Anna Chlumsky: From child star to obscurity to superstardom

Anna Chlumsky is back, ladies! The My Girl star we thought was lost from Hollywood forever is making a comeback in HBO’s new show Veep. She officially makes our list of favourite former child stars who have emerged from obscurity better than ever.

Natalie Portman

Being a child star definitely has its advantages. You get piles of money before you even understand the value of its worth, you get attention from people you’ve never even met and you are constantly reminded of how much more special you are than anyone else your age. And if you’re one of the particularly lucky ones, not to mention genuinely talented, that fame can be ridden well into adulthood (almost) without a hitch. We’re thinking of Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who all started their careers very young and whose stars continue to rise as they mature.

For many child stars, though, the fame and fortune eventually fade, casting the once beloved young celebrities into utter obscurity. What happens next often varies. Some resolve to having acting careers without the fame they once had, but that still allow them to pay the bills. Others cling desperately to the possibility of becoming famous again, often ending up on shows like Celebrity Rehab. And then there is the group that vacates the spotlight to pursue other life goals, only to step back into the limelight bigger and better than ever.

The latest of this last former child star breed is Anna Chlumsky, who made a name for herself in the classic 1990s My Girl movies. Since then, we didn’t really hear much from her, which makes sense, since she took a job at book publishing company HarperCollins after college. But the nine-to-five thing didn’t really stick, and most recently, she was caught turning heads on the red carpet for the premiere of her new HBO show Veep, co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Our girl is all grown up and back in Hollywood!

We think this was a good move for Anna, one that will lead to great things. If she doesn’t believe us, she should have a look at our list of other stars who decided to fly under the Hollywood radar for a while, only to re-emerge more successful than ever.

Natalie Portman

Natalie’s had a pretty steady career as an actress, starting as out as a child in feature films like The Professional, Heat and Mars Attacks! But this sought-after A-lister took a detour on her way to Oscar-winning superstardom. In 1999, just as her fame was reaching new heights, Natalie famously ducked out of Hollywood and began her degree in psychology at Harvard University. Natalie’s education became her priority over making movies, and during her years at Harvard, she took as few roles as getting her degree would allow. Once she graduated, Natalie picked up where she left off and catapulted to stardom, covering every genre of film, from indie comedies like Garden State, to heavy dramas like Closer, to action films like V for Vendetta. Now you’re hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t love former child star Natalie Portman. Looks like her career pause was only a good thing!

Mayim Bialik

The artist formerly known as Blossom has made quite a comeback recently. Mayim made her mark on the ’90s sitcom Blossom, playing the charming, quirky title character with big dreams. And then she vanished. Where could she have gone, we all wondered? She’d been studying to be a neuroscientist, of course! Turns out Blossom is kind of a genius. After earning a degree in neuroscience at UCLA, Mayim went on to pursue her Ph.D. in the field. But that didn’t stop her from rekindling her acting career. In one of the most appropriate comeback moves ever, Mayim soon began a regular stint on The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom that centres on young geniuses of science, which her character also is. Not much of a stretch, but it has certainly gotten her a lot of positive attention. She’s also earned a commendable reputation as having an excellent sense of humour about herself too, happy to send herself up on Curb Your Enthusiasm and the most recent Old Navy commercial campaign. We’re thrilled to have Blossom — er, Mayim — back in our lives again. And maybe she can help us with our homework.

Danica McKellar

Is there anyone who didn’t absolutely love Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years? She was just the loveliest thing you’d ever seen. Well, that little sweetheart would soon be a bona fide mathematician. After The Wonder Years and what she admits was a bumpy ride out of child stardom, Danica attended UCLA for mathematics, graduating with highest honours. She went on to write books aimed at middle and high school girls as a way to encourage them to stick with math and provide them with tips on how to do so. Now, as she focuses on her careers as a writer and mathematician, Danica is also making her mark in showbiz, snagging a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother and providing voices for countless animated characters. She’s almost managed to merge her two passions, acting as the math correspondent for Brink, a show presented by the Science Channel about upcoming technology. Winnie Cooper, you’re a wonder.

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