ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Every A-list actor had to start somewhere, but some of our most well known stars had a surprising head start over the rest...

These Hollywood hotshots might have tried to bury the time they spent as child stars, but you can never hide your past from the all-seeing eye of the interwebs.

Trust me, some of this bunch will surprise you...

Lawrence Fishburne

It's hard to imagine Lawrence Fishburne ever being young, but he was - and there are 3 years of television footage to prove it!

When he was just 12-year-old, Fishburne played Joshua Hall in the ABC soap opera, One Life to Live (1973-1976).

While his old character went on to be portrayed by two different actors and become a doctor, Fishburne rose to fame as Morpheus in The Matrix.


Alyson Hannigan

Alyson Hannigan has one of those endearing faces that will be forever adorable, but her cheeks were even more pinchable when she first appeared on the big screen aged 14.

Hannigan played Jessie Mills in My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988) alongside Kim Basinger, but Buffy fans will be even more excited about her other co-star...

Hannigan's fresh-faced partner in crime in the 1988 movie is none other than Seth Green, who went on to play Willow's boyfriend Oz in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Awww!


Nicholas Hoult

Nicholas Hoult's face doesn't just look vaguely familiar from his stint on the UK TV series, Skins. This British actor was an early bloomer and at the tender age of 12 he starred alongside mega-star Hugh Grant in About a Boy.

Hoult's early start should come as no surprise though, it takes a special sort of actor to go on and portray one of the X-Men.


Paul Walker

Paul Walker is tragically no longer with us, but the Fast & Furious mainstay has given us fans an even longer legacy than most of us ever imagined.

The late actor made his big screen debut at just 13 years old as Professor Bennett in the comedy horror Monster in the Closet (1986) and he went on to more adorable appearances as a child actor

Walker fans should look out for an 14-year-old Paul in the low budget sci-fi flick The Retailiator (AKA Programmed to Kill) and watch the actor transition into his early twenties as Brandon Collins on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless.


Scarlett Johansson

Scar Jo might have risen to be one of the biggest actresses in the game, but she scrambled her way to the top from much more humble beginnings.

After her first foray onto the silver screen in the fanstay adventure North (1994) aged just 9-years-old, Johansson performed in bit parts alongside the likes of Sean Connery (Just Cause) before landing her first starring role at 12.

Johansson blew critics away in 1996's Manny & Lo where she played an 11-year-old runaway and received a fistful of award nominations for good measure.

Scarlett's performance even caused a somewhat psychic review from San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle who commented on Johansson's "peaceful aura" and wrote:

If she can get through puberty with that aura undisturbed, she could become an important actress.


Ryan Gosling

Okay, so this one isn't that buried in the depths of showbiz history, but any list that can be enhanced with Ryan Gosling's noble face should be!

The Canadian actor appeared in the Mickey Mouse Club alongside Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera when he was 12 years old.

Gosling found solace in acting when he was a struggling kid at school. The 33-year-old star took many years to learn to read and was diagnosed with ADHD. Gosling credits performing as the only thing that motivated him because it was the one area he excelled in and he could earn much needed praise from adults.

Ryan Gosling also had bit parts in the iconic Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps when he was a child before going on to star in the Canadian teen drama Breaker High.


Christian Bale

Before spreading his wings as the ever-iconic Batman, Bale acted his way through his fair share of commercials and lesser known movies as a child star.

The British actor made his stage debut in 1984 alongside Rowan Atkinson in The Nerd on London's West End. He was just 10-years old at the time.

Bale's first feature length movie appearance was as the haemophiliac young Russian heir to the throne, Alexei, in the made for TV movie Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986) when he was 12.

Thankfully, Bale managed to break out of the low budget at lighting speed by appearing in the Spielberg directed Empire of the Sun when he was just 14. His role as Jim Graham won Bale the first ever 'Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor' award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.


Anna Paquin

We all know Anna Paquin as [True Blood](series:200767)'s Sookie, but did you know she had already won an Oscar by the time she was 11 years old?

The Canadian-born, New Zealand-raised actress scooped the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role thanks to her performance as Flora McGrath in The Piano (1993).

Not a bad achievement for a girl who's previous acting experience only amounted to playing a skunk in a school play!


Which celebrity's child star past surprised you the most?

(Source: Complex and Answers)


Latest from our Creators