Whether it’s a vintage noir, wheel of Parmesan cheese or George Clooney, some things just get better with age. However, for many kid stars the transition from dorky TV teenager to fully-fledged adult can sometimes be a bumpy one.
Growing up in the spotlight is not something any of us will ever have to do, and having your most awkward moments splashed in the tabloids has unsurprisingly led many young performers down a rough path. Having said this, a great deal of emerge transformed — occasionally looking completely unrecognizable.
Back in 2008, the world was a very different place. The Jonas Brothers were at the height of their fame, Britney began her road to recovery and the stock market crashed leaving the world in a very uncertain place.
Ten years on, the JoBro’s are no more, Britney is living her best life having completed a successful Vegas residency and the world is (shockingly) even more in the toilet than it was before. As you can see, a lot can happen in a decade, and to further hammer home the point, here are your favorite kid stars from the early 2000s to remind you that yes, you are getting old.
Here are 15 Kid Stars Who Look Completely Unrecognizable From Ten Years Ago.
15. Demi Lovato
In 2008, a bright-eyed Demi Lovato shot to fame with a starring role in the Disney Channel’s uber successful Camp Rock and TV show Sonny with a Chance. She also released her debut album Don’t Forget. Along with the Jonas Brothers, 2008 was the year that rocketed her to fame, bringing with it the pitfalls of life in the spotlight. After Camp Rock and despite several successful albums and acting credits, Lovato struggled with her mental health. After punching one of her dancers in the face during a Jonas Brothers Tour, Lovato sought treatment for an eating disorder, substance addiction and depression. She was since diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
In the years since, Lovato has risen from the ashes of her dark past, using it to educate and inform other young and vulnerable teenagers about bipolar. A documentary about her history with mental health aired in 2017. She has continued to make music, storming the charts over the summer with hit ‘Sorry Not Sorry.’ She will be releasing her sixth studio album this year.
14. Zac Efron
Back in the 2000s, Zac was the swishy haired heartthrob that rocked many teenage worlds when he was cast in the all-singing, all-dancing Disney classic High School Musical. Starring as Troy opposite an equally wholesome Vanessa Hudgens, HSM was a phenomenon that shot Efron into the limelight at 18.
In the last 10 years Zac’s star power has been on the rise, but he still retained much of that boy-next-door charm that made he famous. More recently, however, Efron broke free from his typecasting and has gone from adorable teenage dream to insane hunk, specifically in the recent Baywatch remake. For the role Zac became ripped almost beyond recognition — which is a must when starring mostly shirtless opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He is also delving into meatier acting roles, with his most anticipated being serial killer Ted Bundy in the upcoming biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
13. Elle Fanning
Much like her older sister Dakota, Elle Fanning’s career began from a very early age. By 2008, Fanning was already making an impact on Hollywood with small roles in movies such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and larger parts in Phoebe in Wonderland and Reservation Road. It wasn’t until her starring role in 2011’s Super 8 where she really expressed her talents as an actor, helping eject her out of the shadow of her equally talented older sister.
In 2016, Fanning starred in the psychological horror The Neon Demon, which received a mixed response from the critics but praised Fanning’s performance. Moreover, the movie showcased a more adult side to Fanning helping her transition into a fully-fledged A-list movie star — and it’s only the beginning. Fanning has four movies hitting the big screen in 2018 including Sundance pick I Think We’re Alone Now opposite Peter Dinklage.
12. Bella Thorne
If there is one former child star that’s better known for their antics offscreen, it’s everyone’s favorite Hollywood villain Bella Thorne. Having starred in various projects for both the big and the small screen, Thorne’s first most note-worthy role came in 2008’s short-lived My Own Worse Enemy. It was followed by Disney Channel’s Shake It Up, a show about two girls who want to become professional dancers. However, much of Bella’s notoriety after the fact has come from what’s gone on behind the camera.
Whether it’s beef with the Pretty Little Liars’ girls, caught up in a cheating scandal, getting revenge on her ex or getting it on with Kourtney Kardashian’s baby daddy Scott Disick, Bella Thorne seems to come with a tidal wave of baggage. She also dated rapper Lil Peep before he passed away in 2017. Thorne has continued to act however, mainly bagging roles in B-list horror movies and doing some some voice work here and there — but then again who needs work when you can grab a magazine cover by setting up an online dating profile?
11. Nick Jonas
For Nick Jonas, 2008 was a year to remember. As one third of the sickly sweet pop trio the Jonas Brothers, 2008 saw Nick, Joe and Kevin producing platinum-selling albums, touring the world and winning the hearts of many with his tight curls and even tighter jeans. When Camp Rock was released, the boys’ star-power only climbed. What made Nick and his brothers even more popular was their openness with their faith, opting to adopt purity rings with the promise of staying virgins until marriage.
Skip forward ten years and like I said, a lot can change. After the Jonas Brothers officially split in 2013, Nick began work on solo projects. With a sexy new sound and even sexier new bod, Nick’s career has only gone from strength to strength over the years. He has dabbled in acting, taking on a juicy role Audience’s Kingdom playing a closeted gay MMA fighter. The part brought him a large LGBT following. As for that purity ring? In 2014 Nick disclosed that he had taken it off after he, well, lost his virginity.
10. Kylie Jenner
Whether it’s petty arguments onscreen or full-blown tabloid fodder, the stars of Keeping Up with the Kardashians are inescapable. As the youngest Kardashian, Kylie Jenner has been in the public eye since she was just a pre-teen, having had much of her adolescence broadcast to the world; first tattoo, first boyfriend, first everything. Before all that however, Kylie was a dorky eleven-year-old who enjoyed most things kids her age do — you were just able to tune in to E! to see it all.
Kylie will turn 21 in 2018, but already has way more money, endorsements and Instagram followers than you or I can ever expect in three lifetimes. She has a highly profitable make-up line, her own reality TV show and is allegedly expecting a baby with boyfriend Travis Scott. She’s been embroiled in many controversies, but has built her own little empire separate from her famous family. Love her or hate her, Kylie Jenner has certainly worked her upbringing to her advantage.
9. Ariel Winter
Like many child stars, Modern Family‘s Ariel Winter began her career by starring in commercials and bit-parts on popular shows like ER and Bones. But it was her role as 13-year-old Alex Dunphy in the insanely popular ABC sitcom that made Ariel Winter a household name. Airing in 2009, Winter’s character was a nerdy and precocious kid who tended to rub the family up the wrong way by feeling over superior due to her bright nature.
Winter has kept busy during her downtime from the show, and has mainly been involved in voiceover work for various animated movies and TV shows. Over the years she’s also been a bit of a target for the tabloids due to her sexy fashion choices, PDA’s with boyfriend Levi Meaden and outspokenness about her decision to undergo breast reduction surgery in 2015.
8. Alexa PenaVega
In 2001, Vega became a household name alongside Daryl Sabara for their starring roles as Carmen and Juni Cortez in the family-friendly action comedy Spy Kids, triggering three follow-up movies. By 2003, Vega was one of the world’s hottest teen celebs (according to Variety) and starred in several made-for-TV movies aimed at teens. In 2008, Vega was cast in one of the years weirdest movie musicals; Repo! The Genetic Opera, and in 2013 she proved she really had grown out of her child star days by showing off washboard abs and a skimpy outfit in Machete Kills.
Since then Alexa has taken a break from acting but took part in the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars, going up against her husband Carlos PenaVega and finishing sixth in the competition. The couple married in 2014 — combining their surnames Vega and Pena — and welcomed their first child, Ocean King PenaVega in 2016.
7. Drake Bell
While many of the child stars from the early 2000s were a product of the Disney Channel kid-star factory, Nickelodeon was also churning them out faster than you could say The Amanda Show. One of the network’s most popular sitcoms was Drake & Josh. Starring Drake Bell and Josh Peck, the show followed two very different step-brothers as they navigate living together, school, girls and mishaps. While many will argue Josh had the most striking transformation over the years, Drake has also changed a lot in the last decade.
Since Drake & Josh ended, Drake Bell has been a busy man — though you might not know it. In 2012 he was cast as Peter Parker in the animated TV series Ultimate Spider-Man, and has reprised the character in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel Heroes. He has carried on producing music, and in 2016 sold out a small Mexico tour in minutes. He also got ripped and posed for Flaunt Magazine, ruining your childhood forever.
6. Jaden Smith
I don’t think there has been a time when Jaden and his sister Willow were ever not cool. Most teenagers have years of awkwardness to contend with, stumbling from one day to the next hoping not to embarrass ourselves somehow and hoping that you’re wearing a half-decent outfit to school. These are not struggles shared by Jaden Smith, who at just 19 has ten times more cool than I have achieved in 27 years.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s son Jaden was born into celebrity royalty. As well as acting alongside his dad in The Pursuit of Happyness and sci-fi After Earth, Jaden is a bonafide fashion God, rap star, model and songwriter. In 2008, he starred in the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. Not to be outdone by his nine-year-old self, Jaden released his debut album, Syre, last year. The sky is the limit for this celebrity offspring.
5. Angus T. Jones
While many kid stars enter their adolescent cocoons only to emerge as shiny adult butterflies, sometimes things don’t quite as planned — as was the case of Two and a Half Men‘s Angus T. Jones. Having starred on the popular CBS show from 2003, Jones became a household name for playing the dim-witted but lovable Jake Harper. Becoming a teenager onscreen obviously caused Angus a lot of anguish, especially on a show like Two and a Half Men where he has spoken out about engaging with storylines he felt uncomfortable with.
In 2012, Jones announced that he wished the leave the show after being baptized, claiming that his work on the show conflicted with his faith. He then grew out his beard and went on YouTube, calling out Two and a Half Men for being “filth” and encouraged people to stop watching.
4. Asa Butterfield
Asa Butterfield is one of those rare kids who began their careers strong and never looked back. Butterfield has been booking leading roles in dramas like X+Y and Hugo before he was even able to drink in his native homeland (England). Now 20, Asa has a long career ahead of him, but it was his turn in Holocaust drama The Boy in the Stripped Pyjama‘s that made the acting world take notice.
Since starring as Bruno in the 2008 movie, Butterfield has tackled various roles. One of the most notable was in 2013’s Ender’s Game, where he starred as the titular character. While Butterfield has definitely grown into a man in the last decade, those piercing blue eyes remain, as does the talent that put him on the map in the first place.
3. Keke Palmer
Multitalented singer and actress Keke Palmer rise to notoriety when she was 13 and her family moved to California after Palmer landed a role opposite Queen Latifah in Barbershop 2: Back in Business. Since then Keke has pretty much worked non-stop, bagging a contract with the Disney Channel and signing to Atlantic Records before she landed her big break in 2008.
Keke starred on the Nickelodeon show True Jackson, VP which ran for three seasons, and with the show became the fourth-highest-paid kid star on TV. Since then Keke has not slowed down, but these days opts for more adult roles and an even more sophisticated sound. She also hosted her own daytime talkshow on BET and was the first African-American actor to star as Cinderella on Broadway — talk about inspirational!
2. Cole Sprouse
Cole and his brother Dylan were best known for their work on the Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zac & Cody and its spin-off, Suite Life on Deck. However, the boys’ careers started way earlier and at just eight months old they started acting together in commercials and sitcoms. Cole’s first major acting break without his brother came in 1999 as Ben Gellar, Ross’ son on the seminal sitcom Friends.
The cheeky blonde duo won the hearts of tweens everywhere with the Suite Life, but vanished from the limelight for several years when the show came to an end in 2008. In his years away from the small screen, Cole attended New York University where he graduated with a degree in archeology. In 2017, Cole returned to television as the brooding sexy weirdo Jughead Jones in the CW’s gritty Archie revamp Riverdale.
1. Moisés Arias
Moisés Arias rose to fame playing the hilarious Rico Suave in arguably the Disney Channel’s most popular TV show Hannah Montana. Using his brains and business know-how, Rico manages his outdoor concession stand on the beach, and is know for being a trickster and getting under Jackson’s skin. While this is Arias most famous role, he isn’t a one-hit wonder by any means.
The kid star is now all grown up and is trying to shake the shadow of his Disney career — not least by growing out his dreads. Since the show ended, Arias has been involved on several projects. In 2013 Arias took his film The Kings of Summer to Sundance, and has credits in 2017 including Pitch Perfect 3 as well as Jaden Smith’s 2017 ‘Batman’ music video — the fourth video Arias has directed for the fellow kid star.
Which one of these shocked you most? Let us know in the comments!
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