15 Child Actors Who Lost Their Way

8. Linda Blair


Everyone recognizes Linda Blair as Regan, the possessed girl from “The Exorcist” (1973), a role which earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

After “The Exorcist,” she continued to act and she even became an animal rights activist. However, after a career filled with B-movies and disposable films, Regan from the “The Exorcist” remains Blair’s sole notable performance.


7. Henry Thomas

Henry Thomas is a case of a good actor who repeatedly got cast in bad movies. In 1982, he starred in “E.T. the Extraterrestrial,” Steven Spielberg’s classic film. Thirty-five years later, his performance as Elliot, the intelligent and very likable kid who helps E.T. return to his home planet, still remains Thomas’ best-known role to date.

Lately, he’s starred in a couple of better films, including the better-than-expected horror “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and last year’s “Gerald’s Game,” so there is still hope that Thomas might have a late-career resurgence.


6. Robert Iler

Robert Iler isn’t really a film actor, despite playing some small roles in a couple of flicks from the 2000s. However, everyone knows him for his great performance as AJ Soprano from HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Anthony Junior was one of the show’s best characters and Iler’s performance proved him to be a very talented actor.

After the show’s finale, Iler only appeared in a 2009 episode of “Law & Order” before giving up to acting and becoming a professional poker player. Good for him, but it’s a shame we won’t get to see him on the small or big screens anymore.


5. Corey Feldman

Born in 1971, Corey Feldman was a known face in the 80s. He appeared in numerous films, including classics such as “Stand by Me,” “The Goonies,” “Gremlins”, “The ‘Burbs” and “The Lost Boys.” Unfortunately, it’s been nearly 30 years since Feldman was cast in a decent film. His latest credits include “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!”, “The Zombie King,” “Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys,” and the list of bad movies could go on forever.

In recent years, Feldman has advocated for animal rights and vegetarianism and in 2013 he released a book entitled “Coreyography,” a memoir where he talks about the sexual abuse he experienced as a kid. Last year, he started a campaign to finance a film about child sexual abuse in Hollywood, of which he himself claims to have been a victim.


4. Haley Joel Osment


Haley Joel Osment rose to fame in 1999 when he starred along Bruce Willis in the M. Night Shyamalan horror “The Sixth Sense.” The film was a real triumph, earning six Oscar nominations, including Best Supporting Actor for Osment. At the early age of 11 years old, Haley Joel Osment seemed to have a successful career ahead of him.

However, it’s been years since Osment did anything remarkable. His last better film appearance dates back to 2001 when he starred in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” Since then, Osment’s career has been filled with stinkers, small television roles, and voice roles for the “Kingdom Hearts” video game series.


3. Danny Lloyd


In 1980, when only eight years old, Danny Lloyd became famous for his portrayal of Danny Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece “The Shining.” Two years later, Lloyd starred in his second and final movie role, as young Liddy in the TV production “Will: G. Gordon Liddy.”

After repeatedly failing to get cast in other films, Lloyd gave up acting and embraced a normal teenage life. During college, he worked at a local Wal-Mart and even drove a tractor at a pig farm.

In 2007, he became a biology professor at a college in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He is married and a father of six children. Once in a while, Lloyd is invited to horror film conventions to talk about the character he played nearly 40 years ago. Apart from that, he’s been staying out of the spotlight.


2. Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson was a big name during the 1990s. Anyone who grew up in that period knows her from famous roles such as little Natalie Hillard in the Robin Williams family-comedy film “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993), Susan Walker in the 1994 remake of “Miracle on 34th Street,” and Matilda in the Roald Dahl 1996 adaptation of the same name. She was truly an amazing child actor and her performances in those films are still enjoyable to watch.

Wilson’s last major film role was back in 2000 when she starred in “Thomas and the Magic Railroad,” a not-so-great fantasy adventure film based on “The Railway Series” children’s books. Since 2012, she played herself in minor roles in several web television series, and had a recurring voice role in Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman,” but her main interest nowadays is writing.


1. Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin is the most memorable child actor from the 1990s. From 1988 to 1994, he starred in more than a dozen films, including John Hughes productions such as “Uncle Buck,” “Only the Lonely” and most notably, the two “Home Alone” original films.

His performance as Kevin McCallister, the likable kid who always found himself in trouble after getting left behind by his family, is iconic, and “Home Alone” remains to this day the most successful Christmas film ever made. Even so, Culkin’s later career hasn’t been as successful.

After playing Richie Rich in the 1994 film of the same name, Culkin only appeared on screen sporadically. In 2003, he starred in “Party Monster” after a nine-year pause. Critic Roger Ebert praised the film and gave it three stars out of four, but the general response was negative. Since then, he has only appeared in four more productions, none of them too good, and was subject to a lot of reports which claimed he was battling drug addiction.

In the last few years, things started to look better for Culkin. From 2013 to 2016 he had his own band, the Pizza Underground, a comedy rock group that parodied the Velvet Underground’s songs, and this year he will be seen in Seth Green’s new comedy-drama “Changeland.” At only 38 years old, Culkin still has time to give his career a fresh start.