15 Popular Child Actors Who Beat The Odds!

Published on January 30, 2014. Updated July 27, 2017

In Hollywood, many celebrities who begin their careers when they are young end up washed up before they are 30! Stars like Lindsay Lohan, Brad Renfro and Mischa Barton are perfect examples of what happens when child stars can’t handle fame! To keep things positive, we’ve created a list of 15 child actors who beat the odds and have actually succeeded! Take a look:

15. Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster’s first big role was in Taxi Cab when she was only 14 years old! She ended up receiving an Oscar nomination for her performance and went on to win two Oscars for her roles in The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs. Foster also completed a degree in literature at Yale and has gone on to direct and produce films.

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14. Jason Bateman 

Jason Bateman got his start on Little House on the Prairie when he was only 12-years-old! However, he almost became another Hollywood tragedy when he spent a better part of the ‘90s drinking and doing drugs. Fortunately he cleaned himself up and become a success story, starring in Arrested Development, Juno and Horrible Bosses.

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13. Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson was only 10-years-old when she made her acting debut in North and she spent her teens acting in films like The Horse Whisperer and Ghost World. She has gone on to become a critically acclaimed actress, receiving Golden Globe nominations for her performances in Lost in Translation, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Girl with a Pearl Earring and Match Point.

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12. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling got his first big break at the age of 12 on The Mickey Mouse Club and he went on to appear in Breaker High and Young Hercules. Now he is considered one of Hollywood’s best young actors. Gosling has starred in a number of critically acclaimed films including Half Nelson, The Ides of March, The Notebook and Blue Valentine, and he received an Oscar nod for his performance in Half Nelson.

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11. Emma Watson

Emma Watson got her start in the Harry Potter franchise and, despite the film’s massive success, she has stayed incredibly grounded. She has taken some time to go to university and has continued to act in films like The Tale Despereaux, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Noah. She’s also become a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and launched the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate for gender equality.

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10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt made it big on Third Rock from the Sun when he was 15-years-old! After taking a break from acting, this actor has gone on to star in critically acclaimed films like (500) Days of Summer, Inception, 50/50 and The Dark Knight Rises. Gordon-Levitt has received two Golden Globe nominations since his hiatus, proving that this star is going to continue to shine.

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9. Johnny Galecki

Johnny Galecki has been acting since he was 12 and his career seems to only get better! Since his days as David Healy on Roseanne, he has had roles in Vanilla Sky and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Galecki is currently playing Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory and he has received Emmy and Golden Globe nods for his performance.

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8. Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci received praise as a child star for her performances in Mermaid, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. She then went on to receive critical acclaim for her role in The Opposite of Sex, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. Ricci has continued to act in TV and movies, receiving an Emmy nomination for her role in the show Pan Am.

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7. Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik became a household name at the age of 15 when she nabbed the title role in Blossom, which ran for five seasons. After that, her focus shifted to completing a PhD in neuroscience. While Bialik has continued to work on TV, her performance as Amy on The Big Bang Theory has garnered her critical acclaim in the form of four Emmy nominations.

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6. Reese Witherspoon

At the age of 15, Reese Witherspoon scored her first feature role in The Man on the Moon. Even though she became a teen idol for her roles in Fear and Cruel Intentions, she successfully transitioned into adult roles and she has received critical acclaim as a result. In 2006, Witherspoon won an Oscar for her performance as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line and received an Oscar nod for her performance in Wild in 2015.

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5. Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore had an early start in Hollywood with roles in E.T. and Firestarter; however, it didn’t take long for her to fall prey to drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, after rehab she got sober and began acting again. Barrymore has gone on to become one of the most bankable actresses with hits like Never Been Kissed and 50 First Dates.

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4. Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman was only 12-years-old when she was cast in the film Leon: The Professional. She continued to act through her teen years and also completed a degree in Psychology at Harvard University. Portman is considered one of the most talented actresses of her generation. She has been nominated for three Oscars, winning one for her performance in Black Swan.

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3. Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood became a critically acclaimed actor before he was a teenager! When Roger Ebert reviewed Wood’s performance in The War, he said, “Elijah Wood has emerged, I believe, as the most talented actor, in his age group, in Hollywood history.” Wood has gone on to have a successful acting career, with roles in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises, as well as a role on the television show Wilfred.

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2. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio was a teenager when he got his start on the TV series, Growing Pains. Soon after he was in films and he has gone on to become a critically acclaimed actor with four Oscar nods to date. DiCaprio received his first nomination when he was only 20 years old for his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and he won first Oscar in 2016 for his role in The Revenant.

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1. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were cast as Michelle Tanner on Full House when they were only six months old and from there they grew a successful business that included made for TV movies, a self-produced direct-to-video musical mystery series and products sold in Kmart stores. They have since established themselves as serious designers and now focus on running their thriving empire.

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Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Child Stars

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