Twenty Child Stars Gone Right

While a great deal of attention is paid to child stars whose lives take a wrong turn after early fame, we're focusing instead on those who have translated that early fame into extended success. In no particular order, they are:
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Dakota Fanning
Hannah Dakota Fanning was born on the 23rd of February 1994, in Conyers, Georgia, USA, to Heather Joy (Arrington) and Steven Fanning. Her mother played professional tennis, and her father, now an electronics salesman, played minor league baseball. She is of German, Irish, English, French, and Channel Islander descent...
“ Though still very young, Miss Fanning has consistently chosen interesting and challenging roles, and has kept her personal life quiet, calm and relatively normal. ” - IMDb Editors
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 15, 1973. His parents, Sheila Gail (Scott) and Ronald Gene Harris, were lawyers and ran a restaurant. He grew up in Ruidoso, New Mexico, a small town 120 miles south of Albuquerque, where he first took up acting in the fourth grade. While tagging along with his older brother of 3 years...
“ Actor of film, television and stage, Neil Patrick Harris transformed his early success as teen doctor Doogie Howser into a diverse career that has the breadth of entertainers from the studio days of yore - he sings, he dances, he hosts award shows, he plays the most notorious, funny bachelor on TV, and he plots to the destroy the world with his nefarious superhero wannabe plans. ” - IMDb Editors
Kristen Stewart
Actress, Twilight
Though most famous for her role as Isabella "Bella" Swan in The Twilight Saga, Kristen Stewart has been a working actor since her early years in Los Angeles, California, where she was born. Her parents, John Stewart and Jules Stewart, both work in film and television. Her mother is Australian...
“ Handling the pressure of headlining the record-breaking Twilight franchise (and the press/fan scrutiny it has inspired) cannot be easy, yet Kristen Stewart has handled it with grace. Meanwhile, she's striven to find challenging, unique roles to diversify her still-unfolding career. ” - IMDb Editors
Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Ingrid Johansson was born in New York City. Her mother, Melanie Sloan, is from a Jewish family from the Bronx, and her father, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect, from Copenhagen. She has a sister, Vanessa Johansson, who is also an actress, a brother, Adrian, a twin brother, Hunter Johansson...
“ The little girl in North and Home Alone 3, Scarlett Johansson spent her teenage years in The Horse Whisperer and Ghost World. Recently, she has divided her time between action hero and Woody Allen's latest muse. ” - IMDb Editors
Anne Hathaway
Anne Jacqueline Hathaway was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Kate McCauley Hathaway, an actress, and Gerald T. Hathaway, a lawyer, both originally from Philadelphia. She is of mostly Irish descent, along with English, German, and French. Her first major role came in the short-lived television series Get Real...
“ Her early days, spent on TV show "Get Real" evolved into years spent as the title character in The Princess Diaries juggernaut. Then, her career took a little turn, and she was propelled to stardom of a different sort, with indier, earthier roles in Brokeback Mountain and Rachel Getting Married, while still making us laugh in The Devil Wears Prada and Get Smart. Did we mention singing and dancing with Hugh Jackman at the Oscars? ” - IMDb Editors
Jason Bateman
Jason Bateman is an American film and television actor best known for his role as Michael Bluth on the television sitcom Arrested Development, as well as his role on Valerie. He was born in Rye, New York, USA. His father, Kent Bateman, from a Utah-based family, is a film and television director...
“ From his days in Little House on the Prairie and Silver Spoons, all the way through to the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together, Jason Bateman's balance of droll humor and incredulity have allowed him to quietly built an impressive career in TV and film. He has also spent time directing and remains focused on all things inventive and funny, teaming with Will Arnett to create DumbDumb, an internet comedy venture blending short films with advertising. ” - IMDb Editors
Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor, Inception
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic...
“ Once the street-smart waif on Growing Pains, Leo took early control of the direction of his career, building on success in The Basketball Diaries and What's Eating Gilbert Grape to move toward darker, heavier roles. Titanic shot him to superstardom; serving as Martin Scorsese's main man for several movies and headlining megahit Inception has shown him to be one of the most serious actors of his generation. ” - IMDb Editors
Elijah Wood
Elijah Wood is an American actor best known for portraying Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's blockbuster Lord of the Rings film trilogy. In addition to reprising the role in The Hobbit series, Wood also played Ryan in the FX television comedy Wilfred and voiced Beck in the Disney XD animated television series TRON: Uprising...
“ While North was his breakthrough role, Elijah Wood had already strung together a series of roles in Avalon, Radio Flyer and Forever Young, and continued to build a resume as he grew. His turn as Frodo made him an international superstar, but he continues to choose roles carefully, running his own record label in his spare time. ” - IMDb Editors
Fred Savage
Fred Savage was born July 9, 1976. he began acting at age 9 with Jay Underwood in The Boy Who Could Fly. At the age of twelve, he was cast the lead role of the series The Wonder Years. It became a good show, and on the pilot, he got his first kiss. He was later in the movie Vice Versa with Judge Reinhold and then in Little Monsters...
“ No longer little Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years, Fred Savage has become a sucessful director, helming TV shows like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Party Down and Ugly Betty. ” - IMDb Editors
John Cusack
John Cusack is, like most of his characters, an unconventional hero. Wary of fame and repelled by formulaic Hollywood fare, he has built a successful career playing underdogs and odd men out--all the while avoiding the media spotlight. John was born in Evanston, Illinois, to an Irish-American family...
“ This ancillary Brat Packer has built a varied and interesting career, playing unconventional heroes in blockbusters, quirky character studies, historical ensembles, dramas, romantic comedies and thrillers. In recent years, he's also become involved in producing and writing, working to insure that political films like Max, Grace Is Gone and War Inc. are made. ” - IMDb Editors
Jena Malone
Actress, Contact
Jena Malone was born in Sparks, Nevada, to Deborah Malone and Edward Berge. Her grandfather owned a casino, Karl's Silver Club, in Sparks. She was raised by her mother and her mother's partner. Beginning as a child actress, and then stepping up to roles as a young adult, Malone's career path has been compared to that of Jodie Foster...
“ Even in her earliest roles, Jena Malone displayed a maturity and seriousness that belied her young age, and she's taken charge of both her career and life in a decisive way, choosing roles for the challenges they offer her. ” - IMDb Editors
Claire Danes
New Yorker Claire Catherine Danes was born in Manhattan, the daughter of Carla (Hall), a day-care provider and artist, and Christopher Danes, a computer consultant and photographer. She has an older brother, Asa. Her paternal grandfather, Gibson Andrew Danes, was a Dean of the Yale School of Art and Architecture. She is of mostly German and British Isles descent...
“ No longer My So-Called Life's awkward Angela Chase or Juliet vs. Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo, Claire Danes left her teen star status behind after taking a few years to attend Yale. Her dedication to finding serious, thought-provoking roles in film and TV continues to evolve, and she was rewarded with an Emmy for her work in Temple Grandin this year. ” - IMDb Editors
Jodie Foster
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but the exes had a brief re-encounter in 1962 which resulted in Alicia's birth...
“ Winner of two Academy Awards for Best Actress, as well as directing and producing films, Jodie Foster's early years acting in television and movies served as a firm foundation for learning the industry and building a career as one of the most powerful women in Hollywood. ” - IMDb Editors
Ron Howard
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is one of this generation's most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 to the hit comedies Parenthood and Splash, he has created some of Hollywood's most memorable films. Howard directed and produced "Cinderella Man" starring Oscar winner Russell Crowe...
“ From Opie, to Richie Cunningham, to becoming one of Hollywood's most powerful producer/directors, Ron Howard has spent almost his entire life both in front of and behind the camera, a testament to hard work and learning everything possible in an always-evolving industry. ” - IMDb Editors
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Actor, Inception
Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt was born February 17, 1981 in Los Angeles, California, to Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt. Joseph was raised in a Jewish family with his late older brother, Dan Gordon-Levitt, who passed away in October 2010. His parents worked for the Pacifica Radio station KPFK-FM and his maternal grandfather...
“ After spending his formative years appearing on TV, in particular a lead role in long-running sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has built an impressive career by choosing his roles carefully and appearing in some of the most challenging independent roles of recent years; his recent turn in Inception allowed him to bring that independent sensibility to a blockbuster release. Co-founder of, a tool for the exploration of the future of filmmaking, allows anyone who is interested to join in online and contribute creatively to ongoing film projects. ” - IMDb Editors
Danica McKellar
Best known as America's alluring dream girl from her days as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, Danica McKellar made her breakthrough at the early age of 12. After that show ended, she went on to graduate Summa cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Mathematics, and even proved a new math theorem, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem...
“ From sweet, dreamgirl-next-door on the Wonder Years, Danica McKellar took time away from Hollywood to become a mathematics scholar, graduating Summa cum Laude from UCLA and proving a brand-new theorem: the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem. She's still acting, too, with roles in How I Met Your Mother, The West Wing, and The Big Bang Theory. ” - IMDb Editors
Drew Barrymore
Producer, Donnie Darko
Since melting audiences' hearts - at the age of six - in Steven Spielberg's beloved sci-fi blockbuster, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Drew Barrymore has emerged as one of the most endearing and talented actresses of her generation. Drew Blyth Barrymore was born in Culver City, California, to actors John Drew Barrymore and Jaid Barrymore (née Ildiko Jaid Mako)...
“ The little girl everyone loved in E.T. made it through her troubled teen years and has worked constantly to build an impressively varied body of work in the past 20 years: a scream queen in Scream, singing in Everyone Says I Love You, superhero foil in Batman Forever, princess in Ever After, kick-ass detective in the Charlie's Angels franchise, and iconic Edie Beale in Grey Gardens. She's also got her own production company, and directed her first feature, Whip It, last year. ” - IMDb Editors
Joaquin Phoenix
Actor, Gladiator
Joaquin Rafael Phoenix was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Arlyn (Dunetz) and John Bottom, and is the middle child in a brood of five. His parents, from the continental United States, were then serving as Children of God missionaries. His mother is from a Jewish family in New York, while his father...
“ Twice nominated for an Academy Award and known for choosing some of the most unusual roles studios have to offer, Joaquin Phoenix has built an unusually diverse resume after spending his childhood working in TV and film as Leaf Phoenix. ” - IMDb Editors
Christian Bale
Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Charles Howard Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries throughout Bale's childhood...
“ While the talent of the young star of Empire of the Sun, Newsies and Swing Kids was readily apparent, fans of those films could be forgiven for not foreseeing the trajectory his career would take in the years to come. Whether playing a preppy serial killer, an emaciated machinist, a secretive magician, a G man, a leader saving mankind during a war with machines, or a conflicted superhero, Christian Bale's role choices are always fascinating, challenging and tackled with complete commitment and intensity. ” - IMDb Editors
Anna Paquin
Actress, The Piano
Anna Paquin is the first millennial to have received an Academy Award nomination for acting, and the first to win. She was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1982, to Mary (Brophy), an English teacher from Wellington, New Zealand, and Brian Paquin, a Canadian phys-ed teacher. Anna moved to her mother's native country when she was four years old...
“ Launching her career by winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of 11, Anna Paquin's auspicious start led to roles in Fly Away Home and Jane Eyre, and then a career full of disparate roles in film, TV and theater that show her fearlessness and predeliction for choosing to portray the unexpected and shocking. She's also co-founded a production company with her brother, and has begun to develop and produce projects. ” - IMDb Editors