Hollywood has a bad reputation for leading young actors and actresses down the wrong path, but there are several child stars that turned out just fine, in spite the pressures of an industry governed by short-lived success. While some may have had a few brief encounters with drugs and alcohol, they’ve managed to stay on track of their career goals in the long term, earning their spot as A-list celebrities in the music and film arena.
As a child star, it can be difficult to keep your eyes on the prize, especially when manipulative, fake friends and industry pressures are in the picture. Unfortunately, some young talents fall prey to Hollywood’s temptations and you can read up on that in our previous article about 10 famous celebrities who needed rehab. But this list is all about the strong-minded and ambitious personalities that made it to the top and managed to stay there. Take a look at the child stars that turned out just fine.
6. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Lincoln, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Inception, 500 Days of Summer…need I continue the list? It’s clear that this handsome gentleman has his hands in just about any Hollywood blockbuster of the past decade, but what’s even more surprising is how long he’s been around film sets. Joseph Gordon-Levitt made his first appearance as a 7-year-old in the movie Angels in the Outfield, but the industry had much more in store for him than a secondary role. And with Don Jon, the actor can now add slash director to his profession.
5. Emma Watson
The once young and bushy-haired girl, who came to light as Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter films, is now a dazzling swan of a woman. Although she’s merely 24 years old, Emma Watson is somewhat of a poster child for the new feminist generation, but also living proof that child stars can turn out just fine. Not only did the English actress just graduate from Brown University in a timely manner, she’s also taken on several interesting roles in films like The Perks of Being a Wall Flower or The Bling Ring.
4. Shirley Temple
Another power gal on our list of child stars that turned out just fine was once considered Hollywood’s number one movie star. The adorable curly haired Shirley Temple started her camera flirtation at the tender age of 3 and before she was 10, the entire country knew who she was. However, in 1950, the 22-year-old actress gave her farewells to the film industry and decided it was time to make a substantial change: she geared towards politics, ran for a congressional seat in 1967, and two years later was appointed as the U.S. embassador for the United Nations.
3. Sean Astin
When Sean Astin was just a little boy he starred in The Goonies, catapulting him to fame. But instead of falling into Hollywood’s pit of temptation, the child star managed to stay on track, in spite of dealing with his mother Patty Duke’s bipolar disorder and suicide attempts. Today, Astin continues to work as an actor and director, in addition to advocating for animal rights, mental health, and family literacy.
2. Christina Aguilera
The pop-diva may have caused some waves in her early twenties for embracing her sexuality in music videos, but she’s never been to rehab and nobody ever questioned her sanity (unlike her former friend and co-child star Britney Spears). The singer who launched her career at the famous Mickey Mouse Club was a superstar by the time she turned 19. After earning several Grammy Awards, marrying and divorcing Jordan Bratman, having two children, and releasing yet another album, it’s safe to say Miss X-Tina had turned out just fine.
1. Natalie Portman
The beautiful, talented, and young Natalie Portman was discovered for the role of Mathilda in Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional back in 1994. While some might have expected her to go off track at some point, Portman has impressed her fans and gossipers by earning a degree in psychology from Harvard, marrying Benjamin Millepeid, advocating for animal rights, and of course, taking on challenging roles. This woman is certainly a good example of child stars that turned out just fine, and reaffirms our belief that an early career in Hollywood doesn’t have to end in disaster.