ByMatthew Bailey, writer at
Husband. Father. Gamer. Cinema Lover. Mix it all together, and there I am. I love all things pop-culture and coffee; but coffee is the best.
Matthew Bailey

Hollywood can be a tough business for child actors. Growing up in the bright lights and surrounded by adoring fans can take a toll on a child. Some embrace it and grow into fully fledged stars, while others crumble under the pressure and are completely different now. Whatever the circumstances, I'm sure you probably remember a few of these young actors.

1. Lindsay Lohan

First major role: The Parent Trap (age 12)

Back in the day, as hard as it may be to believe, Lindsay Lohan was one of the hardest working actresses at Disney. Her most famous young role was in the remake of The Parent Trap in 1998. As a young starlet, her transition to adulthood was a little difficult, resulting in difficulties in her private life; but with her stunning beauty and acting ability, she'll surely be back in more powerhouse roles to come.

2. Malcolm David Kelley

First major role: Antwone Fisher (age 9)

Lost was one of those shows that you either loved or didn't understand at all — possibly even both — and Malcolm David Kelley got his big break on Lost as the youngest cast member, Walt Lloyd. After his years on Lost, Malcolm had a few more appearances here and there before joining Gigantic on TeenNick and meeting Tony Oller, the two partnered up and formed the pop/hip-hop band MKTO and released their first EP in 2015.

3. Joseph Gordon Levitt

First major role: Dark Shadows Revival (age 10)

His role on the hit comedy 3rd Rock From the Sun had him portraying an alien trapped on Earth while he learned how humans lived and reported back to his home planet. JGL has come a long way from the nerdy kid and has blossomed into one of the most respected young actors. After having a string of adequate films over the next few years, JGL hit pay dirt in 2010 with his role as Arthur in Inception. He has continued his success and has rolled out several great films since then, and will continue to do so for years, hopefully.

4. Nicholas Hoult

First major role: About a Boy (age 12)

His first major role was in About a Boy in 2002 as the precocious and attention starved boy named Marcus Brewer. Nicholas took every role he could grab, eventually gaining massive momentum in 2011 with his performance as Beast in X-Men: First Class, and the last five years have been a blur with several movies under his belt now — and things only look better on the horizon.

5. Emma Watson

First major role: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (age 11)

Becoming the face of the female lead in the beloved Harry Potter series has vaulted Emma Watson into being one of the most ravishing actresses in Hollywood. After portraying Hermione, she took a break to attend Brown University, adding an incredible amount of intelligence to her already alluring personality. In the near future you'll see her in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast as Belle.

6. Natalie Portman

First major role: Leon: The Professional (age 13)

Natalie Portman starred opposite Jean Reno in the acclaimed Luc Besson film, Leon: The Professional. Natalie's career took off in the late '90s and early '00s as she portrayed the love interest of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels. Not only is she a phenomenal actress, but she also has an undergraduate degree from Harvard. Look for her in a few films, but especially in 2017 as Jacqueline Kennedy in the highly anticipated film, Jackie.

7. Jennifer Love Hewitt

First major role: Kids Incorporated (age 11)

Years ago, Jennifer Love Hewitt started her career on Disney's Kid's Incorporated. Jennifer enjoyed a truly smooth transition into her adult career. Her transition from quirky young girl to stunningly beautiful woman was also rather smooth as she was voted by TV Guide as second sexiest woman on TV in 2008. She has had several recent television series and looks to continue the trend for the foreseeable future.

8. Miko Hughes

First major role: Pet Sematary (age 4)

Miko Hughes was THE child actor in the early '90s, with his first feature film Pet Sematary in 1989 and then Kindergarten Cop the following year. He found a niche roll and made several appearances on various sitcoms over the next decade, such as Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Full House, The Nanny and many others. He spent the next decade finding shows and films and has a few more films in the works in the coming years.

9. Alyson Stoner

First major role: Cheaper by the Dozen (age 10)

You probably remember Alyson as the ridiculously incredible dancer in several Missy Elliot videos from 2001 to 2002, or possibly as Sarah Baker in Cheaper by the Dozen in 2003. Over the next few years, Alyson popped in and out of several shows as well as numerous voice projects. Alyson has held firm to her dance roots and is credited as the youngest person to teach a master class at Millennium Dance Complex.

10. Thomas Brodie-Sangster

First major role: Love Actually (age 13)

After stealing our hearts in Love Actually, Thomas Brodie-Sangster went on a slow burn of sorts, churning small roles out over the years before gaining massive stardom with two roles: Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones and Newt in The Maze Runner. Thomas has Hollywood in the palm of his hand and he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him with the third installment of The Maze Runner: The Death Cure, currently filming for a 2017 release.


Who is your favorite child actor?


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