21 Child Stars Who Successfully Transitioned to Adult Stardom

Growing up in the spotlight presents challenges. However, these former famous child actors went on to thrive as adult Hollywood stars:

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1. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio charmed audiences on Growing Pains before becoming an acclaimed A-list actor in films like Titanic and The Revenant.

2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt evolved from cute kid on 3rd Rock from the Sun into indie darling and leading man in movies like Inception and 500 Days of Summer.

3. Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore overcame early struggles to reinvent herself as a romantic comedy star in beloved films like The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates.

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4. Ron Howard

Ron Howard maintained momentum from his Andy Griffith Show days, becoming an acclaimed Oscar-winning director.

5. Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster grew up on screen in Taxi Driver before collecting two Best Actress Oscars as an adult talent.

6. Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman impressed moviegoers as a child actor before delivering an Oscar-winning turn in Black Swan.

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7. Neil Patrick Harris

From Doogie Howser M.D. to How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris made the successful leap with comedic chops.

8. Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood avoided child star pitfalls, earning acclaim as hobbit Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings films.

9. Daniel Radcliffe

Post-Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe proved his versatility on stage and in independent films like Swiss Army Man.

10. Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon’s legendary status began as a young teen in The Man in the Moon before her award-winning walk in Legally Blonde.

11. Anna Paquin

Anna Paquin won an Oscar for The Piano at just 11 years old, thriving afterward in hits like the X-Men franchise.

12. Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst made her mark in Interview With the Vampire then blossomed as an actress in indie films like Melancholia.

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13. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling delivered nuanced, emotional performances as an adult after getting his start on The Mickey Mouse Club and Are You Afraid of the Dark?

14. Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell excelled as a child Disney star before becoming an acclaimed leading man in everything from westerns to sci-fi.

15. Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson garnered a Tony and Academy Award nominations after beginning as a popular child actor.

16. Zac Efron

Zac Efron shed his teen idol status from High School Musical to take on more mature, challenging roles.

17. Eva Longoria

From soap opera star to Desperate Housewives, Eva Longoria made the leap with hard work and perseverance.

18. Josh Peck

Josh Peck transformed from goofy Nickelodeon star into a respected comedic character actor with roles in films like Red Dawn and The Wackness.

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19. Michelle Williams

Four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams impressively evolved from Dawson’s Creek to critical acclaim in films like My Week With Marilyn.

20. Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker masterfully reinvented herself from Annie on Broadway to fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City.

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21. Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci successfully transitioned to adult roles after childhood hits like The Addams Family.

From Child Stars to Hollywood Icons

These talented actors dodged the infamous “child star curse” through hard work, perseverance, and the ability to adapt to more mature roles. They grew up gracefully in the spotlight.

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