Child Stars Who Are Still Working Today

by Allie Gemmill
Feb 20, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Child Actors Still Working Today

Imagine what it's like to be a child star. Could you handle the intense shoots, regardless of whether you're working on a film or a TV show? Could you memorize your lines with ease and then remember to say them on cue? Could you deliver the right emotions and make your performance gel together with the rest of the project?

It's no mean feat, to be sure, but there are some actors in Hollywood who got their start in show business as children, which means they were faced with doing all of the above when the rest of us were going to elementary school. Add to that the pressures of not only managing your fame at such a young age but also successfully making the transition from child star to teen star and even grown-up movie and TV star, and you've got a lot to marvel at. Seriously, how do these actors do it?

There are plenty of kids who have acted over the years, but these stars have done it, nailed it and built thriving careers from their early work in film and TV. They're stars you know and love, who you have seen in a ton of projects and who have skillfully navigated the unwieldy world of fame from such a young age and managed not to get eaten alive by the whole rigmarole. 

Click through to find out which child actors are still working today. You might be surprised at who pops up.

1/20 :Kurt Russell

Russell may be best known for his roles in Escape from New York, Overboard and Guardians of the Galaxy, but he got his start in showbiz at the ripe old age of 11, when he appeared in a small role in the '60s TV series Dennis the Menace.

2/20 :Drew Barrymore

Barrymore comes from a long line of actors and made her big-screen debut in 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

3/20 :Drake

Drake has transitioned into music full-time, but this charmer got his start on the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation.

4/20 :Regina King

King got her start in television, first appearing in the network sitcom 227 from 1985 to 1990.

5/20 :Ron Howard

Ron Howard got his start in the entertainment business when he was still elementary school-age in The Andy Griffith Show. He continued to work in television through his teens and 20s before transitioning to the director's chair for films like Apollo 13

6/20 :Natalie Portman

Portman was just 13 when she became an international star thanks to her performance in Léon: The Professional. She's racked up a number of credits since then, starring in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Black Swan, V for Vendetta and most recently in Jackie and Annihilation.

7/20 :Abigail Breslin

Breslin got her start in film and TV with a major role: playing little Bo Hess in M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 thriller Signs. From there, she popped up in films like Little Miss Sunshine and Raising Helen as well as TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and NCIS before recent gigs like the TV movie version of Dirty Dancing.

8/20 :Raven-Symoné

Raven-Symoné started out in TV at the adorable age of 4, when she appeared in a guest role on A Different World. From there, she racked up credits on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before breaking big as Olivia Kendall on The Cosby Show. These days, she's back on TV in a reboot of her mid-'00s Disney show, That's So Raven.

9/20 :Leonardo DiCaprio

Oh, Leonardo DiCaprio. This heartthrob has been famous darn near his entire life, getting his start in commercials as a young boy before moving into TV shows like Growing Pains and Parenthood in the late '80s and early '90s. Do I even need to tell you the films he's been in since then? I think not. 

10/20 :Dakota & Elle Fanning

The Fanning sisters have cultivated impressive careers — and they're only in their 20s! Dakota rose to prominence on TV shows like Ally McBeal, ER and CSI before breaking out in films like I Am Sam and Uptown Girls. Elle, on the other hand, got her start thanks to her big sister, appearing as a younger version of her sister's character in I Am Sam before getting roles of her in own in films like The Nines, Reservation Road and Somewhere.

11/20 :Kirsten Dunst

Dunst was one of the most famous child stars of the '90s, appearing in films like Interview With the Vampire, Jumanji and Bring It On. She is still working hard, most recently appearing on the TV show Fargo.

12/20 :Jeff Bridges

Bridges got his start in television in 1958 at age 9 play various bit parts on the TV show his father, Lloyd Bridges, starred on call Sea Hunt (although he does have an uncredited role from when he was an infant in the 1960 film, The Company She Keeps). Sea Hunt helped propel Bridges further into acting, where he popped up on The Lloyd Bridges Show and Lassie before getting roles in big movies as he entered adulthood, including The Last Picture Show (pictured above left), Tron, The Big Lebowski and True Grit.

13/20 :Candace Cameron Bure

Candace Cameron Bure is still making bank on the show that helped catapult her to fame as a child, Full House. Sure, it may be called Fuller House now and her character may be all grown up, but it's still good to see that she can play the character many of us know and love all these years later.

14/20 :Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood has been on our radar for the better part of 20 years, starring in films like The Good Son and North as a kid before graduating to darker, more intense films like The Faculty and I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore in his 20s and 30s.

15/20 :Haley Joel Osment

Osment's career is getting a refresh after a long hiatus from child stardom. He rose to prominence in the late '90s and early '00s in films like The Sixth Sense and Bicentennial Man

16/20 :Ethan Hawke

Hawke began his now-illustrious career thanks to a successful start in his late teens in films like Dead Poets Society, Explorers and White Fang.

17/20 :Lisa Bonet

Bonet had her breakout role in the mid-'80s when she assumed the role of Denise Cosby on The Cosby Show, but before that, she worked briefly on hit '80s TV shows St. Elsewhere and Tales From the Darkside.

18/20 :Scarlett Johansson

Johansson may have become super well-known for late '90s/early '00s films like Ghost World, Lost in Translation and Girl With a Pearl Earring, but she's been acting since the early '90s, with her first major role coming in 1994 in North.

19/20 :Christina Ricci

Ricci starred opposite Cher and Winona Ryder in her first major film, Mermaids, in 1990, and she's been steadily working ever since.

20/20 :Winona Ryder

Ryder began her career in the late '80s with films like Square Dance (starring opposite Rob Lowe) and Beetlejuice. The rest is history, as they say, and today you can see her on Netflix's Stranger Things.