Age can be a cruel mistress to Hollywood stars. With the help of some of the world’s most elite plastic surgeons, the inevitable decline in looks can be prolonged for years, but eventually time catches up to even the most beautiful heartthrobs in the business.
Of course, not everyone has to worry about what they’ll look like on the big screen in a few years. For the truly lucky, time doesn’t seem to have an effect on their appearance, but sometimes staying the same age can be a curse as much as it is a blessing.
Much like Peter Pan in Neverland, some celebrities have refused to grow up since hitting it big for the first time. While their roles in the film and television industry may have changed, their faces have stayed stuck in the past. Sure, they may have the occasional wrinkle or may a touch of facial hair, but with enough imagination, it’s hard to not glance at theses stars without thinking of their earliest work.
All grown up, our list highlights the most recognizable baby-faced celebs stuck in ageless purgatory. Although they have managed to go this long without buying beauty creams and makeup, they will forever be remembered for their childhoods.
Take a trip with us down memory lane as we look at 15 Child Stars Who STILL Look Exactly the Same Today.
16 Sean Astin
The son of the Oscar-winning teen star Patty Duke, Sean Astin followed in the footsteps of his famous mother, beginning his career opposite her in the after-school special Please Don’t Hit Me Mom. Four years later, he would go on to star as Mikey in The Goonies, opening up a steady stream of pictures to follow.
Although sports fanatics probably recognize Astin as the full-hearted, undersized Daniel E. Ruettiger in the tear-jerking football flick Rudy, Astin is most known for playing Frodo’s loyal friend Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Most recently, audiences remember him as Winona Ryder's dorky love interest Bob in the latest season of Stranger Things.
Despite age catching up to him slightly, little as changed with Astin’s facial features and with every new role he takes on, he only adds to the strength of his most iconic characters.
15 Daniel Radcliffe
Potterheads are all too familiar with the actor who famously sported large-rimmed spectacles and a scar on his forehead for a full decade. Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal of Harry Potter has become so synonymous with the actor that it’s a miracle he’s managed to continue working consistently since the series’ end.
For die-hard fans, his iconic role will likely make it hard to imagine him as anyone else.
The fact that he looks exactly the same as he did in The Sorcerer’s Stone probably isn’t helping much.
Since graduating from Hogwarts, Radcliffe has shown range with some lower profile films like Horns and Swiss Army Man. Although he continues to select unconventional parts, the British heartthrob hasn’t exactly shaken his most famous role. Still, that’s not stopping him from choosing challenging films that may hopefully change the way you look at the Boy Who Lived someday.
14 Jared Leto
As a performer, Jared Leto has gone through some mind-blowing transitions. From a crazed, tattooed Joker in Suicide Squad to a transgender AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club, he’s successfully blend into his roles, distancing himself from his signature bad boy look he’s so famously established with his long-time rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
As a nineties teen heartthrob, however, Jared Leto stole the hearts of every teen girl in America.
When he played the dyslexic, handsome slacker Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life, a teenage Claire Danes obsessed over Leto’s baby blue eyes and over-sized flannel shirts. Today, Leto may appear nearly unrecognizable in movies, but not much has changed off-screen.
At 46 years old, he has yet to age a day. Although his time playing high school students is over, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Oscar winner managed to still pull it off.
13 Gaby Hoffmann
In 1989, audiences were awed by the cute six year old Gaby Hoffman in Field of Dreams. After playing the daughter of the baseball-loving Kevin Costner, she quickly became one of Hollywood’s fastest rising child stars. She soon followed the role with a list of movies, including titles like Uncle Buck and Sleepless in Seattle.
After a stint in the 2000s where she focused on a career in theater, Hoffmann returned to the silver screen.
Today, the actress can mostly be seen on television shows like Girls and Transparent, though she has had some success in small independent pictures as well. Hoffmann is still easily identifiable as the young girl who appeared in movies such as Now and Then and Everyone Says I Love You. Although she may have more awards recognition now, there’s little denying just how much she still looks the same.
12 Winona Ryder
As the frantic mother Joyce Byers looking for her son in the Upside Down, Winona Ryder has re-ignited her career, but make no mistake about it, she was once the talk of Hollywood. Despite roles in projects like Star Trek and Stranger Things trying to convince the world that Ryder has aged, in actuality, she still looks to be in her prime.
At the height of her early days, Ryder appeared in a range of different movie roles, picking up popularity with parts in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. After appearing in another string of successes in the '90s including the Generation X hit Reality Bites, Ryder fell out of favor with the public, thanks to a shoplifting scandal in the early 2000s.
Since hitting it big again, however, Ryder has picked up where she left off, despite being typecast in motherly roles.
11 Nicholas Hoult
Although Nicholas Hoult isn’t yet a household name everyone recognizes, he’s quickly becoming a familiar face in American blockbusters. The English actor starred in his first feature in 1996 before landing his big break acting with Hugh Grant in 2002’s About a Boy. His first American film would come three years after when he appeared as Nicolas Cage's son in The Weather Man.
Today, Hoult still looks every bit the same as his 12-year-old self.
Even though he’ll always be the same kid who taught Hugh Grant how to grow up, Hoult’s successfully found a way to keep himself in the public eye without succumbing to his childhood image.
10 Natalie Portman
At the age of 11, Natalie Portman was discovered at a pizza parlor by a representative of Revlon cosmetics who encouraged her to pursue a career in modeling. Finding modeling boring, she sought a job in acting instead, snagging her first role in Luc Besson’s hitman drama The Professional. Years later, she would express some regret for playing such a mature role so early, but it ultimately put her on the map.
As a wise beyond her years talent, Portman often found herself starring opposite adults, blending in with her co-stars despite the age difference. In 1999, her part as Princess Amidala in the Star Wars prequels landed her worldwide recognition, though she admitted they almost derailed her career.
Today, she continues her trend of choosing sophisticated characters. Although she has matured more over the years, she continues to look flawlessly young in every film she plays in.
9 Bianca Lawson
Most Saved by the Bell fans are shocked to find that Bianca Lawson is 38 years old. Like many child celebrities, she got her start in the acting world when she began appearing in commercials for products like Barbie and Revlon, but it was her role as the over-achiever Megan Jones in Saved by the Bell: The New Class that gained her popularity with younger audiences.
In the years that followed, Lawson starred in supporting roles in hit series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson’s Creek. More recently, she’s been a part of shows like The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, continuing her trend of starring in teenage drama series.
Lawson is still playing characters half her age, showing just how much she’s defied father time over the past two decades.
8 Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Game of Thrones fans may recognize Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the baby-faced actor who portrayed Jojeen Reed, the younger brother of Meera who accompanied Bran Stark on his journey beyond the Wall to find the Three-Eyed Raven. Before his George R.R. Martin days, however, the young star was an adorably wise boy seeking advice about girls in the rom-com Love Actually.
Since convincingly winning over the heart of Liam Neeson in the 2003 Christmas-themed love story, Brodie-Langster has strayed from his cute boy image with prominent roles in projects like The Maze Runner franchise as well as the new Western Netflix series Godless.
Despite toughening up for the screen, he hasn’t abandoned his sweet looks.
For those who remember, he will always be Neeson's lovesick step-son in the popular Britcom.
7 Anna Chlumsky
Although she first got her start modeling alongside her mother, Anna Chlumsky didn’t become well known until the heartbreaking coming-of-age drama My Girl. Co-starring with Macaulay Culkin, she played the misunderstood 11 year old hypochondriac Vada Sultenfuss. Thanks to the film’s popularity, Chlumsky went on to star in a series of movies in the '90s, including Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain and My Girl 2.
After a six year hiatus, Chlumsky returned to the industry. Since 2012, she’s played Amy Brookheimer in the HBO series Veep, raking in five Emmy nominations for her efforts.
Although she might just now be at the height of her career, it’s hard not to watch Chlumsky without imagining the little girl from My Girl all grown up. Luckily, Chlumsky has proven to be a talent, despite still looking like the character from the movie that made her famous.
6 Joseph Gordon-Levitt
In a 2012 interview for the movie Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt recalled the extensive research that went into his most transformative role yet. In order to play in the futuristic sci-fi, he had to convincingly look and act like a young Bruce Willis. With the help of some makeup, he miraculously pulled off the part, but in reality, the actor has shown no signs of aging.
A native of Los Angeles, Gordon-Levitt appeared in multiple commercials for products like Cocoa Puffs and Pop Tarts before hitting a home run with movies like Angels in the Outfield. In time, however, he became most known for playing the son of an extraterrestrial family in the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Now with an established resume and his own collaborative media production company hitRECord, he’s mesmerizing Hollywood with the same looks and talent he had when he entered the business.
5 Elijah Wood
Before he traveled from the Shire to the volcanic plains of Mordor, Elijah Wood was an accomplished child actor. Getting his start in a small role in Back to the Future Part II, Wood would go on to star in movies like The Good Son and The Ice Storm. As a highly sought after talent, the '90s were an early highlight for the actor until Peter Jackson offered him the role of a lifetime.
These days, Wood works as much behind the scenes as he does in front of the camera. In 2010, he founded the production company SpectreVision and has since served as a producer on films like Cooties and Open Windows.
Although Wood is now churning out his own brand of movies, little has changed about his features.
Compared to his '90s appearance, he’s still the same young-looking, blue-eyed performer we’ve come to know so well.
4 Reese Witherspoon
Raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Reese Witherspoon’s Southern upbringing would ultimately come in handy for her first feature role in The Man in the Moon. Intending to audition for a smaller part, she eventually was cast as the 14 year old Dani Trant in the Southern teen romance. Witherspoon impressed audiences so much with her performance that she soon followed her debut with releases like Fear and Freeway.
On the cusp of the new millennium, Witherspoon reached leading woman status with the thriller Cruel Intentions. Her next major role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde would ultimately skyrocket her career. Although she’s still as popular as ever, not much has changed with Witherspoon over the years.
The Oscar-winning actress still has her signature country twang and trademark blonde hair - plus a face that has hardly aged a day since she first stepped foot into the limelight.
3 Jodie Foster
Before Jodie Foster was tracking down serial killers as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, she was modeling as a young child in a 1960s commercial for Coppertone suntan lotion. Within a few years later, she had transitioned into television, starring in the Andy Griffith Show spinoff Mayberry R.F.D. In 1976, she snagged her breakout role in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, solidifying her as a bonafide star.
After attending Yale University, Foster found it increasingly difficult to find parts. In 1988, however, she would take home her first of two Academy Awards for The Accused, opening doors for her moving forward.
At 55 years old, Foster may be a big screen veteran, but she remains as timeless as ever.
While she's abandoned her childhood persona, it’s hard not to look at her and think back to some of her earliest memorable projects.
2 Freddie Highmore
Normally when an actor breaks out as a child, they find themselves hitting their peak early, especially if they aren’t able to escape their baby face. Freddie Highmore is just one example of a former kid actor defying the odds by shaking off all the public’s former perceptions.
The British actor got his start at six years old, portraying Helena Bonham Carter’s son in Women Talking Dirty. Five years later he held his own next to Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland, starring next to him again the following year in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Despite continuing to play in multiple children’s movies, Highmore eventually broke away away from his good boy image as the psychotic mother’s boy Norman Bates in Bates Motel. The fact that little has changed with the actor’s look somehow made his performance more unsettling, leaving audiences with an uneasiness that has lingered past the show's end.
1 Drew Barrymore
Thrust into the spotlight early, Drew Barrymore began acting at an alarming 11 months old when she starred in a dog food commercial. Her first feature role came in 1980 in the sci-if horror Altered States. Two years later she landed the part of Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, launching a thirty year career.
Due to the stresses of her unconventional upbringing, Barrymore acted intermittently throughout the '80s before checking into rehab before the age of thirteen. Continuing to be a bankable star in the '90s, she went on to star in multiple rom-coms and today can be seen in the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet.
With all her ups and downs, Barrymore’s story is an inspirational one. Not much may have changed with her looks, but today she’s far from the troubled girl who was mistreated at a young age.
What other former child stars look just the same today? Let us know in the comments!
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