18 Celebs Who Started Their Careers as Kids
14th May, 2021
18 Celebs Who Started Their Careers as Kids
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Unlike many others, these 18 child actors of yesteryear exemplified focus and resolve, which ultimately propelled them to achieve success in Hollywood. The enormity of the entertainment industry has afforded multiple opportunities for child actors since time immemorial. Many have been featured and worked alongside some of the biggest stars known to Hollywood. However, very few of them have had the mental and physical resolve to stay grounded amidst the glitz and glory, hone their skills, and work toward being the best in their vocation. These 18 child actors of yesteryear were faced with the same challenges and distractions as many others, but their choices were much different and a testament to why they are where they are!
Kirsten Dunst
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Kirsten Dunst

Unlike most toddlers who can hardly even kick a ball at the age of 3, Kirsten Caroline Dunst entered into modeling and featured in a few commercials. Three years later came her first role in Woody Allen’s New York Stories. Work kept pouring in after that, with Dunst appearing in movies such as The Bonfire of the Vanities and Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.

Scarlett Johansson
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Scarlett Johansson
At just 36, Scarlett Johansson has pretty much got the world at her feet! Very few actors can boast a CV featuring hits such as Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lost in Translation, and the entire range of MCU movies. Like most of her tribe, Johansson began early and got her first role at just 12 years of age! Her introduction to Hollywood comprised Manny & Lo and The Horse Whisperer.
Ryan Gosling
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Ryan Gosling
Gosling, an artist right out of The Notebook, graduated from The Mickey Mouse Club. It helped him bag further roles, with his feature film debut in Denzel Washington-starrer Remember the Titans. Four years later, he was cast in The Notebook, which completely changed his career. Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, and La La Land were some of the subsequent movies that earned him perpetual fame.
Jaleel White
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Jaleel White
Before 1989, Jaleel White had worked in television commercials and earned a few minor roles in shows like The Jeffersons, Good Morning, and Miss Bliss. The game-changer was television series Family Matters, in which White was cast as Steve Urkel. Despite being just 13, White delivered stunning performances, which helped him grab further roles. He has also worked in shows like Boston Legal and Psych.
Ryan Reynolds
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Ryan Reynolds
The actor’s eccentric fascination with Deadpool can be linked to his childhood adventures. He once stole a car as a joke on April Fool’s Day and rode the wrong bus to sit next to his crush. He was always into acting and got his first role in Hillside. Years got the better of him as he transitioned into serious roles in Blade: Trinity and The Amityville Horror.
Emma Watson
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Emma Watson
The fact that even Harry Potter relied on her brilliance was enough proof that Emma Watson, aka Hermione Granger, was destined for greatness. She didn’t have it easy, auditioning seven times for Hermione’s role. Nonetheless, Watson grabbed the role, thus kickstarting an amazing stint with the series. She didn’t stop there and has starred in movies like Colonia, Noah, and Beauty and the Beast.
Ron Howard
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Ron Howard
The 66-year-old has given the world outstanding features such as The Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and The Da Vinci Code. His career, however, began in front of the camera at the age of five. He featured in the romantic drama The Journey before grabbing a role on The Andy Griffith Show.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The Los Angeles-born actor has made a tremendous name for opting meaningful films, some of which include Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and 500 Days of Summer. The 39-year-old started off at the age of six, working in commercials and television. The 1996-series 3rd Rock from the Sun provided the spark he needed; he later also appeared in Angels in the Outfield.
Drew Barrymore
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Drew Barrymore

Very few people in history have had the honor of working in a Steven Spielberg movie. To do it before the age of 10 is an even greater achievement not found in many CVs. Drew Barrymore is one such person who did precisely that at the young age of six. She starred in Spielberg’s 1992-sci-fi E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial long before she became a huge name in Hollywood.

Elijah Wood
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Elijah Wood

It’s fair to say that if it hadn’t been for Frodo Baggins, most people would probably never know Elijah Wood. We can claim that the now 40-year-old American actor has been in the industry almost since he was born. At the age of 8, he grabbed a small role in Back to the Future Part II, later also featuring in movies such as Paradise and The Good Son.

Reese Witherspoon
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Reese Witherspoon
Even before she graduated high school, Reese Witherspoon had made an impression with her performance in Robert Mulligan's The Man in the Moon. Soon, bigger roles followed in movies such as Pleasantville and Cruel Intentions, with her 2001-blockbuster, Legally Blonde shattering all box-office records. She produced that movie while grabbing an Oscar for her portrayal in Johnny Cash’s 2005-biopic, Walk the Line.
Johnny Galecki
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Johnny Galecki
The geeky astrophysicist from The Big Bang Theory is a world-renowned TV star. However, not many know the years of hard work that Johnny Galecki has put into becoming Leonard Hofstadter. He started out at 12 with Time Out for Dad before gaining recognition with 1988-sitcom Roseanne. Features such as Bounce and Suicide Kings soon showed up and helped grab his life-changing role as Leonard.
Justin Timberlake
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Justin Timberlake
Voted America’s most eligible bachelor in 2002, Justin Timberlake is a man who needs no introduction. The 39-year-old, famed chiefly for his music, has also had a successful acting career, starring in films such as Bad Teacher and Friends With Benefits. Always wanting to be an entertainer, Timberlake appeared on the show Star Search when he was just 11 and later joined the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club.
Leonardo DiCaprio
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Leonardo DiCaprio
The collective cheer around the globe when “Leo” finally received an Oscar speaks volumes about his stardom. He began acting when he was just five, although his first significant role came in the 1985-sitcom, Growing Pains. Soon after, he was handpicked by Robert De Niro for This Boy's Life, thus kickstarting an unprecedented legacy, which has earned his films a smashing $7 plus billion worldwide.
Keira Knightley
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Keira Knightley
Fortunately for everyone, the British actress’s professional choices didn’t reflect her taste in soccer (she supports London-based West Ham United!). Keira Knightley first starred in the 1993 movie Royal Celebration at just eight years old. She then grabbed headlines with movies such as The Wonderful World of Disney: Princess of Thieves, Bend It Like Beckham, and Pride & Prejudice. The latter won her an Oscar nomination at just 20.
Brett Kelly
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Brett Kelly
What separates regular Hollywood child actors from Brett Kelly is that he used his movie checks not to buy fancy stuff but pay for his college education. The 26-year-old still hangs out with his high-school friends, despite starring in movies such as Bad Santa, Bad Santa 2, and Like Mike 2. He even tried his hand at stand-up comedy and continues to bag decent-enough roles.
Christian Bale
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Christian Bale
Still the original “Batman” for many, Christian Bale has indeed come a long way from doing cereal commercials at age nine to winning the Oscar for 2010 sports drama The Fighter. His first big break came when Steven Spielberg spotted him in a 1996-mini-series Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. He was cast in Empire of the Sun and has since delivered features like American Hustle and American Psycho besides the Dark Knight Trilogy.