ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

From cute and adorable beginnings, to troubled and sometimes depressing ends. The life of a child star in Hollywood has often been characterized by what many have dubbed the "child star curse."

Over the years we've seen many former child stars slip into a downward spiral, perhaps as a result of having too much too soon. From Lindsay Lohan, to Jake Lloyd and River Phoenix there are countless examples of successful youngsters becoming troubled adults.

However for every child star who succumbs to the child star curse, there are also those who somehow make it through unscathed. Take a look at 8 examples of former child stars who managed to escaped the curse:

1. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart began her career with a small, uncredited role in The Thirteenth Year at the age of 9. Since then, the star has gone on to appear in big budget movies such as The Twilight Saga, Snow White and the Huntsman, Still Alice and most recently American Ultra. Despite all of this success, it doesn't seem to have triggered a downward spiral, and the 25 year old is hardly seen out partying.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio was 15 years old when he landed his first role as Glen in The New Lassie. Shortly after this he scored roles on TV series Parenthood and Growing Pains, and in the comedy horror Critters 3. In 1993 DiCaprio got his big breaks in the films This Boy's Life and What's Eating Gilbert Grape (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award). After gaining fame so young it could have all gone bad for DiCaprio, but instead he's continued his work in film, and also become a huge philanthropist. In 1998 he established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a foundation which works on "protecting the world’s last wild places."

3. Neil Patrick Harris

After scoring a role at age 15 in the 1988 film Clara's Heart, Neil Patrick Harris soon went on to gain fame as the title character in Doogie Howser, M.D. Following this, Harris has continued to act, most recently starring as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother and Desi Collings in Gone Girl. Despite being an actor for almost two thirds of his life, Harris has avoided the child star curse and today is happily married to husband David Burtka, with whom he has twins.

4. Jodie Foster

After beginning her acting career at age 3, Jodie Foster has gone on to win two Academy Awards, three BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, the Cecil B DeMille Award and a SAG Award. Not only has the actress had an incredibly successful movie career, but she also graduated from Yale University .

5. Natalie Portman

Despite Natalie Portman landing her first big role at age 13 in Léon: The Professional, and going on to major fame since then, Portman has kept her feet firmly on the ground. In 1999 she skipped the premier of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace to study for her high school exams, and in 2003 she graduated Harvard University with an A.B. degree in psychology. While the star is very talented, she once told the New York Post that she would "rather be smart than a movie star," something which has been demonstrated through her ability to keep grounded in such a crazy industry.

6. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt joined a musical theater group at age 4 and since then his career has continued to climb and climb. His roles in films and TV shows such as Angels in the Outfield, 10 Things I Hate About You and 3rd Rock from the Sun solidified his star status before he had even turned 16. However, instead of letting it all go to his head, Gordon-Levitt has kept goals in mind and remained grounded. Recently, aside from work in film, he has founded HitRecord, an online production company that produces short films, books and DVDs.

7. Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood got his start at age 8 in Back to the Future Part II and since then has gone on to star in many films, including the wildly successful Lord of the Rings trilogy. Instead of developing into a Hollywood wild child, Wood has remained humble and also become a huge philanthropist.

8. Drew Barrymore

As the member of a huge show biz family, Drew Barrymore made her on-screen debut at just 11 months old. She hit the big time at age 7 when she landed the role of Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Drew's story is interesting though, because of the hard partying lifestyle she lived from age 8, when she started going to nightclubs with her mother, Jaid, to age 14 when she went to rehab for the second time. Shortly before she turned 15 Barrymore emancipated herself from her mother, and set about fixing her broken reputation. These days she's a successful actress, director, and producer, owning the production company Flower Films, having pulled herself out of the downward spiral that claims so many child stars.



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