A career in Hollywood must seem like the dream gig for any child. Fame, fortune, and the promise of many years of living the good life. As we've learned, though, this isn't quite the case and children in Hollywood are often exploited and mistreated in the worst kind of way.
Speaking to USA Today, former child TV star Tia Mowry said, "You're a child who is working. You have a job. That job is a hard job. Everybody thinks being a child star is glamorous. But when you're on a show, you are often carrying a whole show and you know that. You have to pull it off. You have to know your lines. People are making money off you."
The curse of being a child actor has led to many meltdowns and damaged lives. We've seen too many stars burn out before they've even fully formed, and others lost to the dark, insidious traps of the seedy entertainment industry.
Some actors, however, turned their back on Hollywood and want nothing more to do with it. They've moved on – some by choice and others by circumstance.
With that said, let's look at the 15 Child Stars Who Are Now Hiding From Hollywood.
15 Macaulay Culkin
When Macaulay Culkin first appeared, he was the kid we all wanted to be and the son every parent wanted. He oozed charisma and solidified his name in Hollywood folklore by appearing in films such as Home Alone, My Girl, and Richie Rich.
Behind the scenes, though, the pressures of fame took their toll on him and he took a break from acting. Coupled with the strained relationship that he had with his father, Kit (due to money issues), Culkin opted not to make a full-time return to Tinseltown.
While he occasionally makes sporadic media and movie appearances, he prefers to live a life away from the limelight in Paris, France.
Culkin appears to be happy, so his choices seemed to have worked out for the best.
14 Mara Wilson
In the '90s, Mara Wilson stole our hearts with her doe-eyed, adorable roles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda, and Miracle on 34th Street. She quickly became America's new sweetheart and many big things were predicted for her in the future.
In fact, she reached a point where scripts were being sent to her and she no longer needed to audition. That alone tells you how high her stock was in Hollywood.
After her appearance in 2000's Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Wilson decided to quit acting. It had been some time coming, as she'd lost her mother a few years earlier and it resulted in her losing the passion for the industry.
Since then, Wilson graduated from college and has gone on to become a writer.
13 Jake Lloyd
If you want to see the damage that the rabid Star Wars fanbase can do, look no further than Jake Lloyd. His career was promising up until he received the role of a lifetime as the young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
The movie, however, was torn apart by critics and fans, with his performance coming under fire and receiving stinging criticism. Keep in mind that this was a 10-year-old boy who had to suffer this kind of abuse.
The amount of scrutiny, bullying, and negative attention affected Lloyd, who gave up acting in 2001 and got rid of all of his Star Wars memorabilia.
In 2015, Lloyd was arrested for reckless driving, resisting arrest, and driving without a license. He was then moved to a psychiatric facility after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
12 Brandon Call
Brandon Call was an in-demand child actor in the late '80s and early '90s. Not only did he portray J.T. Lambert in the popular sitcom Step by Step, but he was also Mitch Buchannon's son, Hobie, in the first season of Baywatch.
After Step by Step ended in 1998, Call quit acting. He quickly disappeared out of the limelight, with no one knowing what happened to him or if everything was okay.
Through the grapevine, several details about his personal life have come to be known. Reportedly, Call is divorced, has a daughter, and works at his parents' gas station in San Diego. It might be a far cry from being a TV child star and teenage heartthrob, but as long as he's happy that's what matters.
11 Ariana Richards
By the time that Ariana Richards appeared in 1993's Jurassic Park, she'd already starred in several movies and TV shows – even though she was only 14 years old.
Still, her role as Lex Murphy in Steve Spielberg's dinosaur epic remains undoubtedly her most memorable part and she went on to appear in numerous productions afterwards.
Richards' true passion, though, was art and she graduated from Skidmore College in 2001, earning a degree in Fine Art and Drama.
She continued to pursue her craft and eventually gave up acting to give all her attention to her art career.
That said, Richards did appear in a movie as recently as 2013, but she doesn't seem too interested in returning to the big screen on a regular basis, as she balances her new career, marriage, and motherhood.
10 Jonathan Taylor Thomas
After his performance as Randy Taylor in Home Improvement, Jonathan Taylor Thomas cemented himself as the pin-up boy of the '90s. Much like Brad Pitt was the icon for the adults, Thomas was the same for the younger generation.
Unlike a lot of child actors in TV series, however, Thomas' career stretched beyond Home Improvement. One of his most famous roles is as the voice the young Simba in The Lion King and he went on to appear in several live-action movies.
In the mid 2000s, though, Thomas disappeared off the map as he headed off to further his studies. He's made sporadic TV appearances since then, notably on Last Man Standing, but he seems quite content to live a regular life away from the chaos of the entertainment industry.
9 Kirk Cameron
Well, Kirk Cameron didn't go off the rails and discover all the vices that most child actors fall victim to.
Instead, he converted to Christianity at the age of 17 and made it the cornerstone of his life.
Speaking about his relationship with Hollywood to The Hollywood Reporter, Cameron said, "I enjoy my relationship with Hollywood. I'm so thankful for the platform it provided me. Without Growing Pains, you and I wouldn’t be talking. It launched a career, and I met my wife on the show. I'm shocked that after 30 years, people are still interested in what I have to say, and I have Hollywood to thank for that."
While Cameron continues to make movies, he takes on Christian productions and not the traditional Hollywood affairs, as he tries to promote his values and beliefs.
8 Josh Saviano
There's a hilarious rumor going around that Josh Saviano, from The Wonder Years fame, grew up and became shock rocker Marilyn Manson. Looking at pictures of Saviano from his youth, it's easy to see where this rumor started – but alas, it isn't true. Manson's real name is actually Brian Warner.
The truth is, Saviano left acting to go to college and he eventually became a lawyer.
However, he did return to acting briefly as he appeared in three episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
In 2015, Saviano left law firm Morrison Cohen to start two new endeavors: JDS Legal (a law firm) and Act 3 Advisors (a celebrity brand agency). All things considered, it seems like Kevin Arnold's best friend did okay for himself in life.
7 Danny Lloyd
Danny Lloyd's first acting gig was a dream one: alongside Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. His performance as Danny Torrance was so well-received that many people predicted a bright future for the then eight-year-old star.
Two years later, Lloyd appeared in Will: G. Gordon Liddy and promptly disappeared off the map. Speaking to The Guardian, he said that he'd auditioned for several roles with no real success and decided to call it a day a few years afterwards.
"[Acting] was exciting. But as I got a little bit older, it got kind of boring. Then I had to tell my parents that I was ready to quit. Which they were fine with," he said.
Lloyd went on to live a relatively normal life and is currently a biology teacher.
6 Phoebe Cates
While Phoebe Cates wasn't strictly a child actor since she got her first role when she was a teenager, she did start off as a professional dancer and model at quite a young age.
Nonetheless, when she stepped into Hollywood, the parts came at her thick and fast – with her most notable role being Linda Barrett in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
However, her career didn't last too long after she married Kevin Kline in 1989 and decided to dedicate her time to her family rather than the big screen.
Cates left Hollywood in 1994, only returning for 2001's The Anniversary Party and providing the voice of Kate Beringer in the Lego Dimensions video game.
The good news is that Cates and Kline's marriage is still going strong to this day, and they continue to be a relationship goal for other celebs.
5 Lisa Jakub
After meaty roles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day, and The Beautician and the Beast, a lot was expected of Lisa Jakub. She not only lit up the big screen, but she also found success on TV, as she appeared in a host of popular programs, such as The Twilight Zone and Due South.
In 2001, at the age of 22, Jakub said sayonara to Hollywood and moved to Virginia, later marrying her longtime partner, Jeremy Jones.
Since then, Jakub has publicly stated that she has no plans to return to acting and is enjoying her retirement. She's keeping herself busy, having penned two books, You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up and Not Just Me: Anxiety, Depression, and Learning to Embrace Your Weird.
4 Charlie Korsmo
In the early '90s, Charlie Korsmo's name would often be mentioned in the same breath as Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood. In his first two years as an actor, he secured roles in big productions like Dick Tracy, What About Bob?, and Hook. At the time these were major parts for a newcomer like Korsmo.
Seven years later, Korsmo appeared in Can't Hardly Wait and called it a day soon afterwards. He enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a degree in physics.
Then in 2006, he expanded his studies and received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale.
Since then, Korsmo has worked as a lawyer and law professor, which isn't bad for the kid who almost betrayed Peter Pan in Hook.
3 Peter Ostrum
Much like the source material, the part of Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a coveted role. Children from all over wanted the opportunity of a lifetime but it was the then 12-year-old Peter Ostrum who was selected by talent agents.
Despite the success of the movie and his enjoyment of the experience, Ostrum was reluctant to sign a three-picture deal when it was over.
Not long afterwards, he decided to quit acting, saying, "Everybody thinks that acting is such a glamorous profession, but it's a difficult profession."
For years afterwards, he refused to discuss the role before finally warming up to the topic again.
Nowadays, Ostrum works as a veterinarian in New York, where he lives with his wife and two children.
2 Carrie Henn
If you want to talk about pure luck and chance, you only need to read about how Carrie Henn was discovered. In 1984, she sat peacefully at her school's cafeteria and was spotted by casting agents who took a photo of her.
Soon afterwards, she was invited to Pinewood Studios, where she auditioned for the part of Newt in Aliens.
Henn secured the role in the iconic movie, but said that she had no intentions to act again afterwards. However, in 2015, she was convinced to return for the Alien fan movie Alien Identity.
The film never happened, though, because 20th Century Fox spoiled the party by sending a cease and desist letter to the producers of the movie.
Away from Hollywood, Henn received a degree in liberal studies and child development, and works as a school teacher.
1 Jeff Cohen
Ah, The Goonies. One of the most treasured flicks of all time, featuring the unforgettable Chunk, as portrayed by Jeff Cohen. However, when puberty came knocking, Cohen checked out and went into an early retirement.
Speaking about this decision to ABA Journal, he said, "[Acting is] too fun. They feed you. You get to pretend all day. But I had to figure it out."
It was The Goonies director, Richard Donner, who helped him, as he introduced Cohen to the business side of Hollywood.
The child actor took the opportunity with both hands and got acquainted with the studios.
In 2000, Cohen graduated from UCLA's law school and then worked at an entertainment law firm before eventually starting his own firm in Beverly Hills. "I get to go to the parties but I don't have to audition," Cohen joked about his new career.
Which other former child actors are avoiding Hollywood like the plague? Let us know in the comments section!
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