting career, but if starring opposite Jackie Chan doesn't inspire you to keep acting, we don't know what would.
Han is still involved in entertainment, but she is now more of a social media celebrity, with more than 150,000 followers on Instagram. We can see why her account is so popular - the Chinese actress is absolutely gorgeous and she constantly posts interesting pictures from beautiful locations. Acting wasn't her calling, but modeling might be.
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26. Johnny Galecki
Johnny Galecki is one of those television stars who has quietly managed to be super successful without a lot of fanfare. He launched his career at the tender age of twelve with the film, Time Out for Dad. But his first really big role was the part of troubled teen, David Healy, on the sitcom, Roseanne. He continued to appear in films, including Prancer, Suicide Kings, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Bookies, and Rings, amongst others.
Though he is well suited to both the big and small screens, Galecki is definitely a TV man at heart. These days, he is best known for playing Leonard Hofstadter on sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. He has been working on the show since 2007 and now commands a whopping $900,000 per episode. If that's not acting success, we don't know what is!
27. Malcolm David Kelley
The career of Malcolm David Kelley has always been one to watch. He first hit our screens at just ten years old when he starred in the film, Antwone Fisher, as the child version of the title character. The film dealt with some serious and complex themes, such as domestic violence, and his performance was compelling. It was probably this role that led him to his real big break, playing Walt Lloyd on the television series, Lost.
After his role on Lost came to an end, Kelley had a few small acting gigs, but it didn't turn into anything serious. Then, in 2012, he took an entirely different path and turned to music. He teamed up with former acting buddy, Tony Oller, and they became the pop duo MKTO. Kelley is clearly a man of many talents!
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28. Drew Barrymore
We're inspired by Drew Barrymore's story, as it so easily could have gone in a totally different direction. As a seven-year-old child, she won the hearts of many when she made her film debut playing Gertie in E.T. But things soon went south for the adorable actor, as she experienced abuse and became addicted to drugs and alcohol. All of this happened from the age of nine, so we're amazed that she managed to make it out.
Not only did she get herself out of a troubled lifestyle, she ended up becoming one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. She has appeared in some of the most popular romantic comedies in history, including The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, 50 First Dates, Riding in Cars with Boys, and so much more. She also owns her own production company.
29. Mason Vale Cotton
This is an interesting entry, as Mason Vale Cotton isn't a former child actor, he still is a child actor - he's currently only 16 years old, but he has a lot of acting credits under his belt for someone so young. Cotton landed his first big role as a four-year-old when he was cast as Maynard James "M.J." Delfino in the television series, Desperate Housewives. He stayed in the role for five years, from 2008 to 2012.
Things have only progressed from there and we really see this kid going places! His next big role was from 2012 to 2015 when he portrayed Bobby Draper in the television series, Mad Men. A hugely popular show, Cotton is sure to just move up from here. He's also not shy about taking on voice work. In Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, released in 2017, Cotton voiced the main character, Arnold.
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30. Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Taylor is one of the most famous and well-respected actresses ever to grace our screens. Nobody can deny that she made it to the very top. Taylor was born in London; however, it wasn't until her family relocated to Los Angeles due to tension in Europe in 1939 that she became interested in acting. When she was nine years old she scored a minor role in the movie, There's One Born Every Minute. From that point on, she continued to rise.
Three years after her film debut, she landed a starring role in National Velvet, which secured her acting career. For some it's a difficult transition, but Taylor managed to switch from child to adult roles seamlessly. Her first such role was in Father of the Bride in 1950. During her lifetime Taylor won two Academy Awards.
31. Jason Bateman
Remember the television show, Little House on the Prairie? If so, you might recall the character James Cooper, an orphaned boy, who was played by none other than a 12-year-old Jason Bateman. He also appeared on the TV shows, Silver Spoons and The Hogan Family. It looked like Bateman was set to disappear off the acting scene after a quiet period in the 90s, however, he ended up coming back and now he's doing better than ever.
These days, most people know Bateman for his role as Michael Bluth on the comedy sitcom, Arrested Development. Now in its fifth season, the show became a massive hit with Bateman as the star character. He has also appeared in a bunch of successful films, including Juno, Horrible Bosses, Couples Retreat, The Gift, Office Christmas Party, and Zootopia.
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32. Alia Shawkat
Any Arrested Development fan will know this former child actor as Maeby F√ľnke. In the comedy series she plays the cousin of George Michael Bluth (played by Michael Cera) who is secretly in love with her and extremely confused about his feelings. Arrested Development is her most famous role to date, but Alia Shawkat got started well before she landed that role. Shawkat secured her first major role at the age of eleven years old on the television series State of Grace.
Funnily enough, Shawkat didn't actually start out pursuing acting. She was discovered after appearing in an ad for Calvin Klein and things took off from there. In more recent times, she has appeared on the television series, Broad City, where she plays Ilana's doppelganger and lover. All in all, things are going very well for her!
33. Kenan Thompson
It seems like Kenan Thompson was always destined to become an actor. He couldn't get enough of starring in school plays and his passion eventually paid off in a big way. At 15 years old, he landed his first major role in the sequel of The Mighty Ducks, D2: The Mighty Ducks. This was shortly followed by the third installment, D3: The Mighty Ducks.
As he grew up and transitioned into adult roles, Thompson appeared in Love Don't Cost a Thing, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, My Boss's Daughter, and Snakes on a Plane. Though he has achieved modest success in the film industry, his best-known work has been his role as a cast member of sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live, which he began in 2003. Thompson has been a cast member on Saturday Night Live for longer than any other actor.
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34. Anna Paquin
Not many kids tend to take home Academy Awards, but Anna Paquin managed to do it. In 1993 she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the age of just eleven, making her the second-youngest winner of all time (Tatum O'Neal was the youngest, at age ten). She won the award for her performance in The Piano, despite having very little experience in acting at the time. She was certainly off to a promising start!
Paquin has continued to achieve success in the entertainment industry. After a string of blockbuster movies as a child actor, including Fly Away Home, The Member of the Wedding, A Walk on the Moon, and Almost Famous, Paquin went on to star in the television series, True Blood as an adult. She also starred in the film, X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014.
35. Susan Dey
Finally, we have a member of The Partridge Family that went on to be a successful actor. Susan Dey portrayed the character of Laurie Partridge for the entire series, between 1970 and 1974 (she was 17 years old when she started on the show). She was also known as a great beauty back in her heyday. All you have to do is just look at the pictures to see we're not exaggerating.
After The Partridge Family, Dey had a variety of television roles, but none that were very long term. That is, until she landed the role of Grace Van Owen on L.A. Law. She starred in the show from 1986 to 1992 and enjoyed much critical acclaim for her work. In 1988, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Grace Van Owen.
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36. Mayim Bialik
You might not instantly recognize her name, but Mayim Bialik has been steadily working away since she was a child. She scored her first role in a film in 1988's Pumpkinhead and has only moved up from there. In the same year, she appeared in the blockbuster hit, Beaches, as Bette Midler's character as a young girl. Things really took off for Bialik when she landed the role of the title character on the sitcom, Blossom, in 1990.
Most people don't know that Bialik is also a neuroscientist. Funnily enough, she now plays one on the comedy series, The Big Bang Theory. She initially appeared on the show as Amy Farrah Fowler-Cooper, a love interest for one of the main characters. But she soon became part of the main cast and has since been nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards.
37. Elijah Wood
Everyone has a fond memory of their favorite young Elijah Wood film. For us, it's got to be Flipper! It had to be one of the best movies of the 90s. We were always so jealous that he got to swim with dolphins and get paid for it. As a kid, he also appeared in Back to the Future Part II, Avalon, Paradise, Radio Flyer, Forever Young, The Adventures of Huck Finn, The Good Son, North, The War, The Ice Storm, Deep Impact, and The Faculty.
In recent times he is overwhelmingly recognized as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, he has also appeared in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sin City, Green City, and The Last Witch Hunter, amongst others. He now co-stars in TV series, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
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38. Andrea Barber
Andrea Barber had a pretty sweet career as a child actor. At just six years old she landed a role playing Carrie Brady on long-running soap opera, Days of Our Lives. She was there from 1982 to 1986, which is a surprisingly long stint for a child on a soap opera. In 1987 she ended up getting the role that would make her famous: Kimmy Gibbler on the comedy sitcom, Full House.
Kimmy Gibbler was notoriously annoying in the most loveable way, and she was a great supporting character. After Full House, Barber decided to focus on her education and majored in women's studies. She also got married and had two kids before restarting her acting career recently. She returned to her role as Kimmy Gibbler in the Full House revival, Fuller House, which is currently still running.
39. Jodie Foster
One of the greatest actors of modern times, Jodie Foster could not be left off this list. She began her career at just three years old as a child model and it didn't take long until she had broken into the film industry. From the age of six she appeared in various television shows and had pretty steady work. However, she didn't get her first real big break until she was 14 years old. She played a teenage sex worker in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver in 1976, and the rest is history. She even received an Academy Award nomination for the role.
It wasn't too long until she actually won an Oscar. In 1988 she took home the award for Best Actress for her role as a rape survivor in The Accused. Three years later, she won her second Academy Award for her iconic role as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.
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40. Amanda Bynes
When Amanda Bynes burst onto the scene as host of her own kid's talk show, The Amanda Show, everyone saw great things happening for her. She had the bubbliest personality on television and was a total natural. Bynes was also known for her comedic talents, which is probably why she grew up and did so well starring in comedy films.
Who could forget hilarious classics, such as She's the Man, Sydney White, and What a Girl Wants? It seemed like everything was going well for the young actress, until she turned to drugs. She was caught with them in her possession a few times, but nobody thought it was a huge disaster at first. She has since had very public meltdowns on social media and has now stepped back to seek help for a potential mental illness or drug addiction.
41. Ryan Reynolds
Today we know him as one of Hollywood's biggest stars, but nobody really remembers that Ryan Reynolds began his career when he was just a kid. When he was 15 years old he landed the role of Billy Simpson in the television series, Hillside, which ended up putting him on the path to acting success. His next big TV role was starring alongside Melissa Joan Hart in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
As he got older, Reynolds transitioned pretty seamlessly into more adult roles. He is well known for portraying Michael "Berg" Bergen on Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, as well as starring in the film Van Wilder. Since then, he has appeared in Definitely Maybe, The Proposal, Blade: Trinity, The Amityville Horror, and Deadpool. Reynolds is married to famous actress, Blake Lively.
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42. Chloe Grace Moretz
Chloe Grace Moretz is the very picture of success. After launching her career at age seven with a role in The Amityville Horror, Moretz has only continued to rise through the ranks of Hollywood. Like Mason Vale Cotton, she is also a graduate of the Desperate Housewives series - she played Sherri Maltby on the show.
As a child actor, she also starred in The Poker House, (500) Days of Summer, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Let Me In, Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2, Hugo, Carrie, If I Stay, and The Equalizer, amongst others. Since becoming an adult three years ago, she has continued to land awesome film roles, including The 5th Wave and Neighbors 2, as well as various roles in theater productions. It seems like Moretz is going to achieve even more success as she gains more experience.
43. Scarlett Johansson
Here we have another big-time actor that started out when they were just a kid. Scarlett Johansson has starred in so many good movies, it's really hard to keep track of them all. In fact, she is consistently featured in lists of the world's highest paid actresses and has amassed a fortune worth over $100 million. If that's not a sign of Hollywood success, we don't know what is!
She scored her first major film role as a 12-year-old in Manny & Lo, and two years later she was starring opposite Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer. In 2001, when she was 17, she starred in Ghost World, which really put her in the spotlight as a serious actress. Since then we've loved her in Lost in Translation, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, He's Just Not That Into You, and so many more.
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44. Jeff Bridges
As far as getting off to a good start goes, Jeff Bridges couldn't have done better. His first role was on the 1950 film, The Company She Keeps, when he was just four months old. This was all thanks to his father, Lloyd Bridges, but he soon showed the world that he was indeed a talented actor. Throughout his childhood he appeared in his dad's television shows, Sea Hunt and The Lloyd Bridges Show.
Once he was all grown up, his first major role in a film was in 1971's The Last Picture Show. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his part but didn't win. Since then, he has starred in Tron, Kiss Me Goodbye, Starman, Fearless, Blown Away, The Big Lebowski, and Crazy Heart (for which he won an Oscar), as well as many others.
45. Christina Ricci
Who could forget how famous Christina Ricci was as a child actor? After exploding onto the scene when she was ten years old as Cher's daughter in the film, Mermaids, Ricci continued to score massive roles in Hollywood. She gained real fame as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values and went on to achieve more success in Now and Then and Casper as a 15-year-old.
As an adult she has a whole bunch of films listed on her resume, including The Opposite of Sex, Sleepy Hollow, Monster, Black Snake Moan, After Life, and many more. We have to say, though, it's still very hard imagining her as anything other than the very serious Wednesday Addams! In recent times, Ricci as turned to television, starring in The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and Z: The Beginning of Everything.
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46. Sean Astin
Sean Astin is one of those consistent and somewhat underrated actors that started young and continues to do great work on screen. He got his first role was when he was eight years old, starring in television movie, Please Don't Hit Me, Mom. Four years later he got his real big break when he played Mikey in The Goonies. After this success, he went on to appear in many other films, including Like Father Like Son, White Water Summer, The War of the Roses, Toy Soldiers, and Encino Man.
As an adult, Astin is best known for his role as Samwise Gamgee in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King - all three of the films in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Post-Lord of the Rings, Astin has appeared in several other films, including 50 First Dates, Click, and Smile.
47. Demi Lovato
Here is a familiar face for anyone who grew up watching Barney & Friends. Demi Lovato began her acting career on this show as ten-year-old Angela. A few years later, she appeared on television series, Prison Break, and it seemed she was well on her way to acting success. Things really took off for Lovato when she started acting on the Disney Channel in As the Bell Rings.
Being involved with Disney gave Lovato the opportunity to sing on soundtracks, and it was here that she developed a passion for a new career in music. She released her debut album in 2008 and she has never looked back. Lovato has had some trouble along the way - she has battled depression, as well as an eating disorder, and was bullied at school. She took time out to go to rehab and is now doing better than ever.
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48. Selena Gomez
It seems like Barney & Friends is just producing all of the young stars! Selena Gomez starred on the show as Gianna, which is where she met Demi Lovato. Like so many other child actors, Gomez also got a great start at Disney. She had a recurring role on the series Hannah Montana as pop star, Mikayla, which she played alongside Miley Cyrus, who had the lead role.
Fast forward a few years and Gomez is now one of the biggest celebrities in the world. After moving away from acting gigs, she developed a thriving career as a pop star and is in an on again/off again relationship with one of the other biggest celebrities in the world, Justin Bieber. She really has come a long way, but she has worked hard and totally deserves it!
49. Leonardo DiCaprio
This list wouldn't be complete without the ultimate child-to-adult acting success story, Leonardo DiCaprio. We don't even know where to start in listing all of this man's achievements in the film industry - he has been working hard for years on so many great movies! Funny story - Leo actually started out as a five-year-old on Romper Room but was removed for being disruptive!
His first serious gig was a recurring role on the sitcom, Growing Pains. Next thing you know, he's starring opposite Robert De Niro in the film, This Boy's Life. He then delivered his first critically acclaimed performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, scoring himself nominations for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Since then, we've enjoyed seeing him in everything from Titanic and Romeo and Juliet, to The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street.
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50. Ariel Winter
Believe it or not, Ariel Winter's first acting role was in a Cool Whip commercial when she was four years old. From there, Winter appeared in episodes of various television shows, including Bones, ER, and Monk. In 2009, she landed the role that would make her famous: middle child Alex Dunphy in the comedy series, Modern Family.
Being the popular show that it is, Modern Family is still running and Winter is still playing Alex Dunphy. However, she has decided to attend college in addition to working, so she has other career options. Though she is worth an estimated $10 million, Winter will study law, as it's something she has always been interested in. She is certainly one busy lady at the moment, as she's also doing voice work on the animated Disney series, Sofia the First.

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