We’ve all got to start somewhere, and for many celebs, that somewhere is as a child actor. You’d be rather surprised to know how many of today’s leading stars started out in their teens or tweens. And we love that it’s so, because there’s really nothing cuter than watching them take their first steps on screen. Honest.
The movie Demolition has the best of both worlds. It features both a brilliant young actor, Judah Lewis, who is bound to become big in his own right - and Jake Gyllenhaal, who started his own career impossibly young. With the film coming to Sky Cinema on Sunday 26th February, we take a look at the kid stars who became today’s A-listers.
1. Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal’s parents both worked in the film industry, so it should be no surprise that he and his sister Maggie began acting at a young age (notably in City Slickers and A Dangerous Woman). It wasn’t all fun and games though. While Jake was allowed to audition for pretty much any part he wanted, his parents would make him refuse most offers.
2. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore comes from a long tradition of actors - lots of her grand-parents and great-grand-parents famously took to the stage or screen. She was only eight years old and 100% adorable when she starred in ET, and the film’s huge success made her an instant star.
3. Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence showcased her remarkable acting talent early on. She landed her first part in the TV movie Company Town when she was fifteen, and she entirely steals the scene in an episode of Cold Case at only 17. She then went on to earn a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her part in Winter’s Bone at the tender age of 20, making her the third youngest to ever be selected in the category.
4. Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst made it big straightaway, holding down a run of totally epic parts as a child. The actress turned up in the Woody Allen film New York Stories at age eight and then co-starred with Tom Hanks in Bonfire of the Vanities. But it’s her starring role in Interview with a Vampire that made her a household name - and justifiably so, as she holds more than her own alongside both Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Dunst then went on to lead in Jumanji and Little Women in her teenage years.
5. Laurence Fishburne
Working under the name ‘Larry Fishburne’, the actor appeared in several TV shows before starring as a thirteen-year-old in the film Cornbread, Earl and Me. He then fibbed about his age so that he could be cast as the soldier ‘Mr Clean’ in Apocalypse Now. The character was supposed to be 17, and Fishburne was only 14.
6. Christian Bale
Christian Bale started out in a handful of TV shows, and when just 13, won accolades for his starring role in Empire of the Sun. Bale almost gave up acting after the experience - he didn’t enjoy being in the spotlight. The actor was however persuaded by Kenneth Branagh to appear in Henry V, and the rest is history.
7. Neil Patrick Harris
NPH casually earned himself a Golden Globe Nomination at age 16 after starring alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the film Clara’s Heart. Not content however with just one nod, he earned another Golden Globe nom at age 19 for his leading role in the TV show Doogie Howser, M.D., in which he played a child prodigy.
8. Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling was cast as a mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club at age twelve and starred in the show alongside Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (the latter also ended up being his flatmate for a while). According to Gosling, the showrunners didn’t include him on the show as often as the other child stars because they didn’t think his singing and dancing was good enough.
9. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman broke everyone’s hearts in the film Léon, in which she stars as a twelve-year-old alongside the steely Jean Reno. The actress, deciding that she would take her studies as seriously as she did her acting, often came close to giving it all up. But ultimately, she saw success in both, earning a degree from Harvard University. She did however have to miss the premiere of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in order to study for her high school exams.