Child stars don’t grow up the normal way. They are introduced to pressures that kids probably shouldn’t have to deal with. They need to learn lines, interact on film and TV sets, do press and do schoolwork. They also have to put up with negative commentary from critics, long before they are mature enough to handle it. Of course, they get praise, too, and this may go to their heads.
Overall, being a child star is tough and some child stars end up going off the rails when they’re older. Others are strong enough to survive, whether they stay in the industry or get out of it. Today’s list features ten famous child celebs you would never recognize today. Each one looks radically different than he or she used to, even when we factor in the natural ageing process. These beloved child stars have changed a lot and seeing how they look today is really interesting. This list will also give you information about their career highlights and what they’re up to right now.
10. Macauley Culkin Is Making a Comeback
After rising to fame playing Kevin in the Home Alone movies, Macauley Culkin grew up…and then went through a gaunt and pale phase that had a lot of people very worried. Rumors of substance abuse plagued the actor, who denied that he was abusing drugs. In 2017, Macauley started to change again. His face and body filled out and he seemed to radiate good health. Seeing him look so good made his long-time fans really happy. His recent Instagram pics show a well-groomed young man in a button-down shirt, rather than a guy with lank, greasy hair and a grunge flannel shirt. Now in his late thirties, Macauley has ditched the slacker look, hopefully, once and for all.
Maybe the drama that Macauley experienced as a child actor led him to stop caring about his wardrobe and appearance during young adulthood. He was already a Hollywood sensation by age 12, when he had a handful of massive movie hits under his belt. By age fourteen, he wanted to be legally free of his mom and dad, who’d been attempting to get their hands on his multi-million dollar bank account. By age seventeen, Macauley was a husband. By nineteen, he was separated from his wife. Let’s not even get into the sleepovers at Neverland Ranch, which was the late Michael Jackson’s dream home. Returning to acting may have inspired Macauley to clean up his look. His next project is Changeland. It’s currently in post-production, and this film co-stars Rachel Bloom and Seth Green.
9. Taylor Momsen Likes An Extreme Look
When Taylor Momsen was cast as Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, she was an innocent little girl with an angelic look and a great voice. Today, she’s moved on from big-budget Jim Carrey movies, Gossip Girl and acting in general. The Taylor Momsen of today is all about rock-n-roll. She goes for a rock-n-roll look with strong Goth overtones. Towards the end of Gossip Girl, fans could already see Taylor changing, but few could have predicted just how much “little Jenny” would change.
She’s had critical and commercial success with her rock band, The Pretty Reckless, and her smoky eye makeup, edgy attitude and fondness for black clothes (and occasional nudity in music videos) make her very different from another Gossip Girl alumni, the clean-cut and All-American Blake Lively. Taylor and Blake are both beautiful blondes, but the comparison stops there. Taylor does her own thing and she’s just not interested in playing the Hollywood game anymore. She’s a woman who tours a lot and then rests and recharges. She doesn’t enjoy being asked about Gossip Girl. Keep this in mind if you run into her sometime.
8. Jonathan Lipnicki Has a Brown Belt in Jiu-jitsu
Was there ever a cuter movie kid than Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire? He was adorable beyond belief. Today, he’s all grown up. He’s into martial arts and has earned a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Instead of self-destructing on the Hollywood party circuit, he puts his energy into positive things. Martial arts builds discipline, as well as fitness.Jonathan is now 26 and he says that Tom Cruise gives him advice about his career when he asks for it. In 2017, he sat down with Tom at Tom’s home and talked to the megastar for an hour. Tom had plenty of time for Jonathan. This is just one reason why Jonathan thinks Tom is amazing. It’s great that Tom treated him well during the filming of Jerry Maguire and still treats him well today. When Tom looks at the ripped athlete in front of him, does he still see the cute little boy with glasses from Jerry Maguire, who melted his sports agent character’s heart? Maybe. But the rest of us see someone who looks completely different.
Right now, Lipnicki is honing his MMA skills, but isn’t sure about fighting professionally. He gives back to others by acting as a spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and through involvement with The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and other worthy charities. He’s also an animal rights activist. If you remember Jonathan from Jerry Maguire and his other film projects, such as Stuart Little, you’ll be pleased to know that he’s doing just fine. He’s definitely not a Hollywood casualty.
7. Kiernan Shipka Has Really Bloomed
Kiernan Shipka was one heck of a child actress. Her performances on Mad Men were extremely memorable. She held her own with, and stole many scenes from, Jon Hamm and January Jones, who played her dysfunctional parents, Don and Betty Draper. When I think of child actresses with exceptional talent, Kiernan comes to mind immediately. She’s like Emma Watson. She’s someone with major skills and tons of star quality.
These days, Kiernan isn’t a little girl anymore. Like Emma Watson, she’s grown up to become a stylish and sophisticated woman, who wears glam Oscar de la Renta frocks to award show after-parties. In late October, you’ll get to see Kiernan in her latest project. She’s scored a plum role as teen witch, Sabrina Spellman, in a new Netflix show called The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This Sabrina won’t be like Sabrina The Teen Witch with Melissa Joan Hart. The new Sabrina is rumored to be way darker. It’s got edgier elements which are going to make it unique. There will still be a talking cat, though. Kiernan is 18 now. Her birthday is November 10th, so she’ll be 19 shortly after Sabrina launches. If this show is a big hit, Kiernan’s reputation as a top-notch actress will grow even stronger. She’s the type of thespian who may just get an Oscar someday.
6. Jake Thomas Played Lizzie Maguire’s Younger Brother
If you were a big Lizzie Maguire fan, you’ll be amazed to see how mature Lizzie’s annoying little brother is in 2018. As you may already know, his real name is Jake Thomas and he looks a lot different nowadays. Like the other child actors on our list, he’s grown up and changed so much. Jake now lives in Los Angeles, and, according to his Instagram account, he’s does acting, photography and directing for a living. Jake is another L.A. transplant who came from Knoxville, Tennessee. His parents got him into television commercials when he was a child. His Dad has his own radio show and his mother had her own TV show, so show business is definitely in his blood.
Jake is now a handsome, 28-year old man and he’s doing photography campaigns for social media, as well as appearing in, and directing, creative projects. He starred in the film, Baja, which was released this April. in Baja, he plays a young guy on a road trip in Mexico, who ends up kidnapping a prostitute by accident. Meanwhile, his Lizzie Maguire co-star, Hillary Duff, is expecting a baby girl with her partner, Matthew Koma. Koma is a singer.
5. Nick Carter Isn’t a Kid Anymore
Nick is still blond, but he’s not a kid anymore. He’s 38 years old, if you can believe it. While he has hung onto his clean-cut look, his face is different. He’s pushing forty, after all. Nick has occasionally lived a life that was anything but clean-cut. Nick’s struggled with addiction and says that he began to drink when he was just six years of age. His parents owned a bar, until they began taking care of a retirement home for a living instead, and this may be why Carter’s awareness of alcohol started long before it should have.
Before becoming a Backstreet Boy, he danced and sang in his hometown. His talent really stood out. He got to know a couple of other future Backstreet Boys at auditions and he eventually joined forces with them. Being in a boy band is way more grueling than most people realize. It is hard work and, often, boy band members don’t have a lot of control over their careers. They have to follow orders. The pressures of fame drove Nick to partying. His relationship with Paris Hilton didn’t help, as he’s said that his desire to abuse alcohol and drugs got worse during that relationship. Today, he’s married to a woman who cares about fitness and wellness, and his buddy, Kevin Richardson, has helped him to battle addiction by teaching him about positive thinking. Nick appeared on Dancing with the Stars and made it to the finals.
4. Jake Lloyd Suffers From Mental Illness
Jake Lloyd starred as young Anakin Skywalker and now suffers from schizophrenia. This is very sad. Of course, he doesn’t look the same as he did as a child. No one does, except maybe Drew Barrymore, who is still recognizable as the little girl from E.T., thanks to her full cheeks and smooth skin. Jake’s mug shot from a 2015 arrest shows a young man with a tough expression and a cut under one eye. Most people would never know that the guy in the mug shot was once a big-time Hollywood child actor.
Jake has had troubles. He was arrested while driving in the state of South Carolina. The charges were resisting arrest, driving without a license and reckless driving. He landed in jail, where he was given a psychiatric evaluation. The diagnosis was schizophrenia. After he was diagnosed, he was moved to a psychiatric facility. Jake is now 29. He had a few impressive roles before being chosen to play Anakin Skywalker. Now, he’s given up on acting. Jake says that he got hassled at school because of his Star Wars role. He felt bullied due to his childhood acting career. Today, he doesn’t have any Star Wars souvenirs. He gave all of his memorabilia away because his Anakin role set the stage for bullying problems in his life. Only one percent of people in the USA develop schizophrenia. Jake is one of the unlucky ones. This brain disorder is chronic and triggers hallucinations and delusions.
3. Steven Anthony Lawrence Loves The EDM Scene
Remember “Beans” from Even Stevens? If you enjoyed watching Even Stevens, which ran on the Disney Channel, you may already know that Beans was played by an actor named Steven Anthony Lawrence. Today, “Beans” is twenty-eight and barely recognizable as a former Disney child star. Shia LaBeouf also appeared on Even Stevens, before becoming hugely famous as the young Indiana Jones guy and the Transformers guy.
These days, Steven Anthony Lawrence is still acting, but he feels forever typecast as Beans, who was known for his love of bacon and his insufferable personality. Aside from Even Stevens, he’s appeared on ER, in addition to Cheaper By The Dozen and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. In February, he posted about appearing in a music video with Lil Peep and Marshmello. You’ll find Lawrence at plenty of hot music festivals and clubs. He seems to be enjoying life and is always grateful to his fans. Look him up on Instagram if you want to follow his life nowadays.
2. Haley Joel Osment Gained a Little Weight
Haley Joel Osment’s character, Cole, in the Bruce Willis movie hit, The Sixth Sense, was famous for seeing dead people. That thought-provoking film was fascinating and had a big impact on popular culture. in 2017, Osment was the subject of a Radar Online story, which focused on his weight gain. It’s not really nice when people get body-shamed online, but it happens every day, and celebrities are always targets for this type of criticism. Yes, Haley gained a little weight, but he’s not a child anymore. He grew up and he filled out. His weight gain does make him look very different from Cole in The Sixth Sense.
So, what’s Haley up to these days? Well, he ran into some bad luck in 2016, when he was in a car accident. He hit a mailbox while driving under the influence. The car flipped over and he broke a rib and fractured his shoulder. He was 18 and new to driving. He took responsibility for his actions, followed the court’s guidelines and went to plenty of AA meetings. Then, he decided to study acting in New York. Following his post-secondary education, he landed a role on Broadway.
1. Edward Furlong Has Been Arrested More Than Once
Edward Furlong rose to fame as The Terminator’s fresh-faced sidekick. These days, he doesn’t look quite so fresh. He’s had troubles, like a lot of former child stars. According to TMZ, he was arrested for the third time in 2013, because he didn’t adhere to the terms of a restraining order. He ended up having a verbal fight with his ex-girlfriend and the law got involved. Apparently, Furlong’s ex called the cop and let them know that Edward had shown up at her home in West Hollywood. He was in hiding when the police arrived. He was found beneath a stairwell. During his first two arrests, he was charged with violence against the same ex-girlfriend. In court, Edward looked so tired, and much older. Court doesn’t bring out the best in anyone, but he looked rough.
Sometimes, early fame and fortune sets the stage for problems later on. Edward never really wanted to be a child actor, until a casting agent approached him, because the casting agent was looking for a kid to play the part of John Connor in Terminator 2. The agent saw something in Edward and he did get the coveted role. Maybe it would have been better if he hadn’t. Some kids can handle early stardom. Others can’t make a smooth transition from being child stars to being stable adults.