Being a child star can be a good and a bad thing. Not all child stars make it into adult acting because it can be hard to transition from young characters that people know and love into a world where there are roles that involve adult topics. Some producers have a hard time thinking of the now grown adult as anything but that child star.
Some do manage to have great careers after leaving the child acting behind. Before they are even adults, some children are richer than most adults and go out to have an even more successful career as adults. Some of them are really lucky in that they reach fame and fortune before their 18th birthday. It’s not always fun being a child star though; they have to worry that their agents, manager and sometimes even their parents will take advantage of them and even spend their money
Some child stars reach adulthood and weren’t able to transition and instead got lost in obscurity. It’s the worst thing that could ever happen to a child actor. They end up giving up and going back into the real world, broker than when they started acting. It can be a scary industry because you never know what’s going to happen and unfortunately, it’s an industry where it doesn’t matter how hard you work, sometimes you still may not make it. Check out these 12 child stars that clearly gave up on life and 12 that actually did something useful with their fame.
24 The Olsen Twins Are Quite Wealthy
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are two child stars that definitely did things right. They have a combined worth of close to $300 million and that was in 2007, it’s likely much more than that now. These two started off as child stars on the TV show Full House. They were just babies when they started and when the show ended they were already rich. They had no interest in acting however so we never knew whether they would transition into adult stars. It’s likely their parents put them into acting and it wasn’t something they really wanted for themselves.
It made them rich, however, and they were able to use that wealth to build a fashion empire and that’s what they've been doing ever since.
They were asked to come back for the reboot of the show called Fuller House, but they had no interest. The rest of the cast were put off by the fact that the Olsen’s did not want to be part of the show, but the truth is, they didn’t need to, they have so much money they can do whatever they want.
23 Lindsay Lohan Blew Her Big Chance
Lindsay Lohan has been acting since she was a child, remember Parent Trap. She was one actress that did transition well into adulthood. In the early 2000s, she was the new "it" girl on the scene and she was killing it in movies like Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, and Herbie Fully Loaded. She was cute as a button with the fiery red hair and it seemed like she was going to make it big. She was even more popular than Rachel McAdams at the time and now that’s just not the case.
Unfortunately, like so many teen actors, she started partying too much and getting into trouble.
She got a few DUIs and all we kept seeing was her in court with a really bad attitude. Her career tanked and she has yet to revive it. As of 2015 she reportedly only had $500,000 left of her fortune.
22 The Sprouse Twins Made It Past Friends
Remember Ross’s son Ben from the hit TV show FRIENDS? That was the twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse that played that part. How old do you feel now? The two seemed to have made a career together as twins; they were also on the show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. They had plenty of movie and books deal that had them combining their careers and many people wondered how they were going to transition into adult acting when they didn’t spend a whole lot of time acting alone. That was until Riverdale happened on Netflix, giving Cole Sprouse the role of a lifetime.
It shot his career to superstardom and it’s still up in the air as to whether Dylan will be able to do the same.
The two are definitely rich though and it’s reported that they have a combined worth of $16 million.
21 Screech Couldn’t Find Any Work
We all remember growing up with Screech from Saved By the Bell. He was the loveable nerd on the show that got to hang out with all the cool kids. He went through all of high school though without ever having a date of his own. Screech was an odd character though so it wasn’t hard to see why he never quite got there.
The role of Screech made Dustin Diamond famous, but the problem with playing such a unique role is that no one can picture you doing anything else. Once the show ended, so did his career and Diamond wasn’t able to find any work after.
He actually went into porn for a while which is the saddest part of the whole thing. In 2001, he filed for bankruptcy since he was only making about $5,300 a month from NBC royalties. His house went into foreclosure and in 2006 he was seen selling shirts for $15 as a second source of income.
20 Mayim Bialik Survived Blossom
We first saw Mayim Bialik in the '80s movie Beaches and it was actually that role that landed her a spot on the TV show Blossom. That catapulted her to fame and fortune because the show was so popular. When the show ended, we really didn’t see much of Bialik any longer, but it wasn’t because she couldn’t make it in Hollywood. She’s one smart cookie and she decided to head to university to receive her Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.
That’s a serious degree to go for and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. But she did it and that’s what made her perfect for the role of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory.
That’s where we saw her once again in Hollywood and she seemed to transition just fine into the role of an adult and maybe being away from Hollywood helped with that. She has an estimated worth of $12 million.
19 Aaron Carter Tried To Follow In His Brother’s Footsteps
Aaron Carter rose to fame in the late '90s and early '00s. He was the younger brother to Nick Carter and it seemed like he was going to hit the kind of fame that Justin Bieber did. He was just as young as Bieber when he started and at the height of his fame, he even started dating Lindsay Lohan. The stars seemed to be in line for the kid, but it just didn’t work out.
He started having legal troubles and was unable to produce another hit after his huge rise to fame.
But he and his brother went into obscurity, never to be heard from again. We saw Aaron again when he appeared on Dancing With The Stars. In 2013, he owed the IRS $2 million but has paid that off now.
18 Miley Cyrus Knew What She Was Doing All Along
Miley Cyrus grew up on Hannah Montana and many people wondered what she would do after that. She got rid of the good girl image of her Disney persona and she did that really fast. In 2008, she brought in $25 million all on her own. She has sold out concerts and that’s not all she has done. She managed to balance a singing and acting career. It’s not surprising she made a singing career for herself, considering her famous father is Billy Ray Cyrus.
These days, it’s reported that she is worth $200 million and $76 million is just from her endorsement deals alone.
She also met the love of her life, Liam Hemsworth, when she starred in the Nicolas Sparks film The Last Song.
17 Gaby Hoffmann Is Dirt Poor
Gaby Hoffmann had a lot of good roles when she was younger. She starred in movies such as Sleepless in Seattle, Uncle Buck, and Freaky Friday. We can’t say that she transitioned well into the adult acting industry because she has had few roles over the years. It seems she has worked consistently in the industry for years but certainly nothing major. In 2013, Hoffmann admitted that she only had a few dollars to her name.
What she really meant was that she only had $4,000 to her name with no real idea as to when the next $4,000 would ever come.
She did get on a few TV shows in 2014, she appeared on both Girls and Transparent and worked on eight episodes for Girls and 41 episodes in Transparent.
16 Zac Efron Is Rocking It In Hollywood
Zac Efron became famous for his role in the High School Musical franchise. He was such a cutie in those movies and was often see in the Teen Beat magazines. You probably had a picture of him up on your wall. He more than transitioned from a child actor into Hollywood. Not only is he a full-blown hottie, but he’s also making big-budget movies hand over fist. He’s been stealing our hearts in dramas, comedies, and action movies. Is there nothing that he can do? He showed off his musical talent once again in The Greatest Showman which was a spectacular performance. Today the actor is worth $18 million.
15 Natasha Lyonne Made A Comeback
We remember Natasha Lyonne as a child actor in Dennis the Menace and she even moved on to acting in her teens and landed a role in a Woody Allen film Everyone Says I Love You. Her most notable role is probably in American Pie, a movie that launched many careers. But it wasn’t long before Lyonne got involved in drugs and some legal incidents followed.
She was in the hospital in 2005 and lost everything that she had made and accomplished from that point.
After that, it was many years before we heard from the actress again. If it weren’t for the fact that she sobered up and then landed the role as Nicky on Orange is the New Black, she would have stayed in obscurity. Hopefully, she can keep it up after the show ends.
14 Anna Paquin Made Vampires Cool Again
Anna Paquin really killed it in the industry as a child actor. It isn’t every day that a child actor brings home an Academy Award but Paquin did. She won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in The Piano and she was only 11. She spent a lot of time in New Zealand but that never stopped her from starring in both TV shows and movies. She transitioned just fine into adulthood and starred in her most notable role as Sookie Stackhouse in the TV series True Blood. She made being a vampire a super steamy adventure. She also won a Golden Globe for that role in 2009. She is reportedly worth $14 million. She has been on both TV series Bellevue and Alias Grace since then and has three movies in post-production.
13 Edward Furlong Had Bad Habits
Edward Furlong shot to fame when he got his big break in the movie Terminator 2, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. He should have been a big sensation after, but things started going downhill from the beginning. He became emancipated from his mother and he never knew his father.
He fell in love with his on-set tutor that he had while he was making Terminator 2. He was only 15 and she was 29 and the two eventually got married.
She became his manager, though, she didn’t really do anything for his career as far as progressing it in any meaningful way. He’s been in a variety of things over the years, but some were failures and none of them brought him the success that he once had. It’s rumored that he is broke and addicted to drugs.
12 Emma Watson Has Harry Potter Magic
Many people wondered what the kids of the Harry Potter series were going to do once the movies were over. It’s true that some of the kids went into obscurity, that’s not what happened to Emma Watson who is worth $70 million these days. She’s only 27 years old and yet, she is wealthy and still very famous since she seemed to transition just fine after the series ended. She took a break from Hollywood and went back to school to study literature at Brown University. She returned to Hollywood and established her career as an adult with movies such as Beauty and the Beast and The Circle.
She is also a huge philanthropist and it’s something that also takes up a lot of her time.
She supports many charities such as People Tree and Great Ormond Street Hospital. She was appointed the Good Will Ambassador to The United Nations and that’s just a few of her many pursuits.
11 Corey Haim Used To Be A Household Name
Corey Haim was a famous child actor in the '80s and his first role happened when he was only ten years old. He starred in movies such as License to Drive, Silver Bullet and the role that made him very famous, The Lost Boys. He endured a lot of abuse while he was in Hollywood along with his childhood friend Corey Feldman who was also from The Lost Boys. He had been abused by people in the industry for years and that led to getting involved with hard drugs over the years.
He disappeared for a while until the two Coreys started up their own reality TV show that only further showcased how messed-up Haim’s life had become.
He died in 2010 of an accidental overdose. He had told Larry King that he was “very destitute, very broke,” just before he died.
10 Justin Bieber Made It To Superstardom
Justin Bieber became famous after he started downloading his music on to YouTube and then Usher took him under his wing and the rest is history. Whether you love Bieber or hate him, he has made a huge career for himself and he even went from being a cute kid to a tattooed hottie.
He remained relevant even after his voice changed through puberty and he’s still killing it with sold-out concerts and endorsement deals.
He's certainly had his ups and downs, much like Lindsay Lohan, and he got himself arrested a few times for bad behavior and there were even rumors about him visiting a brothel. Gross. But despite his numerous break-ups from Selena Gomez, his career is still going strong. Today he is reportedly worth $200 million.
9 Amanda Bynes Went A Little Crazy
Amanda Bynes was another star on the rise when she came on the scene. She started her career off as a child star in Nickelodeon’s All That. She didn’t seem to have any problem moving from a child star into a teen star. Her fame grew when she starred in movies such as She’s the Man and Hairspray alongside Zac Efron. She was also on The WB sitcom, What I Like About You. Acting became a little much for Bynes, however, and in 2011, she announced that she was taking some time off. Whether it was stress or just because she decided she didn’t want to act anymore, we’re not sure, but she never really came back from it.
Between her legal problems and her weird social media posts, Bynes tanked her career in Hollywood.
She started posting about how her parents were controlling her money and she couldn’t afford to live. She also showed up in court with weird wigs and her hair uncombed.
8 Frankie Muniz Retired Wealthy
That’s certainly not a bad way to go, retiring at a young age with $40 million in the bank. Malcolm in the Middle may not have been the most popular show at the time but it did make Frankie Muniz famous and it put a whole lot of money in his bank account. Considering he was a child star at the time, he’s certainly made a lot of money. He didn’t do a whole lot after the show ended and seemed fine with going into retirement.
Although he didn’t reach extreme heights of fame compared to others on this list, we can hardly consider him a failure when the show turned him into a millionaire.
He’s been in a few things here and there over the years — he’s not totally gone. We’ve seen him in a few of the Sharknado projects and he’s got three new projects in post-production, so he hasn’t disappeared.
7 Jodie Sweetin Got A Second Chance
Jodie Sweetin played Stephanie Tanner on the TV show Full House and she was sassy and cute with her one-liner, “How rude!” She basically grew up on the show which can be confusing for kids. They never really know a real childhood and transitioning can be difficult once the hit show ends. For Sweetin, she went down a dark road and got involved with drugs and alcohol and there are certainly a lot of unflattering photos online of her at parties. She was on meth for a long time and went through three divorces as she disappeared from Hollywood.
In 2008, she admitted that the water had been shut off at her home, so things weren’t looking good for the former child star.
Their house went into foreclosure and it was reported that they were just trying to make ends meet with residuals from the show. These days, she is back on the reboot Fuller House, so hopefully, she is able to pay her bills now.
6 Angus T. Jones Chose To Leave the Show
Angus T. Jones rose to fame as a child actor in the popular TV show Two and A Half Men. He really didn’t have to worry about transitioning into an adult actor because he grew up into one on the show. The show was made popular once with Charlie Sheen and then with his replacement Ashton Kutcher. Jones was making the highest TV paycheck for a minor in 2010 at $300,000 per episode. He’s reportedly worth $15 million these days. He’s only in his 20s and yet he’s a millionaire.
It was Angus T. Jones’s choice to leave the show because of his faith and his involvement as an ambassador for the World Harvest Outreach Church in Houston.
He believed that he was a hypocrite by acting in a show that went against all his moral beliefs.
5 Jaimee Foxworth Was Written Off the Show
Jaimee Foxworth was a child model before she was a child actress. She started off in the industry at a young age before she was cast as Judy Winslow on Family Matters.
She was on the show for four seasons when she was suddenly written off the show with no explanation at all.
That was all it took for her to go into obscurity and she wasn’t able to get back into the acting game. She had to find another way to make some money, so she started making scandalous movies. She was broke and went into the industry under the name Crave. It’s sad how some child actors have to turn to the adult industry when they can no longer make it in Hollywood and feel like they have no other choice. She also had issues with alcohol, but she did end up leaving the adult industry. She appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and was able to get sober.
4 The Jonas Brothers Made It Big
The Jonas Brothers started off on the scene as a young boy band. We have certainly seen a lot of those fail over time, but the Jonas Brothers seem to be stronger than ever. They made the transition to adulthood flawlessly and these days, they have a combined worth of $50 million. It was the world tour that truly solidified them as real musicians in the industry.
That world tour had them playing in front of audiences of 14,000 people and made them $95 million.
They aren’t just musicians either, a few of them have some side projects like Nick Jonas and the Administration. Nick Jonas has also been dabbling in acting over the years, most recently in the Dwayne Johnson's movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle among other things.
3 Taran Noah Smith Loves Home Improvements
Taran Noah Smith was the cute little younger brother from the hit TV show, Home Improvement. He played Tim Allen’s son Mark Taylor. He was a child actor that never really made it past the TV show. He had a lot of problems mainly with his parents. They were squandering the poor kid’s money that he made from the show.
When he was 16, he had to take his parents to court to get full access to the $1.5 million that they were spending at a rapid pace.
He won the court case, but it didn’t help matters because he ended up spending it all himself. With no career prospects left in Hollywood, his home was later foreclosed. He’s just another case of a child being ruined by Hollywood.
2 Daniel Radcliffe Is Doing Just Fine
Daniel Radcliffe is another actor from Harry Potter that seems to be doing just fine since the end of the movie series. The bearded actor has turned into a real hottie and is estimated to be worth $140 million. He spent most of his childhood playing Harry Potter and it can be hard to transition from such a famous role. He seems to be doing well, however, as he has secured many movie roles and has been on a few TV series.
Nothing at the level of Harry Potter, but maybe that’s a good thing as it is rumored that it took a huge toll on his health.
He certainly doesn’t need the money. He’s a young guy though and has his whole future ahead of him. He’s got his looks as well as acting chops so we can guarantee he has a long career in Hollywood.
1 Dana Plato Had Personal Problems
Dana Plato was a doll, a gorgeous girl that was on the show Different Strokes. It seemed like she had made it big at the time, but just like her co-star Gary Coleman, she had a hard time finding work after the show. While on the show, she allowed fame to get the best of her and she became involved in drugs and alcohol.
They wrote her off the show when they found out that she was pregnant. She went downhill after that and eventually separated from her husband.
She lost her mother and had most of her money stolen from her accountant. Things didn’t get better for her even though she struggled to get back to the successful life she had. She was arrested and also lost custody of her son in the divorce. She appeared on The Howard Stern Show the day before she died of an overdose and told everyone that she was sober.