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The Top Seven Child Stars Who Actually Made It

by nathanbloch   April 20, 2009 at 10:00AM  |  Views: 2,360

Every year we see a whole slew of child actors get pimped out by their parents to the Hollywood industry. We see them in sitcoms, advertisements, and movies, and sometimes they rise to the top...but very few of them stay there. Here’s our look at the actors who survived child stardom and took it to the next level: adulthood.

Source: Warner Bros. Television

7. Sean Astin

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Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Who knew Sean Astin would turn into a chubby little hobbit? He spent much of his youth playing the lead kid in hit films like The Goonies and White Water Summer. From childhood he went straight into young man/older kid roles in The War of the Roses, Memphis Belle, and the classic Rudy.

Any other child actor would’ve burnt out after all that time in front of the cameras at such a young age. The fact that he didn’t become a veterinarian or a meth addict shows that Astin had what it took. Of course, about the only role anyone really knows him by is Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. But that’s a hell of a lot better than being remembered by a terrible sitcom that gets more depressing with every rerun.

6. Drew Barrymore

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Source: Universal Pictures

There was a whole lot of luck that went into the crafting of Drew Barrymore’s life. If she hadn’t been cast in Steven Spielberg’s E.T., she would not have been able to spend the last 27 years after the playing cute, kinda homely, girl-next-door parts. The lessons she learned from E.T. have served her well the rest of her life: smile, bat your eyes, and talk in an adorable seven-year-old’s voice.

Her lack of range notwithstanding, Barrymore has managed not to become anorexic, get too addicted to anything for too long, or flash her vagina to the paparazzi. These things don’t sound impressive but they’re actually all the signs of a child actor who has transitioned successfully to an adult career.

5. Leonardo DiCaprio

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Source: Warner Bros. Television

Young DiCaprio, if you’ll recall, began his acting days on the hit sitcom Growing Pains as Luke Brower, the adopted child of the Seaver clan. His time as a child star is one of the most difficult to demarcate. It wasn’t until he was about thirty that he actually started to look his age.

Perhaps it’s the fact that Leonardo was never a huge child star, but rather a bit player in lots of little shows, that helped propel him into adult stardom. He didn’t grow up with assumptions of entitlement, and thus did a better job of keeping his head on his shoulders.

That, or it’s because he played a retarded kid in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and then had the astronomically good fortune to be cast in Titanic, the biggest, most successful bad movie of all time. You be the judge.

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