Occasionally, there’s a child actor that touches the hearts of movie and television viewers around the world. With adorable charm, ingenuous, witty personalities, and their high pitched squeak child voices, those children that are able to add impressive acting skills to their memorable qualities are sky rocketed to stardom. They become child stars; a role that requires their adorable innocence to remain intact.
Unfortunately for the children who become successful actors at a young age, the journey into maturity can be tricky, as much of the charm that landed them their fame disappears during the awkward adolescent phase. Some child stars make the transformation into adulthood with grace and maturity, while others fumble through a series of personal and professional embarrassments. No matter how a child star reaches adulthood, he or she inevitably does so at the mercy of the public’s unforgiving assessment. Child stars grow both physically and professionally within their careers, until they’re no longer the same person that first propelled them into fame. Indeed, some change so dramatically that they’re barely recognizable as the child that once touched viewers’ hearts. The following 15 are prime, shocking examples of just such drastic transformations.
15. Jonathan Lipnicki
Jerry Maguire was a huge blockbuster hit in 1996 for Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, and the very adorable Jonathan Lipnicki. The child star played Renee Zellweger’s son and the young man who melted America’s hearts. After the movie’s success, Lipnicki went on to star in Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2, and The Little Vampire. So what’s he doing now? Well, from the photo you can see that he’s spending a lot of time at the gym. Lipnicki is a jiu-jitsu fighter as well as an MMA enthusiast.
14. Keshia Knight
We all remember Keshia Knight from her childhood role on The Cosby Show. Knight played the youngest of the Huxtable children, Rudy Huxtable, from 1984 to 1992. Knight’s acting earned her a nomination for an Emmy at the age of six, making her the youngest actress to be nominated for best supporting actress. Her career in TV continued and she found herself playing on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne from 2007 to 2012. This year, the star celebrated her 35th birthday.
13. Anna Paquin
At the age of 11, Anna Paquin won an Oscar for her role in “The Piano.” Her career continued to rise through her roles in major movies such as “X-Men” and the HBO drama series True Blood. After calling the set of True Blood home for over six years, Anna Paquin and the entire cast of True Blood are bidding farewell to the series as it comes to an end.
12. Bindi Irwin
Bindi Irwin is most remembered through the tragic loss of her father Steve Irwin. Much like her late father, Bindi is a true animal lover. After her father passed in 2006, Bindi followed in his footsteps and created her own show, Bindi: Crocodile Hunter. She also developed her own fashion line as well as a fitness workout for children. Most recently, the 16-year-old has turned author and released a series of young readers fiction books entitled, Bindi Wildlife Adventures.
11. Tyler Posey
The boy who once played Jennifer Lopez‘s son in “Maid in Manhattan” has outgrown his adorable dimpled smile and become an actor on the hit TV series Teen Wolf. Tyler Posey, who was born in 1991, plays Scott McCall, a high school student who struggles to keep his secret of being bitten by a werewolf from his friends and family. Posey’s role on the hit series has propelled him into stardom while doing away with his child actor stigma.
10. Macaulay Culkin
In 1990, Macaulay Culkin hit the child-star jackpot with his leading role in Home Alone. After his tremendous success at the age of 10, Culkin continued on in acting, starring in Home Alone 2, My Girl, and The Good Son. And his roles served him well, allowing him to make around $8 million a movie and solidifying him as a Hollywood star. However, after his success, Culkin disappeared from the acting world and did not resurface until a drug bust sent him to jail in 2004. In recent years he has been touring with his band, The Pizza Underground, and throwing random parties at nightclubs in New York City.
9. Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano was a teen star in the 1980’s due to her role as Samantha Micelli on Who’s The Boss? The hit TV show ran from 1984 to 1992, solidifying Milano’s wholesome teen image. But in 1997 Milano found a way to break free from her image by starring on the scandalous TV show Melrose Place. From there she went on to play Phoebe Halliwell on the series Charmed, where she was able to flaunt a sexier, more mature side of herself to a new crowd of viewers. Most recently, Milano and husband Cinjun Tate, of the band Remy Zero, welcomed their second child into the world.
8. Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer made her mark on the acting world in Akeelah and the Bee. Starring alongside Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, Palmer played an 11-year-old girl struggling to find confidence in herself and her intelligence. Since the movie’s release in 2006, Palmer has continued to rise as a star through her work in film, television, and music. Now, at the age of 21, Keke Palmer is taking on Broadway in the classic Cinderella.
7. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber began as an adorable singer who melted young girls’ hearts with his sweet voice. But that was years ago. Now, the singing sensation is 20-years-old and can be found getting into trouble more often than he can be seen singing. After an arrest for driving under the influence in 2013 and a raid of his mansion for involvement in vandalization of a neighbor’s house, Bieber has spent time behind bars. The pop-star has also found himself at the forefront of a public breakup with long-time girlfriend Selena Gomez.
6. Angus Jones
Angus T. Jones starred on Two and a Half Men for the show’s full ten year run. During that time, he earned enormous amounts of money to, in his own words, “be a paid hypocrite.” What could the now 20-year-old former actor mean by his statement? In 2012 Jones made public his distain for the moral downfall of the Emmy wining show. According to him, the show conflicts with his religious values. As a baptized member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church of North America, Angus Jones now has a new career in life. He is using the fame that he acquired from his childhood acting to spread God’s word through the World Harvest Outreach in Houston, Texas.
5. Kendall Jenner
The reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians has a sea of loyal viewers that have watched as Kendall Jenner, the daughter of Kris and Bruce Jenner, and half sister of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian, grew up before their eyes. Recently, Jenner has stepped from behind the shadow of her famous half sisters and created a career as a model that the most seasoned supermodel would envy. Jenner, now 19 years old, has walked in New York’s Fashion Week and has modelled for Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, and Giles Deacon in London. Most recently, Kendall has been named the new face of Estee Lauder.
4. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus‘ rise to fame, helped along by her famous father Billy-Ray Cyrus, was born from her starring role as Hannah Montana on the Disney channel between 2006 and 2011. The TV show led to a spin-off Hannah Montana movie as well as several albums and hit songs. Cyrus first moved away from Disney with a starring role in the movie “The Last Song.” Since then, Cyrus has been working to shed her good girl image through her music.
Her album Wrecking Ball, as well as her on-stage performances, are often controversial and very sexual. If her dancing style and lyrics aren’t enough to convince fans that Miley Cyrus is now an adult, nothing will.
3. Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes is one of several child stars whose growth from adolescence to adulthood has been littered with public and personal embarrassments. Bynes’ start on TV began at the age of 10 on Nickelodeon’s “All That.” Within three years, Bynes was starring in her own Nickelodeon show, entitled, “The Amanda Show.” She went on to star in “What I Like About You.” Her career seemed to be on the rise, but at the age of just 24, Amanda Bynes made a public announcement that she was leaving acting. Two years later she was arrested for a DUI and in October of 2014 she was caught attempting to shoplift. Bynes has been committed to psychiatric facilities twice, and is believed to suffer from depression and substance abuse problems.
2. Abigail Breslin
In 1996, Abigail Breslin‘s bubbly personality and impeccable acting skills made her a favorite among viewers and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At the very young age of ten, Breslin was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Now, at the age of 18, the star is taking on a darker role in the thriller, “Final Girl.” Breslin plays a young girl who is raised as an assassin and must kill a group of boys who lure girls into the woods and kill them – not a very ‘sunshine’ theme movie. With her new role, Breslin is showing a more sultry and very grown up side, and recently shed her child star image by posing topless for controversial photographer Tyler Shields.
1. Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment was one of the fastest rising child stars of his time. By the age of six he had starred alongside Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump.” At the age of ten he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “The Sixth Sense.” From there his career only continued to accelerate as he starred in movies such as, “Pay It Forward” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.”
After a run-in with the law when he was involved in a drunk driving accident, Osment got his act together, attended university and has since solidified himself as more than just a child star. Osment was recently spotted filming his new movie, “Yoga Hosers,” in which he plays a Canadian-Nazi sympathizer. With long hair and a gelled mustache, Haley Joel Osment is sure to wow movie goers with his extreme transformation.