This is sick. This is basically betting against a child’s future. We don’t feel good about what’s about to happen, but sometimes, when you know, you know. You know? Making the transition from being a child actor to an adult actor is the toughest transition in the industry. Even well-established superstars struggle as they move from an adult actor to an elderly actor, but this younger move is even more difficult. These are kids we’re talking about. Watching them as children, we become too familiar with them as children. Then, one day, their voices get deeper, the boys have new hair on their faces and the women have sprouted breasts—sounds weird, but just go with it. They’re different people altogether. For whatever reason, we expected them to stay the same. They didn’t. Sadly, only Gary Coleman could do that.
For those reasons, we’ve decided to go through and ruin some kid’s days. We’ll look at some of today’s most famous child actors and predict which of these little bastards are going to struggle to find work when they become adults. You can argue these choices all you like, but it won’t change the fact that these kids are destined for failure. They’re never gonna make it. Remember when your parents said, “you can be anything you want to be when you grow up”? That was true for almost every kid, but not for the ones on this list. Here are 16 current child stars we know will never get acting roles as adults.
16. Quvenzhane Wallis
She’s outstanding for a child. She’s well-spoken, outspoken and cute. She’s precocious and very mature for such a young age. There is no doubt in our minds that she deserved to be the youngest ever Academy Award nominated actress in Beasts of the Southern Wild. There’s just one problem with Quvenzhane Wallis’s whole thing. Every single trait she has that makes her a wonderful child actress is something that isn’t needed to be an adult actress. Here are a few names for you to consider, Jackie Cooper, Justin Henry and Mary Badham. These are all child nominees who also struggled with acting in their adult years. Hell, even Tatum O’Neal, who won Best Supporting actress at 10-years old, struggled mightily as she aged. Being a virtually unknown child actor and transitioning into adult roles is hard. Being insanely well-known as a child actor as Wallis is and transitioning is even harder.
15. Savannah Paige Rae
This is the little girl who played Sydney Graham on Parenthood and it looks like her career is already over. Yeah, we know, it hurts, but it’s going to get easier. You might say it’s the mark of a good actor to be able to convincingly play an annoying brat, but that’s not true for Rae. If all you can play is a brat, you’re probably a brat. It’s like Larry the Cable Guy. You don’t ever see him play anything else other than a disgusting slob because he is, well, a disgusting slob in real life. On Parenthood, Rae plays the most convincing sucky little baby you have ever seen and that doesn’t bode well for her future as an adult actor. Sucky little babies don’t get the roles the want. We may be wrong on her future, but we’re probably not.
14. Jared Gilmore
Jared Gilmore is the little guy that plays Henry Mills on Once Upon a Time. He also played Bobby Draper on Mad Men. Again, there’s a bit of a character bleed into our judgement of the actor in real life here, but what can we say? When you hate a character for the way they are on screen, sometimes that affects the way you feel about the actor. We’ll start with Henry Mills, the character. Now, the acting and writing in Once Upon a Time is questionable at times, but this character Henry is something else. Who is this kid that thinks he deserves to be in on everything happening in this magical land? You’re a kid. Go play with your toys while the adults are talking. We got this from here Henry, no need for you go mucking things up. Gilmore, the actor, has just got a look about him, like he’s up to something, plotting. Once you hit 18, hang ’em up kid. You’re done.
13. Bailee Madison
Bailee Madison might just be the most talented actor on this entire list, but that doesn’t change anything. Like Quvenzhane Wallis, Madison has all the best traits for being a child actor but will struggle to reinvent herself as an adult, something she will most definitely have to do. She does have many of the tools that will help her make the transition, but there’s going to be struggles. The prospects for success don’t look too promising. Madison isn’t at the MaCauley Culkin or Shirley Temple level, but she is very recognizable and has been in a lot of big roles, so she’ll have a lot of familiarity to overcome if she wants to keep her success going as an adult. We wouldn’t put money on her, that’s for sure.
12. Pierce Gagnon
Pierce Gagnon is a little creepy. For sure that’s why he was cast as Cid “the Rainmaker” in Looper and that’s almost definitely why he’s been set up to play in Twin Peaks next year. He’s got a little bit of the Miko Hughes (Gage from Pet Sematary) thing going on. Guess what Hughes does now as an adult. Here’s a hint: he’s not a successful actor. Now we’re not trying to say that just because this kid looks creepy he won’t be able to act as an adult, but there’s no guarantee that he keeps his creepiness. Even in Tomorrowland he looked kind of normal. That’s not a good thing. Normal is never a good thing for the film and television industry. Even looking weird into your adult years is not a guarantee. You know the weird looking kid from The Middle, Atticus Shaffer? Guess what he does now (other than The Middle). Voice work. There’s a fine line. As an adult, if you look too normal, you get no roles or, if you look too weird, you get banished to voice-work land. Gagnon’s got to find that middle ground.
11. Benjamin Stockham
The beanie kid. You know when you look back at old photos and you think, why the hell did I ever wear that hat? Well, Benjamin Stockham better hope he realizes how stupid he looks in those beanies real soon or he’s going to have an entire childhood filled with bad pictures. He lives in LA too, so there’s no environmental reason why he should be wearing knitted wool on his head all year round. Maybe the beanie is like a safety blanket for him. If that’s the case, it changes nothing. Take off the damn hat, kid. Grow up! But not too soon because you won’t be an actor when you grow up. Even his characters wear this stupid thing. This just goes to prove that the real kids are often close to characters they play. You don’t want to throw too much on a kid’s plate and ask them to act totally different. That being said, Stockham’s character on About a Boy is annoying, so he must be annoying, too.
10. Cooper Roth
Cooper Roth is like the modern-day bully Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story, played by Zack Ward. He’s got yellow eyes. He looks a little bit like a wolf, and you just know he’s going to be playing the villain or the bully in whatever he’s in. He looks slimy somehow and every casting director knows it. So, what happens when this guy grows up? There are still bullies in adult movies—not those kinds of adult movies—but they’re not nearly as in demand. Roth will get to be a bully a little while longer yet, but then he’ll have to figure out what his new niche will be if he wants to stay in the industry as a grown man.
9. Albert Tsai
Alright, so this kid is a good actor, but how many adult Asian actors do you know? Think about it. We’re talking Hollywood here. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if Hollywood doesn’t think you fit into their target demographic, you’re gonna have a bad time. Right now, as a precocious little kid, Albert Tsai is enjoying himself. He’s in the right lane and multiethnic families are in on sitcoms, but how long is this going to last? We’re pulling for him, but there’s got to be a lot of changes made to the industry before betting on Tsai’s future in the industry looks like smart money. This is the same industry that just cast Tilda Swinton as a Tibetan Monk in Doctor Strange. Changes don’t look like they’re anywhere close on the horizon.
8. Isaac Hempstead Wright
Isaac Hempstead Wright plays Bran Stark on Game of Thrones. You’re thinking, which version of Bran? There’s been like three different kids play the character. Nope. That’s all the same kid folks, and that’s exactly our point. This kid has changed too much already. Even Game of Thrones is like, maybe we should lessen this kid’s part. He’s evolving too quickly. The worst part is, this isn’t even his final form yet. Who knows what he’s going to become next. You just can’t trust those types of people. Remember when Jennifer Grey got a nose job and ruined her career? Well, this is basically the same thing except Wright is just changing without surgery.
7. Ty Simpkins
Ty Simpkins is becoming a megastar already. You may not know his name but that’s because you’re a child hater. Why else would you be looking at this list still? Simpkins was awesome in Insidious and Insidious 2. He was excellent in Iron Man 3 and Jurassic World too. So why will he fail as an actor in his adult life? Because he’s too good already. Like a few others on this list, when kids are too good as young people, they usually fail to live up to increasing expectations. Sure, the odd ones continue to live up to the hype. But even some of the success stories were on the brink of failure. Look at Natalie Portman. After the Star Wars prequels, no one wanted to work with her. It took a lot of hard work and even more luck to become who she is today as an adult. Not everyone is going to be Leonardo DiCaprio. Prove us wrong Ty. We’d be happy if you did.
6. Jaden Smith
Jaden Smith is already 18, so he technically doesn’t even qualify for this list, but we are so sure he’s going to fail that we had to include him. He comes from a famous family and he’ll get to be in all his daddy’s movies, and even still, this kid will not make it as an adult actor. There’s no possible way that he can make it. He’s just too weird and self-absorbed. He’ll never be able to improve his craft because he thinks he knows it all already. There will come a time that even Will Smith will be like, son, I’m going to have to go another direction on this one. I just don’t think you’re right to play the part of my son for the 15th time. It’s too late to grow up for Jaden. All that homeschooling and being privileged has gone to his head and now he thinks that he controls time or whatever the hell he’s talking about on Twitter. Just a weird kid, a weird, weird kid is all he is.
5. Joey King
This kid, Joey King, is phenomenal. Everyone loves her and she’s probably the most recognizable child film actress around right now, but there, again, is the problem. King is essentially the new Dakota Fanning. The uber-talented young actress who looked like a shoo-in to succeed as an adult and still struggled. Yeah Fanning is still working, but she’s not the same superstar as she was when she was a kid. King will probably even remain working, which goes against the point of this list, but she won’t work at the same level. You just can’t go from being a star child to a star adult so easily. Almost all the kids on this list have it easier than King because they’re not as well known as she is. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s an uphill climb to adulthood fame when you’re at the top of the hill as a child.
4. Aubrey Anderson-Emmons
Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, the actress who plays Lily on Modern Family, takes a lot of heat on the TV forums. Not many people like her, which is sad but also expected. Her character is written as a rude, whiny and sarcastic little brat. Sarcasm on a small child isn’t very becoming because you can’t help but imagine how it will continue to get worse with age. She will find it very hard to get beyond this character because every character on Modern Family is so well known by now. The one saving grace that Anderson-Emmons has is that she isn’t the most hated person on the show. That title goes to our next entrant.
3. Rico Rodriguez
Rico Rodriguez, Manny on Modern Family, is the worst. He really is. You can’t place this squarely on Rico, but you would think that a character would change even a little over the course of like, 10 years. He’s been the same annoying, know-it-all, tiny adult since episode one. He irks almost everyone who watches the show, even if he does have the odd landed joke. The show’s already been around too long for Rodriguez to ever fully shed the character of Manny, so he might as well just accept it now. It’s been a really nice run Rico, but the buck stops here. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but not everyone can make it.
2. Chandler Riggs
Friggin Carl from The Walking Dead. What can we say about Chandler Riggs that hasn’t been said a million times? This is one of the most annoying characters ever to be on TV. Seriously, what the hell is with this brat? That Rick hasn’t slapped Carl’s stupid face on numerous occasions shows just how much patience the man has. Ugh, and that stupid hat. How did that damn hat magically go from loose fitting to a perfect fit in one off-season? Then he wore it around everywhere like he was the sheriff. You’re just a kid and no one likes you Carl. You’re a nobody and you’ve ruined everything Carl. Unfortunately, this little sh*t has built up too much hate to ever recover. Like Jack Gleeson, who quit acting because everyone hated his character Joffrey on Game of Thrones (probably), Chandler Riggs will have to go that same route soon. Here’s to Carl taking a bullet in The Walking Dead soon.
1. Ariel Winter
She might be all the rage right now with her racy photoshoots and “leaked” photos, but Ariel Winter is definitively not on the right track. Another Modern Family child star to make our list, she receives the number one spot because there is no way she will have “talent” on her resume for future acting jobs if she keeps up these kinds of Lindsay Lohan-type antics for much longer.
Getting her first notable role in 2009 for season 1 of Modern Family, we’ve seen her grow up on the show and we’ve watched her innocent, brainy Alex Dunphy character become something quite different in real life. Only time will tell if Winter finally settles down and starts focusing more on acting, but seeing how she has just turned 18, it’s not looking promising.