32 Child Stars Who Have Aged Like Fine Wine

They navigated the notoriously bumpy transition to adulthood like pros.

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Child stardom can precede an impossible journey: having been known to audiences and the industry alike as a certain person, you inevitably age into a different individual entirely. Actors speak often about how tough it can be to come into their own as adult professionals, especially when they look and sound different than they did when they were kids—and that's without touching on the notorious pressure cooker that is child stardom, an environment many performers continue to struggle with long after they've left it behind.

Put that way, it's incredible that any child star makes the transition to adulthood unscathed. And yet! Many do, and some even make it look easy. Others have a couple bumps along the way, but grow into the most successful and beloved public figures of our time (Drew Barrymore, hi!). Below, 32 child stars who have aged like fine wine.


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From her start as a teen music sensation at 15 (!) and her starring role as the titular Moesha to a role in 2021's musical drama Queens and her Broadway debut in Chicago, Brandy Norwood has been aceing her 40s without slowing down even a little—and looks amazing.

Mara Wilson

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If you really liked Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, then you liked Mara Wilson—the cute little kid who was already ready with a snappy retort to any adult. These days, Wilson has made cameos in shows like Broad City and (as a voice actor) BoJack Horseman, as well as writing a memoir.

Jaleel White

adult child stars jaleel white

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Urkel, is that you?? (Resisting the urge to make a "did I do thaaat?" joke.) In addition to now looking like a distinguished gentleman, and closer to his alter-ego Stefan, White has continued to act and, in April 2024, announced the release of his memoir.


child stars lil romeo

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First of all, I somehow forgot that the formerly named Lil' Romeo started his career when he was an actual pre-teen. Second of all, Romeo (as he now calls himself) has continued to work with his father Master P, and also as an actor and host—and, also, is now impressively grown up.

Anna Chlumsky

adult child stars Anna Chlumsky

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If you were a fan of Veep, you might not have realized that you've actually seen Amy (Anna Chlumsky) before: she was the lead in My Girl and its sequel! This won't be the last time I'll say it: Goodness, I feel old, but also she's awesome and please put her in all the TV/movies, please.

Tatiana Ali

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Wait, Ashley Banks is in her 40s?? (Of course, Tatiana Ali has done more than that show, but that's the role I remember her by.) A recurring cast member on the rebooted Bel-Air, and a guest star on Abbott Elementary, Ali continued to stay busy after her time as a child star.

Christina Ricci

child stars christina ricci

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While most people were dreaming of becoming Barbie, I was dreaming of becoming Wednesday Addams (and also Christina Ricci's character in Casper, obviously). Amongst other projects, Ricci recently acted in Wednesday (which is a show based on the character she originally played) and Yellowjackets.

Tia Mowry

child stars tia mowry

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Tia and Tamara Mowry were hugely defining to my '90s television experience, thanks to Sister, Sister. These days, Tia has released multiple cookbooks and collaborated on a homeware collection, aptly titled Spice! by Tia Mowry. She didn't stop acting, either.

Dakota Fanning

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Along with younger sister Elle, Dakota Fanning started her career when she was very, very young—like, 5 years old young. (You may remember her as the little girl who has a heart-to-heart with Joey in Friends.) The siblings continue to act and, in 2021, formed production company Lewellen Pictures.

Drew Barrymore

child stars drew barrymore

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The lovable tyke from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial has lived quite a life in the public eye, but she has continued to act, model, and, in 2020, began hosting the hugely successful The Drew Barrymore Show.

Neil Patrick Harris

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Doogie Houser/Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris as a child and adult actor, respectively) has been on our television screens for a while now. He will always and forever be the raunchy (and still very hot) parody of himself in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle to me, though.

Kirsten Dunst

child stars kirsten dunst

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Frankly, I am delighted that my teen idol Kirsten Dunst grew up and continued acting in cool movies like The Power of the Dog and Civil War. It's wild that she started acting as a kid in Interview With the Vampire (and then, of course, Bring It On, which nobody will ever forget).

Ryan Gosling

child stars ryan gosling

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If you didn't realize that Ryan Gosling was formerly a Mickey Mouse Club member (at 13 years old, no less), I entreat you to go down the rabbit hole for some of his early performances. Teen Ryan probably had no idea he'd grow up to play Ken in Barbie!


adult child actors Raven-Symoné

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Raven's on many best-of lists of child actors, but she's more than just That's So Raven and The Cosby Show. She's done voice work (including for Kim Possible), has become a media personality (including The Masked Singer), and made her Broadway debut in 2013.

Claire Danes

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The My So-Called Life actor (who gained a ton of fame from Romeo + Juliet two years later) grew up to do some very interesting work that also happens to be award-winning in some cases: Temple Grandin, Homeland, and Fleishman Is in Trouble, to name a few.

Hailee Steinfeld

child stars hailee steinfeld

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...honestly, I forgot how young Hailee Steinfeld was when she starred in (and nominated for an Oscar for) True Grit. Which makes her ensuing career, and transition to serious adult actor, all the more impressive: Pitch Perfect 2, Dickinson, and Hawkeye, for starters.

Cole Sprouse

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Obviously, Cole Sprouse (and twin Dylan) are still quite young, so using the word "aged" to describe them might sound strange...until you consider that they both started acting when they were 8-months-old(!), and they've been in the business since then.

Jodie Foster

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Speaking of very young child actors! Jodie Foster was 3-years-old when she starred in a Coppertone commercial, and she's continued to act ever since. Now in her 60s, her return to acting with Nyad and True Detective was a reminder of how awesome she still is.

Miley Cyrus

child stars miley cyrus

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So many child stars have a tough time with selling audiences on the adult version of themselves. But Miley Cyrus has done it better than most, with her tween Hannah Montana self making way for the pop icon who won two Grammys in 2024. (And whose edgy hair and makeup remains the stuff of legend.)

Daniel Radcliffe

child stars daniel radcliffe

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While the titular Harry Potter basically grew up in the wizarding series, his acting choices since then have been surprising, wacky, and enjoyable (Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, for example!). And he's grown up to be a cool, funny, handsome dude, too.

Kurt Russell

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If you're only familiar with Kurt Russell as an adult actor, watching him as a 12-year-old in The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters is an absolute treat. No surprise, but Russell has aged quite well, from '80s action superstar all the way to Marvel villain.

Hilary Duff

child stars hilary duff

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If there's a template for how to age gracefully in Hollywood, continue to act, keep people invested in your story, and parlay that fame into business ventures (including investment opportunities and fashion lines), it's the erstwhile Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff).

Natalie Portman

child stars natalie portman

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If you're gonna start your acting career with one of the more intense movies ever (that's Léon: The Professional, and Natalie Portman was 12—and that movie was followed by Heat!), it takes a pretty cool person to figure out how to go from there. And Natalie Portman's done it.

Vanessa Hudgens

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What a fun trip down memory lane to re-experience the High School Musical films. Anyways, technically Hudgens was 18 when that first film came out, but she had actually started acting a few years earlier. And she's continued to be talented and cool ever since.

Dev Patel

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I totally forgot Dev Patel was a literal teenager when he made his acting debut in the television show Skins. But judging by his work since (Slumdog Millionaire, The Green Knight, Monkey Man), he's had no trouble evolving into "hot leading man" status.

Leonardo DiCaprio

child stars leonardo dicaprio

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Ah, Leo. (If you have the time, go watch his old '90s commercials—it's a treat for your eyeballs and funny bone). We've literally watched Leo grow up, including his meteoric rise to Hollywood fame, and we'll continue to watch him as he goes into his 50s(!).

Olivia Rodrigo

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Again, it is perhaps a little unfair to talk about some of these stars "aging" (Olivia Rodrigo was only born in 2003, after all!). But she started acting when she was 12, and Bizaardvark followed the next year when she was 13. Which means, I think, that she's crushing young adulthood.


adult child stars zendaya

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I feel like there's fewer people that are becoming adults more gracefully than Zendaya. She's probably best at being in such cool projects that you actually forget she started acting in Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover (not that she wasn't great in those!).

Elizabeth Taylor

adult child stars elizabeth taylor

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Elizabeth Taylor was known for her charisma and was a legendary beauty, from the moment she had a role in National Velvet as a literal tween. Believe it or not, she's 60 here! She was an icon (and a bombshell, and a queen, and a legend) for a long, long time.

Scarlett Johansson

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Even before she started appearing in films at 10, Scarlett Johansson was a child actor on Broadway before then. It was probably 2003's Lost in Translation that established her as a serious adult actor, and she successfully turned into one of the hottest stars around.

Brie Larson

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How did I not know Brie Larson was a child actor?? (She was the youngest to attend the American Conservatory Theater, at age 6.) She's now Oscar-winning and renowned, including for a role as Captain Marvel in the MCU, and she's also a writer and director.

Ariana Grande

child stars ariana grande

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It would be hard to top Ariana Grande's popularity as both a singing and acting superstar (seriously, her fans are passionate). She started acting on Broadway at 15, but to Nickelodeon fans, her role as Cat Valentine in Victorious was the first time people fell in love with her.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.