20+ Former Childhood Stars That Look Unrecognisable Now

By Aaron Love 10 months ago

Ke Huy Quan

Image Source: Reddit
Quan became famous as a childhood star because after his popular roles within Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as well as the Goonies. Following this he was basically hidden from the screens for decades, often working behind them until his Oscar award winning performance in 2022's Everything Everywhere All At Once. He hasn't changed too much really, he's still a very bouncy guy.

Daniel Radcliffe

Image Source: IndieWire
It would have been very easy for Daniel Radcliffe to become a one role actor, how many times have we seen child actors never able to break away from their initial breakthrough. However, Daniel Radcliffe managed to pretty seamlessly move towards more adult productions like heart-stopping horror The Woman In Black and Kill Your Darlings. He just looks so different now, it's definitely that beard!

Rupert Grint

Image Source: Daily Express
In comparison to Daniel Radcliffe, Grint found it quite difficult to escape his role as Ron Weasley following the Harry Potter films and struggled to find too many separate roles. But after a few years he eventually found a main role in Snatch and Sick Note, before perhaps his most notable role since Harry Potter as Julian Pearce in the Apple TV horror series Servant.

Emma Watson

Image Source: Reddit
Although Emma Watson initially appeared as the very intelligent, very sarcastic child Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, she is completely opposite in herself these days. When she isn't out there as a UN ambassador using her voice for good she also appears in some more adult roles like her appearances in films The Circle and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Haley Joel Osment

Image Source: Reddit
Would you ever believe that the guy you see pictured above is actually the same little boy that starred opposite Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense and delivered that infamous 'I See Dead People' line. Since then he went on to appear in more films like A.I Artificial as a child and more recently he has been seen in HBO's Silicon Valley as well as Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Ted Bundy film.

Macaulay Culkin

Image Source: Glamour
When you talk about child stars, Macaulay Culkin is probably one of the first names that might come to your mind and that's probably down to his abundance of roles before he had even turned 10 like Home Alone, Uncle Buck and Richie Rich. Following this though he has been largely distant on our screens excluding some small guest roles and his appearance in American Horror Story.

Kieran Culkin

Image Source: Yahoo Money
It can't have just been me that didn't know that Macaulay Culkin's younger brother Kieran played his on screen brother in Home Alone too! And to be honest, as an adult, he probably has a greater on screen record than that of his superstar older brother in more recent years. You'll most likely recognise him (or not) as Roman on the ever-popular show Succession on HBO.

Dylan Sprouse

Image Source: Reddit
Dylan Sprouse first appeared on our screens back in 1999 alongside his twin brother Cole in Big Daddy and broke through during the Disney series The Suite Life. Following its culmination he disappeared from our screens for nearly 7 years before reappearing in 2017 for indie film Dismissed and then his largest role since his return in 2020's After We Collided.

Cole Sprouse

Image Source: Reddit
Cole Sprouse has arguably had the more successful career since the end of the twins roles on The Suite Life; would you believe that they have both now turned 30 years old!? He also resurfaced in 2017, although his role much more popular, appearing in the CW series Riverdale as Jughead Jones. He's also become a somewhat heartthrob amongst many of the shows viewers.

Raven Symone

Image Source: Variety
You might struggle to believe that you're looking at the tiny little Olivia from The Cosby Show from the early 90's. You could perhaps say that her breakout role came in the Disney series That's So Raven and she also voiced Monique in Kim Possible. These days you might have seen her in ABC'S Black-ish as Rhonda or she even reprised her role as Raven in a spinoff.

Jonathan Lipnicki

Image Source: Mamamia
Jonathan Lipnicki might be one of the only childhood actors to be able to rival Macaulay Culkin in his popular roles, with titles like Jerry Maguire, Stuart Little (all of them), and Doctor Dolittle amongst his many roles. He never really managed to regain the fame he had as a child but does still appear in a handful of films and shows like Tag, Andover and a few short horror films.

Mara Wilson

Image Source: Sudinfo
It appeared as though Mara Wilson might have been on the road to lifelong stardom after her hugely popular childhood roles in both Mrs Doubtfire and Matilda but she then pretty much disappeared from the public eye. She still pretty much avoids appearing on our screens but she has had small voice acting roles in BoJack Horseman and Big Hero 6.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Image Source: Reddit
Although he had been acting for years by the time he appeared as Tommy in 3rd Rock From the Sun, this was his breakthrough in the acting world. And it wasn't much longer after that they he became the hearthrob amongst females after his role in 10 Things I Hate About You in 1999. He's had too many massive roles to list them all but 500 Days of Summer, Inception, Looper and Lincoln are some of many.

Angus T. Jones

Image Source: The Sun
You'd never believe that this long bushy bearded man is actually the same person that played the slightly dopey and lazy Jake Harper on CBS' Two and a Half Men for nearly 10 years. He never appeared on our screens again after the end of the show however as he was baptized and believed that the show wasn't suitable for public consumption due to its brazenness at risky storylines.

Jodie Foster

Image Source: Twitter
It seems crazy to imagine Jodie Foster as a child actor these days thanks to her long-running career, but she did breakout as a 14 year old in Taxi Driver. She has an abundance of top quality roles in films like The Silence of the Lambs and The Accused and more recently The Mauritanian in 2021. You'll also find her in a main role during season four of True Detective.

Kristen Stewart

Image Source: CelebMafia
Crazily, the former person in this list, Jodie Foster, actually played the mother of Kristen Stewart in her first role on our screens as a child in the 2002 film Panic Room. She definitely broke out though after appearing as Bella within the Twilight series. Since then she has appeared in some more mature roles like Diana, Princess of Wales in Spencer and seems all the better for it.

Josh Brolin

Image Source: Daily Mail
These days, Josh Brolin has quite a decorated screen history, although you might be surprised to hear that he first broke out as Brandon in the Goonies. After this however he really struggled to find positive roles until No Country for Old Men when his whole career was reinvigorated. More recently you'll know him as the main villain in the MCU Thanos across multiple films.

Christina Ricci

Image Source: CelebMafia
Christina Ricci really broke onto our screens back in 1990 when she appeared as the dark daughter of the Addams Family, Wednesday. She continued to play pretty odd characters as her career developed including Monster and Prozac Nation, whilst until she returned to an Addams Family show in 2022 her most popular role might have been opposite Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow.

Candace Cameron

Image Source: Hollywood Life
Candace Cameron is the first of a few on this list to have featured in Full House, as the oldest sister D.J. where she gained a lot of attention from some of the male viewers for her looks. Following the show's end she has gone on to continue appearing on our screens with roles in Boy Meets World, Make It or Break It and she even reprised her role in Fuller House for 5 seasons.

Dakota Fanning

Image Source: CelebMafia
Strangely, Dakota Fanning and her younger sister both made their breakthrough as the same character in I Am Sam and you would have also seen her appear in The Cat in the Hat and War of the Worlds. As she has grown into the incredible actor she is though, we see she has matured into one of the most sought after out there with roles in Ocean's 8, The Alienist and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the most obvious examples.

Elle Fanning

Image Source: Page Six
The younger Fanning sister actually first appeared on our screens as a slightly younger version of Dakota's character, Lucy, in I Am Sam. She continued to work a load as a child in films like The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and We Bought A Zoo. These days she appears in much more mature roles and continues to garner critical acclaim for them, like as Catherine the Great in the Hulu series The Great.

Neil Patrick Harris

Image Source: TMZ
I suppose some of you might not even remember Neil Patrick Harris as a child actor but know him more for his more recent appearances on our screens. But some of you will also know he broke onto our screens in Clara's Heart and then as Doogie Howser the teenage doctor. However, most recently you'll know him for his award winning role as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother and A Series Of Unfortunate Events.

Dante Basco

Image Source: Yahoo News
If you were a fan of the movie Hook back when it came out in the early 1990's then you'll most likely remember the character of Rufio, one of the infamous Lost Boys. These days you won't see Dante Basco running around with that bright red streak in his air, although he has continued to appear on our screens since the film. You might also spot him streaming games on Twitch if that's up your street.

Hilary Duff

Image Source: CelebMafia
Despite her maintaining her youthful looks its hard to believe that the young girl who played Lizzie McGuire alongside roles in Cheaper By The Dozen and A Cinderella Story is now 35 years old! Despite having a brief period with a lack of truly noticeable roles she has proven she still has it with roles in Younger and the How I Met Your Mother (Father) spinoff going well.

Mary-Kate Olsen

Image Source: Who What Wear
Mary-Kate Olsen began appearing on our screens as a 6 year old alongside her twin sister Ashley in Full House and as I'm sure you're aware went on to become fashion icons for many around the world. She actually continued acting longer than Ashley with some roles in Beastly and Weeds but she pretty much retired from all acting in 2012 to focus on her fashion career.

Ashley Olsen

Image Source: CR Fashion Book
As already mentioned, Ashley appeared in Full House alongside her twin sister as Michelle Tanner alongside a handful of other films where the two alternated roles like It Takes Two and Two of a Kind. Like her sister she retired from acting back in 2012. Since then she has released a boatload of clothing lines as well as working for the Italian brand Superga.

Anna Chlumsky

Image Source: BuzzFeed
Anna Chlumsky hasn't had the most notable of careers since her role as a child opposite Macaulay Culkin in both My Girl and My Girl 2 during the early 90's. After quite a hiatus up until 2007 se began appearing on our screens again before securing the role of Amy Brookheimer in the HBO series Veep and most recently in Netflix's Inventing Anna series alongside Julia Garner.

Danica McKellar

Image Source: Page Six
For 5 years, from the age of 13 you would have seen Danica appear as Winnie on the popular show The Wonder Years, where she gained a lot of popularity amongst teenage male viewers of the show. She made some appearances later on in her acting career in popular sitcoms How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory and also as a star in Netflix's Project Mc2.

Jaleel White

Image Source: Reddit
If you were a fan of the show Family Matters then you might be amazed to find out that this guy in the picture above actually played Steve Urkel, perhaps the most iconic character to have appeared on the show. He took quite a large hiatus after the show but returned with supporting roles in 2006 in Dreamgirls, Boston Legal and House amongst many others.

Tatyana Ali

Image Source: IndieWire
You'll definitely realise that face on the left as the Will's cute and sarcastic little niece Ashley in the popular comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but these days she has grown up massively and even went on to appear in the darker fresh prince reboot 'Bel Air'. Besides this, she has also appeared in a range of other shows including The Eric Andre Show and Love That Girl!