Despite stereotypes, many child actors have achieved success as adults, but some fall victim to the child star curse, abusing drugs and acting out in an attempt to deal with their fame.
For a time, Drew Barrymore nearly succumbed to the child star curse. She started acting at age 7 in "E.T." Her teenage years found her struggling with substance abuse. Fortunately, she sobered up and became a Hollywood power player leading to several strong movies and a directorial debut.
Kenan Thompson starred in the SNL-like skit show on Nickelodeon "All That" with Amanda Bynes. Unlike Bynes, Thompson has managed to avoid negative press and bad behavior. In 2003, he landed an enviable casting spot on "Saturday Night Live." He broke the record for longest running African-American cast member in 2013 with a 10-year run.
Emma Watson landed the role of Hermione Granger when she was 10 years old. Since "Harry Potter," she has shifted into mature roles with grace and aplomb. Watson does still act in age-appropriate roles, such as "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," but she has increasingly chosen dramatic work like "My Week with Marilyn".
Before "Batman Begins," Christian Bale gained worldwide acclaim in the hit film "Empire of the Sun" when he was 13. Bale found a unique way to sidestep the child star curse by avoiding major roles. Instead, he focused on roles he cared about, including "The Machinist." Bale is one of Hollywood's most talented adult actors.
Kristen Stewart's breakout role was as Jodie Foster's daughter in "Panic Room." She was 12 at the time, and her career has skyrocketed since. She landed the role of Bella Swan in the hugely popular "Twilight" saga in 2008. Unlike cursed child stars, she keeps a level head and is rarely seen acting out.
Before "Titanic" and "Gangs of New York," Leonardo DiCaprio burst on to the scene as a child star in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," where he played the mentally challenged Arnie and earned an Oscar nom. His success has increased exponentially, leading him to star in "Catch Me If You Can," "The Departed," and "Inception." He is also an environmental advocate. DiCaprio funded, wrote, and narrated a documentary about the effects of humanity on Earth.
Jodie Foster first appeared in the film "Taxi Driver" as a preteen prostitute when she was 14 years old. Since then, she has chosen roles in movies based on range and intensity, including "The Accused" and "The Silence of the Lambs." She also graduated from Yale with a degree in literature and is fluent in French.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is another child star who transitioned into successful adulthood. He started out on television in small roles until he landed his breakout turn on "3rd Rock from the Sun." Levitt has starred in "500 Days of Summer" and "The Dark Knight Rises." Additionally, he directed and starred alongside Scarlett Johansson in "Don Jon".
Tatyana Ali, age 11, starred alongside Will Smith in the hit TV show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." She avoided the curse by branching out into music and film. In addition to a successful acting career, she earned a degree in African-American studies from Harvard. During Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, she acted as a spokesperson.
Neil Patrick Harris is the legendary child star of "Doogie Howser M.D.," a popular sitcom from the early 1990s. Harris found steady success and worked his way up the ladder. Small roles lead to bigger roles and eventually landed him the iconic role of Barney Stinson on "How I Met Your Mother." In addition, he is in a long-term loving relationship and the father of twins.
Natalie Portman took on some impressive roles as a child star, including a controversial part in "Leon: The Professional." She is fluent in several languages, including Hebrew. Additionally, she graduated from Harvard in 2003. In recent years, Portman has earned several intense roles in movies, including "Black Swan" and "Closer".
Before he became Frodo in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Wood was already an accomplished child star. During the early 1990s, he starred in films like "Radio Flyer," "Forever Young," and "Paradise." Wood's cure for the curse is humility and keeping his private life under the radar.
In 1993, Anna Paquin was the second youngest person to earn an Academy Award. She slowly transitioned into her teenage years and starred in popular movies like "Almost Famous" and "X-Men." She landed her breakout role as Sookie in the HBO series "True Blood." Additionally, Paquin attended Columbia University before leaving to devote herself to acting.