Former child stars can have it rough. For every Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, who manage to seamlessly transition into the music industry as adults, there are many more whose time in the spotlight didn’t end so well. Some become notorious tabloid figures or struggle to make a living under their given names; others simply try to move on with their lives, but find themselves forever associated with the child star label and all of the negative stigmas that come along with it. Here are former child stars who wish they grew up normal instead of famous.
1) Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore, well-known for her acting career and her successful hair-care line, is one of the lucky few who has gotten to live out both childhood dreams. But as she’s grown up, Drew has said that if she could go back in time and do it all over again, she would have liked to grow up without the pressure of Hollywood in her life. I wish I had a normal upbringing like a regular kid, she told People magazine in 1995. But I don’t regret anything.
In 2010 on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Drew elaborated on her feelings about growing up a child star: It was really hard because you feel people think you’re different or special or entitled, she said.
2) Macaulay Culkin
In a way, Macaulay Culkin has become one of the most famous child stars of all time. His breakout role as Kevin McCallister in Home Alone has made him a household name and he was able to parlay that success into a very successful career as an actor. He also appeared in numerous other films, including My Girl, The Pagemaster, Richie Rich and Party Monster. The thing about Macaulay Culkin though is that he never wanted to be an actor, he just wanted to grow up normal! Macaulay’s parents were both struggling actors at the time so they encouraged their kids to get involved with acting when they were young.
3) Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci was born on February 12, 1980 and is an American actress best known for her work in the 1990s films The Addams Family, Casper and Sleepers. Her roles became more mature after she turned eighteen. She went on to star in such films as The Opposite of Sex, Buffalo ’66, The Ice Storm and Monster. In 2006, Ricci said that she had not been approached to play Wendy Darling in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Peter Pan; despite this, Ricci’s name was frequently mentioned as a possible choice.
4) Jodie Foster
After being a child star in her teens, she went on to become one of the most accomplished actresses of all time. Foster was nominated for two Academy Awards and won one. Her films grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. In spite of this success, Foster has said that if she could go back and do it over again, she would have tried to have a normal childhood like other kids. If I could go back and be a kid again, I think I would have just stayed home and played, Jodie Foster says with a smile. I don’t think I would’ve even gone out for the school play or anything.
5) Devon Sawa
Devon Sawa was born in 1973 in Montreal, Canada to parents of Syrian and Lebanese descent. In 1994 he starred in The Little Rascals, which became a cult classic.
In 1996, he landed his breakout role as Adam Sandler’s son in Happy Gilmore. After the success of this movie, he acted in many more comedies including She’s All That and Scooby-Doo. Around that time he also was casted for a part on Dawson’s Creek and appeared on an episode of The Sopranos. Sadly, his career took a turn after starring in horror movies such as Final Destination 2 and 10,000 BC.
6) Joseph Gordon-Levitt
His parents are Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt, and he was born on February 17, 1981 in Los Angeles, California. His mother was a film producer and his father a general manager of the San Antonio Spurs. As a child he attended Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California where he met future collaborators such as Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Ritter and Shia LaBeouf.
Gordon-Levitt’s first major acting role was for the television show Third Rock from the Sun in 1996. After this role he began acting on films such as 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) and Manic (2001). In 2002 he graduated from Columbia University with a degree in American literature.
7) Tobey Maguire
American actor and producer, Tobey Maguire was born on June 27th, 1975. He became famous during the 1990s after a string of roles in various Hollywood films. As a child, he played the protagonist in Peter Pan (1990). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his work as Jake Geiger in Pleasantville (1998). His other notable film roles include starring as Spider-Man in three films from 2002 to 2007.
The youngest of seven children, Tobey’s childhood was not always easy. In 1987, when he was 12 years old, his father died of cancer; his mother then left her job to raise her children full-time.