There’s a cliché that Hollywood’s child stars exist under a double-edged sword. Having money and, yes, power at a very young age have been the downfall of many a beautiful, talented kid that happened to be in the right place at the right time (if you get what I’m saying here).
You’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the exploits of a Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears, whose well-publicized struggles with mental illness and addiction have become the butt of a lot of jokes.
But some of the more tragic stories are from stars we forget.
Take Jaimee Foxworth, for example, whose character of Judy Winslow was unceremoniously cut out of Family Matters without …
… explanation. Yeah, she ended up making porn movies.
Jonathan Brandis’ suicide by hanging. MacCauley Culkin’s role as a pawn in his parents’ messy, Lohanesque relationship probably playing a role in his own ridiculously early marriage (and divorce). Kristy McNichol’s debilitating battle with bipolar disorder. Tatum O’Neal’s crack habit. Mackenzie Phillips’ alleged sexual abuse by her famous father. Jamie Lynn Spears’ career-ending pregnancy. Jodie Sweetin’s meth madness.
The list just goes on and on.
Which is why a recent piece on Fox News looking at child stars who have managed to withstand the pratfalls and pressures of having the world at your fingertips is so–dare I say it?–refreshing.
Their spread includes:
While in high school, Mila Kunis juggled school with a skyrocketing career thanks to “That ‘70s Show.” Since 2000, the gorgeous star has been voicing Meg Griffin on “Family Guy.” And her next big film role will be in the summer of 2011in “Friends with Benefits.”
Natalie Portman has been working steadily since she was a kid. The biggest role of her teen years was quite possibly in the “Star Wars” trilogy. Somehow she found time during her bustling career to also get a degree from Harvard. The 29-year-old received critical acclaim for her role in 2009′s “Brothers” and next up she’ll be in “No Strings Attached” scheduled for release early 2011.
Since his start on “Growing Pains,” Leonardo DiCaprio has navigated his career wisely ensuring Oscar-worthy roles befitting someone who has grown past his teeny bopper fame. He transitioned from 1996′s “Romeo & Juliet” by doing the record breaking Blockbuster “Titanic” in 1997. And over a decade later Leo still gets critical acclaim for thrillers like “Shutter Island” and “Inception.”
Also mentioned are Claire Danes, who successfully transitioned from My So-Called Life to the HBO miniseries Temple Grandin (winning an Emmy in the process), Hayden Panettiere, Christina Applegate, Justin Timberlake, Scarlett Johansson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lacey Chabert, and Sean Astin.
While there are some glaring absences, notably those who achieved stratospheric success as children, struggled through some heavy issues as adolescents, and ultimately regained their star status as adults such as Drew Barrymore, I think it’s pretty cool to reinforce positive behavior with a list such as this.
Any additions (or deletions) you can come up with? Oh, and, uh, any theories explaining the significant percentage of child stars that become fucked up adults?