15 Child Stars Who Became Successful as Adults

68th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

There is something that happens to most child stars at one point if they get sucked into the Hollywood life. They go down a black hole of bad decision making that leads to the end of their careers (and in many unfortunate cases, their lives). There is just something very dark about facing that level of fame as a child and not getting affected by it, either good or bad. But even though many child stars fall, there are also many the rise up and end up having incredibly successful careers their whole lives. Here are fifteen child stars who became successful as adults, even with all the odds stacked against them.

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"The Dark Knight" Japan Premiere

Christian Bale

Can we just say this now? Christian Bale is the man. The dude never takes a bad role, and always delivers jaw dropping performances, no matter who he is playing. But it is sometimes easy to forget that Bale grew up on-camera. From the Disney musical Newsies to working with Steven Spielberg as a kid in Empire of the Sun, Christian Bale has been doing this his whole life. Imagine the amazing work this master of his craft still has in store for us?

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HBO's Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Post Award Reception - Arrivals

Anna Paquin

We all know Anna Paquin now from her roles X-Men and True Blood, but have you forgotten this starlet was the second youngest person to ever win an Academy Award for her role in The Piano? For that reason alone, it would have been especially easy for her to go down a road of bad decisions which could have led to an early demise. Instead, she just kept herself acting and never took a breath, letting her work speak for itself. Years later, she has proven herself as one to be reckoned with.

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OFA-Nevada Women Vote 2012 Summit

Natalie Portman

We all remember Natalie Portman from the Professional. I think what we lose sight of is just how mature the role was even though she was still just a child. Years later, she is still acting, but has surpassed most by also getting a Harvard education and starting a family in the process. In all honesty, there is nothing this woman cannot do, and cannot do perfectly. Well, we forgive the Star Wars movies. Everyone is allowed one mess up.

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Did you know Leo played a runaway teenager the Seavers took in to live with them in the final seasons of the show Growing Pains? It is true, and even back then, the kid was already delivering power house performances. Then he made What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and blew the collective minds of everyone. Since then, he just kept himself busy by starring in amazing film after amazing film (even though the Academy Awards refuses to recognize that fact).

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Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "The Ides Of March" - Arrivals

Ryan Gosling

This one is funny because you say it to most people and they will tell you they don’t remember Ryan Gosling as a child actor. Then you point them to some old Mickey Mouse club episodes and you realize he was dancing and singing next to the likes of Justin Timberlake and other future superstars. But Ryan Gosling has always maintained control over his personal life and professional life, and most who grow up in front of the camera can’t pull that off.

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The Netflix Original Series "Arrested Development" Press Conference

Jason Bateman

Though we may know him best for his TV roles now, we also knew him best for his TV roles when he was a kid. Remember Silver Spoons? Remember The Hogan Family? Well, Jason Bateman has been acting on TV and in film since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Man, I have wanted to use that expression this whole time now. The best part is, he has always played snarky. Jason Bateman has never once not played Jason Bateman (except in Dodgeball).

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2013 Summer TCA Tour - Day 3

Joseph Gordon Levitt

Another child actor who started out on TV as a kid (Third Rock from the Sun), but grew up into an amazing actor when no one was paying attention. He also shed his long hair, dorky image for the dapper dan we all see him as today. With the most recent Don Jon movie, he has also shown he can write and direct as well, so his future seems to be one that is already written in lights. Well played, JGL.

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70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Show

Jodie Foster

If you recall, Jodie Foster has been acting her whole life. Taxi Driver with DeNiro being just one example of how many amazing films she has done across the years. What is most remarkable is that she never derailed from her goal or took the easy road (of becoming an addict or has-been). She stuck to doing what she loved, and is still doing it to this day. The most amazing part is, she is another example of a child star who picked some great roles as a kid and has continued to as an adult.

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69th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon was just fifteen years old when she first appeared in the movie Man on the Moon. Since then, she has acted for twenty years strong, and has never even had to worry about a lull in her career. One of those actresses the world deemed as “America’s sweetheart”, there was a long period where this actress could do no wrong. Though focusing more on family lately, she has made it clear she isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

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Happy Feet Two - European Premiere - Outside Arrivals

Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood is another example of an actor who, as a child, hinted at just what skills he had in his field. Forever Young and Radio Flyer being just two examples of the many films great he was in as a child. Now he may be most well-known for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was a time when he was just another child actor. Luckily, he kept his head on straight, and his career trajectory followed.

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Special Screening Of "On The Road"

Kristen Stewart

She may not be the most beloved entry on the list, but we have to give it to her. If you remember the movie Panic Room, you remember a young (very androgynous) Kristen Stewart, just starting out in her career. Years later she would re-emerge as the star of the Twilight series, and the rest is history. Though she has kept quiet for the last few years, we still see big things for this lovely young lady. Just please, no more sparkly vampires?

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Jeff Bridges

Though the younger generations may know him best as “The Dude” Bridges has been in front of the camera since he was just a child. No, seriously, his first role was when he was four months old. A kid who pulls in a check at four months old is probably going to grow to be a very successful adult. That, my friends, is just the case here. Also, Jeff Bridges has forever his proved his merit in the pantheon of great American actors. Heck, he is making some of his best movies now, fifty plus years later.

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Drew Barrymore

We can admit, of all the stars on the list, Drew Barrymore is the one who actually slipped the hardest and got into partying and various addictions. The thing that landed her on the list is the fact that she beat all of that. She got into that stuff, then broke herself out of it and managed to rebuild a career that is still going strong to this day. Now that takes some real courage.

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Christina Ricci

We all remember her as Wednesday Adams in The Addams Family movies, because she was so perfect for that role. But who knew back then that she would grow into the stunning and talented adult she is. The most amazing part is that her whole life she has been acting. Which is perhaps the reason she is so good at it. Practice makes perfect, as they say.

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66th Annual Tony Awards - Show

Neil Patrick Harris

Got to end the list with some classic Doogie Howser. Neil Patrick Harris is another example of a child star who could have easily fallen into the waste bin and be forgotten, yet he had too much talent and drive to let that happen. He is also one of those stars everyone loves now so it might be easy for some to forget he once played a teenage doctor. Not us, though. We loved that show. So there you have it. Fifteen child stars who became successful adults. Did we miss anyone? Forget one of your favorites? Hit us up in our comments section and lets have a back-and-forth. It’ll be fun.

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