No one ever said being a child actor was easy. Over the years, former child stars have looked back on their careers and opened up about the hardships they faced - and the support and advice that helped get them through it.
Some famous young performers have gone on to become among the biggest movie stars in the world, including Reese Witherspoon, Kurt Russell, Drew Barrymore, and Neil Patrick Harris. Others weren't able to handle the stress and bowed out of the entertainment industry altogether.
Whether it was the best acting advice or just some good ideas to live by, these actors still remember words of encouragement all these years later.
- Photo: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / Warner Bros. Pictures
Matthew Lewis is best known for portraying Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movie series. Throughout the 10 years of filming eight movies, Lewis rubbed elbows with some of the greats in the film industry.
This included Alan Rickman, who famously portrayed Professor Severus Snape. On Rickman's last day of filming on the final movie, Lewis shared how he went to Rickman's trailer to thank him for his work:
Thank you for allowing me to work with you for 10 years and not ever shout at me or treating any of us as anything less than your equal. And he was like, "Come on in." And he put the kettle on, and we had a cup of tea, and we chatted about what I was going to do in my career moving forward and what he recommended I do.
Lewis went on to say that Rickman gave him an invaluable piece of advice:
He said, "You can do it!" He said those words. He recommended theater, and that’s why I did some theater. I learned so much more about myself as not only an actor but [also] as a person and what I want out of life; I learned that on stage.
- Photo: That '70s Show / Fox
Mila Kunis gained national fame by starring as Jackie Burkhart in That '70s Show. While most of the cast was older than 18, Kunis was only 14, and famously lied about her age to get the role.
One of her costars, Kurtwood Smith, was friends with Robin Williams, who visited him on set one day. Kunis went over and introduced herself, and Williams told her something that she's never forgotten:
So many times you meet people they don't impact you. You meet them and they're gracious and they're nice," she told Esquire, "and then there are sometimes when you meet somebody and they say one thing and for the rest of your life you carry that one thing and they don't even know that they impacted your life.
He said, "Remember this moment. Remember this because things like this don't happen very often. Remember this time." Having somebody of Robin Williams's stature tell me to just acknowledge something meant so much. He didn't mentor me. He just said, "Step back and appreciate this. You're having an amazing time."
- Photo: Doogie Howser, M.D. / ABC31,084 VOTES
Neil Patrick Harris is known to different generations for different roles. For Millennials, he's Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. For Gen Z, he might be Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events.
But for Gen X and above, Harris is often remembered for portraying the kid-wonder doctor Doogie Howser from 1989 to 1993. As his prominence rose during these medical days, Doogie Howser, M.D. producer Steven Bochco gave him a very helpful analogy:
I was from New Mexico and very, very green. [Bochco] sat me down and said, "This industry is like surfing. You have to get on a surfboard, and paddle and paddle through, and wait a long time hoping you catch a wave. You try and catch them, and miss them, and someone else will catch them and everyone will cheer... But the way surfing works is there are always sets of waves that come through... and the goal is to be patient enough to value that metaphor."
I always had that Bochco conversation in my head, because I desired longevity more than I desired fame.
- Photo: The Sixth Sense / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Haley Joel Osment became a star overnight after stealing the show in the classic thriller The Sixth Sense. In an interview conducted when he was just 11 years old, Osment said his dad gave him some sage advice when it came to acting:
The best advice my dad ever gave me is that acting is believing. Acting is not acting. It isn't putting on a face and dancing around in a mask. It's believing that you are that character and playing him as if it were a normal day in the life of that character.
- Photo: The Man in the Moon / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Most of us know Reese Witherspoon for her critically acclaimed roles in Legally Blonde, Walk the Line, or most recently, The Morning Show.
However, she got her start as a teenager, starring at age 14 in The Man in the Moon. After more than two decades in the spotlight, Witherspoon has said in several interviews that she has one piece of advice that she most cherishes from her family:
Never miss an opportunity to shut up and listen!
This seems like sound advice for general life as well.
- Photo: Boy Meets World / ABC6674 VOTES
Danielle Fishel became a teen sensation when she landed the starring role of Topanga Lawrence (later Lawrence-Matthews) on Boy Meets World. She didn't come from a family of actors, however, and was quite inexperienced in the industry when she started off.
However, her mom helped keep her grounded.
And the biggest thing that she [said to me is]: "You are not what you do. It is just your job and if at any point in time you are not loving what you’re doing, you don’t have to do it anymore. It is not your identity. It’s not who you are."
While Fishel fell out of the public's eye after Boy Meets World, she came back in the spin-off series Girl Meets World in 2014.