It’s no secret that Hollywood has a unique way of chewing up and spitting out child stars, often leaving them shells of their former selves. At best, many of our favorite child stars have been left with a rough past that they don’t like to talk about. And at worst? Well, some never quite end up back on the right side of the tracks.
Luckily, there are some child stars that we all know and love who grew up to be successful actors and actresses. How these fantastic entertainers navigated their early Hollywood fame without burning out is a mystery, but it’s one many of us are grateful for.
Heading our list is Natalie Portman, who made her feature film debut at only 12 years old, playing Mathilda, the child lead, in The Professional.
Soon after making her debut, Natalie Portman went on to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Woody Allen, Tim Burton, Michael Mann, and the infamous George Lucas. Portman had been fairly well-known since her role in The Professional, but starring in George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels catapulted her into the kind of fame she knows today.
She’s not done yet, either; she’s got roles in upcoming movies and TV series coming in 2019 and 2020, including We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (2019), an HBO miniseries, Lucy in the Sky (2019), a movie, and The French Dispatch (2020), another movie. She also has roles in two movies that don’t have a release date as of now: Foxy Trotter and Bronco Belle.
Despite her early start in Hollywood, Barrymore’s career didn’t really take off until she played little sister Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the movie that made her arguably one of the biggest child stars of her era.
After E.T., Barrymore starred in the movie Firestarter, based on the novel by Stephen King, and from there she worked consistently, growing up on screen with more grown-up roles in movies Poison Ivy and Scream.
Being an Oscar winner is enough to ensure a permanent spot for anyone in the Hollywood history books, but Christian Bale also got the unique opportunity to play Batman in The Dark Knight Trilogy, a role that ensured his fame indefinitely.
But like everyone else on this list, Bale’s Hollywood career started early, beginning when he landed his first role in a commercial at the young age of eight and continued with his part in a Pac-Man cereal ad a year later. But he didn’t really start making his way in Hollywood until his role in the movie Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna.
Young Bale continued to work until he landed his big break role in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. His work on the role earned him a ton of praise from critics, as well as the first ever Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor Award from the National Board of Review. Bale’s talent was obvious after Empire of the Sun, and job offers started pouring in.
In the next part of his career, Christian shook off the ‘kiddie image’ from his past roles by acting in movies like Velvet Goldmine and American Psycho. And while he’s hung up his Batcape for good, Christian Bale continues to choose interesting projects to take part in, and his workload doesn’t seem to be lightening up any time soon.
For 2019, Christian stars in two movies set to be released, Ford v. Ferrari, an action biographical drama film, and Mowgli, a live-action movie based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
Hollywood changes the lives of everyone in it, especially children. But some child stars are able to move past their young careers and make their mark on Hollywood as adults, and these guys are a great example of that.