There are times when the spotlight just isn’t right for a child actor. There are many kid actors who we’ve seen on the screen, assuming they’d be huge stars in the future, that have now faded into obscurity or self-imposed Hollywood exile. Unfortunately, a few of our favorite troublemakers, sidekicks, and whizz kids never took roles again.
Though some will try to hold on to that stardom for as long as possible, appearing in bit roles and web series in hopes that their careers will be resurrected, there are some who give up completely. Whether the pressures of the job became too much or it was obvious that their “cuteness” was going to fade sooner than they thought, we were sad to see them go.
It’s a shame that we’ll only see these actors when they show up for the occasional reunion or a Q&A at Comic-Con, but it takes guts to be handed the keys to stardom and say no. Whether they’re continuing with their studies or working at your local mall, there’s no shame in not wanting to become the next Tom Cruise.
Here are the 15 Child Stars Who Now Work 9 to 5.
15. Jonathan Bennett
Fans will remember swooning over Jonathan Bennett, much like Lindsey Lohan did, when he became the crush of preteens everywhere by playing Aaron Samuels in the hit comedy Mean Girls. The film was his first starring role and it was easy to assume that he would remain a heartthrob for years to come.
However, Bennett has been absent from the limelight for some time now. Though you can occasionally spy him on TV, he’s more likely to be teaching his spin class. That’s right, your first teen obsession is now a cycling instructor.
Anyone looking to get fit in Los Angeles might want to check out Flywheel, as we can’t think of any better incentive for getting in shape than the approval of the hunk who first introduced you to that pushed back hair.
14. Nikki Blonsky
This is one kid star whose life has become all about hair. Initially wowing us with athletic dance moves and killer pipes in the hit remake of Hairspray, Nikki Blonsky has now embraced her character’s obsession with quiffs and curls and began work at a hair salon.
Following a violent run-in with a contestant of America’s Next Top Model and the cancellation of her NBC sitcom Huge, Blonsky hasn’t been seen on screens since. She has since described herself as proud to be working at Superstar Salon, in her hometown of Great Neck, NY.
Sweeping floors and applying make-up is now routine for the former up-and-comer, who now has a cosmetology licence. If Blonsky perfects her styling techniques, she may have a future behind the camera, making sure her former co-stars are looking picture perfect.
13. Dylan Sprouse
Dylan Sprouse’s twin brother, Cole Sprouse, is now killing it as everyone’s favorite Riverdale resident, Jughead. When your identical twin has found success in the spotlight, is there really any need for two famous Sprouses?
Dylan Sprouse has all but dropped acting as a career. He recently obtained a degree in video game design and was spotted working as a restaurant host some years back. Dylan sporting an apron and tie combo is arguably less embarrassing than Jughead’s crown beanie.
Now sporting a Christ-like head of hair that would rival Jared Leto’s locks, Dylan has started his own company, a brewery in Brooklyn. Now described as the youngest “Master Brewer” in the United States, Dylan’s All-Wise Meadery is opening soon and promises beverages of the highest quality.
12. Carrie Henn
The most adorable sidekick in film history and the perfect daughter stand-in for Ellen Ripley in Aliens, Carrie Henn decided that Hollywood’s passion for blood and monsters was just too frightening. Sadly, Henn never worked in the industry again.
Henn doesn’t seem to be bitter about the experience as she has appeared in documentaries to enthusiastically discuss the making of the classic sci-fi movie. Since her first film, Henn has been as quiet as her character and she now works as a school teacher in California.
While it’s disappointing, we’re likely to never see another performance from her again. We’re praying that this means her character will remain untarnished by Ridley Scott’s constant expansion of the Alien universe.
11. Mara Wilson
Before an inevitably dark and twisted reimagining of Sabrina the Teenage Witch hits our Netflix catalogue, let’s take a minute to remember the days when witches could be cute and cheerful. A time when Mara Wilson warmed our hearts as the adorable Matilda.
Wilson was also the adorable star of Mrs. Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street, but she has not graced our screens for some time. Wilson tragically cited the death of her mother as draining some of her motivation for acting.
Her appearances on Welcome to Night Vale and BoJack Horseman are rare, yet appreciated. Wilson’s current passion is for writing, having produced plays, podcasts, and online publications over the years. Her solidarity with mental health and LGBT movements also prove that she’s gone but not at all forgotten.
10. Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki, the former kid star of Jerry Maguire and two Stuart Little movies, has ditched the mouse and is now completely shredded. Lipnicki has been training as a mixed martial artist for some years now.
Taking the odd role from time to time, Lipnicki is mostly focused on staying fighting fit and is flirting with the idea of competing professionally. Once seen dangling from the arm of Tom Cruise, we now suspect that he could tear the arms off anyone who crosses him. Arguably, a career in combat would be better suited for Lipnicki, rather than occasional appearances in unknown indie films.
9. Mike Vitar
Best known as “Benny the Jet”, Mike Vitar had a brief yet fruitful career as a sporting legend in both The Sandlot and later took to hockey in two Mighty Ducks sequels. After some short-lived television appearances, Vitar disappeared from acting in 1997.
Vitar ended up joining the Los Angeles Fire Department and has remained in the city since 2002 with his family. Vitar then got himself in to quite a bit of trouble.
Vitar and several other men were charged with assaulting a man named Samuel Chang on Halloween night in 2015. Vitar later pleaded guilty to the resulting charges of assault and battery. After videos were released of the incident, Vitar was suspended for six months. Though the film industry has its fair share of violent actors, we’re glad it’s one short.
8. Jonathan Taylor-Thomas
An iconic ’90s child star, Jonathan Taylor-Thomas had a long run on Home Improvement, but he is probably best known for voicing young Simba in The Lion King. Though that’s not Taylor-Thomas’ real singing voice, we don’t think the untimely death of Mufasa would have been nearly as tragic without the young actor’s great performance.
In the upcoming remake of The Lion King Simba will be voiced by JD McCrary and Donald Glover. It seems Taylor-Thomas’ voice wasn’t deemed as iconic as James Earl Jones’, as he was was not asked to return alongside his animated dad, Mufasa.
Aside from a couple of appearances in comedy shows, Taylor-Thomas has all but stepped down from acting to focus on studying history and philosophy at Harvard. The former child star also spent a year abroad in Scotland.
7. Jeff Cohen
For someone best known for a dance move called “The Truffle Shuffle”, former ’80s icon Jeff Cohen is looking pretty sharp. At one time seen as the funniest member of The Goonies and a comedy legend in the making, Cohen ditched his childhood stardom for a career in law.
Once so dedicated to acting that he showed up to the set of The Goonies with chicken pox, afraid that he would be recast, Cohen then developed a desire to study the justice system after discovering that many of his movie heroes had law degrees.
Cohen is still prominent in Hollywood, but as an entertainment lawyer. Cohen was named as one of the top 35 executives by The Hollywood Reporter and now frequently writes about business and politics for the The Huffington Post and CNBC.
6. Jack Gleeson
We can’t shake the feeling that Jack Gleeson, known for playing one of the most hated television villains of the 21st century – Joffrey Baratheon, will return to acting at some point. Once his character was killed off Gleeson stated that he had a dislike for the acting profession and quit to study.
Returning to his home country of Ireland, he enrolled in Trinity College to earn a degree in philosophy and theology. Perhaps his reputation as a vile, spoiled king was too much to continue, but, given his pleasant and charming personality off-screen, we’d welcome him with open arms if he ever chose to pursue another role.
His distaste for theatrics can’t be too strong, as he recently starred in a production of a puppet show, Bears in Space in New York. We can’t blame him, as children are probably far less high-maintenance than Game of Thrones fans.
5. Danny Lloyd
Much like Carrie Henn, we’re not too surprised that the tormented kid in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining never returned to acting again. Perhaps being born on Friday the 13th doomed him from the start, though we’re more inclined to believe that working with Kubrick was just a nightmare.
Kubrick was famously cruel to actress Shelley Duvall on set. The eccentric auteur was known for demanding multiple takes and had an eye for every painstaking detail. Lloyd was most likely scared out of the profession by the mutilated twins, the grandma in the bathtub, and Jack Nicholson at his most deranged.
4. Charlie Korsmo
Once the son of Robin Williams’ Peter Pan in Hook, Charlie Korsmo’s swashbuckling days are now over. Korsmo began an academic career in the year 2000, after his last film appearance in Can’t Hardly Wait.
After earning a prestigious degree in physics at MIT, he moved on to study law at Yale and received a Juris Doctor degree in 2006. Since then, he has swapped the sword and pan pipes for work at a law firm and is now a professor of law in Ohio.
Though the life of a professional lawyer isn’t nearly as exciting as that of a pirate, Korsmo is likely glad he ditched Captain Hook in favor of a career that has even gained the attention of former President Barack Obama. In 2011, he was made a member of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.
3. Brittany Ashton-Holmes
Known almost exclusively as Darla from the film adaptation of The Little Rascals, Brittany Ashton-Holmes decided enough was enough and left acting for good at the age of 7. Perhaps Darla’s budding relationship with Alfafa was doomed to fall apart, or perhaps she wanted more time to play with friends.
Whatever the reason, Holmes had been missing from the camera since 1996, when she had a tiny role in the ’80s B-movie, Humanoids from the Deep. Holmes was credited as“Girl on Boat,” which is quite the step down from The Little Rascals. Dreaming of bigger things, she left to pursue a career in political science.
Last seen adorning Darla’s classic dress for a reunion photoshoot in 2014, it’s likely she’ll never return to the public eye again. Unless, of course, a rebooted version of The Little Rascals decides to show us how their lives would look as adults.
2. Steven Anthony Lawrence
While Shia Labeouf was destined for robot-fighting stardom, his Even Stevens co-star, Steven Anthony Lawrence, sadly skipped his chance at a blockbuster career. Once known as the wise-cracking Beans, Lawrence has probably held the most job positions out of anyone in this list.
Though his film career was steady as a child, appearing in both The Cat in the Hat and Cheaper By the Dozen, once his initial cuteness wore off, his stardom went with it. Lawrence has done some commercials for T-Mobile and Old Spice and he has remained a meme on social media thanks to his distinctly Beans-like appearance.
1. Peter Ostrum
Peter Ostrum doesn’t run his own chocolate factory, but who would after hurtling down a hallucinatory tunnel in a dissolvable candy longboat skippered by a crazed Gene Wilder? After narrowly escaping death-by-elevator, it’s no surprise that the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory actor said no thanks to acting.
The only actor listed with just one acting credit, Ostrum found the profession too difficult to continue, especially after being offered a three-film contract. After filming was complete, Ostrum developed a love for horses and decided to train as a veterinarian.
For a while Ostrum was determined to put his acting career behind him, at one point even pretending that it had been his brother who had starred in the famous Willy Wonka movie. Ostrum has now come to terms with his short period of fame and even appears once a year at his home town’s school to answer students’ questions about showbiz and special effects.
Did we miss any child actors who now work 9 to 5 jobs?
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