15 Child Actors Who Lost Their Way

It’s hard to grow up as a child actor and manage to keep your career on track when becoming an adult. Many former child actors lost their interest in acting, faced drug or alcohol-related problems, or simply proved to be not so talented as they appeared to be in their early days.

There are also a lot of exceptions. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Christian Bale – and the list could go on – are all respected actors who started their careers long before turning 18 years old.

In this list, however, we will focus on the other category. These are 15 former child actors who didn’t manage to match their early fame.


15. Skandar Keynes

The ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ trilogy was one of the better fantasy film series, which tried to replicate the success of the Harry Potter franchise.

Of all of Narnia’s four lead child actors, Skandar Keynes, who played the mischievous Edmund Pevensie, is the only one who hasn’t starred in anything new since 2010’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

In 2016, Keynes announced his retirement from acting. He is currently working as a parliamentary adviser.


14. Harry Melling

Harry Melling is well known for his role as Dudley Dursley, Harry Potter’s annoying fat cousin, a character which he played in five of the franchise’s eight films. However, since “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” (2010), Melling has only appeared on the big screen once, in last year’s “The Lost City of Z.”

In an interview from 2009, he commented about his weight loss, telling that he could “shed the child actor thing, like the fat, and start a new career,” since no one recognized him anymore as Dudley Dursley. Nine years later, we are still waiting for him to prove himself as more than a former child actor.


13. Liam Aiken

American actor Liam Aiken was almost cast as Harry Potter, but after J.K. Rowling’s demand for British-only actors, Warner Bros decided to turn over the role to Daniel Radcliffe.

Things looked good again in 2004 when Aiken gave life to Klaus Baudelaire in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”, a film which adapted the first three books from the series of the same name. His performance as the bookworm-y Baudelaire kid was really good and proved that Liam Aiken could have been a great Harry Potter, maybe even better than Daniel Radcliffe.

Despite being a box office and critical success, “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” didn’t get a sequel and it took nearly 15 years for the books to get readapted as a Netflix original series. Thus, Aiken once again failed to star in a successful movie franchise.

As of 2018, after being cast in a couple of average films, TV episodes, and voicing a character in last year’s “The Emoji Movie” – but that is nothing to be proud of – Aiken is still looking for a career relaunch.


12. Ivana Baquero

In 2007, 12-year-old Ivana Baquero played the lead character in Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

In the next 10 years, she was cast in a bunch of Spanish productions and played the main character in the recently canceled television series “The Shannara Chronicles,” but her performance as Ofelia in “Pan’s Labyrinth” still remains her only significant role.


11. Rupert Grint

Rupert Grint was perfectly cast as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series. However, unlike his fellow actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, he hasn’t managed to star in anything memorable since 2011’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Radcliffe proved he is not “just Harry” with fine films such as “Kill Your Darlings,” “The Woman in Black,” “Imperium” and, his best performance since the wizard days, Manny the corpse from “Swiss Army Man.” Emma Watson, while not the greatest actress out there, found fame again with 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” and appeared in several other agreeable films such as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Noah” and “Regression,” a thriller that is better than its reputation.

Grint, however, was not so lucky. Since playing Ron Weasley, he was cast in five poorly reviewed films and currently stars in “Snatch,” a television series based on the Guy Ritchie film of the same name, whose first season wasn’t that good either. Approaching 30 years old, chances are his career culminated while playing the red-haired wizard.


10. Jeremy Sumpter

Peter Pan

In 2003, the 13-year-old Jeremy Sumpter starred in “Peter Pan” as the titular character. The film remains to this day the most faithful adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s story about the boy who wouldn’t grow up and was well received by critics and audiences at the time of its release.

Sumpter’s performance as Peter Pan was great and it looked like he had a promising future ahead of him. Unfortunately, his career hasn’t been so impressive. Since “Peter Pan,” he’s only starred in a few minor TV roles and a bunch of obscure films.


9. Jake Lloyd

Jake Lloyd became world famous after playing young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” (1999). Six years later, he appeared in “Madison”, where he played a retired hydroplane pilot’s son. Despite being released in 2005, the film was actually shot in 2000, when Lloyd was only 11 years old.

In 2001, he announced his retirement from acting as a result of school bullying. Things haven’t gone well for Lloyd as of late. In 2015, he was arrested after driving without a license and in 2016 he was moved from jail to a psychiatric facility after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.