We all love seeing those “where are they now” features, right? It’s so funny to take a look at the stars who were on screen in your childhood and find out that they are now fat, old, ugly, or unsuccessful. It’s incredible to see what kind of transformation can happen from the person whose poster you used to have on your wall to a middle-aged has-been.
What’s even more shocking and surprising, however, is when child stars turn out the other way: absolutely smoking hot. And it can happen. It can happen a lot. Recently jaws dropped open around the world when former Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis was photographed half-naked for Attitude Magazine. His six-pack and his, well, package attracted a lot of attention, all of it in sharp contrast to the chubby and unpopular character of Neville Longbottom that he was known for playing. Losing weight, going to the gym, growing a beard, and growing up all did him a lot of favours. Now he’s recognised as more of a heartthrob, and could certainly give former co-star Daniel Radcliffe more than a run for his money.
So what happened to all of those child stars you used to know, from movies and television? Did they all drop out of showbiz and get ugly? Of course not – a lot of them grew up with a transformation that even makes Matthew Lewis look like a normal boy-next-door. Here are some of the hottest transformations that actors made from boys to men.
10 Johnathan Lipnicki
Just like Matthew Lewis, we all remembered Johnathan Lipnicki as a little kid from the movies. He was always a blond-haired cutie, with a big smile and spiky hair that got him roles in Jerry Maguire and Stuart Little. But those were back in the 1990s, and when he took some time out for high school, he started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as well. This earned him a seriously muscular physique, and he also grew into his face – though he still has that cute smile. He’s fought his way back into Hollywood and looks set to take on some big film roles in the near future.
9 Nicholas Hoult
When About A Boy hit cinemas in 2002, the main star was the young and awkward boy who found himself at the center of the storyline. His terrible bowl haircut, penchant for ugly knitted hats, and general lack of social grace made him a figure for mockery, but as the audience, he melted our hearts. Fast-forward to 2015 and that kid is now in his mid-twenties, and drop-dead gorgeous to boot. He has a role in the X-Men franchise as Beast, shown up in films like Warm Bodies and Mad Max: Fury Road, and has even been linked with A-list women like Jennifer Lawrence.
8 Josh Hutcherson
Josh Hutcherson is the Hunger Games star who we all wish would save us in the arena. But back when he was a lot younger, he was a child star in movies like Zathura and RV. He looked a little awkward and was often cast as a spoiled brat or bad kid who tried to ruin things for everyone. His performance as a 20-year-old actor in The Hunger Games and the subsequent movie series blew that image away – as did his development of some seriously toned muscles. For bonus points, his co-star Liam Hemsworth was also a teen star in Neighbours – though by then, his good looks had already started to surface.
7 Joseph Gordon-Levitt
If you are a fan of 10 Things I Hate About You or 3rd Rock From The Sun, you will definitely recognize a baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He was an actor as a child and was known for his long floppy hair, as well as a weedy physique. He is almost unrecognisable for his transformation in Don Jon, the film he wrote, directed, and starred in at the age of 32. With a muscle-bound body, cool hairstyle, and great dress sense, he is definitely not a geeky kid anymore. He has really grown up on the screen, through several transformations that brought him to this point.
6 Jerry O’Connell
He may be an older actor now, but Jerry O’Connell’s film career started back in 1986 when he was 11 years old. The classic Stand By Me saw him star as a slightly chubby and awkward kid, with an unflattering haircut that only emphasized his size. But of course he grew up, and recently he wore a series of speedos on TV show We Are Men to wholehearted praise from appreciative viewers. For a man in his 40s, he certainly has a very impressive six-pack.
5 Daniel Curtis Lee
Daniel Curtis Lee is best known for his recurring role as Simon “Cookie” Nelson-Cook, a main character in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, which ran for three years in the mid-2000s. He was actually only 13 years old when it first started, and he has definitely grown out of the chubby cheeks and patched glasses that were his trademark on the show. Though his TV work has been limited, he is certainly someone to keep an eye on in future. Especially if you like to see someone who scrubs up really, really well in a nicely tailored suit. He recently popped up in shows like Glee.
4 Christian Bale
We’ve all heard of Christian Bale: the Batman hunk has stunned is in a wide range of amazing roles, all of which started with American Psycho in 2000. Or did it? In fact, the then-26 year old actor was no stranger to movies, and had been working since the age of 12. His first breakout role was Empire of the Sun in 1987, which was followed by the musical Newsies. After his role in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, images of his Empire of the Sun days started to circulate the web, drawing attention to the contrast between the spiky-haired kid and the muscular, handsome man he turned into.
3 Shia LaBeouf
His role as an actor may be debatable these days – it seems that he is more interested in performing art rather than getting onto the silver screen – but Shia LaBeouf certainly made a name for himself as the male lead of the Transformers series. He went on to date famously beautiful women like Carey Mulligan and Megan Fox. However, he had actually started out as a child star in Disney TV shows. On Even Stevens he was a curly-haired, nerdy looking kid with a talent for twisting his face into weird shapes. It’s lucky for him he grew up with good looks and hair that could be tamed, or he might not have been able to run rampant with his current wacky hijinks!
2 Josh Peck
This is a big one. While the Neville Longbottom transformation may have been extreme, this one is even more so. Josh Peck was actually already 18 when he starred in Drake and Josh, taking the role of a teenage boy who was the opposite of his step-brother: chubby, nerdy-looking, and stressed out all of the time. As the series progressed, however, Josh began to noticeably lose weight. By the time the show ended he was noticeably more attractive, and now he has ramped that up by really maturing his look. It’s paid off too – he’s already starred in a huge amount of films and TV shows over the last couple of years.
1 Leonardo DiCaprio
He’s one of the classic heartthrobs of Hollywood, but it’s easy to overlook the fact that Leo was a child actor before his roles in Romeo + Juliet and Titanic secured him as a leading hunk. The sitcom Growing Pains in 1991 made him better known as a young actor, at the age of 15, but even before that he appeared in a couple of episodes of The New Lassie. He was a cute-looking kid, but there was no way to predict how much of a heartbreaker he would later become. Still working now as a major A-Lister, he has to be one of the ultimate child actors.