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Hollywood Wants Nothing To Do With These Former Child Stars

It's a sad reality that many child stars vanish after their time in the spotlight is over. Whether it's down to personal issues, physical changes, or headline-making controversies, there's a seemingly endless list of young actors who fizzle out as they grow up. When a child actor becomes popular in Hollywood, they run the risk of not being able to maintain their stardom into adulthood, and the pressure of trying to prove themselves as legitimate performers can take a mental toll.

In his emotional acceptance speech at the 2023 Golden Globes, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" actor Ke Huy Quan (who became known for playing Short Round in 1984's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and Data in 1985's "The Goonies") was honest about his fears of being unable to surpass his child stardom. "I felt so very lucky to have been chosen," he said of his big break as Short Round. "As I grew older, I started to wonder if that was it, if that was just luck. For so many years, I was afraid I had nothing more to offer. That no matter what I did, I would never be able to surpass what I achieved as a kid."

His words no doubt resonated with the many former child stars who have not yet had their moment to prove how much more they can offer. Why haven't they been given this opportunity? Here's why Hollywood wants nothing to do with these child stars anymore.

Amanda Bynes

One of the first big Nickelodeon stars, Amanda Bynes became famous following her role in the '90s sketch comedy series "All That." She was rewarded with her own show on the channel, "The Amanda Show," where she hosted and performed in a variety of sketches. Bynes had a promising career in comedy ahead of her following her time as a child star, landing roles in movies such as "Big Fat Liar," "What a Girl Wants," "She's the Man," and "Hairspray."

Her last notable role was as mean girl Marianne in the Emma Stone-led 2010 comedy "Easy A." She declared that she was retiring from acting soon after, something nobody saw coming. "Being an actress isn't as fun as it may seem," she tweeted (via Page Six). "If I don't love something anymore, I stop doing it. I don't love acting anymore, so I've stopped doing it. I know 24 is a young age to retire, but you heard it here first." The former child star continued to make headlines after her retirement, and not the good kind.

In 2012, she got arrested for a DUI and was involved in a hit-and-run incident just days later. She had several further run-ins with the law in the years that followed, and concerns were raised over her well being after a series of worrying outbursts on Twitter. The former child star got hospitalized on an involuntary psychiatric hold and her parents were given control of all her financial and medical decisions. In 2022, after almost a decade, her conservatorship came to an end.

Shia LaBeouf

Of all the actors on this list, few are as complicated as Shia LaBeouf, who has been in and out of the news for his entire adult life thanks to some bizarre behavior. LaBeouf was never the same after leaving the "Transformers" franchise, becoming known for odd publicity stunts and instances of plagiarism. He got his start as a lovable child actor on the Disney Channel show "Even Stevens," with his work as Louis Stevens gaining him immediate success. He even earned him a Daytime Emmy for his performances, establishing him as one to watch. As he grew older, LaBeouf continued getting work and growing his filmography with major roles in projects like "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." It wasn't until more recently that the former child star became persona non grata thanks to his unacceptable behavior coming to light.

LaBeouf has earned a reputation as a confrontational person who frequently clashes with co-workers. He locked horns with director Olivia Wilde during the production of "Don't Worry Darling," which led to him being replaced by Harry Styles. Reports that he had been fired from the film emerged, though LaBeouf disputed this. His career has been on hold ever since his former partner FKA Twigs accused him of abuse. "I hurt that woman," LaBeouf said on Jon Bernthal's "Real Ones" podcast (via Entertainment Weekly). "And in the process of doing that, I hurt many other people, and many other people before that woman. I was a pleasure-seeking, selfish, self-centered, dishonest, inconsiderate, fearful human being."

Macaulay Culkin

Another child actor of the 1990s who became a household name, Macaulay Culkin is known as the star of the first two "Home Alone" movies, where he played the ingenious and defiant Kevin McCallister. The original film earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a comedy or musical, along with worldwide fame. He's still known for the role to this day since watching the "Home Alone" movies has become a Christmas tradition for many families. As a result of this, Culkin was unable to surpass the heights of his breakout role, with his acting career cooling off as he entered adulthood.

Culkin's last childhood movie was 1994's "Richie Rich," which was followed by a nine-year hiatus from Hollywood. When he returned he attempted to reinvent himself with arthouse and independent films such as "Party Monster." Part of the reason for his career decline was the public perception of his health and rumors of drug-related issues, which were exacerbated by an arrest in 2004 for possession. He addressed this during an interview with Larry King. "Everything that I do for some reason becomes this big crazy thing, you know, even though any normal person does it," he said (via CNN). "Like, yes I'm a kid, I had a beer, I smoked a joint. Big deal."

The actor reprised his "Home Alone" role in a Google commercial in 2018, but nowadays he's best known for an odd publicity stunt he pulled. He asked the public to choose a new middle name for him after deciding that his given one (Carson) was boring, and they chose Macaulay Culkin. That's right — his legal name is now Macaulay Macaulay Culkin Culkin.

Kirk Cameron

Former child actor Kirk Cameron became famous for playing Mike Seaver on the ABC sitcom "Growing Pains," which ran from 1985 to 1992. He was 14 when he auditioned for the role, and, by his own admission, being a teenage TV heartthrob gave him a huge ego. He told conservative advocacy group PragerU that he soon began to wonder if there was really a heaven and a hell and realized that "if there was a heaven, I wouldn't be going there because of my attitude and my self-centered, conceited, 'I'm all that, I'm the GOAT, celebrity Mike Seaver guy.'"

Cameron says that his experience in the entertainment industry made him turn to religion. He's known as an evangelical Christian these day and he holds views on same-sex marriage and abortion that have seemingly turned him into a pariah in Tinseltown. He's still in the film and TV business, though he only makes faith-based content and has to operate outside of the Hollywood system because of the "bias" against him, he told The Hollywood Reporter. "If you say you're about faith in God, you'll have people stand up and cheer, then you'll have others who won't," he said. "While I may not know what they are, it's very likely I have not gotten roles because of who I am and what I want to stand up for."

The "Growing Pains" alum made headlines in 2020 after he organized mass Christmas carol events in Los Angeles during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a form of protest against California's stay-at-home orders. The pandemic hit Hollywood hard, and Cameron's maskless gatherings drew the ire of Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who called his antics "very irresponsible and very dangerous" in a statement (via the Los Angeles Times).

Fred Savage

Until very recently, Fred Savage wouldn't have belonged on this list thanks to his relatively successful career as a child star turned adult actor. Savage earned his fame playing the lead role of Kevin Arnold on "The Wonder Years," a beloved sitcom which ran from 1988 to 1993. He won two Primetime Emmys for his work on the show. Savage continued to land small roles in his later years, appearing in films like "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "The Rules of Attraction," and, more recently, "Deadpool 2," in which he played himself. He has also appeared in several popular TV shows, including "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "Modern Family," "2 Broke Girls," and "The Grinder." He starred in the latter show alongside Rob Lowe, and it was around this time that stories about unsavory onset behavior first started coming to light.

Per USA Today, a crew member who worked on "The Grinder" accused Savage of intimidation and assault, as well as gender discrimination and harassment. Costume designer Youngjoo Hwang took her complaint to execs but was reportedly advised not to pursue it. She was allegedly told that "a lot of people would lose their jobs and I would never work in this industry again." Nothing came of the incident, but when more complaints about inappropriate conduct were made against Savage after he signed on to direct and produce the reboot of "The Wonder Years," he came under the microscope once again. This time, 20th Television chose to sever ties. "Recently, we were made aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct by Fred Savage, and as is policy, an investigation was launched," it said in a statement. "Upon its completion, the decision was made to terminate his employment as an executive producer and director of 'The Wonder Years.'"

Drake Bell

Drake Bell's career as a child actor began in the 1990s. After debuting in an episode of Tim Allen's "Home Improvement," he appeared in feature films such as "Jerry Maguire" and "High Fidelity." His big break came in 2004 when Nickelodeon gave him and Josh Peck their own sitcom. "Drake & Josh" ran for four seasons and became a favorite among younger viewers, and Bell went on to cement his place as a Nickelodeon star by featuring in three live-action films based on the hit animated series "The Fairly OddParents."

Since then, Bell has been involved in a number of controversies that have derailed both his professional and personal life. In 2021, the actor and musician was sentenced to two years of probation for child endangerment. A 15-year-old girl contacted police in 2018 regarding an incident that took place between her and Bell the previous year in Cleveland. She was there to attend one of Bell's concerts, it was later revealed. "While there, Bell violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim," the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said (via NBC News).

Bell was indicted and initially pleaded not guilty, but later accepted a plea deal. "Today I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong. I'm sorry that the victim was harmed in any way — that was obviously not my intention," Bell said, per NBC News. "I have taken this matter very, very seriously, and again I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions." He was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and told not to contact the victim. His wife appeared to stick by him at the time, but in 2023, an insider told Page Six that they were headed for divorce.

Haley Joel Osment

One of the biggest child stars of the 1990s, Haley Joel Osment got his big break playing Forrest Gump Jr. in Robert Zemeckis' 1994 classic "Forrest Gump." He became known for playing precocious characters in rather dramatic roles, which is what later got him his most famous role as Cole Sear in M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 horror-thriller "The Sixth Sense." His performance as a young boy who can see the spirits of dead people earned him critical acclaim and countless accolades, including a nomination for best supporting actor (making him one of the youngest people to ever be nominated for an Academy Award).

He was flying high at the young age of eleven, but he endured a gradual decline over the coming years. Although he continued to star in major motion pictures like Steven Spielberg's "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," there seemed to be a noticeable shift in the public's perception of Osment as he got older. Once he lost his boyish charm and transitioned into being a normal adult, he was relegated to more comedic side roles, and even those started to dry up eventually.

In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, Osment admitted that he grew his beard in an effort to "hide in public," but he doesn't resent the fact that he hasn't been able to surpass "The Sixth Sense." He told the British newspaper: "I'm lucky to have a positive relationship with those periods that can sometimes be difficult for other people." Nowadays, Osment is rarely seen on screen, but he is heard — he pays the bills with voice acting roles. The former child star has voiced numerous characters on "American Dad!" and "Family Guy" over the years.

Jake Lloyd

One of the saddest stories of a child actor getting chewed up and spit out by Hollywood is that of Jake Lloyd, who is best known for playing the young Anakin Skywalker in 1999's "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace." Lloyd made his debut in "ER," appearing in four Season 2 episodes as a patient at Cook County General Hospital. He went on to play the son of Arnold Schwarzenegger's desperate dad character in the Christmas comedy "Jingle All the Way" before landing his big "Star Wars" role. Unfortunately, the film was a letdown and is widely seen as the worst theatrically released "Star Wars" film. Of course, none of this was Lloyd's fault, though countless so-called fans decided to take their frustrations out on him.

Despite being just 9-years-old at the time, Lloyd was relentlessly bullied online, made a scapegoat alongside Ahmed Best (the actor who played Jar Jar Binks). He unsurprisingly turned his back on acting soon after. Whether his unfair treatment by the "Star Wars" fandom affected his mental health is impossible to say, but Lloyd was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia later in life. His mother was forced to call the police in 2015 when he attacked her after coming off his meds, per TMZ. He was arrested for driving recklessly a few weeks later and wound up spending 10 months in jail before he was moved to a psychiatric facility.

It was only in 2020 that Lloyd was officially diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, despite having shown symptoms for years. "He is still a kind and caring person and we hope to have him back to his fun and entertaining self as soon as possible," his mother said in a statement, via Geek News Now. Even if Hollywood did want to cast him again, it's unlikely that he'd want to return.