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The Greatest Child Stars Who Are Still Acting

Updated May 2, 2020 357.9k votes 19.0k voters 545.6k views191 items

List RulesActors who became stars before they were 18 and remain successful and famous as adults.

List of Hollywood kids: actors who grew up on the big screen and child stars you recognize working today. While there are many child stars, it takes someone special to make it from kid to adult in the entertainment industry. There are lots of pitfalls a former child star can succumb to, like drug use, gambling, and other addictions. It's also hard to overcome the fact that, in many cases, you simply cannot just 'get by' on your cute kid looks.

Who are the most successful former child stars? Some young actors actually do make the crossover into adulthood. These former child stars are some of the few that have made it over the hurdle of adolescence and into adulthood in tact - people like Jason Bateman, Natalie Portman, Neil Patrick Harris and even Ron Howard. They not only made it out of the former child star pit unscathed, but have florished as adult working actors, writers and directors.

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  • 1
    Drew Barrymore
    6,181
    1,488

    Drew Barrymore

    1975-02-22

    Age45

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, Culver City, California, United States of America

    E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)

  • 2
    Leonardo DiCaprio
    5,587
    1,371

    Age45

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California

    "Growing Pains" (1991-92)

  • 3
    Reese Witherspoon
    4,620
    1,324

    Age39

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    The Man in the Moon (1991)
    A Far Off Place (1993)
    Jack the Bear (1993)
    Return to Lonesome Dove (1993)

  • 4
    Christina Ricci
    4,313
    1,360

    Christina Ricci

    1980-02-12

    Age40

    BirthplaceSanta Monica, California, United States of America

    Mermaids (1990)
    The Addams Family (1991)
    Addams Family Values (1993)
    Casper (1995)
    Now and Then (1995)

  • 5
    Dakota Fanning
    4,489
    1,423

    Dakota Fanning

    1994-02-23

    Age21

    BirthplaceConyers, Georgia, United States of America

    I Am Sam (2001)
    Uptown Girls (2003)
    Man on Fire (2004)
    War of the Worlds (2005)
    Charlotte's Web (2006)
    The Runaways (2010)

  • 6
    Emma Watson
    3,504
    755

    Emma Watson

    1990-04-15

    Age30

    BirthplaceParis, France

    Harry Potter series (2001-11)

  • 7
    Neil Patrick Harris
    4,092
    1,403

    Age47

    BirthplaceAlbuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America

    "Doogie Howser, M.D." (1989-1993)

  • 8
    Jodie Foster
    4,379
    1,725

    Jodie Foster

    1962-11-19

    Age57

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, United States of America

    Tom Sawyer (1973)
    Freaky Friday (1976)
    Taxi Driver (1976)

  • 9
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    3,656
    1,408

    Age34

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, USA

    A River Runs Through It (1992)
    Angels in the Outfield (1994)
    "3rd Rock from the Sun" (1996-2001)

  • 10
    Kurt Russell
    2,942
    1,305

    Kurt Russell

    1951-03-17

    Age69

    BirthplaceUSA, Massachusetts, Springfield

    The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1968)
    The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)

  • 11
    Kirsten Dunst
    3,278
    1,501

    Kirsten Dunst

    1982-04-30

    Age38

    BirthplacePoint Pleasant, New Jersey, United States of America

    Little Women (1994)
    Interview with the Vampire (1994)
    Jumanji (1995)
    The Virgin Suicides (1999)

  • 12
    Ron Howard
    3,695
    1,791

    Ron Howard

    1954-03-01

    Age66

    BirthplaceDuncan, Oklahoma, United States of America

    "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960-68)
    The Music Man (1962)

  • 13
    Elijah Wood
    2,785
    1,218

    Elijah Wood

    1981-01-28

    Age34

    BirthplaceCedar Rapids, Iowa, United States of America

    Radio Flyer (1992)
    Forever Young (1992)
    The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993)
    The Good Son (1993)
    North (1994)
    The War (1994)
    Flipper (1996)

  • 14
    Winona Ryder
    2,949
    1,361

    Winona Ryder

    1971-10-29

    Age48

    BirthplaceUSA, Minnesota

    Lucas (1986)
    Beetlejuice (1988)
    Heathers (1989)

  • 15
    Natalie Portman
    4,708
    2,497

    Natalie Portman

    1981-06-09

    Age39

    BirthplaceJerusalem, Mandatory Palestine

    The Professional (1994)
    Heat (1995)
    Beautiful Girls (1996)

  • 16
    Elizabeth Taylor
    2,466
    1,183

    AgeDec. at 79 (1932-2011)

    BirthplaceHampstead Garden Suburb, United Kingdom

    Lassie Come Home (1943)
    The White Cliffs of Dover (1943)
    National Velvet (1944)
    Little Women (1949)

  • 17
    Scarlett Johansson
    2,550
    1,241

    Age31

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, USA

    North (1994)
    Just Cause (1995)
    Manny & Lo (1996)
    Ghost World (2001)

  • 18
    Mila Kunis
    2,552
    1,217

    Mila Kunis

    1983-08-14

    Age37

    BirthplaceChernivtsi, Ukraine

    "That '70s Show" (1998-2006)

  • 19
    Daniel Radcliffe
    1,579
    514

    Age26

    BirthplaceFulham, London, England

  • 20
    Sean Astin
    2,077
    1,110

    Sean Astin

    1971-02-25

    Age49

    BirthplaceSanta Monica, California, United States of America

    The Goonies (1985)
    Like Father Like Son (1987)

  • 21
    Jennifer Love Hewitt
    1,989
    1,190

    Age41

    BirthplaceWaco, Texas, United States of America

    "Kids Incorporated" (1989-91)
    Sister Act 2 (1993)
    "Party of Five" (1995-99)
    House Arrest (1996)

  • 22
    Brooke Shields
    2,074
    1,200

    Brooke Shields

    1965-05-31

    Age55

    BirthplaceManhattan, New York City, New York, United States of America

    Pretty Baby (1978)
    The Blue Lagoon (1980)
    Endless Love (1981)

  • 23
    Jason Bateman
    2,024
    1,168

    Jason Bateman

    1969-01-14

    Age51

    BirthplaceUSA, Town of Rye, New York

    "Little House on the Prairie" (1981-82)
    "Silver Spoons" (1982-84)

  • 24
    Christina Applegate
    2,560
    1,556

    Age48

    BirthplaceHollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

    "Married... with Children" (1987-97)

  • 25
    Hayden Panettiere
    1,816
    1,000

    Age26

    BirthplacePalisades, New York, USA

    "One Life to Live" (1994-97)
    Guiding Light (1997-2000)
    Remember the Titans (2000)
    "Ally McBeal" (2001-02)
    "Heroes" (2006-2010)