While being a child star might sound like the dream, for some kids, they learn that it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. There are plenty of young actors and actresses who start in the business, then choose to leave it shortly after.
However, when a child actor finds success in the business, there’s a good chance they’ll continue to ride that success until the end. There are hardly any dropouts.
With all that being said, not every breakout star wants to continue on. While hardly anyone truly leaves the industry after just one film, there are a select few child actors who have starred in a major film or two, only to have left Hollywood a short time afterwards.
For those child actors who never took another major film role after their initial breakout role and then faded away after the fact, there are usually no regrets. Of course, they will always be remembered by the public for the actor they used to be.
There are many reasons why child stars quit the business, although it is rare for them to quit right after becoming successful. For those who quit so soon, they certainly have their reasons for doing so.
Here are the 15 Child Stars Who Disappeared After Just One Movie.
15. Robert Tsai (School of Rock)
Robert Tsai ended up being a breakout star in the film, School of Rock. Tsai portrayed Lawrence, a nerdy kid who was really good at playing the piano. His character ended up getting the nickname, “Mr. Cool.”
School of Rock ended up being Tsai’s only acting credit. After he finished the film, Tsai continued playing the paino while attending Dartmouth College. He’s an accomplished musician, as were all the kids who were cast for the band in the movie.
Besides still being a fantastic piano player, Tsai has also been seen as a member of the Instant Noodle dance crew.
14. Ariana Richards (Jurassic Park)
Ariana Richards might now by in her thirties, but she was once a young teen actor. Specifically, she portrayed the lead role of Lex in the original Jurassic Park. Richards has a few other acting credits after the fact, but she essentially left the business altogether shortly after finding fame.
Instead of continuing her career, Richards decided to become a musician and a painter. While her music career was cut short, she succeeded as a painter. She even won first place in an oil painting competition and has been apprenticing under some major professional painters.
13. Daniel Tay (Elf)
Daniel Tay is best known for his role as Michael, starring opposite Will Ferrell in Elf. The role was only Tay’s second acting credit and his first major film role. While audiences loved him, Tay soon realized that acting onscreen wasn’t for him as he stopped acting shortly after finding fame.
Having only seven acting credits (with three of those being voiceover gigs), Tay was only in the business from 2003 to 2009. The former actor chose to take an academic route instead. He ended up going to Yale University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and started working as a tutor.
12. Peter Ostrum (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)
Peter Ostrum found success as a child actor when he portrayed Charlie in the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Interestingly enough, that was his first and final acting credit as he chose not to pursue acting after the fact.
For Ostrum to quit acting after his first acting credit being from one of the most famous movies of all time, is pretty astounding.
However, Hollywood was not the place for Ostrum. In fact, he didn’t even pursue onscreen acting originally. Talent agents working on the film had found him at a performing arts theater in his hometown.
11. Amber Scott (Hook)
Former child actress, Amber Scott, only has one onscreen acting credit. She was barely out of kindergarten in 1991 when she portrayed Maggie Banning in Hook. While the actress was a hit in the film, she never pursued an acting career after completing the film.
While a more relevant headshot surfaced of the former actress recently, Scott still hasn’t done anymore onscreen work as an adult. She instead went to Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and graduated from there in 2006.
Many people wonder about what happened to Amber Scott. After appearing opposite Robin Williams, the former actress has led a very quiet and somewhat secretive life.
10. Joey Gaydos (School of Rock)
Joey Gaydos was once that crazy awesome guitarist from School of Rock. Starring opposite Jack Black, Joey Gaydos’s character, Zack Mooneyham, was probably the coolest of them all. Being a beast on the guitar, he absolutely stole the show. That being said, acting wasn’t really the path Gaydos wanted to take.
Gaydos’s one and only acting credit is the one from School of Rock. The reason as to why he was cast in the film was because of his musical capabilities.
So, that’s what Gaydos decided to do with his life: he became a musician. He’s performed at festivals and released a few albums, both on his own and with his band.
9. Brittany Ashton Holmes (The Little Rascals)
Having found fame for her role as Delilah in the 1994 version of The Little Rascals, Brittany Ashley Holmes became an instant hit. That being said, she wasn’t that into continuing her career afterwards.
She was only a kindergartner when she was cast in the film, her first real acting credit. After that, she dabbled a bit in acting, but left the business in 1996, with the exception of a television movie appearance in 2014.
Holmes lives a very private life. Since she retired from acting in the mid-90s, not much is known about her. She was last seen living in California, potentially working towards a degree in political science.
8. Jonathan Ke Quan (The Goonies)
To be fair, Jonathan Ke Quan has been in more than just one major film having been in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. That being said, he is best known for his role as Data in The Goonies.
Jonathan Ke Quan only has eleven acting credits to his name. He was even part of a television series. However, he ended up leaving the business around 1997, with the exception of a film role in 2002.
He was also a stunt coordinator for a brief amount of time once he was older, having worked on X-Men in 2000 and a short film in 2009.
While he might have left onscreen acting, Jonathan Ke Quan has always been interested in film. He ended up going to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts after quitting acting.
7. Liesel Matthews (Air Force One/A Little Princess)
Liesel Matthews technically had two major film roles: her first for A Little Princess and one for Air Force One. The actress was making a splash in Hollywood after those two major roles. That being said, she stopped acting after her role in Blast in 2000, giving her only three onscreen roles altogether.
Matthews’s story is actually pretty interesting. She’s part of the Pritzker family who is known for founding Hyatt Hotels, the TransUnion Credit Bureau, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
She ended up going to Colombia University, but was interrupted at school due to a lawsuit in order to settle issues dealing with her trust fund.
While Matthews (whose real name is Liesel Pritzker Simmons) chose to leave the acting world, she has been up to a lot since choosing to do other things, including winning hundreds of millions in that family lawsuit of hers.
6. Tami Stronach (The NeverEnding Story)
You will most likely recognize Tami Stronach from her role as The Childlike Empress in The NeverEnding Story.
While she found success after the fact, Stronach’s parents chose for her not to continue acting after they revaluated what they wanted for their daughter. Her parents didn’t want her to go down the same rabbit hole that many other child actors end up going down.
Since her brief time in acting, Stronach has grown up and became a dancer. She has traveled around the world with a dance troupe and has even dabbled in choreographing.
While Stronach’s parents might not have wanted her to be an actress, Stronach herself always has had an interest in acting. If her parents hadn’t pulled her from it, she might have had a very different story.
5. Chez Starbuck (The Thirteenth Year)
Disney Channel was always known for making stars, but not everyone decides to stay on with the network after getting a taste of it. The same goes for Chez Starbuck, star of the Disney Channel original movie from 1999, The Thirteenth Year.
After becoming a Disney star, Starbuck decided to stop acting for the most part. Instead, he became an artist. While he left the acting world, Starbuck has shown interest in going back to it. Though it might have been easier for him to make a splash right after his success, chances are, he’ll still be able to find a place in Hollywood if he wants it.
4. Alisan Porter (Curly Sue)
Alisan Porter was an adorable child star, having found fame in the 1991 film, Curly Sue. She had a few other parts in films and even a few television shows. However, her true claim to fame was from the John Hughes film starring opposite Jim Belushi.
While Porter quit acting onscreen after a few parts fell through, she continued acting onstage. However, she has had her issues with both alcoholism and drug addition which she has been very open about.
While Porter left acting, she’s always loved music. She was only five years old when she won Star Search, the youngest contestant to ever win on the show. She also won season 10 of The Voice, which allowed her to continue pursuing music as a career.
3. Jake Lloyd (Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace)
Jake Lloyd is best known for his role as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Before that, he had a few guest roles on television shows including ER and The Pretender. Lloyd was on his way to becoming a regular in Hollywood, but after he rose to Star Wars fame, the actor called it quits.
Sadly, Lloyd was relentlessly bullied in school after rising to fame. He lashed out and began resenting the Star Wars franchise that had given him so much. He decided to retire and leave the business before he even became a teenager.
2. Hal Scardino (The Indian in the Cupboard)
Hal Scardino was best known for portraying the leading role in the film, The Indian in the Cupboard. Regardless of the film aging horribly, Scardino tried to stay in acting. However, he ended up leaving the business in 1996, with the exception of two credits: one from 2015 and one from 2017.
Scardino had an interesting life. Although he was born in Georgia, he grew up in London. After acting, he went back to school, doing well enough to make it to Columbia University. He graduated from there in 2005.
While being relatively quiet, Scardino has a few other credits on IMDb. He was an executive producer in 2015 and will be producing a documentary that is currently in post-production and will release later this year.
1. Danny Lloyd (The Shining)
Having starred opposite Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Danny Lloyd was on the right path to becoming the next big Hollywood child actor. However, he only has one other acting credit and ended up leaving Hollywood in 1982, before he was even ten years old.
Lloyd is one of those child actors who didn’t want to be a star, so he simply stopped pursuing it. Instead, Lloyd followed the academia route and focused on school. As of ten years ago, he was a biology professor in Kentucky.
While the spotlight might have been fun for awhile, Lloyd didn’t want to live that life. It must be funny though for those students when they find out that their first year biology professor is that kid from The Shining.
Do you know of any other child actors who left the business after just one film? Let us know in the comments!
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