When it comes to child stars, it seems like there is no real guideline on what will become of them as they grow into an adult. While there are definitely more than a few instances of former child stars getting hooked on drugs and alcohol, there are equally a number of child stars that have grown into some of the hottest actors and artists in the entertainment industry. Even those that seemed to have a bad streak through their lives have been able to work their way back to becoming truly respected by the public and their peers. From Drew Barrymore’s stint on the wild side to Britney Spears going from the bald umbrella moment to headlining a residency in Vegas, Hollywood is known for their constant acceptance of second chances.
Yet, not everyone is able to propel themselves into a bright future as an actor beyond their child roles. In fact, some have gone on to become truly cringeworthy as they’ve grown out of that adorable baby-faced stage. From plastic surgery nightmares to weight gain and mental health issues, there are a number of former child stars that just couldn’t hack it after their initial fame. It just shows how difficult it is to make it in Hollywood when even a multitude of hit films can’t help an actor later on in their careers. It’s extremely difficult for many child actors to transition after their initial fame and there is even a history of child actors being stuck in a certain persona due to their most memorable characters. Check out our list of the 17 cringeworthy photos of former child stars all grown up and see how these cute little faces have completely transformed.
17 Jake Lloyd
When Jake Lloyd was cast as the young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, it must have been one of the greatest achievements he could have ever dreamed of in his acting career. Yet, the Star Wars coveted role wasn’t enough to help him later in life and he ultimately became headline-making news in 2015. Lloyd was arrested in 2015 after leading police on a high-speed chase through two different counties in South Carolina. Lloyd wound up spending 10 months behind bars and then was relocated to a psychiatric facility. After an evaluation, it was decided that Lloyd would be better helped through psychiatric treatment to deal with his schizophrenia diagnosis, rather than stay in incarceration. His mugshot was more than just a tad bit disturbing, especially now that the news of his schizophrenia diagnosis has been released to the public.
16 Taran Noah Smith
Home Improvement has been highly criticized for its lackluster content, even though it ran for 8 years. Some people felt that Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor was promoting and glorifying misogynistic attitudes towards women and that wasn’t helped by the appearance of the “Tool Time Girl” played by Pamela Anderson and Debbe Dunning. Regardless of how people felt about the content of the series, the children on the show seemed to be beloved by all. The two older boys became instant heartthrobs and the youngest son couldn’t have been any cuter. Taran Noah Smith had the perfect look for a child actor with his blonde locks and bright blue eyes but all of that changed once he got older. His face became super thin and his hair looked out of control and frazzled with each appearance he made. His acting career basically died the moment Home Improvement was taken off the air but with his ever-changing look, it wasn’t like he was going to get any more acting jobs anyway.
15 Angus T. Jones
When the TV sitcom, Two and a Half Men, was searching for a child actor to portray Jake Harper, it was a young Angus T. Jones that eventually got the role. While Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen were thought of as the main actors in the series, it was hard to deny how much Jones added to the show. With each new season, the series became more and more popular. Eventually, Jones got the coveted title of being the highest paid child actor on television. Yet, as he aged, his ideas regarding the content of the show began to change. He no longer felt comfortable with the storyline he was meant to display and he claimed that he could no longer participate in the show due to the conflict with his morals and values. People criticized him for throwing away such a lucrative job but the real criticism came when photos emerged featuring his strange new look.
14 Mara Wilson
Mara Wilson started out as a child actress and was fortunate enough to land some hugely successful roles on the big screen. She starred alongside Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, played the adorable cynic in Miracle on 34th Street and was the star of the show in Matilda. There was something so appealing about her little brown locks and choppy bangs but it didn’t seem like she evolved much as she grew older. She kept those same choppy bangs as an adult and it wasn’t exactly cute anymore. When photos surfaced of her after she already retired from acting, people couldn’t help but feel shocked by how much she’s changed since first appearing as a child actress. After retiring, Wilson decided to focus on writing rather than be in front of the cameras and it isn’t hard to see why.
13 Lindsay Lohan
When Lindsay Lohan first appeared in films like Parent Trap and Life-Size, the world fell in love with the cute little redhead with the freckles. As she matured, it seemed like she had quite a promising career as a young actress in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. Yet, things took a turn for the worse when her partying ways seemed to interfere with the obligations in her professional life. After awhile, she became known for her unprofessional behavior, tendency to get in trouble with the law and allegations of substance abuse. Nowadays, comparing photos of Lohan side-by-side with her look from her child actress days is like seeing someone completely different. Although there is still hope that Lohan will one day regain her status as an accomplished actress but all the partying has done a number on her look.
12 Amanda Bynes
While there always seems to be a focus on Disney kids and how they have a tendency to descend into a downward spiral as they get older, that doesn’t mean that Nickelodeon kids have done much better. Amanda Bynes was seen as a hugely talented child actress on Nickelodeon’s All That and it wasn’t long before they gave her a show to really flaunt all of her talents. The Amanda Show was more than just another show about young adult issues, it had a comedic element that really showcased her as a multitalented actress. Even though she had some success moving onto the big screen, she quickly began to spiral out of control and it wasn’t long before people were questioning the state of her mental health. Once she began posting pictures of herself onto social media, people really began to see how different she had become since first appearing as a child actress.
11 Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment starred in a number of roles as a child actor but is probably best known for “seeing dead people” in the 1999 film, The Sixth Sense. He proved that he could star alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood and still hold his own in the acting field. Yet, those super cute chubby cheeks he had as a kid didn’t exactly translate well to when he grew up. When photos surfaced of him out and about, people were shocked at how much weight he had gained over the years. Those chubby cheeks weren’t just reserved for his baby face and seemed to grow around his entire body. He also grew out his hair and was often seen with a full beard. Pairing up that adorable look from when he was a kid with the gruffy style of a hobo wasn’t exactly what audiences thought would be how little Cole would grow up.
10 Wil Wheaton
The interesting thing about Wil Wheaton is that he has been able to make a name for himself as an actor by playing a version of himself on TV. In the hit TV series, The Big Bang Theory, Wil Wheaton is actually a character on the series. He often talks about how difficult it was for him to be a child actor and even mentions his former roles in Stand By Me and Star Trek throughout the series. In one episode, there is a scene where he talked to Penny about how difficult it was for him to go on auditions after he had grown up and said, “I can actually feel people thinking, ‘What happened to him? He used to be such a cute kid.” While it was funny on the show, it’s actually pretty accurate. Wheaton looks far from his adorable character in Stand By Me and looks more like Al Borland from the sitcom, Home Improvement.
9 Jeremy Miller
The television sitcom, Growing Pains, ran for seven years and spawned a number of memorable careers. From Leonardo DiCaprio first appearing as a young heartthrob to Kirk Cameron going on to become a huge star in Christian films, even Alan Thicke was made into a huge celebrity through the series. Yet, not everyone became a huge superstar from the show and many wondered what ever happened to the young blonde kid that was super adorable. Unlike DiCaprio that made quite an impression on the young female audience, little Ben Seaver wasn’t quite old enough to be thought of as anything more than just the cute little brother. Unfortunately, the actor that played him didn’t exactly have smooth sailings as he grew older. Jeremy Miller famously battled alcohol addiction and was photographed looking overweight and a tad greasy.
8 Macaulay Culkin
There was a time when Macaulay Culkin was thought of as one of the most sought-after child actors of his time. While most people know him as the adorable kid in the Home Alone film series, he wasn’t just a one-shtick actor. Although his iconic open-faced expression was definitely his claim to fame, films like My Girl and The Good Son proved that there were some real acting chops behind that cute blonde face. Although he starred in a few projects after he grew up, he basically stayed out of the limelight. The only real time the world got a glimpse of him was when there was a sighting of him and Mila Kunis. It still surprises people that these two even dated, especially since his look had drastically changed over the years. There were rumors about major substance abuse and his skeletal look wasn’t helping to dispel the speculations.
7 Danny Tamberelli
It’s not just little girls with red hair that have captivated the world as a child actor since Danny Tamberelli was also an adorable kid with flowing red locks. He appeared in numerous roles at an early age through The Babysitters Club and Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete. He quickly became a favorite on Figure It Out and even got some experience doing voice-over work through the animated series, The Magic School Bus. As he grew older, he put that experience to good use since he became the voice and inspiration for a character in Grand Theft Auto V. Yet, seeing him in person allows people to get a better understanding of why he no longer appears on television or in film. While he was once a bright-eyed boy with rosy cheeks, he now looks like a stoner from around the corner with a scary attempt at growing facial hair.
6 Brian Bonsall
During the 1980s, Family Ties was a hugely popular show that became the catalyst for propelling Michael J. Fox into a full-on movie star. Yet, the other actors on the series weren’t as lucky. Although Meredith Baxter gained some publicity after coming out of the closet and marrying her longtime partner, Nancy Locke, everyone else on the series went pretty much unnoticed after the series came to an end. Brian Bonsall portrayed the adorable blonde brother, Andy Keaton, on the series and the world fell in love with him and his bowl haircut. Once he grew into an adult, he lost all those cute little features and gained a variety of new characteristics that weren’t exactly flattering. From the neck tattoos to the arrest record, it is definitely cringeworthy to see this adorable young boy grow up to be such a troubled young man.
5 Charlie Korsmo
Charlie Korsmo seemed to have an extremely promising career as a child actor and appeared in a number of high-profile films. From Dick Tracy to What About Bob? to Hook, there were many that thought Korsmo would continue acting long after he grew into his teens. While he did appear in the hugely popular film, Can’t Hardly Wait, he didn’t exactly look like what people expected from his super cute younger years. Instead, he lost all of the adorably small features with the large eyes and seemed to replace them with a double chin and an overgrown nose. It’s lucky he was able to make a successful career for himself as an Assistant Professor of Law and the U.S. director of the Canada-U.S. Law Institute since his acting career was not going to be rejuvenated anytime soon.
4 Corey Feldman
During the ‘80s, Corey Feldman was thought of as the newest young actor to capture the hearts of little girls all over the world. He starred in a number of hugely popular films like The Goonies and The Lost Boys and it wasn’t long before little girls everywhere were taping posters of him on their walls. It seemed like he would grow up to become the next Johnny Depp due to his stellar good looks but that definitely wasn’t the case. Feldman went the route of partying hard in Hollywood and he seemed to be drinking the Kool-Aid when it came to his unrealistic view on his talent as a musician. In 2016, he emerged back on the scene to try his hand as an artist and people were stunned by his crazed look and performance. Nowadays, he looks more like some sort of strange cult leader rather than a former heartthrob and film star.
3 Danny Bonaduce
Danny Bonaduce gained an intense amount of fame at the tender age of just 10-years-old when he was cast in The Partridge Family. As the bass-playing family member, Bonaduce wasn’t the heartthrob lead singer but he was definitely thought of as a super cute actor with quite a lot of talent. The red hair and the boyish freckles only added to his overall appeal but that all changed as he got older. His reality series, Breaking Bonaduce, showed a horrible downward spiral that involved a cocaine habit and an alcohol dependency that flaunted his erratic behavior. From the overly red/tan skin tone to the obsession with working out, Bonaduce became a huge joke in the world of Hollywood. Nowadays, he seems to be trying to clean up his act in front of the cameras but he is far from the adorable Partridge kid he once was.
2 Josh Byrne
In the 1990s, Step by Step was a series that was a huge success and gave a second chance to Suzanne Somers on television. She starred alongside Patrick Duffy in this story about a blended family and Josh Byrne was the young actor that played the youngest sibling, Brandon Lambert. In the show, he had soulful brown eyes with adorably chubby cheeks, which went well with the shy character he portrayed. Byrne went on to have a small role in Who’s the Boss and even starred in the film, Mr. Saturday Night, but he disappeared from the spotlight once he grew up. It seemed like he had completely taken to a normal life until photos of him surfaced online. This particular photo was taken from his MySpace account and people began cringing at the thought that he was dressing up for something that anyone could only hope was for a Renaissance Fair or Halloween.
1 Lark Voorhies
Even though Saved by the Bell only ran for three years, it made a profound impact on TV viewers. It seems like everyone has seen at least one episode of the series, even if it was just a brief memory of a much younger Mario Lopez or Tiffani Thiessen. Once the series concluded, many of the former cast members created headlines of their own and not all of them were favorable. Elizabeth Berkley was completely shamed for her Showgirls film, Dustin Diamond went into the porn industry and Lark Voorhies completely transformed her look through alleged plastic surgery. While Voorhies was once the beautiful dark-skinned beauty, Lisa Turtle, in the series, she later went on to dabble in a number of different procedures to completely alter her look. Nowadays, seeing photos of her on the red carpet are practically painful to look at and people just want to squeeze her hand and ask her to finally stop.
Sources: Huffington Post, NY Daily News