Being a child star in Hollywood is tough. Sure, there is the money and fame that allow you to have almost anything you want, but growing up a child celebrity removes all sense of normalcy from your life. Many child stars don’t learn what it means to struggle. They’ve had things handed to them on a silver platter, and when Hollywood stops caring, the now-grown celebrities fall hard.
Very few child celebrities continue on and become famous adult stars. Hollywood is not full of Jodie Fosters and Kurt Russells. People like Justin Timberlake and Ariana Grande don’t represent the vast majority of celebrities who didn’t make it. Instead, we see the Christina Aguileras and Danny Bonaduces of the world who think they’re a big deal, but really aren’t.
Below is a list of 15 child actors who didn’t quite make the cut. They were huge stars when they were young and some are still working today. They just aren’t nearly as famous as they used to be, or in some cases, as they think they are. In some cases, their only claim to fame now is acting out, being strange, and making a mockery of themselves and their professions.
Want to know who made our list of the 15 most famous child stars who aren’t famous anymore (but think they still are)? There were a ton to choose from. Did we get it right? Read on and let us know what you think. Tell us who you’d add and who you’d remove. Comment and share. See what your friends think.
15. Lindsay Lohan
Of course, this list starts with Lindsay Lohan. The former child star of The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls has had her fair share of documented troubles. For years, she tried to maintain her spot in the Hollywood landscape. But the more she tried, the more she seemed to doom herself to being a laughing stock. Today, she’s working, but the work isn’t coming often and what she’s working on isn’t really going to help her regain any foothold in the acting world. She’s got only two real projects on her resume since 2014.
Clearly, she’s no longer famous. Does she think she is? Well, in 2016, she tried to invent some sort of mixed language/accent that combines Greek and English. She makes the news each time she takes on a new religion or international personality, but the whole thing is just plain odd and it’s got to be a publicity stunt because it makes absolutely no sense, otherwise. She says she’s happy flying under the radar, but it doesn’t appear that she’s ready to stay away completely.
14. Nick Cannon
Nick Cannon wasn’t exactly a kid when he started acting, but he was a teenager when he was part of the show All That. He went on to make movies such as Drum Line, which wasn’t a huge success, and he’s still a part of his MTV show Wild ‘N Out. But, his big financial success and his claim to fame is probably as the host of America’s Got Talent, which ironically he just quit doing due to creative differences.
Apparently, the show wasn’t too pleased about some of the on-the-side projects he was involved with and some of the things he was saying. AGT threatened to fire him. So instead, he quit, telling the world on social media that he wasn’t going to be silenced and that he was a free man to do what he wanted creatively. Technically, Cannon is still famous and I’m sure that hosting gig made him a good chunk of money. But, he can probably kiss his fame goodbye now. It won’t take long before he becomes completely irrelevant, realizing the show was the star and not him.
13. Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff has made so much money when she was young that it really doesn’t matter if she ever does anything else. That said, who wants to say your best years ended before your 16th birthday or admit you’re going to be bored for a good 50 years doing nothing? Duff was a superstar child actor with a clothing line and all sorts of additional revenue streams. But lately, she’s been rumored to call the paparazzi on herself in an effort to try and stay in the news. Her music comeback flopped pretty hard and she’s since moved on to a new management team.
Duff is still extremely attractive and she has actual talent, so maybe these publicity stunts will work and she’ll be able to resurrect her career. Being on the show Younger is a decent start, but when you’re promoting yourself as a Tinder user, it’s not looking too promising.
12. Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton hasn’t been relevant for years. In fact, even when she was relevant, she wasn’t really relevant. She made a ton of money as a youngster off her dad’s name. Then, she tried to be a serious actor and musician. She ended up parading around with Nicole Richie while doing not much of anything or resembling someone with talent on her show, The Simple Life. Those days are long over. Now, she’s trying to make a comeback as a professional DJ.
She’s signed on with Cash Money Records and I’m sure she’s actually getting paid for it. But if she’s successful, this could be the first time in, well, forever that she does something that takes actual skill. I say that knowing what it feels like to get overlooked. I’m a professional DJ and we often don’t get a lot of credit for having musical skill. I can’t say, however, that my DJ work is getting me paid tens of thousands of dollars just to show up somewhere. I guess Paris can no longer say that either.
11. Kevin Jonas
It has to awfully suck when you’re a part of one of the most famous boy bands ever and your two brothers go on to find huge success individually. When you’re viewed as the one brother who’s just watching and didn’t have the talent, it’s easy to see why you might grasp at anything trying to keep the dream alive. Unfortunately, for Kevin Jonas, he’s kind of in that position. It’s not really working. But lucky for him, he’s made some good money already.
His brother, Nick, has gone on to a successful music career doing solo and his other brother, Joe, is the lead singer of DNCE. In contrast, Kevin Jonas appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2015. Not exactly the type of gig that’s going to make you suddenly a serious Hollywood contender or get you signed to another record deal. Lately, the only time we hear about Kevin is when he’s using social media to talk about his “projects” and his wife with whom he tried to have a reality show.
10. Ashlee Simpson
Ashlee Simpson appeared to be good at one thing—piggybacking off her more talented sister, Jessica. It’s not that Jessica Simpson was terribly talented either, but she’s done quite well for herself with a clothing line, reality shows, and her former music career.
Instead, Ashlee wasn’t blessed with the same talent or luck and didn’t really have much success musically. Her career pretty much died when she got caught lip syncing on Saturday Night Live. Since that time, she’s done magazine covers where she talks about being okay with the gifts you’ve been given, even though she got a nose job right after that magazine came out and she tried to sell photos from her wedding that nobody wanted to buy. It’s been a hard fall for Ashlee. It’s probably best for her to go back to getting cozy with her sister.
9. Dustin Diamond
Dustin Diamond was a well-known child actor who most famously played Screech on Saved by the Bell. It was proof that trying to make a career out of only one character and riding that character’s success into the sunset is probably a bad idea. Diamond never found success in any other areas and he tried everything. From silly celebrity boxing matches to a Saved by the Bell return show, nothing worked. He even tried to gain notoriety from a s*x tape that was “leaked.” He claimed it was out there without his knowledge but later copped to the fact that he leaked it intentionally.
The most recent news is that he’s had legal trouble stemming from a bar fight in which he was arrested for concealing a weapon. He then got in further trouble for violating his parole. He’s been working, but his resume is limited and he’s pretty much done in Hollywood. Sorry Screech, you’re no longer being saved by the bell.
8. Haley Joel Osment
He was the star of the hit film The Sixth Sense, and he became known for his tagline “I see dead people.” He went on to star in other films like AI Artificial Intelligence and just as quickly as he rose to stardom, he disappeared.
Haley Joel Osment hasn’t been in the public eye much, but he never left Hollywood. Unable to get bigger roles, he starred in smaller films. Then, in 2006, things took a nasty turn. Haley’s career took a pitfall after he crashed his car while intoxicated. He wound up with a fractured rib and hurt shoulder, pleaded no contest for driving under the influence of alcohol and drug possession. He pretty much vanished between 2007 and 2010.
He’s since tried to resurface, trying his hand as a video game actor, in television series and short films, but he’s just not done much more than cameos in films like Entourage and Yoga Hosers. He’s almost unrecognizable at this point walking around with a bushy beard and having gained quite a bit of weight.
7. Frankie Muniz
Star of Malcolm in the Middle, Frankie Muniz took a very promising acting career and threw it away to pursue race car driving. To his credit, he wasn’t a terrible driver, but an injury forced him out of any opportunity to really go high up in the sport. He then turned to music by joining a band called Kingfoil and they did okay, but eventually ended up splitting after Muniz cited “scheduling conflicts.”
Today, he’s not around Hollywood much, having issues landing steady work. When people hear about him, it’s from his social media feed. In 2015, Muniz tried to gauge interest in a potential Malcolm in the Middle reboot. I wasn’t well-received and when he was asked to further explain his interest in the project, he denied ever really wanting to do so in the first place. Most recently, he’s been in the news trying to sell his $3 million home in Arizona and his famous Volkswagen that was used in the first Fast and the Furious film.
6. Amanda Bynes
Former child star, Amanda Bynes, had some very interesting years following her “retirement” from acting. Starting her career at the young age of 10, she went from the television series All That to her own series, The Amanda Show, which aired from 1999 to 2002. She also starred in a number of family and teen-aimed movies. But in 2010, she simply left Hollywood.
A few years ago, Bynes started acting strangely. She threw a bong out of a New York City apartment window in 2013 and got arrested for a DUI in 2014. She was admitted into a rehab facility and she said she had been diagnosed as bipolar and manic depressive. From there, she went on to make some very controversial social media statements that got her in hot water and found it best to leave the social media scene completely.
The 31-year-old actress hasn’t acted in years, but there are rumors that she could be eyeing a return to Nickelodeon! Nickelodeon has denied the rumors and Bynes is probably making this sound more probable than it is, but it’s probably best to just stay away, regardless.
5. Jaden Smith
The son of mega-celebrity, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden Smith had the potential to carve out a good career for himself on the back of his father’s success. As a youngster, he starred in movies like The Pursuit of Happyness and The Karate Kid, but instead of continuing to follow that path, he decided to start a clothing line and emancipate from his parents at the age of 15.
Since that time, Jaden has gone on social media to announce he’s “quitting” Hollywood, announced his gender-fluidity as the face of a Louis Vuitton’s women’s wear campaign in January 2016, and gone on cryptic social media rants about hotel chains and other things he finds disgusting. He’s trying to make a Hollywood comeback in the film Life in a Year, but it may be too little too late. He took some very odd creative risks and while he should be commended for doing what he felt was right, it probably cost him his career as an actor. He’s still really only known as being Will Smith’s kid.
4. Daniel Radcliffe
He was likely one of the biggest child movie stars in history. He made around $75 million for his part in the Harry Potter empire, but he’s done very little since. Well, at least not anything worth bragging about.
Daniel Radcliffe won’t ever see the same success he did after he became the world’s most famous wizard, so he’s saved his millions for the right to star in more creative projects. Unfortunately, it isn’t working. With movies like Horns, The Woman in Black, and Victor Frankenstein, he’s made some poor choices. He’s even admitted to feeling guilty about making so much money on the Potter franchise. Who does that?
It’s hard to say if Radcliffe’s admission of being drunk during the final Harry Potter film or not talking to former co-star Rupert Grint are, in part, a way to stay in the public eye, but what he really needs to do is a good movie that makes money again.
3. Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf started acting early getting his break in a Disney series called Even Stevens. He went on to star in the movie Holes and got his big breaks in Disturbia and the Transformer films.
After becoming a big star, he sort of took a trip to crazy town. He was involved in all sorts of legal issues from disturbing the peace to trespassing and s*xual assault. He was even mocked and taken to task for plagiarizing a number of his “creative works.” His excuse? Copyright laws were too restrictive. Yeah, okay.
He’s recently popped up as a rapper and a man who’s found religion (one that he’s sort of made up). His latest films (outside of Fury in 2014) have been critical disasters and the only time Hollywood hears about him is when he’s doing something odd. LaBeouf was on easy street and just sort of lost it. He think’s he’s still got talent, but clearly, he’s “borrowing” a lot of it.
2. Taylor Lautner
He got his start in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, and by 2008, he was the huge star of the Twilight movie phenomenon. In 2012, Taylor Lautner was set to be a huge star, but like many actors who come from huge movies, he was typecast and struggled to keep his stardom.
He moved on to star in box office bombs such as Abduction and Tracers. But really, he’s lucky to be in Hollywood at all anymore. He can thank his lucky stars that he became close friends with Adam Sandler. Sandler was nice enough to give him roles in Grown Ups 2 and The Ridiculous 6. If it weren’t for Sandler, Lautner would be long gone with only his good looks left to get him work. Hopefully, Lautner saved his money because those connections he made are bound to run out. Unlike some of these other entries, he seems like a nice guy, but his fame is rapidly disappearing.
1. Corey Feldman
The star of movies like Stand By Me, Gremlins, Goonies, and other such films is still working. You probably just didn’t know it because nothing he’s done in the last 20 years has made its way to the mainstream. Perhaps Corey Feldman isn’t trying to actually be famous anymore. Perhaps, he just wants to work and if that’s the case, he’s doing a fine job.
Feldman has been involved in more projects in the time he’s been out of the spotlight than some celebrities have while they were in it. He voices characters in animated films and television series. He makes cameos on multiple projects and he works on productions that have a niche in the straight-to-DVD world. It’s actually kind of hard to knock a guy who’s so dedicated. He’s the farthest thing from famous but he keeps trucking along.
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