The 1990s were a much simpler time. Before we could rely on Screen Rant for our entertainment, we only had TV and yo-yos to pass the time. And along with ’90’s TV and Movies, came a range of famous actors. But forget about Tom Hanks and Jennifer Anniston, the real stars of the 1990s could be found in the Disney films and on the Nickelodeon channel.
The 1990s produced a whole array of child stars, and we have since had the pleasure (and sometimes pain) of watching them grow up. Well, some of them. Whilst some remained in the public eye (for better or for worse), others disappeared into obscurity. When it comes to the transition from child actor to fully grown superstar, we have seen some rise to the challenge whilst other have fallen from grace. And if you want to hear all the gory details, you’re in the right place. So to answer all your questions, here is the list of Where Are They Now: Child Stars Of The ’90s.
15. Jake Lloyd
With the release of Rogue One this month, we all can’t stop talking about Star Wars – and we’re not going to stop now! Jake Lloyd became known amongst Star Wars fans after playing the role of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in the late 1990s. It was the only Star Wars film that Lloyd starred in, and so many fans may be wandering what he’s been up to since. Although he retired from acting in 2001, there’s still quite a lot to say about what he’s done since the film.
Well, he’s played tribute to his Star Wars roles with appearances at comic book and sci-fi events, as well as reprising the role in a few Star Wars video games. In 2012, he announced that he was going to direct a documentary focused on Tibetan refugees. The next we heard from him was in 2014,when he said he was still working on the documentary and was also writing an autobiography (we like to think it would be called Child Star Wars). And then in 2015, things took a turn for the worse when he was arrested for several driving offences after a car chase with the police. As a result of the arrest, he spent 10 months in prison and then went to a psychiatric facility. It seems that childhood fame doesn’t always have a happy ending.
14. Macauley Culkin
Macaulay Culkin was without a doubt the biggest and most memorable child star of the ’90s. You can’t get through the festive season without his already iconic family film Home Alone. The film rocketed him to worldwide fame, and he even made it into one of Michael Jackson’s music videos.
Fast forward to the present day, and his level of fame is much more humble. After some rocky years in his personal life, and some hit-and-miss acting roles, he has taken on a very different project. Since 2013, he has been a member of the comedy band Pizza Underground. The band bizarrely specializes in pizza-themed parodies, usually parodying songs by The Velvet Underground. Don’t get too excited though, as the band have recently announced that they will be splitting after their next album.
Perhaps even more bizarrely, Culkin’s most recent project was starring in a car comparison site’s commercial. Sounds fairly normal, but the British commercial saw him star alongside a CGI Meerkat with a Russian accent. Whatever next?!
13. Kenan Thompson
Way back in 1994, Kenan Thompson hit the small screen in Nickelodeon’s TV series All That. The series, and his role in it, were a big success and landed him another Nickelodeon show, Kenan and Kel. With these two hit shows under his belt, he became one of kids’ TV’s biggest names of the ’90s.
But Kenan has proved to be more than just a child star. Since 2003, he’s been earning his stripes as a certified comedy legend on none other than Saturday Night Live. If there was any doubt about whether Kenan Thompson was a household name, or had any longevity, it’s certainly gone now. And his success in the show has broken records, as he’s done more celebrity impressions than any other cast member. Given the success of former SNL cast members, it seems certain that he will go on to do more great things in the years to come.
12. Amanda Bynes
Another star who found success from Nickelodeon show All That is Amanda Bynes. She followed that up by starring in Nickelodeon shows Figure It Out and her very own The Amanda Show. Bynes then made a glowing transition into being a teen sensation and big screen success. Hit films like She’s The Man, followed by roles in Hairspray and Easy A, made us confident that Amanda Bynes had escaped the curse of the child star.
Unfortunately, she then went on to suffer from a very public meltdown. She was arrested for driving under the influence in 2012, and in 2013 arrested for possession of drugs. After another DUI in 2014, she was treated for mental health issues. Although it’s unlikely she’ll be making a movie comeback anytime soon, she has tweeted about plans to go into the fashion industry. Let’s just hope she can figure it out– pun intended.
11. Tia and Tamera Mowry
Tia and Tamera Mowry were the stars of 90s show Sister, Sister, which had a successful five year run. Although they bagged other roles in the ’90s, there were none that gave them the same success as Sister, Sister. The show made the twins into child stars, but they haven’t since maintained their household name status as well as some actors on this list.
That’s not to say that they haven’t had any success as adults. In 2011, they had their own reality show Tia & Tamera, but that only lasted them until 2013. Since then, they have found more success as individuals than as a pair. Tamera is currently a host on the talk show The Real and Tia has recurring roles in the shows Rosewood and Mistresses. They may not have become box office hits like some child stars, but they also did a fairly good job of staying out of trouble.
10. Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment had a string of success as a child star in the ’90s. He starred in films like The Sixth Sense and Forrest Gump and even bagged a few awards for them along the way. With films like these on his CV at a young age, he was pretty much guaranteed to be getting roles for a long time. Fast forward to the present day, and while he might not be as high profile, he’s certainly still getting work.
His biggest success in recent years has been in the show Comedy Bang! Bang! but he has had other small roles here and there. He’s also still voicing the Kingdom Hearts games, which he starting working on in 2003. He’s still playing parts in films too but, other than Entourage, most of them have been fairly low profile. His name might not be the most well-known on this list, but he’s certainly made a career for himself from his childhood stardom.
9. Mara Wilson
Child stars often get a bad rap, courtesy of some of the names on this list, but Mara Wilson seems to be refreshingly normal in comparison. Although the name Mara Wilson might not be all too familiar, we’re betting the name Matilda will ring a few bells. Throw in the name Mrs. Doubtfire, and you can see why she was the queen of ’90s child stars.
After her success in the ’90s, she opted for an early retirement and since then she has managed to have success in a much more low-key career. That hasn’t, however, prevented her from a few guest roles in some big shows. In a recent Broad City episode that was inspired by the famous restaurant scene in Mrs. Doubtfire, she played a waitress in a playful nod to her former role. She’s also lent her voice to the hugely successful Bojack Horseman too. And having written articles about the delinquency of child stars, it’s safe to say she chose a much safer path than some.
8. The Olsen Twins
The role of Michelle Tanner in Full House produced not one, but two child stars. Of course, we are talking about the famous twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They went from success to success in the ’90s, landing their own shows like The Adventures of Mary Kate & Ashley and Two of a Kind. After their young stardom, Mary-Kate went into some acting ventures on her own but nothing of quite the same level.
Nowadays, the twins focus their efforts on their billion dollar fashion empire and are known for their signature style. Their sister Elizabeth Olsen has somewhat overtaken their acting success with her roles in Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. However, with the Netflix show Fuller House people were keen to see the Olsen twins back in action. Despite no appearance from Michelle Tanner in season one, fans are still hoping for a reprise of their role in the upcoming second season.
7. Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci is someone who made it as not just a child star, but also as a teen star in the ’90s. She kicked the decade off by starring with Cher in Mermaids, before bagging an iconic role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and its respective sequel. Her teen success in the nineties came with big budget films like Casper and Now and Then before she transitioned into indie films and art house films.
Her career is still steady, and she currently has starred in over 45 films, including recent ones like The Smurfs 2. She’s also had some TV roles, the highlight being an Emmy nominated role in Grey’s Anatomy in 2006. More recently, she hit TV in the role of Lizzie Borden in The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. She has also filmed a pilot for the upcoming drama Z: The Beginning of Everything. It looks like there’s no slowing down for Christina Ricci!
6. Mayim Bialik
Having already begun her acting career in the 1980s with films like Beaches, by the time the ’90s came around Mayim Bialik was a child star of sorts. Throughout the ’90s she starred in two films and over fifteen TV series, including the lead role in Blossom for five years.
After the 1990s, her acting career continued to bring success, with various guest roles in TV series like Curb Your Enthusiasm. However, it was in 2010 that her acting career really reached new heights, when she landed the role of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Having a PHD in Neuroscience herself, Bialik was the perfect person for the part in the science-themed sitcom, and both she and her character are now fan favourites. Mayim Bialik could show some other child stars a thing or two about growing up in the industry, as she’s done a good job of staying out of trouble and maintaining success.
5. Melissa Joan Hart
The ’90s were a big decade for Mellissa Joan Hart. First came her role in Clarissa Explains It All, which gained her a lot of success and recognition, but then came the role of a lifetime. Starting with a TV movie and extending into a TV series, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch became a phenomenon of ’90s and early ’00s culture.
After her success with the show, she enjoyed guest roles in series like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Robot Chicken, as well as starring in some small movies and a stint on Dancing With The Stars. She was enjoying some success, but experienced a return to form with the TV series Melissa & Joey. The sitcom ended in 2015 and, having already landed a few small roles since, we’re certain Melissa Joan Hart is around to stay. Although if we’re completely honest, she’ll always be Sabrina to us. Long live the ’90s!
4. Seth Green
Seth Green’s child stardom wasn’t the most conventional. After a hit commercial, he made an appearance at the 1991 Superbowl. However, his big role came when he hit the screens in classic horror film It. He began to land roles throughout the rest of the ’90s, including in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Nowadays, his success is still going strong but in some very different roles. The obvious one is his huge success with his various voice roles in Family Guy and Robot Chicken. But his success doesn’t end there, he’s had roles in TV series like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Hulks and the A.G.E.N.T.S of Smash, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And with writing and directing credits to his name, it seems Seth Green’s career shows no rules of slowing down. It’s enough to leave some child stars green with envy.
3. Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt broke into stardom in the ’90s starting with her role in Kids Incorporated. The decade saw her transition into a teen sensation too, and she landed more roles in the likes of Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel. She also enjoyed a music career and released three albums in the decade.
More recently, she had a big role in The Client List between 2012 and 2013, and between 2014 and 2015 starred in Criminal Minds. Her contribution to the soundtrack of The Client List allowed her music career to continue as well as her acting career. Since 2014, she has kept her career a little bit on the quiet side, but that’s no doubt down to her recent marriage and birth of two children. Her commitment to her family is sweet, but we selfishly hope she will treat us to a few more acting roles in the future too!
2. Jaleel White
Family Matters was a pretty big deal as far as ’90s sitcoms go. Jaleel White’s character, Steve Urkel, wasn’t even originally meant to be a recurring role but stole the show and became big enough to market his own cereal and action figure. It seems like just yesterday we were tucking into a bowl of Urkel-Os. Well not to make you feel old but Family Matters ended nearly twenty years ago now, which makes us wonder what he’s been up to since.
Well, some of the highlights of his acting career since Family Matters include starring in Dream Girls, a guest role on House, and a brief stint on Psych. He’s also been a contestant on Dancing With The Stars and he hosted the game show Total Blackout. One of the lower points in his career saw him star in the direct-to-dvd film Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus, but it’s probably for the best if we all pretend that never happened.
1. Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris has, at some points in his career, been one of the biggest names in showbiz. It all started back in the late ’80s and the ’90s, when he started his career as a child actor. Throughout the early ’90s he played the role of Doogie Howser in the TV series Doogie Howser, M.D. and a related television film. He also had small roles in TV series like Blossom, The Simpsons, and Capitol Critters, not to mention countless TV movies that he starred in. All of this allowed him to build up a pretty impressive by the time he reached adulthood.
And of course his success continued into adulthood, and he’s now largely known for his role as Barney on the iconic How I Met Your Mother. But he’s proven to be more than just a one trick pony with other big roles in Gone Girl, The Muppets, and The Smurfs. His longevity and success have also seen him host countless award ceremonies including the Tonys, the Emmys, and of course the Oscars. And with the release of A Series of Unfortunate Events coming soon, he’s sure to keep up the success.
Did we miss any of your favourite child stars from the 1990s? Let us know their success (or horror) stories in the comments!