It doesn’t matter whether you’re a millennial or grew up during the 80’s, everyone loves to see what their former entertainment stars are up to these days.
Believe it or not, some of us less fortunate souls had to endure childhood with just four TV channels to choose from. Imagine that - four bleeding channels! But whether you grew up with with such limitations hounding your young life, or you were able to surround yourself with Disney and Nickelodeon shows every day, the child stars we grew up with feel like old friends. We just love to have a catch-up and take pride in seeing them doing well.
Of course, some child stars end up on a trainwreck lifestyle path, and whilst it’s sad, for some reason, we just can’t stop watching.
These 15 former child stars and their current antics are bound to bring back memories, incite some nostalgia and probably make you feel really, really old, all at once.
15 Angus T. Jones - Two And A Half Men
Two and a Half Men’s young Jake grew up in front of our eyes throughout his ten-year role as Alan Harper’s son. Grappling with puberty, pointing out his father’s and uncle’s flaws with comedic perfection and often acting as the only voice of reason in situations beyond his maturity level meant that Jake’s character was a staple of the show. However, Angus T. Jones decided to step down his part in the sitcom, citing that the storylines and themes conflicted with his religious views after being baptised into the Seventh day Adventists Church. He was downgraded to a ‘recurring character’ but ultimately did not return to the show before officially announcing his departure in 2015.
Taking to YouTube, Angus has given his views and attempted to persuade viewers to stop watching the show. However, he did grace the final episode with a small cameo appearance. He has done little on-screen work since leaving Two and a Half Men, with only two TV roles and no upcoming work to speak of.
Angus is now focusing his attention on his business career. Since joining Tonite as part of the management team, he is now working in the multimedia and event production industry – hopefully, this role makes him happier than his on-screen roles did!
14 Dakota Fanning - The Little Kid In Every Movie
Born in 1994 to a family of professional athletes, Dakota Fanning won her first acting award at the young age of 8 and has appeared in a variety of films and TV shows since then. At the age of 23, Fanning has appeared in 37 films and 14 TV shows, including Friends, Family Guy and Malcolm in the Middle.
Dakota has received 34 award nominations, of which she has won 18 in total. Notably, her recent performances have included playing vampire Jane Volturi in the Twilight Saga, as well as Lily Berger in Very Good Girls. Dakota has also lead a successful modelling career, appearing on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Grazia and Teen Vogue, amongst others.
Dakota has fallen out of the spotlight recently, with press coverage favouring other actresses over her as a talking point, though that may not be a bad thing. Focusing on working, rather than fuelling the rumour-mill, Fanning is currently working on three new films; Oceans Eight, The Bell Jar and The Postcard Killings, so she will definitely be back on the big screen soon!
13 Taylor Momsen - How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Little Cindy Lou who really grew up! Following her breakout role in the 2000 interpretation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Taylor Momsen has been cast in a range of movies: Hansel & Gretel, Spy Kids 2: The Island of lost Dreams and she narrowly lost out to Miley Cyrus for the title role in Hannah Montana.
A signed model since the age of just two-years-old, Taylor has been the face of New Look’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection; Madonna’s 2010 ‘Material girl’ fashion line; John Galliano’s fragrances and Samantha Thavasa’s handbag line. She has also appeared on the cover of Page Six, Seventeen, Revolver, FHM and Maxim.
Taylor is probably best known for the sporadic role of Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl, but she has since dumped acting to focus on her true passion - music. Her band, The Pretty Reckless, toured with Fall Out Boy in 2014 and can currently be found touring the world promoting their third album, titled ‘Who You Selling For?’ which was released in October 2016.
12 Dylan & Cole Sprouse - The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody
Cole and Dylan Sprouse hit it big in 2005 after landing the title character roles in the Disney Channels hits, The Suite life of Zack and Cody, and spin-off The Suite Life on Deck. Their first roles were in Big Daddy, alongside Adam Sandler, after which they had minor roles in sitcoms and straight-to-DVD movies.
Though often cast as the same character, Cole played Ross’ son Ben in the hugely successful TV show Friends without Dylan as support, between 2000 and 2002. They continued to share roles in less successful and straight-to-video titles throughout their teen years, but began to take on more and more separate roles alongside.
These days, the Sprouse twins can be found ruling Twitter, with their hilarious commentary on life and society, as well as playing individual characters in both TV and film. Cole is currently busy with Riverdale, in which he plays Jughead Jones, whilst Dylan has just wrapped up filming for the upcoming Dismissed film, which is due for release later this year.
11 Haley Joel Osment - The Sixth Sense
Born in 1988, Haley Joel Osment is most famous for his role as the adorable child medium in 1999’s The Sixth Sense. Before his breakout role, Haley was in Forrest Gump, Mixed Nuts, Thunder Alley and Murphy Brown.
The innocent-looking Osment has since starred in multiple films and has even made his mark on the stages of Broadway, though his life has not been completely free of misdeeds. In 2006, Haley was involved in a single driver accident, in which he hit a mailbox and flipped his car. He plead no contest to charges of driving under the influence and possession of drugs, and was then sentenced to 60 days in rehab, 3 years’ probation and a fine of $1500.
Since the incident, Osment has cleaned up his act, and has starred in a range of TV shows and movies, with Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town and Future Man due for release soon.
10 Nate Richert - Sabrina The Teenage Witch
There’s no doubt that Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s boyfriend had most teen girls in a tizzy back in the day. The handsome Harvey was played by Nate Richert for seven years before the show’s end in 2003. Following his breakout role, he saw little in the way of acting jobs, having only been cast in seven small roles since, and ending his career in 2006, after playing the title character in the short film H-e-n-r-y.
These days, Nate focuses on his solo and duo music career and updates his fans via social media. Though he still remains loyal to Sabrina fans; making appearances at conventions and supporting the release of the series on DVD in 2016, when there were also meetings taking place to discuss revivals of both Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina. Don’t tell us you didn’t like Sabrina; we know you did! You rushed home from school just to listen to Salem, didn’t you?
9 Dani Harmer - Remember Tracy Beaker?
Lovable rogue, Tracy Beaker has made multiple returns to our screen as she’s grown up, but what has actress Dani Harmer been doing behind the scenes? The Story of Tracy Beaker aired between 2002 and 2006, with Tracy Beaker Returns hitting screens from 2010 to 2012, and Tracy Beaker’s Survival Files airing in 2011. So apparently, Dani’s main job has been bringing Tracy back to our screens over and over again!
In 2009, Dani attempted to launch a singing career, but it didn’t end well. Her single ‘Free’ peaked at 117 on the charts, whilst the follow-up ‘ex-boyfriend’ failed to chart at all.
In 2012, Dani competed in British dancing competition, Strictly Come Dancing, finishing in 4th place and being eliminated in the 12th show of the series – the Grand Final. She danced with Vincent Simone and performed a variety of dances including the Waltz, Tango and Show dance routines.
In early 2016, Dani announced her pregnancy and later gave birth to her first daughter. She is now taking a break from acting and singing to focus on her family.
8 Josh Peck - Drake And Josh
Adorable, chubby Josh Peck from Drake and Josh was always the brother who was less-than-lucky in love, but puberty really did him a lot of favours during his teen years. As he grew up, Josh got hotter and hotter and has been entertaining fans on his social media pages with pictures from his childhood.
Josh has had quite the career in voice acting, starring as Eddie in the Ice Age movies, and voicing characters in Angry Birds 2 as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Commenting on his dramatic weight loss during the filming of Drake and Josh, Josh said “I made a conscious effort to lose weight because I knew I could be happier as well as being healthier. I started by going on a diet a year and a half ago and I got a personal trainer, but I definitely have a healthier lifestyle now. Also, I feel that because I do so much television, I am a better role model.”
7 Drake Bell - Drake And Josh
The hunky half of Drake and Josh, Drake Bell was the wall poster and daydream for many a teenage girl during the show’s run. He started his career at the age of 5 doing commercial work, before appearing on Home Improvement. Since leaving Drake and Josh, Drake has starred in many TV shows, movies and has even joined co-star Josh Peck as a voice actor for animated works.
He has appeared as the voice of Spider-Man in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man and the game Disney infinity: Marvel Super Heroes. Drake has also been concentrating on his musical career. He performs as a solo artist and has released three studio albums to date, with a new album due for release later this year.
Upcoming movies starring Bell include American Satans and Cover Versions whilst he has also recently competed in a celebrity episode of Cupcake Wars.
6 Raven-Symone - That's So Raven
Raven-Symone’s first notable appearance was at the age of 7, when she appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Throughout her childhood, she appeared in many Disney shows and shorts, including her roles in The Cheetah Girls, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Cory in the House. Raven was then given her own title show, That’s So Raven, which is her best-known performance to date. As a psychic teen, Raven made her place in our childhoods and stayed there.
Raven-Symone is a vocal supporter of the LGBT community, having revealed that she is bisexual to the media.
Raven is currently working on a new series, Raven’s Home, which is due to be aired soon, as well as performing voiceover work for Animal Crackers, which is in post-production.
5 Frankie Muniz - Malcolm In The Middle
Yes, no, maybe…I don’t know, can you repeat the question? Who didn’t love Malcolm in the Middle? Three adorable, if not slightly chaotic, children eventually joined by a baby sibling leading to all four wreaking havoc in the poor parent’s lives. Of course, we all know what happened to Malcolm’s Dad Hal; he became a world-famous methamphetamine dealer known as Heisenberg, whilst older brother Reese’s counterpart, Christopher Masterson, is now a Scientologist. But what about Malcolm himself?
Frankie Muniz has had no run-ins with the law, has not turned to drugs and has basically escaped childhood-stardom unscathed. He competed in a celebrity race against Toyota pro’s in 2005 and signed a deal as a pro racer in 2006. He then split his time between his racing and his acting career.
Unfortunately, an injury meant that Frankie had to stop racing in 2009 and he was disqualified from finishing his season. He then joined rock band Kingsfoil as a drummer and focused on music until he had two consecutive mini-strokes, almost one year apart. Since then, he has left the band, citing scheduling issues, but he has not been cast in any new projects or announced new role since.
He can now be found tweeting about life in general and entertaining fans with occasional hints of a Malcolm reunion.
4 Zac Efron - High School Musical
Guys, let’s face it – we can all but guarantee you know at least 15 girls who had a crush on Zac Efron! Don’t be jealous; he’s a good-looking man. In 2002, Efron broke into acting with guest roles in Firefly and ER before being cast in CSI: Miami and landing a more permanent role in Summerland. Of course, he is best known for playing the role of Troy Bolton in the High School Music saga, and the associated short films produced by Disney to accompany them.
The teen idol has had quite a busy career since he first struggled with balancing his extra-curricular activities back in 2006. He has appeared in 17 Again, alongside Friends star Matthew Perry, plus Bad Neighbours and its sequel.
Zac did have some hard moments growing up in the spotlight, however. In 2013, he referred himself for alcohol and drug addiction treatment, as well as suffering a severe fall which resulted in his jaw being wired shut. He was also involved with police for a physical altercation with a homeless man in 2014, though no charges were pressed. Efron seems to be back on track now, with two films currently in post-production and due for release later this year.
3 Tatyana Ali - Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
Little Ashley Banks charmed us all with her comedic timing and perfect delivery during The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After entering the world of TV via Sesame Street, Tatyana Ali spent six years on the set of Fresh Prince, establishing herself as a respected actress and singer. When the series ended in 1996, Ali began her musical career, releasing many singles which hit top chart positions worldwide. Tatyana also starred alongside former co-star Will Smith on his album Willenium and appeared in a range of music videos.
Since her childhood, Tatyana has been singing, acting and modelling, as well as completing her Bachelor’s degree in African-American studies at Harvard University; even campaigning with Barack Obama. She has also been setting-up a family with her husband, Stanford professor Vaughn Rasberry, with whom she now has a son.
2 Tom Welling - CW's Superman
The heartthrob to beat all heartthrobs, Tom Welling started his acting career with the role of Rob Meltzer in Judging Amy, before being cast as Charlie Baker in Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel. Tom’s career was catapulted forward when he landed the lead role in Smallville, portraying a young Clark Kent (or, Superman, as he is better known).
After ten years on the set of Smallville, Tom went on to star in Parkland, Draft Day and The Choice. Since 2016, Tom has not announced any more projects, though he does seem to be settled with long-term partner Jessica Rose Lee, so maybe we’re about to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet or the sounding of church bells? Either way, we hope to see more of Mr. Welling soon!
1 Danica McKellar - The Wonder Years
Winnie Cooper of Wonder Years fame was a teen idol in her own right, winning the hearts of boys across the world, she shared her first real-life kiss on air with Fred Savage when Winnie and Kevin final got together.
Danica McKellar has had a long career on-screen and transitioned from child star to adult-star with little effort. She has had roles in The Big Bang Theory, Project mc2 on Netflix and has competed in Dancing with The Stars, finishing in 6th place after being eliminated in episode eight.
These days, Danica is still acting, though she divides her time between her acting career, her child and her passion for writing mathematics books which enable high school-aged girls to enjoy the subject better and understand the nuances with ease.
Sources: cosmopolitan.com, theguardian.com, imdb.com, dailymail.co.uk