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Whatever happened to the child stars?

Damien Thorn
HARVEY STEPHENS
The Omen (1976)

Then Satan in short-trousers, the five-year-old Stephens won the role after splitting director Richard Donner’s lip in a suitably fiery audition.

Now “A few freaks have got in touch,” Harvey Stephens explains of the downside of being Lil’ Lucifer. “One man knocked on my door with a set of six knives he claimed were from our film. He asked me to sign the case. I was bathing my daughter at the time.”

Stephens’ reputation for being a handful on set – the movie’s iconic smirking final image is a result of the mischievous bugger’s inability to follow Donner’s instruction to keep a straight face – continued into his education. Still, at least Gregory Peck (“a nice man”) would call him every Christmas.

Now running a London-based chauffeur business, Stephens was lured back into acting for a cameo in 2006’s shonktacular remake. He’s also just discovered horror conventions: “People come along and part with their hard-earned cash to get an autograph or a photo of someone with an everyday job!”

 

Davy ‘Lardass’ Hogan
ANDY LINDBERG
Stand By Me (1986)

Then Chunky teen from Portland, Oregon, who memorably added colour to Gordie’s tale of a pie-eating contest by chomping five blueberry pies and rainbow-yawning all over a fellow contestant. Cue “a complete… and total… Barf-A-Rama!”

Now Hasn’t acted in film since, perhaps put off by having to shove his mug into pie after pie for four whole days (“I put my face in over three hundred pies!” he tells Total Film. “The crusts had rock sugar on top so I had cuts…”) He endured a bit of teasing (“I’ve had my share of people saying, ‘Boom, bada-boom, bada-boom!’ as I’m walking by”), and opted to stay doing theatre in Portland rather than strike out for Hollywood (“It’s kind of a niche thing, the overweight adolescent male. There weren’t a lot of parts…”). Lindberg recently moved to New York, and plays with pirate-themed rock band Captain Bogg And Salty. Still involved in theatre, he’s even looking to get back into films: “Stand By Me is the most impressive thing I’ve done, so I have to remember to say, ‘By the way, I’m Lardass!’ It’s amazing how much cachet that role still grants.”

 

Michael
ROBERT MACNAUGHTON
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Then Seventeen-year-old TV actor, picked by Spielberg to play Elliot’s older brother.

Now “I’d seen a sneak preview of E.T. before the release date and it felt like I had this great secret. I remember riding my bike around my home town and humming the theme in my head and thinking ‘I can’t wait for this to hit’.”

Despite following up E.T. by starring in the soft adaptation of cult book I Am The Cheese (1983), MacNaughton chose not to follow his co-stars into pursuing big-screen success. Having failed to eke out a stage career in Phoenix, he fell into doing postal work, where he finally settled down. He joined the rest of the cast and Steven Spielberg for the 20th Anniversary – where he sported The Worst Haircut Ever. “I never saw myself as a star at all,” he says of his brief moment cycling though the spotlight’s lunar glare. “I always saw myself as an actor who was lucky.”

 

Oliver Twist
MARK LESTER
Oliver! (1968)

Then Cherubic nine-year-old plucked from stage-school obscurity to pick a pocket (or two) and demand more grub. Greedy little shit...

Now Lester worked for Disney for a decade in the US and appeared in Black Beauty (1971) before re-uniting with Oliver! Co-star Jack Wild for puppy love story Melody (1971). His last film was The Prince And The Pauper (1977).

When the parts started drying up, the 18-year-old Lester was given access to his money and Lohanned the lot on drugs, booze, birds and a spanking new Ferrari. “The roles weren’t there and I was at a difficult age,” he now sighs. “I suppose it was that thing of having been very well known for being a child. I was a victim of my own success in that sense.” Two years later, finding himself broke and in rehab at 20, Lester rethought his life. He immersed himself in karate training (becoming a black belt) and discovered his true calling: osteopathy. “I just thought, ‘I want to do this,’ so I did. I trained and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years.”

 

Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen
JEFF COHEN
The Goonies (1985)

Then Big-boned nine-year-old who won hearts as the clumsy, ice-cream loving, truffle-shovelling, Sloth-befriending Chunk.

Now The savvy Cohen became the star of The Goonies publicity campaign, winding up on a trip to Chatmandu with ’80s talk-show king Terry Wogan. “They told me I was supposed to touch his knees,” he says now of his infamously precocious appearance. “I was somewhat put off. It made me feel uncomfortable.”

Despite working consistently – usually clad in Hawaiian shirt and plaid trousers for that extra, “Look, it’s Chunk from The Goonies!” factor – Cohen eventually headed off to law school. “Everyone just expected de facto that if I come to a party or hang-out that I would lift up my shirt and shake my belly,” he groans. “And there’s nothing’s quite as persuasive as 10,000 drunk fraternity dudes.” Those days are now gone, along with his gut: Cohen presently looks like the slick, enormously successful entertainment lawyer that he is. He also remains firm friends with most of The Goonies crew – even representing some of them.

 

Rebecca “Newt” Jorden
CARRIE HENN
Aliens (1986)

Then Sole survivor of the Xenomorph rampage through LV-426, the plucky moppet gets adopted by super-mom Ellen Ripley.

Now “The first time I saw Aliens,” says Carrie Henn of attending the premiere, “I was kind of in a daze because I was 10 years old and there were all these movie stars around, like Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

Henn won awards for Newt but never acted again. Now a school teacher in California, she remains in touch with Sigourney Weaver. “She was almost like a surrogate mom, I guess,” says Henn, putting their bond down to the filming schedule. “They did all the parts with everyone there and then they left and Sigourney and I did our parts for a couple of months. Our dressing rooms were next to each other. We used to joke and say we were the orphans who nobody wanted.”

 

Billy Kramer
JUSTIN HENRY
Kramer Vs Kramer (1979)

Then At seven years old, Justin Henry was plucked from school to lend a cutesy face to the legal tug-of-war in Kramer Vs Kramer. His naturalistic performance, coached in part by Dustin Hoffman, snaffled him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

Now “After Kramer it was crazy, man,” laughs Henry. “I don’t remember too much of the Oscars. It was one of five separate awards shows we went to. We did a command performance for the Queen Of England, we were in China, it was a blur.”

But rather than push their kid down the slippery slope signposted ’Haley Joel Osment’, the family Henry chose to let things unfold naturally. “I really didn’t do anything until Sixteen Candles.”

After another hiatus to go to college, Henry moved to LA and set up his own indie distribution company, Slamdunk, which became a big wheel at festivals like Cannes and Sundance. “We helped small independent filmmakers get distribution through larger channels. Microsoft became our biggest partner.”

 

Annie
AILEEN QUINN
Annie (1982)

Then The perky nine-year-old, who had already understudied Annie on stage, beat out 8,000 other girls to nab the part of the flame-haired, fire-hearted orphan looking for her folks.

Now Despite having to wear a ginger-afro wig that made her look like the love child of Bonnie Langford and Mick Hucknall, Quinn still went on to balance her school life with a career on stage, where she’s continued to work now she’s all grown up and stuff. One hitch: she was never able to follow up Annie’s on-screen success, hampered by a contract that tied her to several sequels that never actually materialised. “It was a blessing in disguise,” she now claims. “I wound up having very normal teenage years, and I’m very happy that I managed to get a college education... which Annie certainly helped to pay for!”

 

Charlie Bucket
PETER OSTRUM Willy Wonka And The
Chocolate Factory (1971)

Then Poverty-ridden adolescent who gets his mitts on a Golden Ticket for a guided tour of Gene Wilder’s chocolate factory.

Now “I never wanted to be an actor for the rest of my life. I certainly enjoyed it a great deal but I never thought it was my true calling. My true calling I later discovered was to be a veterinarian.”

Peter – now sporting a handlebar moustache – runs a practice in upstate New York, where he lives with his family. “I returned to school and by the time the film was in theatres I’d changed a lot, so I wasn’t even recognised much,” he explains, getting all misty-eyed at the memories. It could have played out differently, mind. Discovering he was that kid, from that movie, a drama teacher nudged him towards auditioning for the controversial horse-blinding, wang-wielding play Equus on Broadway. He lost out on the part, a setback that only served to steel his resolve to help animals rather than scoop out their eyes. “Acting was fine, but I wanted something more steady, and the key is to find something that you love doing.”

 

Barry Guiler
CARY GUFFEY
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

Then The giggly kid who gets abducted by the aliens who blew up his kitchen, only to spill out of the mothership and return home at the end of the movie.

Now “I walked into that premiere unknown and as soon as the movie ended, everyone knew who I was,” muses Cary Guffey of his Close Encounter with Hollywood, aged four. “My parents said, maybe we need to control this and not let it control us.’” Guffey’s folks wisely kept a beady eye on the barrage of scripts being thrown at their son (“They labelled me ‘PG’ – I couldn’t be in anything I couldn’t go and see!”) and ensured he led a normal life. “We never moved to California, we stayed in Georgia and I went to regular schools. It was a hobby rather than a career. My agent would come up with things and my parents would be like, ‘No, he’s got soccer.’ “I did about a film a year. Nothing was ever the size of Close Encounters, most of it was made for TV. I didn’t go looking for it if it didn’t come looking for me.” Perhaps inevitably, he eventually drifted away from acting altogether.

 

Anakin Skywalker
JAKE LLOYD
Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace (1999)

Then The bowl-cut kid who gave rasta-squid Jar-Jar a run for his money when it came to spoiling The Phantom Menace.

Now With Jar-Jar not technically existing, the nine-year-old Lloyd suffered the brunt of The Phantom Menace backlash, most of it aimed his way by the only social group nastier than movie critics: high school kids. Haunted by the sounds of lightsabers wielded by his gurning classmates, a rebellious Lloyd spent a few years in detention. The abuse and relentless press touring, meanwhile, put Lloyd and his family off acting. “I had fun, I did my best,” he shrugs of his pivotal role in the most eagerly anticipated movie of all time. “I’ve learned to live with it because it’s what you do.”

 

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch
MARY BADHAM
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

Then At nine, Badham played Scout, from whose perspective we see her good lawyer father’s defence of an innocent black man in the heart of lynchin’ country.

Now “It used to do it a couple of times a year,” enthuses Mary Badham of her touring Q&A where she answers questions about her experiences making To Kill A Mockingbird. “And now every month I’m booked. It’s crackers!”

The younger sister of director John Badham, Mary was Oscar-nominated for her performance, losing out to fellow child star Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker. Deciding to ditch the acting after enduring a rough time making This Property Is Condemned (1966) with a troubled Natalie Wood, Badham now works as a furniture restorer in her native Virginia – though she had a cameo in indie flick Our Very Own in 2005. She also remained close to Gregory Peck till the very end of his life. “I couldn’t call him Greg, forget it,” she says.”I couldn’t call him Mr. Peck. That’s too formal. He was just my Atticus.”

 

Short Round
JONATHAN KE QUAN
Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom (1984)

Then Indy’s street-smart sidekick, the 13-year-old Ke Quan landed the role after tagging along to the audition with his brother.

Now Spielberg was so happy with Jonathan that he immediately pushed him for The Goonies, where Ke Quan became even more beloved by ’80s adventure fans as the inventive Data. That stellar start was followed only by little parts here and there (a brief turn in California Man with Goonies co-star Sean Astin…), as the young star focused his energies on getting into university. Instead, Ke Quan moved behind the camera, graduating from film school and becoming involved in the shooting, editing and even sound production of a couple of indie productions you’ve never heard of. But his greatest success has been as a martial arts supervisor on the likes of X-Men and The One. Ironically, Jonathan’s love of kung fu was partly fostered during his time on the set of Indiana Jones. “They had a martial arts instructor on the Indy set. He coached me. Other than that, it was pretty much from watching all those Jackie Chan movies!”

 

Andy Barclay
ALEX VINCENT
Child’s Play (1988)

Then It wasn’t cute little Andy Barclay who killed those people, honest. It was Chucky, the 12in high doll possessed with the spirit of psycho voodoo practitioner Charles Lee Ray.

Now Pressing the fetid flesh of splatterheads at 10 horror conventions a year. In between meeting, greeting and occasionally signing the tits of gorehounds, he creates music (which you can hear on his MySpace page) and has been keeping his options open regarding getting back into acting. In fact, Vincent’s already taken a role (playing himself) in Aussie schlock-horror Dead Country, now in postproduction, and has worked out a fool-proof plan for future success and happiness. “It goes in my contract,” he jokes. “I don’t work with dolls anymore.”

 

Cole Sear
HALEY JOEL OSMENT
The Sixth Sense (1999)

Then He saw dead people. Having established himself as an actor of preternatural talent in Forrest Gump, the 11-year-old Osment became a fully-fledged, Oscar-nommed precocious phenomenon in The Sixth Sense.

Now In cliché terms, an 18-year-old Hollywood star getting pissed up and wrecking his car is up there with ‘Pop star likes drugs!’ The big surprise was that in June 2006 it was that nice Haley Joel Osment – the anti-Spears – wrapping his motor around a pillar while over the booze limit. Getting nicked for pot possession was the icing on the cake.

“I brought it upon myself,” Osment later told the press. “So I would definitely not say that my childhood in this business caused that in any way. But the response to it is definitely something that is affected by my place in the business. So for me it was a good lesson.”

Osment’s career had already plateaued by the time of the infamous prang. Much hyped movies like Pay It Forward and Spielberg’s A.I. misfired. He’s now busy doing theatre, voiceover work and the odd indie flick.

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