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Malcolm David Kelley: What Happened To The Actor Who Played Walt On Lost

It's been almost a decade since the Lost finale aired, and one of the best TV shows of all time ended its dramatic run. But critics and fans still haven't stopped rehashing the unsolved mysteries on the island or the fates of the passengers on Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 ... or the actors who played them. Some of the former cast members have consistently stayed in the public eye, like Evangeline Lilly, who joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Ian Somerhalder, who starred on The Vampire Diaries. But others have flown under the radar. Take Malcolm David Kelley, for example. The child actor who joined the cast as Walt, Michael Dawson's son, may not always be in the spotlight these days, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been consistently working hard and honing his craft. 

Kelley isn't in front of the camera as much as he used to be, but he's managed to land interesting roles in both films and TV shows while pursuing his other creative passions. He's also needed some time to himself to simply figure out life and enjoy growing up. Here's what Kelley has been up to since his time on the island, and why you're more likely to hear him on the radio than see him on your TV screen. 

Malcolm David Kelley had some major growing pains on Lost

What's the biggest challenge when it comes to casting child actors? Getting the timing right so that the actor ages in accordance with their character. Sometimes, it all works out, and the pace of the show makes sense in relation to the actor's age. But a director can't delay puberty for the sake of a TV show. 

Kelley was a regular cast member throughout season one of Lost, but after a major growth spurt, he was demoted to a recurring role. After all, there was no way that audiences would still buy that he was supposed to be ten years old. Luckily, it did work out with the plot. Walt was kidnapped at the end of season one, so writing him off didn't pose much of a dilemma. But unfortunately for Kelley, it meant that he wouldn't get to work on the interesting future storylines that the writers initially had planned for him. Walt was originally supposed to develop supernatural powers, which was only briefly explored in season one. He was brought back for a few episodes in later seasons, but Kelley never really got the chance to develop Walt's character to his full potential. 

After playing Walt, he appeared on Saving Grace

With Lost on the backburner, Kelley could begin auditioning for new projects. His next recurring role was Benjamin Cooley on the TNT series Saving Grace. The crime drama centered around Grace Hanadarko, a detective with a serious drinking problem and a bad habit of getting involved with the wrong men. After running over a pedestrian, she uncharacteristically calls out to God to help, and to her surprise, she encounters her guardian angel, who challenges her to change her ways and hand her life over to God. Grace doubts what she's witnessed, but she can't quite shake her vision. 

Saving Grace ran for three seasons from 2007 through 2010. Kelley's character, Benjamin, was a friend of Clay Norman, the son of Grace's deceased sister. He appeared in four episodes over the course of the show's run. He was first introduced towards the end of season one and made his final appearance on the show in season three. Granted, he wasn't a major character, but hey, it was a paying gig that put Kelley back in front of a camera. And in a fun little twist, the actor who played Benjamin's friend Clay, Dylan Minnette, also played in Lost as Jack Shepard's son in the flash sideways scenes.

Kelley has another show cancelled

After Saving Grace was cancelled, Kelley went on to land a bigger supporting role in another TV show. Kelley played Finn Katins in Gigantic, a TeenNick comedy-drama which premiered in 2010. Gigantic explores the lives of Anna and Walt Moore, two teenage siblings whose parents happen to be famous movie stars. After living in Australia for several years, they return to Los Angeles and have to deal with the pressures of celebrity status all over again.

Kelley's character, Finn, is Walt's best friend. He helps Walt deal with everything from girl problems to his budding musical career. Unfortunately for Kelley, Gigantic didn't last long. The series was cancelled after one season. But that doesn't mean it was a waste of Kelley's time. Surprisingly enough, the connections he made with his Gigantic cast members took his career in a whole new direction, and the early cancellation of the series turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Since Lost, he's been guest starring on popular shows

So what was Kelley up to before landing roles on Saving Grace and Gigantic? Well, he wasn't out of work. In fact, he actually appeared on a few popular TV shows as a guest star while he figured out his next move. He played Nathan Phelps on the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Infected," a child who takes matters into his own hands after his mother is killed and exacts revenge upon the murderer himself. He was also in an episode of My Name is Earl, in which Earl decides to make amends for the time he scared a young boy by pretending to be the boogeyman. A few years later, Kelley also landed a guest spot on Bones. So even though he lost a spot on ABC's biggest show, young Kelley was still keeping busy and showing up everywhere on TV.

Figuring things out at an awkward age

It seems like most child actors go through a rebellious phase when they get older, and while growing up in Hollywood might look glamorous on the surface, it's not an easy road. Kelley says that he's been lucky to live a relatively normal life so far, despite working on a show like Lost at such a young age. Why was his experience different from the typical trials of child stars? He was honest with himself about his need to take some time off from acting, rather than forcing himself to stay in front of the camera. 

Kelley said that taking a step back from acting instead of going on one audition after another was the right decision. Speaking with W magazine, he explained that his quasi-hiatus "gave me time to grow up from that boy-to-man stage," which "can sometimes be awkward — coming from being a young actor." His parents were supportive of his choice and didn't push him to go to back to work before he was ready. He credits them for giving him the chance to enjoy a sense of normalcy as a young actor. 

Kelley has been making music since leaving Lost

After leaving Lost, Malcolm David Kelley decided to focus a lot of his attention on a musical career, and you may have one of Kelley's songs on your favorite Spotify playlist without knowing it. In 2012, Kelley and his Gigantic co-star, Tony Oller, came together to form the pop duo MKTO. In 2014, their song "Classic" became a huge hit. Kelley says that he's always loved music. In fact, he's dreamed of releasing his own music since he was a little kid. 

MKTO has had their ups and downs, and at one point, Kelley and Oller almost went their separate ways. However, the two ended up getting the band back together and working on new music. In 2018, they signed a new record deal. Recently, they released their latest single, "Shoulda Known Better."

Kelley says that balancing music and acting can be hard at times, but he still wants to pursue both. "Being busy, it's something that I like to be," Kelley told Parle. "So, I'm never mad at having to be in six different places in one week; it's something that I've been used to."

He's been showing up on the big screen

After being demoted on Lost, Kelley worked on a few films, too. In 2005, he played in the TV film Knights of the South Bronx, and in 2009, he appeared alongside Cole and Dylan Sprouse in Adventures of Appletown. That same year, he starred with Tessa Thompson in the movie Mississippi Damned, which follows the stories of three poor black children growing up in rural Mississippi and their struggles to build a better future ... or else remain trapped in the same circumstances in adulthood. 

This wasn't the last time that Kelley would work on a film that dealt with themes of race and discrimination. He also worked with Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow on the 2017 film Detroit. The film is based on the tragic Algiers Motel Incident during the 1967 12th Street Riot in Detroit. Kelley loved working with Bigelow and really respected her talent and direction. "Understanding the platform Kathryn has, I think it's beautiful she decided to take on a story like this," he told W magazine. "This is her type of work."

Recently, Kelley also played Black in the drama film True to the Game, which follows a drug lord trying to turn his life around after falling in love. 

He has some ambitious goals

Malcolm David Kelley has already appeared in a wide variety of films and TV shows. Despite the fact that he's occasionally taken time away from acting to focus on music, he's still gotten to experiment with playing lots of different roles and has avoided being typecast. But he hasn't accomplished everything he wants to in Hollywood, not by a long shot. 

Kelley has quite a list of goals for his future in acting, and since he's still in his 20s, he has plenty of time to do it all. He says that he's interested in tackling all kinds of ambitious projects in the next few years, including comedies, war dramas, and hopefully, joining the MCU, as he he was a huge fan of Black Panther. Unfortunately for Kelley, it doesn't look like a part in any of Marvel's Phase 4 productions is on the table (so far), but there are still plenty of Marvel stories that are yet to come to life on the big screen. 

Is Walt going back to the island?

Don't get your hopes up too high, Lost fans. As of right now, there are no plans for an official Lost film in the works. But could we ever get a chance to return to the island? There were quite a few storylines that were left open ended in the final season of Lost, so the thought of a reboot or movie isn't too far fetched. 

Kelley says that he would be down to be part of a Lost reunion. He isn't too keen on the idea of someone remaking the series, but he would be interested in coming back for a movie. Carlton Cuse, the executive producer of Lost, has said that he wouldn't be surprised to see another team pick up the Lost story again. While there's nothing happening with Lost right now, it's not out of the question. "I do believe at some future point, someone else will do something in the Lost world, and that's okay," Cuse told ComicBook.com. "There probably are some young wonderful writers out there."

Kelley wants to give back

As he enjoys more success in his career, Kelley wants to start giving back to the people who supported him in the early days of his acting career. In the future, he wants to look beyond acting and music and begin to explore the world of entrepreneurship, in addition to his other pursuits. He has a few role models in this area, and he wants to emulate their examples. Speaking with The Hype Magazine, Kelley specifically named Nipsey Hussle as one of his inspirations.

Hussle was tragically killed in a shooting outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles. He was a rapper who was also widely known for his community involvement and entrepreneurial projects. He invested heavily in his own neighborhood, particularly in education, and he made an effort to personally connect with students. His death was a huge loss for his fans and his community, but perhaps other young entertainers like Kelley are ready to step up and fill his shoes. 

Malcolm David Kelley has a whole lot of plans for the future

Kelley has played plenty of parts written by other people, but someday, he'd like to be the man in charge. He wants to see where his own creative instincts will lead him. "I'm writing right now, getting this little miniseries together — as far as something small-scale, maybe like YouTube or something like that," he told Parle, before eventually adding, "I definitely, within five years, want to have my own project out." Kelley also says that he wants to give directing a try at some point. 

Kelley is curious, motivated, and enthusiastic about the many paths his career could take him down in the future. Whether it's recording a new album, writing a web series, or even directing a film one day, he's willing to give it his best effort. He's up for just about anything, and since he's not tied down to a long-term commitment like a TV show right now, he has the ability to be flexible and try new things. 

What's next for the actor who played Walt?

What's coming up next for Malcolm David Kelley? Well, he has a starring role as Michael in the short film The Virgin Michael, but so far, there's no release date set for the film. Kelley will also be playing the supporting character Oren in the film Real Talk, which is about fictional radio personality Dominique the Dame, who brings her sarcastic wit and bold perspectives on race, religion, relationships, and more to the airwaves. But she's more than just a voice from the speakers. When disaster strikes, she needs to find a way to bring her listeners together to save a life. It's a fresh concept, but as of right now, this film doesn't have a release date yet either, so fans of Kelley will have to wait.

Kelley has so much potential, and he's come a long way since his time on Lost. He definitely has a bright future in the entertainment industry, both on the screen and on the air waves.