We all know how tough it can be for former child stars in Hollywood. Indeed, it’s almost a given that those lucky enough to grab fame at an early age will fall into some kind of trouble in later life. These 20 actors, however, all bucked the trend. They’ve weathered the storm of childhoods spent in the spotlight and emerged to be super cool in the process.
20. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
After breaking out as Michelle Tanner on Full House, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen quickly became the most popular twins on the planet. A series of film and TV projects cemented their fame in the ’90s, but the Olsens have since left the acting profession behind. Instead, this business-savvy twinset pursued mega-successful careers in fashion design, and they’re now worth a super cool $300 million!
19. Ryan Gosling
Playing a Mousketeer may not have earned a 13-year-old Ryan Gosling many cool points, but the Canadian actor has certainly made up for it with age. Since leaving the Mickey Mouse Club in 1995, Gosling has become one of the most stylish film stars on the planet thanks to roles in The Notebook and Drive.
18. Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki is most recognizable as the adorable son George in Stuart Little, but he’s done much to erase his formerly cute image since that role. In fact, the former child star now coaches jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, and his buff physique is a far cry from the appearance of the child we knew on screen.
17. Jenny Lewis
Although she became famous for roles in the 1989 video game-themed movie The Wizard, Jenny Lewis ultimately decided that a career in music was the best path for her. And so at age 20, Lewis quit acting completely and formed the band Rilo Kiley two years later. Since then, she’s released three solo albums and also performs in the duo Jenny & Johnny.
16. Jeff Cohen
Undoubtedly, the best part of 1985’s The Goonies was the portly Chunk, whose iconic “truffle shuffle” helped secure the film a place in the pop culture pantheon. These days, however, actor Jeff Cohen is looking considerably leaner and he’s enjoying a top-notch career as the co-founder of law firm Cohen Gardner LLP.
15. Danica McKellar
Danica McKellar is best known for her role as love-interest Winnie in The Wonder Years, and she has grown up into one seriously smart person. In fact, while she was still working as an actress, the star managed to earn a BSc in Mathematics from UCLA on the side. Plus, she’s since penned numerous books on the subject for teenagers.
14. Fred Savage
Fred Savage is another star of The Wonder Years. He played the show’s main character Kevin and is still working in sitcoms today. However, his taste in humor has grown noticeably darker with age, having served as a producer and director on several black comedies such as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
13. Demi Lovato
Prior to landing her break in music, Demi Lovato found fame via a recurring role on Barney and Friends. And roles in several Disney productions soon followed – including the show Sonny with a Chance – before the “Skyscrape” hitmaker turned her back on acting to become the fiery singer we know and love today.
12. Elijah Wood
Elijah Wood made his film debut aged eight in Back to the Future II, and he’s since forged a steady career in adulthood thanks to his role as Frodo in Lord of the Rings. And as if that wasn’t enough, he’s also made a successful move into the music industry, having started the label Simian Records in 2006.
11. Josh Saviano
Contrary to popular belief, Wonder Years star Josh Saviano didn’t grow up to be Marilyn Manson, although the truth is just as impressive. Following the show’s 1993 end, Saviano – aka Paul Pfeiffer – quit acting and began studying political science at Yale. And now he’s a celebrated lawyer who has his own firm, JDS Legal.
10. Emma Watson
Big things were expected of Emma Watson when she was cast as Harry Potter’s Hermoine at age nine, and if anything the actress has exceeded all expectations in adult life. Besides maintaining her success as an actress, Watson has worked as a UN Goodwill Ambassador and continues to promote gender equality around the world.
9. Ariana Richards
As Jurassic Park’s tech-savvy Lex, Ariana Richards left an indelible impression on audiences that’s still remembered to this day. But despite her obvious acting skills, Richards decided to quit the profession in order to train as an artist. And the career move certainly paid off; now she’s an accomplished painter with multiple awards to her name.
8. Justin Timberlake
Like his former Mickey Mouse Club co-star Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake has worked hard to ensure his Disney days are a long forgotten memory. And so after gaining teen-idol status as a member of N*SYNC, the singer embarked on a long and successful solo career. Plus, he even became a respected Hollywood actor along the way.
7. Lisa and Louise Burns
Even for a film as spine-chilling as The Shining, Lisa and Louise Burns’ performance as the ghostly Grady twins went way beyond creepy. Thankfully, the two are a lot less menacing now. And after retiring from acting, the pair went on to earn respectable careers as a lawyer and a microbiologist respectively.
6. Jason Zimbler
While his Clarissa Explains All character may have been a tad annoying, Jason Zimbler has grown up to be quite the cool customer. Indeed, the actor – who played Ferguson on the Nickelodeon show – has left acting behind altogether and now works as a software designer with HBO.
5. Christopher Knight
Out of all The Brady Bunch kids, we would’ve imagined Marcia to be the most successful in adulthood. However, it turns out that Peter – aka Christopher Knight – is doing pretty well for himself as well. In fact, the former star founded several successful software companies in adulthood including Visual Software, Kidwise Learningware and Eskape Labs.
4. Jennifer Connelly
Since appearing in the likes of Labyrinth as a child, Jennifer Connelly has gone on to have an acclaimed acting career in adult life. For instance, her role in Requiem for a Dream received much praise while 2001’s A Beautiful Mind earned the star an Academy Award.
3. Maia Brewton
Emerging into the spotlight through roles in Back to the Future and Adventures in Babysitting, Maia Brewton gave up acting before she got the chance to become a leading star. Subsequently, she gained a law degree from Yale Univeristy and is currently working as an attorney.
2. Peter Ostrum
Peter Ostrum was the envy of every kid in the ’70s when he was cast as Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Sadly, Ostrum didn’t grow up to own his own candy company, but he still has an enviable job: he now works as a veterinarian in Glenfield, New York.
1. Jason Bateman
These days, Jason Bateman is best known as the put-upon Michael Bluth in Arrested Development. Nonetheless, sitcom fans first got to know him through ’80s show Silver Spoons. And Bateman has proven himself to be a versatile actor in adulthood: he’s bagged starring roles in films as varied as the comedy Horrible Bosses and the thriller The Gift.