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How These Child Stars Feel About The Horror Movies That Made Them Famous

If we get scared while watching horror films, how terrifying is it for the cast? It seems like playing evil, twisted characters and their victims would have a lasting psychological impact. And it's hard to imagine a child actor having a positive experience on the set of a horror film. After all, there are plenty of kids who are scared of the dark or the thought that there might be a monster lurking under their bed, so how could they handle being in a horror film?

Well, the child actors who worked on classic horror films haven't been scarred for life. However, they've all had pretty different experiences making some of the scariest movies ever made. While some had a fantastic time facing down monsters, others aren't quite as fond of their iconic films. So today, we're taking a look at these young actors and their experiences with ghouls, ghosts, and masked murderers. From possessed children to terrified kids, here's how these child actors really felt about their roles in famous horror films.

The Exorcist made Linda Blair famous ... and put her under a lot of pressure

Although the special effects look a bit outdated, The Exorcist is still a terrifying, genre-defining horror film over 50 years after its release. Perhaps that's because The Exorcist goes beyond jump scares and shadowy figures. It delves into some complex religious themes, specifically exploring Catholicism, and it became the first horror film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. And part of the film's power comes from Linda Blair, the actress who played Regan, a young girl who's possessed by a demon and has to undergo an exorcism. 

However, Blair had no idea just how much publicity the film would generate, and she was often asked uncomfortable questions that she didn't know how to handle. "When the movie came out, the amount of pressure that came down on me wasn't anything I was prepared for. Especially all the pressure the press put on me," Blair told Dread Central. "They thought I had all the answers about faith and Catholicism. I was not raised Catholic so I didn't have any answers, and I certainly didn't understand a lot of what was happening in the story either." To this day, she feels the press was way too hard on her as a teenager.

Danny Lloyd had a pretty good time on The Shining

When Danny Lloyd was cast as Danny Torrance in The Shining, he had no idea that his father's decision to let him audition on a whim would turn into something so much bigger. Today, The Shining is still regarded as one of the best horror films of all time ... yet Lloyd never really capitalized on the success of the movie. 

Because Lloyd was so young, director Stanley Kubrick decided to conceal the plot of the film from the kid. Instead, he was told that he was acting in a family drama that just happened to be shot in a hotel. The supernatural elements were totally left out. Today, he says that he doesn't find the film too scary. He thinks of it like "a home movie."

Although Lloyd had a positive experience on the set of The Shining, he eventually realized that acting wasn't quite right for him. He went on other auditions after shooting ended, but he only landed one subsequent role — a part in the TV drama Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy. Today, he's quite happy with his teaching career and life out of the spotlight, although he did make a cameo in Dr. Sleep, the 2019 follow-up to The Shining. "I don't regret trying acting," Lloyd told The Guardian. "When I decided to stop, I don't regret that, either."

Jodelle Ferland enjoyed her childhood of horror

Actress Jodelle Ferland is well-known among horror fans. She earned recognition for playing Sharon and Alessa in the horror film Silent Hill, and later, she went on to appear in films like Cabin in the Woods and The Unspoken

While some might assume that acting in a horror film would be upsetting for a younger actor, particularly if they were fully aware of the subject matter, Ferland had the opposite experience. In fact, she said that in the early days of her career, she loved working in horror more than any other drama. After all, she'd never encounter paranormal problems in real life, so acting in these roles allowed her to challenge herself in a way that she couldn't while shooting other films.  "I got to be characters that are nothing like me. I'm not a demon child, I'm not dead," Ferland told Horror News. "When I got to play a ghost or an evil character, that was always my favorite thing because that was so different from me. What kid gets to act like that? Not many."

Alex Vincent is grateful for starring in Child's Play

Watching the murderous doll Chucky come to life in Child's Play might've made you look at your toys suspiciously, but Alex Vincent, who played Andy, is glad that he spent his own childhood on the set of the film and its sequels. Although Vincent does love acting, he hasn't stuck to one specific career path. Later in life, he took extended breaks from film, and nowadays, he'll occasionally come back to work on certain passion projects. However, he spends more time in the recording studio than in front of the camera, as he runs a recording and production studio in Florida, where he works with local artists. 

Despite the fact that Vincent is no longer acting full-time, he's always felt that he made the right choice when he decided to audition for Child's Play, and he still interacts with the fans of the franchise today. "It's changed my life in many ways," Vincent told Pop Horror. "I've gotten to travel all over the world, meeting fans and attending horror conventions. ... It has opened up so many possibilities in my life. I am super grateful!" And over the years, Vincent has returned to the franchise that's played such an important part in his life, showing up in 2013's Curse of Chucky and 2017's Cult of Chucky.

Carrie Henn made a special connection on the set of Aliens

Directed by James Cameron, Aliens was the action-heavy follow-up to Ridley Scott's creepy 1979 thriller, and it reveals what happened in the aftermath of the first film. After escaping the xenomorph, Ellen Ripley is finally rescued, but now, she and a new team find a devastated colony with a single survivor, a young girl named Newt.

Carrie Henn, who played Newt, says that she really wasn't too nervous on the set of Aliens. For a young actor with no previous professional experience, working on the follow-up to Alien meant dealing with a ton of pressure to deliver an amazing performance, yet these high expectations didn't seem to affect Henn much. Perhaps this is because one person in particular helped Henn fit in with the rest of the cast from day one — Sigourney Weaver, who starred as Ripley. 

From the beginning, Henn was ecstatic about getting the chance to work with Weaver, who she was already a fan of after seeing Ghostbusters.  "She took me under her wings when we were filming, because I was so inexperienced. I can't describe my relationship with her, because she's more than just a friend," Henn told Wired. "What you see on screen is genuinely how we feel about each other." Henn says that she and Weaver are still good friends today, even though Henn left Hollywood to pursue a career in education.

Veronica Cartwright has fond memories of making The Birds

In 1963, Veronica Cartwright appeared as Cathy Brenner in The Birds, an Alfred Hitchcock movie about a series of random and fatal bird attacks in the town of Bodega Bay, California. And in the film, the Brenner family is terrorized by flocks of feathered fiends, and they soon discover that there's nowhere to take safe refuge. The Birds turned out to be Cartwright's first step on the path to stardom. She went on to have a hugely successful acting career, appearing in films like Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as well as the popular TV shows ER and The X-Files

Hitchcock could be notoriously difficult to work for, and most of the other cast members probably remembered him as tough and intimidating. But Cartwright had a different experience. Because she was younger, he went easier on her. When she celebrated her thirteenth birthday on set, he sent her a bouquet of flowers that was taller than her. Even today, she still holds on to a few mementos from The Birds, like a personal note from Hitchcock.

Lindsey Haun thinks Village of the Damned hurt her career

When she was only nine years old, Lindsey Haun played Mara Chaffee, the leader of a group of ruthless alien children, in the horror film Village of the Damned. Although Haun had a great experience while filming the John Carpenter movie, she often wondered if she'd hurt her career by appearing in the film. 

After shooting wrapped, she began auditioning for new roles, only to find that directors viewed her as a "scary kid" and were hesitant to work with her because of her image. "It was a really weird time, and I was in this transitional phase, and for the first time, the rejection was starting to get to me," Haun told Westside People. She continued, "I started to develop an anxiety around acting, but I didn't want to quit." To bide her time, Haun began writing original songs and started a band called 7th Fall. Eventually, she began landing roles in TV films and bit parts in shows like Star Trek: Voyager, Malcolm in the Middle, and 3rd Rock From the Sun, and years later, she had a recurring role on the popular HBO series True Blood

Miko Hughes really enjoyed his time in Pet Sematary

Actor Miko Hughes landed his first role as the ultimate creepy kid in Pet Sematary, an adaptation of the infamous 1985 novel. In the film, Hughes plays Gage Creed, one of Stephen King's scariest bad guys, although he starts off as just a normal boy. See, the 1989 movie follows a grieving family that buries their son (Hughes) in an evil cemetery that brings the kid back to life. However, resurrecting Gage unleashes consequences the family never could've imagined. 

While Hughes has taken a few breaks from acting over the years, his work has been fairly consistent since Pet Sematary. Looking back on his career, Hughes still says that he's most proud of his work on the Stephen King movie. Sure, he's appeared in other horror films since, like New Nightmare, but Pet Sematary will always stand out to him as a special film because he simply acted for the love of it and didn't waste time worrying about whether his performance was perfect or not. "I was so young, and I remember the least of the filmmaking process," Hughes told Scream. "It's easy for me to disassociate and enjoy the movie for what it is instead of constantly critiquing myself."

The Sixth Sense turned Haley Joel Osment into the world's most famous child star

Since playing Cole in The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment has appeared in Pay It Forward, Silicon Valley, and The Boys, but there's no doubt that he's still best known for playing a young kid with the ability to communicate with ghosts and help them carry out their final wishes. Osment never anticipated just how successful the film would be. He admitted that most of the cast and crew knew that the final product would earn positive reviews, and they were proud of their work on set, but no one was really expecting Academy Award nominations and the massive cultural impact of the film. 

Thankfully, Osment says that his parents kept him grounded throughout the entire process, and since the film was geared towards older audiences, his classmates at school weren't really aware of his role in it. But once the film started getting lots of attention and people began quoting his famous line, "I see dead people," Osment realized that he was living "an unusual life." He did end up taking a few years off from acting full-time to attend college at New York University. 

Halloween scared Kyle Richards away from horror

Nowadays, people are more likely to know Kyle Richards as a reality TV star from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but back in 1978, Richards played Lindsey Wallace in John Carpenter's Halloween. Unfortunately, while many other child actors who worked in the horror genre actually enjoyed their roles, Richards seems to be an exception. 

Richards says that while she was acting in the film, she wasn't afraid. It wasn't until after the movie came out and she was able to watch the final cut that she was affected by what she had seen. "It was obviously not child appropriate. ... I had no idea what I was in for," Richards told Halloween Daily News. "Seeing it for the first time all pieced together was a very, very different movie. It was just really scary, and I really did sleep with my mom until I was 15 years old after that." In fact, Richards was so freaked out by Halloween that she decided she wasn't going to work on horror films anymore. 

After starring in The Sixth Sense, Mischa Barton is tired of horror

Mischa Barton is most widely known for playing Marissa Cooper on the drama series The O.C., but she has also acted in several horror films. She had a small supporting role in The Sixth Sense, and later in her career, she went on to appear in The Basement, Ouija House, A Resurrection, and more. She says that for a while, she was "obsessed" with horror films because she never watched them as a child — she always got too scared. Eventually, she went through a phase where she couldn't get enough, and now, she names Rosemary's Baby as one of her favorite films.  

But Barton says that she thinks she's finally done with working in the horror genre. Playing these roles affects her deeply on an emotional level. "It's definitely a very draining genre to film. It's not lighthearted," Barton told Twelv. She continued, "It really wears on you to think about what these people go through and how much pain there can be in the world, and how much evil there can be."