Some of Hollywood's most memorable child stars, like Macaulay Culkin, Shirley Temple, and Drew Barrymore, take us back to a simpler time with their nostalgic shows and movies. Some of these young actors were as sweet and kiddish as they played in movies, while others' maturity far exceeded their age.
These stories about child actors show what these child stars were really like when the cameras stopped rolling.
- Photo: Angels in the Outfield / Buena Vista Pictures
After starring alongside one another in Angels in the Outfield in 1994, Tony Danza and Joseph Gordon Levitt remained close with one another.
Danza opened up in an interview with The Huffington Post, describing how much he respected young Levitt's work ethic:
I’ve always had sort of a paternal thing for him. It’s kind of a cool symmetry, actually. Here’s a little anecdote: I really had a paternal thing for him. I can’t help myself; I do that with kids. He was so terrific in that movie; such a good kid. I’m an inline skater, he’s an inline skater. So we would skate together around Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The smooth concrete there; it’s fabulous. Every once in a while, I’d say, "Come on, Joe. Get your skates, we’ll go skating." He’d say, "No, I’m following the director today. I want to see what he does." So he always had this in the back of his mind. At 12! I was mad! I was like, "I’m going to be a jerk and you’re going to be a director."
- Photo: Baby, Take a Bow / Fox Film
Jimmy Dunn and Shirley Temple first met one another on the set of Baby, Take a Bow, and Dunn was blown away by the child actor as soon as he met her.
Dunn was so fond of Temple that he bragged about her acting abilities in an article with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat:
All actors dislike working with children. The kids usually steal most of your scenes, or run away with the picture entirely. And all my worst fears were justified the first time I set foot in front of the camera with Shirley. A smile from her was worth more than all my high-powered acting, and she lifted scenes right and left. She just does her job and is so different from the average "professional child" that you couldn’t dislike her if you wanted to.
- Photo: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / Warner Bros. Pictures3305 VOTES
When it was time to cast the role of Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, actor Maggie Smith was certain Daniel Radcliffe was the kid. Having worked with him previously on David Copperfield, a BBC adaptation, Smith recommended Radcliffe to the Harry Potter producers.
Smith opened up about her thoughts on Radcliffe in an interview with NPR, saying:
Well, I'll tell you I just did adore Daniel - Daniel Radcliffe, who I had worked with before Harry Potter and spent a long time telling all the producers they had to see him because I thought he was so terrific...
- Photo: The Sixth Sense / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
When The Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan first met a young Haley Joel Osment during his audition, he knew Osment was meant for the part of Cole Sear.
Shyamalan reflected on his first meeting with Osment in a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying:
There was something magical about his audition. When I left the room, I told the casting director, "I don’t know if I want to make the movie if it’s not with that kid." Especially after the actor uttered the film’s iconic line, “I see dead people.”
- Photo: ABC5174 VOTES
Fred Savage became a household name after landing the part of Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years. Savage was known for his boyish looks and charm, and according to show creator Neal Marlens, that's exactly what won over the show's casting directors.
Marlens elaborated on Savage's big break in a 1988 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer:
By the time we actually settled on a casting director, we had already resolved that we should see Fred. Knowing nothing about him, we arranged to screen some unedited footage of a film he was making at the time, Vice Versa... [We saw] a marvelous actor with a natural quality, which essentially means he has no quality at all except being a kid. It sounds funny, but it’s a rare thing to find in a child actor. It’s the same thing we looked for and discovered in Josh Saviano and Danica McKellar.
- Photo: My Girl / Columbia Pictures
Anna Chlumsky made her Hollywood debut at the age of 11 when she was cast as Vada Margaret Sultenfuss in the 1991 film My Girl. Co-star Dan Aykroyd had nothing but good things to say about her before the release of the movie, talking about the then-young actor on The Arsenio Hall Show:
You know, you never know where talent is gonna come from, and I had the opportunity in the winter to work with this lady. I, uh, won’t say anymore, other than that. She’s a very talented actress, a nice person, and kind of a normal, American girl, who has a very, very great gift. And we’re in a film called My Girl, and I think we’re gonna be hearing a lot more from her because this is someone who just has innate talent that has got to be explored and developed.