Child stars could have very long successful careers that surpass their awkward teenage years or they could disappear once the kid roles are no longer coming in. If they stay in the spotlight long enough, audiences see them grow up and maybe they don’t see any major changes in their features as they become adults. However, if they leave for a few years and suddenly reappear, they might look like a whole different person.
Some of the former child actors end up leaving the business at an early age, making it even more difficult to recognize them when they are reintroduced as adults. Maybe these former child actors left in time to escape the scrutiny that the ones who stayed received as they grew up in front of the public eye.
There are also those very lucky child stars who look exactly the same since their film debut. Just think of Natalie Portman in Leon the Professional and years later in Black Swan. Talk about incredible genes!
For others, puberty hits them like a ton of bricks and their features change dramatically. They also can change their hair color, grow facial hair, or even change their build. This could be a good thing, as they transform from a sweet, round-cheeked child star to a fit, handsome grown up. Just think of Matthew Lewis, otherwise known as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter franchise.
Here are 10 Child Stars Who Haven’t Changed And 10 Who Still Look Exactly the Same.
20 Christina Ricci (Same)
Christina Ricci is one of those actresses that you would recognize anywhere. From her wide dark eyes, fair skin, and raven hair, Ricci is pretty unmistakable.
The child star made her film debut back 1990 in Mermaids but quickly made her breakthrough performance as Wednesday Addams in Addams Family. The character of Wednesday is what most fans think of when they think of Ricci as a child star but she remained consistent in her acting, making at least one movie a year for the past 28 years.
At 38 years of age, Ricci looks almost identical.
Aside from changing her hair color to blonde every now and then, it’s uncanny how much she looks like her younger self.
19 Macaulay Culkin (Different)
Not all child stars age equally. Case in point: Macaulay Culkin. Culkin made a name for himself as Kevin McCallister in one of the best Christmas movies, Home Alone. He was the picture-perfect child star, with his blond hair and blue eyes, and his quirky expressions that were sure money in the bank.
He was a huge deal in the early '90s but then took almost a ten year break from acting after filming Richie Rich. Almost fourteen years later, Caulkin looks very different from the sweet-faced boy America grew to love. Today, Culkin looks more like a hipster barista then a formerly worldwide-known child actor.
18 The Olsen Twins (Same)
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen started acting before they can remember. They were cast as baby Michelle in the '90s hit show Full House. From then on, the Olsen Twins ruled the pre-teen and eventually the teenage game with movies, TV shows, video projects and merchandise targeted for young girls. They quickly became two of the wealthiest women in the entertainment industry at a young age.
While they are no longer interested in acting, the twins are constantly seen in the media at red carpet events and fashion shows.
Their looks have barely changed throughout the years, aside from a few minor details that come from aging.
At the age of 32, Mary0Kate and Ashley are easily recognizable with their owl-like blue eyes and long, blonde hair.
17 Haley Joel Osment (Different)
Anyone would have to look twice to recognize the man The Sixth Sense kid became. Considered one of the best child actors of his generation, Haley Joel Osment became first known for his role in Forrest Gump as Forrest Junior. However, it wasn’t until five years later when he truly wowed everyone in his role in The Sixth Sense as Cole - a shy, scared child who could see ghosts. The performance was bone-chilling, to say the least.
Close to his adolescent years, Osment disappeared from the big screen and focused on voice acting for video games like Kingdom Hearts. When he resurfaced as an adult in 2014, it was hard to believe he was the same person.
Sporting a scruffy beard and carrying some extra weight, Osment looked nothing like the little boy he used to be - save for his eyes.
16 Natalie Portman (Same)
Natalie Portman grew up before our very eyes and she is still as lovely and beautiful as ever. Portman made her acting debut as Mathilda in Léon: The Professional, a role that could have been ruined by the wrong child actor. However, Natalie Portman excelled as the orphan taken in by a professional assassin. From then on, it was impossible to forget her.
The award-winning actress has had a long and successful career and shows no signs of stopping.
Even though she has portrayed all kinds of characters, her beautiful looks have barely changed in her 24 years of acting.
Her wide smile and brown eyes are recognizable anywhere.
15 Jaleel White (Different)
Jaleel White is best known as the adorable, but annoying neighbor Steve Urkel in the hit sitcom Family Matters. With his nasal voice and quirky humor, the four-eyed Urkel was no one’s love interest for many seasons. In fact, his fixation for Laura is cause for laughter as she has zero interest in this lovable weirdo.
However, White grew up to look nothing like his nerdy character who always walked with his hips thrust forwards. Without the funny walk and affected voice, White looks like a completely different person. Add to that a larger build and some serious dance moves he displayed in season 14 of Dancing with the Stars, and White became the live makeover version that Urkel desperately needed before season 9.
14 Anna Paquin (Same)
The Canadian-New Zealand actress is the second-youngest actress to have ever won an Oscar. At the age of 11, Anna Paquin was nominated for her performance in her first film The Piano. From then on, Paquin continued acting throughout her teenage years. At the age of 18, she became popularly known again as Rogue in the new X-Men franchise. Even then her appearance had barely changed except for a white streak of hair.
Later in 2008, Paquin once again was the name on everybody’s lips when she took on the role of Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO drama series True Blood. Then, at the age of 26, Paquin looked pretty much identical to the last time audiences saw her, except she had adopted a blonde hairstyle instead and sported a Southern accent for the role.
13 Josh Peck (Different)
It’s hard enough growing up while working in the entertainment industry, under the scrutiny of every person in America. It’s even harder when you don’t fit the impossible TV standards of what adolescence must look like.
Josh Peck became famous as the overweight, humorous character in Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh.
Around the time the show was coming to an end, Peck began his weight loss transformation, a dramatic change that people still talk about twelve years later.
Peck continues to work predominantly in TV shows and as a voice actor in the TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and in the Ice Age franchise. Even though his transformation is certainly impressive, it’s impossible to mistake that smile which made him the adorable counterpart in Drake and Josh.
12 Dakota Fanning (Same)
Dakota Fanning started performing well before anybody knew who she was. At the age of four, she voiced the character Satsuki in the English version of My Neighbor Totoro. It wasn’t until she was seven that everyone knew her name when she portrayed Lucy Dawson in the film I Am Sam.
From then on, her career skyrocketed as she played roles next to amazing actors like Robert Deniro, Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise.
Fanning has barely stepped out of the spotlight since she began her acting career. As a result, audiences have watched her grow up, but her looks have barely changed since then. She is instantly recognizable, even when she is wearing red contact lenses to play a vampire in the Twilight Saga.
11 Cole Sprouse (Different)
Cole Sprouse made his film debut as Julian Frankenstein in the Adam Sandler film Big Daddy. He shared the role with his twin brother, Dylan Sprouse. Years later, the twins became well known in their own Disney Channel show Suite Life with Zack and Cody. They both had blond hair and blue eyes, the perfect stereotype for the sweet main teenage character.
Years later, when Cole Sprouse decided to return to acting after finishing his degree at NYU, he looked like a completely different person. While people would still have in mind the sweet kid from Big Daddy, Sprouse darkened his hair color and completely changed his attire for the role in the CW teenage drama Riverdale.
Sprouse plays Jughead, the self-proclaimed weirdo of the Archie gang with dark ties to a biker gang called The Serpents.
10 Michael J. Fox (Same)
He is best known for his role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, but he has been an active actor since the early 70s, when he was only twelve years old.
Fox enjoyed great success throughout the '80s and '90s but decided to quit the show he was on, Spin City, in 1998 in order to be closer to his family and work toward a cure for Parkinson’s disease, which he had been diagnosed with in 1991.
While he never fully left the spotlight, Fox wasn’t as prominent as his early career. He still did show up in different TV shows, sometimes for a few episodes and other times as recurrent character as he did in The Good Wife. Now, at the age of 57, Fox still looks very much like that spirited rock and roll-loving kid from the '80s.
9 Lindsay Lohan (Different)
The redheaded child star showed much promise when she portrayed the roles of twin sisters in Disney’s remake of The Parent Trap. She continued to be loved by fans when she played a punk rock chick in Freaky Friday and the new student in Mean Girls.
Years later, after many run-ins with the law, a party lifestyle, and rumors that she is difficult to work with, Lohan looks very different from that fresh-faced, freckled child star.
She frequently parts with her iconic red hair look and bleaches it blonde.
On top of that, at the age of 31, she has had extensive cosmetic changes.
8 Raven Symoné (Same)
Raven Symoné started her acting career at tender age of 4 when she joined the cast of The Cosby Show. From then on, Symoné appeared in a wide range of kids’ movies like The Little Rascals and Dr. Dolittle, and Disney Channel TV shows like Suite Life of Zach and Cody and Kim Possible.
Symoné remained in the spotlight all through the 2000s when she got her own TV show named That’s So Raven. She appeared in fewer shows after that and focused more on voice acting. However, she has maintained a consistent line of work in her late twenties as she has played parts in Black-ish and her latest series, Raven’s Home.
While she loves playing around with fashion and changing up her look frequently, Symoné’s face has barely changed from when she played everyone’s favorite quirky psychic.
7 Bug Hall (Different)
Alfalfa from The Little Rascals is not exactly a fashion and style icon. It’s not Brandon "Bug" Hall’s fault that he played such a memorable role that consisted of wearing suspenders and sporting an iconic cowlick, but he did just that at the age of 9.
It’s nearly impossible to recognize the man the former rascal has become.
Hall has been consistently working since the mid-90s, showing up in many TV movies and series but one would never know it from his looks. The former lanky, wide-eyed kid grew up to be quite the hunk. His hair changed to a reddish tone, but he still has that classic chin dimple, if not more pronounced. It just goes to show how much a terrible haircut could change your entire look.
6 Claire Danes (Same)
The Emmy Award-winning actress began her career at eleven years old. She became famous in her role of Angela Chase in the TV series My So-Called Life. From then on, Danes became a teenage sensation, playing Juliet in the contemporary remake of Romeo + Juliet alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
She continued to have great success in her acting career in movies like Les Miserables and The Hours. She stayed fairly quiet until she found the perfect role as CIA agent Carrie Mathison in Showtime’s series Homeland.
After eight seasons of the riveting Homeland, one can see Danes looks have barely changed throughout the years.
While she has changed it up throughout the years with different hair colors and style, Danes still very much looks like that young Juliet in love with her Romeo.
5 Leonardo Dicaprio (Different)
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of those rare cases of a child star who became one of Hollywood’s most renowned actors. He began his career at the age of five but didn’t become well known until his memorable role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Soon after that, girls’ hearts didn’t stand a chance when it came to this teenage heartthrob.
If his portrayal of Romeo in Romeo + Juliet didn’t cement his status as the latest teenage sensation, his role as Jack Dawson in Titanic definitely took care of that.
While Dicaprio had that iconic slick blond hair look in his early twenties, he changed it up completely as his career really took off with roles in movies like Blood Diamond and Inception. He wears his hair darker nowadays and he’s ditched the clean-shaven look.
4 Sean Astin (Same)
It’s impossible to mistake Sean Astin for anyone other than Sean Astin. The beloved actor is well known for his debut film and '80s classic, The Goonies, where he plays Mikey, an optimistic kid from the Goondocks who convinces his friends to search for the treasure of pirate One-Eyed Willy.
Astin continued to make a name of himself in movies like Rudy and later on in the world-renowned franchise The Lord of the Rings, where he played Samwise Gangee, the secret real hero of Tolkien’s universe. Recently, fans remembered just how much the love Astin when he had an important role in Netflix’s original series Stranger Things.
While he has gotten older and put on a few pounds, no one would ever forget Astin’s lovable personality and usual underdog character you can’t help but root for.
3 Jonathan Lipnicki (Different)
Jonathan Lipnicki will always be remembered in his adorable debut role as Ray Boyd in Jerry Maguire. Seriously. It is impossible not to love him to pieces in this movie. He is also famous for his role as George Little in Stuart Little.
However, in the mid-2000s, Lipnicki took a break from acting, save for some small roles in Family Guy and Monk.
While he wasn’t away for long and has continued to pursue indie projects, Lipnicki’s transformation is one of the most shocking one on this list.
Maybe it’s because he was so well known as the little, four-eyed child star that his transformation is so astonishing. At 28 years old, Lipnicki has darker blond hair and an athletic physique no one saw coming.
2 Jodie Foster (Same)
The Academy Award-winning actress might be the easiest pick on our list because she has been a consistent actor for more than thirty-five years. Foster started her acting career at the age of six, but received critical acclaim in her role in Taxi-Driver where she played a teenage prostitute at the age of fourteen.
From then on, Foster has proven to be an exceptional actor in her roles in Nell, Silence of the Lambs and Contact. While she has taken more of a role behind the camera nowadays, Foster has a few movies coming out, like Hotel Artemis. Throughout her long career, Foster’s appearance has remained relatively similar.
1 Dante Basco (Different)
Who could ever forget the coolest of the Lost Boys, Rufio? Dante Basco played an excellent substitution to Peter Pan in Hook, a film where Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, ended up growing up and leaving his best Lost Boy, Rufio, in charge. With his red mohawk and skate boarding skills, Rufio was the cool kid everyone wanted to be.
We blame the lack of the red mohawk for Basco seeming unrecognizable to us.
Aside from awesome hairstyles, Basco, now 42, looks like a different person.
Basco continued his acting career in various TV shows, most notably as Prince Zuko in the Nickelodeon’s animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. While he has continued his acting in TV series, he's focused on his voice acting in video games like Final Fantasy XIII and other animated series like The Legend of Korra.
Which other former child stars have changed a lot? Let us know in the comments!