With the upcoming Australian release of Good Boys, which revolves around three 6th grade boys, who ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls, and try to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party – we take a look at the best child actors of the last couple of decades.
(We evaluated their performances and awards-buzz throughout their careers, up until the age of 16.)
10. Macaulay Culkin
“I don’t even get an allowance.” – Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Carson Culkin is one of the most famous American child stars. Born on August 26, 1980, he made his debut on stage at the age of 4, appearing in an Off-Broadway show – The Nutcracker. The role he’s most known for is Kevin McCallister in Home Alone – which made $476,684,675 worldwide. Other films he’s appeared in as a child were Uncle Buck; My Girl; Home Alone 2: Lost in New York; The Good Son; The Pagemaster and Richie Rich. He also received a Golden Globe-nomination for his role in Home Alone at the age of 11.
Fun fact: He’s the godfather to Michael Jackson’s first child.
9. Millie Bobby Brown
“I live on a plane.” – Millie Bobby Brown
Millie Bobby Brown was born on February 19, 2004. She became world famous for her role as Eleven in the Netflix science fiction drama series Stranger Things, for which she earned a Primetime Emmy Award nomination, at age 13. She is also the youngest person ever to feature on TIME 100 list. She’s also appeared in tv-series Intruders and Godzilla II: King of the Monsters, and has just finished filming its sequel Godzilla vs. Kong.
Interesting fact: She is deaf in one ear.
8. Chloë Grace Moretz
“My mom has always said that if I get a big head, she’ll take me out of this business as quickly as I got into it.” – Chloë Grace Moretz
Chloë Grace Moretz was born February 10, 1997 and is known for her versatility in film roles despite her young age. She first appeared on the big screen in the remake of horror film, The Amityville Horror (2005), in which she played the on-screen-daughter of Ryan Gosling‘s character. Her biggest success as a child was Tim Burtons‘ adaptation of Dark Shadows, which grossed $245,527,149. You might also know her from The Eye; 500 Days of Summer; Kick-Ass and the sequel Kick-Ass 2; Let Me In and Hugo; or tv-series Dirty Sexy Money.
Fun fact: Voiced the entire character of Penny in Bolt (2008) before Disney hired Miley Cyrus to do the role.
7. Jodie Foster
“When people are there to simply do a job they don’t have any passion for, those are nearly always bad films.” – Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. Before she started acting in numerous tv-series, she started off as an extra in commercials from the age of two. As a child she worked on television programs such as, The Doris Day Show; The Partridge Family; Bonanza and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. It’s when she played a prostitute at the age of 12, in Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver, when she received her first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. She later appeared in films such as Freaky Friday.
Crazy fact: As a child, she was attacked by a lion and carried briefly in its mouth while filming Disney‘s Napoleon and Samantha (1972).
6. Jacob Tremblay
Jacob Tremblay was born in Canada on October 5, 2006. His breakout performance was in the drama Room, for which he received critical acclaim. He has since appeared in multiple films, such as, Before I Wake; The Book of Henry; Wonder; The Predator and his most recent film, Good Boys. Jacob has a few big projects lined up with Doctor Sleep, being released later this year and he’ll also be voicing Flounder in Disney’s upcoming live action remake of The Little Mermaid.
5. Dakota Fanning
“I have no problem shooting emotional scenes.” – Dakota Fanning
Hannah Dakota Fanning was born on February 23, 1994, and had her big breakthrough in the film I Am Sam, at the age of seven years old. She then starred in numerous big Hollywood productions, alongside Charlize Theron, Mike Myers, Brittany Murphy, Denzel Washington and many others. Her biggest film was Steven Spielberg‘s War of the Worlds, in which she got to play the daughter of Tom Cruise, and made her one of the most popular child actors of the 00’s. Other work she’s known for as a child: Trapped; Uptown Girls; The Cat in the Hat; Man on Fire; Hide and Seek; Charlotte’s Web; The Twilight Saga and The Runaways.
Impressive fact: She was the youngest member of the “Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences“, which admitted her in 2006.
4. Olsen Twins
“I am the cute one! She’s just my sister.” – Mary-Kate Olsen
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were born on June 13, 1986. They are identical twins and have always acted together in films and tv-shows, until 2012 – when they decided to retire from acting and focus on their careers in fashion. The twins were cast at the age of nine months to share the role of Michelle Tanner in the immensely popular sitcom Full House, which they played for eight years. In the early 90s, they established company Dualstar, to produce Mary-Kate and Ashley-branded products.
Fun fact: During the earlier seasons of Full House (1987), the producers did not want this known that Michelle was played by twins, so Mary-Kate and Ashley were credited as Mary Kate Ashley Olsen.
3. Haley Joel Osment
“It’s hard to act terrified when you have 200 crew members around you.” – Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment is the first millennial male to have received an Academy Award nomination for acting, at age 11, for playing Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense. Before his breakthrough role, he had appeared in Forrest Gump. Later on he’d play memorable parts in Pay It Forward; Artificial Intelligence: AI and Secondhand Lions.
Hollywood fact: Auditioned for Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), but didn’t get a callback.
2. Abigail Breslin
Abigail Kathleen Breslin was born in 1996 and is mostly known for role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), for which she received multiple awards and an Academy Award-nomination. Other films she was in: Signs; Raising Helen; No Reservations; Definitely, Maybe; Nim’s Island; My Sister’s Keeper; Zombieland and she voiced a character in the animated film Rango. Abigail will reprise the role of Little Rock in this year’s sequel to Zombieland – exactly 10 years after the release of the the first film.
Personal fact: Her favorite movie is Meet Me in St. Louis (1944).
1. Shirley Temple
“When I was 14, I was the oldest I ever was. I’ve been getting younger ever since.” – Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple is most certainly the most famous child star of all time. She skyrocketed into stardom from the age of three and never looked back down. She was not just an actress, she was a singer and dancer too, that’s why every studio in Hollywood wanted her to be a part of their films or even star in the lead role. She won an Oscar at the age of 6, in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934, and starred in 28 feature length films, before the age of sixteen.
Cute fact: Her mother, Gertrude Temple, did her hair in pin curls for each movie. Every hairstyle had exactly 56 curls.