Child stars. When you think of them, you kind of imagine the young kid who shines so brightly as a little ‘un and bags movie and television roles, is the toast of the town and then falls off the map. But it doesn’t always work out like that. Some child stars retain their fame. In fact, there are more than you might think. And a lot of them get so stratospherically famous that we lose sight of the origins of their fame. So we’ve decided to do a little digging for you and bring you a comprehensive list of fifteen celebs you forgot were child stars…
Christian Bale – The Welsh actor and star of films such as American Hustle, The Machinist and American Psycho is one of Hollywood’s most bankable A-Lister stars. And a skilled thespian to boot. But it’s easy to forget that he was starring in movies when he was just a dot. Remember Steven Spielberg’s 1987 film based on JG Ballard’s novel, Empire of the Sun? Well, the little kid in that was none of that Bale himself. He’s had almost three full decades as a leading man/boy!
Kristen Stewart – She’s a big star now, having rode on the wave of success that was the enormous Twilight movie franchise. But did you know that Kristen Stewart was in The Flintstones sequel, Viva Rock Vegas? And a big part in a 2001 film called The Safety of Objects? No? Well, you might remember her as Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room. For which she was nominated for a Young Artist Award.
Ryan Gosling – From 1993 to 1995, Ryan Gosling was in The Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club. After that, he popped up frequently on Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Oh, and even Goosebumps. He later graduated to movies and it didn’t take long before he was melting girls’ hearts after his part in The Notebook blew up. And in 2006 he earned himself an Academy Award nomination for his part in Half Nelson. Now? He’s about an bankable as it gets.
Drake – We all know Drake now for his rapping and singing. He’s one of the biggest stars of the music world. The Toronto-born artist is a big deal, but he’s no 50 Cent. He didn’t grow up on the streets hawking crack and getting shot. Oh no. He grew up on television. He played Jimmy Brooks on the Canadian TV show, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Did you know that? That Drake was a child TV star back in the land of maple syrup? Well, now you do!
Jennifer Love Hewitt – “We know Jennifer Love Hewitt was famous as a teenager! We all saw Party of Five…” Okay, okay – we heard you. Jeeeez. But did you know that the Ghost Whisperer actress was a little star even pre-Party of Five? She was on Disney Channel’s Kids Incorporated. Remember that? She played Robin from 1989 – 1991. So know you know!
Jake Gyllenhaal – A fine actor, an A-lister star and a hearthrob, we know Jake Gyllenhaal for his uber-committed approach to his roles. Like Christian Bale, who’s also on this list, he’s prepared to really go that extra mile for this parts. You only need to see how massive he got for Southpaw and how tiny for Nightcrawler to see that. But did you know he was a child star and a teen star before becoming an adult star? He was in The Boy In The Bubble, directed by his dad, as a teen. And as a little ‘un? He was Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers!
Fergie – Pop star Fergie achieved some solo success after the Black Eyed Peas, but it’s for her work in the musical group alongside Will.I.Am that we really remember her for. But did you know that she was already famous before joining them? That’s right. Like Jennifer Love Hewitt, ‘Stacy Ferguson’ was a member of the children’s television series ‘Kids Incorporated’. And later the teen girl group Wild Orchid.
Scarlett Johansson – Avengers starlet Scarlett made her movie debut in the little-seen flick North, back in 1994. She subsequently pitched up in Manny & Lo in 1996 and then picked up further acclaim and fame with roles in The Horse Whisperer and Ghost World. And this was all before she got big with her first starring roles in The Girl With The Pearl Earring. And just look at her now! Famous for so long… Already!
Natalie Portman – We all know Natalie Portman as one of the classiest leading lights in Hollywood, with an impressive resume. So much gravitas does she possess that George Lucas had no reluctance putting her center stage in his Star Wars prequels. But do you remember her, at a mere twelve years of age, starring alongside Jean Reno and Gary Oldman in the Luc Besson indie thriller Leon (sometimes known as Leon: The Professional)? Well, she did!
Kirsten Dunst – We’ve all watched her giving her turns in box office fodder like Spiderman and also in more grown-up arthouse flicks like Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, but it’s easy to think that she’s just a star post-adolescence. But that would be to forget that she starred in such films as Interview With a Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles. Remember the cute little girl that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt hung around with in Neil Jordan’s adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel? That was her!
Katherine Hiegl – Before this glamourpuss starred in such theater big hitters as 27 Dresses, Knocked Up and The Ugly Truth, she’s been plying away at breaking Hollywood for some years. With some success, too. Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Remember that? She was in that across from Steven Seagal. She could also be seen in Prince Valiant and Steven Miner’s My Father The Hero. Not bad going, huh?
Keira Knightley – A big deal nowadays, but a pretty big deal back in the day too. Her first starring role came in The Hole, but Star Wars fans will know that Knightley player Sabé, Padmé Amidala’s decoy in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. But even before then she’d had a ton of screen roles, frequently appearing on British television in a wide range of roles, including in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.
Milla Jovovich – Jovovich is not just an actress, she’s also a model, musician and fashion designer. But it’s a movie role that set the ball rolling for Milla when she was just fifteen years of age. Return to the Blue Lagoon was a remake of the 1980 film The Blue Lagoon (which had launched Brooke Shields’ career). Just a few short years later, Milla Jovovich was starring in Luc Besson and Brice Willis epic sci-fi/actioner The Fifth Element. And she hasn’t looked back since!
Laurence Fishburne – Boyz n The Hood, Hannibal, The Matrix… You’ve seen the weighty tough guy Laurence Fishburne in plenty of things. But his career started way back. In fact, he was in lots of older movies you’ll have seen and either not noticed him in or forgotten. The Color Purple, Apocalypse Now, The Cotton Club… Even Death Wish 2. Although we wouldn’t recommend you try to remember that last one. What a stinker.
Alanis Morissette – The album Jagged Little Pill saw Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morrissette breakthrough and become a major worldwide star. The album dominated the charts and radio and CD players. Nowhere was safe from the sound of the LP for some time. But many people don’t realize that she was already Canada’s biggest non-Celine Dion female artist. She’d had lots of albums and won loads of awards in her homeland prior to JLP’s success across the world in the mid-90s. And now you know!