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'To be an actor you have to be a child!' Paul Newman

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

We remember them when they were only 13, 10, 8 or even 5 years old. What happened to them? How did they manage to get out of the focus of public attention? Why did some of them became adult actors? Why do others go into oblivion?

Jackie Coogan and Shirley Temple

Hayley Mills and Mark Lester

Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore

Macauley Culkin and Anna Paquin, Freddie Highmore and Abigail Breslin and Jodie Foster, and Tatum O’Neal and Kristen Stewart and Karen Dotrice and River Phoenix etc. etc

The Kid, The Little Princess, Pollyanna, Oliver, E.T., Home Alone, The Piano, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Little Miss Sunshine, Taxi Driver, Paper Moon, Twilight, Mary Poppins, Stand By Me… so many movies to remember that simply make us realize the impact of time on a human being.

The ones who have embraced a career as adults like Drew Barrymore or Jodie Foster are rare. Some of them keep appearing in films and TV series, and it is always a treat to remember them like Henry Thomas (Elliot in E.T and recently seen in The Haunting of Bly Manor). Others decided to start a new career like Mark Lester (Osteopath/Acupuncturist). The Star System broke a few of them like River Phoenix (drug overdose).

In the end, one can say that we are all their parents, that we have seen them growing on screen and in our hearts when they became adults. One cannot help thinking of Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood who filmed the childhood and adolescence of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 18, a performance in the world of movies.

And what about Michael Apted’s documentary series for the BBC called ‘Up’ it followed the lives of 14 British individuals since 1964, when they were 7. Another achievement.

“All children are natural actors, and I am still a kid. If you grow up complete, you can never be an actor.” Kirk Douglas

Maybe Kirk Douglas’ quote is true and the ones who are still in the limelight have not grown up yet!

Photo credits:

Screenshot - 'The Kid' 1921

Screenshot - 'Oliver'

Getty image

AA Film Archive

Picture Rex

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