16 Celebs Who Started Out As Child Actors, And Didn't Expect To Become That Famous

In Hollywood, it might take a long time to establish yourself as a brilliant actor, as the career path is extremely competitive. As a result, understandable to question where many of our favorite actors got to where they are now. Of course, while some clearly got their careers due to blatant nepotism, there is also a startling number of top Hollywood heavyweights who began their acting careers as children who had no idea they'd grow up to be renowned. With relentless efforts, luck, and some star turns in our favorite films, these performers rose to popularity at an early age, and continued the momentum of fame well into adulthood, becoming the Hollywood stars you know today.
Take a look to see which ones started as child actors. Elizabeth Moss, Christian Bale, and many more. The results will shock you!

#1 Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Source: The Powers That Be / Act III Television + Castle Rock Entertainment + Columbia Pictures Television, The Trial of the Chicago 7 / Dreamworks Pictures + Amblin Partners + Aperture Media Partners

Joseph Gordon-acting Levitt's career began at the age of 11 with The Powers That Be on television and A River Runs Through It, for which he received a Young Artist Award. He went on to star in the popular teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, alongside Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. He also started writing and directing his own films. His most recent roles are in Mr. Corman and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

#2 Elisabeth Moss

Source:  Midnight's Child / Hearst Entertainment Productions + The Polone Company + Victoria Principal Productions, The Handmaid's Tale / MGM Television + MGM/UA Television

At the age of eight, Elisabeth Moss made her film debut in Lucky Chances and Midnight's Child. She is well recognized for her portrayal as Peggy in the AMC drama Mad Men. She recently received a Golden Globe for her performance in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.

#3 Ethan Hawke

Source: Dead Poets Society / Touchstone Pictures + Silver Screen Partners IV + A Steven Haft Production, Adopt a Highway / Divide/Conquer + Blumhouse Productions + Under the Influence

Ethan Hawke's undergraduate studies were disrupted by his breakout appearance in Dead Poets Society starring Robin Williams. He went on to star in a number of other films, including Reality Bites and the Before trilogy. In 2014, he was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for his performance in Boyhood. The Good Lord Bird and Adopt a Highway are two of his most recent works.

#4 Kirsten Dunst

Source: The Bonfire of the Vanities / Warner Bros., The Power of the Dog / See-Saw Films + Brightstar + Max Films International

At the age of eight, Kirsten Dunst received her first film credit in Bonfire of the Vanities. Before she graduated from high school, she had already made popular films such as Little Women, Jumanji, The Virgin Suicides, and Bring It On. Her most recent film appearance was in the critically praised The Power of the Dog.

#5 Zendaya

Source: Shake It Up / It's a Laugh Productions + Disney Channel, Spider-Man: Far From Home / Columbia Puctures + Pascal Pictures + Marvel Studios

Zendaya began her career as a child model before landing a role on the Disney Channel show Shake It Up. She worked on several Disney shows, including K.C. Undercover, which she produced and starred in. She is presently an extremely busy actor, with notable appearances including MJ in the Spider-Man films, Rue on HBO's Euphoria, and Dune.

#6 Kieran Culkin

Source:  Home Alone / 20th Century Fox + Hughes Entertainment, Succession / Gary Sanchez Productions + Project Zeus + Hyperobject Industries

Kieran Culkin made his acting debut at the age of eight in Home Alone as Fuller, Kevin's cousin, who was played by his brother Macaulay. His most recent performance was as Roman Roy in the hit TV show Succession.

#7 Mila Kunis

Source: That 70's Show / Carsey-Werner-Mandebach Productions + 20th Century Fox Television, Jupiter Ascending / Warner Bros. + Village Roadshow Pictures + Dune Entertainment

Mila Kunis first arrived in Los Angeles in 1991. At the age of 15, she landed the lead part in That 70s Show. Since then, she has appeared in other films, most recently Jupiter Ascending and Bad Moms.

#8 Kristen Stewart

Source: Panic Room / Columbia Pictures + Hofflund Polone + Indelible Pictures, Spencer / Shoebox Films + Komplitzen Film + FilmNation Entertainment

Kristen Stewart was scouted at the age of eight and starred in a few minor TV roles before being nominated for a Young Artist Award for her role in Panic Room at the age of twelve. She rose to prominence as Bella Swan in the Twilight series. Her most recent role was in Spencer as Princess Diana.

#9 Leonardo DiCaprio

Source: This Boy's Life / Knickerbocker Films + Warner Bros., Don't Look Up / Hyperobject Industries + Bluegrass Films

Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for an Academy Award for What's Eating Gilbert Grape when he was 19 years old. He became a Hollywood heartthrob for parts such as Romeo in Romeo + Juliet and Jack in Titanic. He is presently one of the most productive actors in the world, with 38 nominations. He was most recently seen in Netflix's Don't Look Up, for which he won an Oscar in 2016.

#10 Natalie Portman

Source: Léon / Gaumont + Les Films du Dauphin + Columbia Pictures, Jackie / Fox Searchlight Pictures + LD Entertainment + Wild Bunch

Natalie Portman made her film debut in Léon at the age of 11 after being spotted. She rose to prominence as Padme in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but she took a hiatus from acting to attend Harvard University. She won an Oscar for Black Swan in 2010 and was nominated again in 2016 for Jackie.

#11 Tom Holland

Source: The Impossible / Mediaset Espana + Summit Entertainment + Apaches Entertainment© The Devil All The Time / Bronx Moving Co. + Nine Stories Productions

Tom Holland started his acting work on stage, as Michael, Billy’s best friend, in Billy Elliot the Musical on London’s West End at the age of 12. He became a star when he was cast as Spider-Man for the new Marvel films.

#12 Drew Barrymore

Source: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial / Universal Pictures + Amblin Entertainment, Blended / Gulfstream Pictures + Happy Madison Productions + Karz Entertainment

Drew charmed hearts when he was six years old in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Her most recent appearance was as the star of the Netflix movie Santa Clarita Diet, and she now hosts The Drew Barrymore Show on CBS, a daytime chat show.

#13 Jake Gyllenhaal

Source: City Slickers / Castle Rock Entertainment + Nelson Entertainment + Face Productions, Spider-Man: Far From Home / Columbia Puctures + Pascal Pictures + Marvel Studios

Jake Gyllenhaal made his film debut at the age of 11 in City Slickers. He has received numerous major award nominations for his roles in films such as Donnie Darko and Nightcrawler. His most recent film role was as Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

#14 Timothée Chalamet

Source: Homeland / Teakwood Lane Productions + Cherry Pie Productions + Keshet Broadcasting, Dune / Warner Bros. + Legendary Entertainment + Villeneuve Films

Timothée Chalamet began his career in tiny roles on television dramas such as Royal Pains, Law & Order, and Homeland before breaking into Movies. He was nominated for an Oscar for Call Me By Your Name when he was 22 years old, and he was most recently seen in Dune and Don't Look Up.

#15 Scarlett Johansson

Source: Just Cause / Warner Bros. + Fountainbridge Films + Lee Rich Productions, Black Widow / Marvel Studios

Scarlett made her Broadway debut in an off-Broadway production when she was eight years old. She made her cinematic debut at the age of nine in the fantasy comedy North. Her most recent film is Black Widow, in which she plays the title character.

#16 Christian Bale

Source: Treasure Island / Turner Pictures + Agamemnon Films + British Lion Film Corporation, Le Mans '66 / Chernin Entertainment + TSG Entertainment + Turnpike Films

When Christian Bale was 13, he directed his first film, Empire of the Sun. He earned an Oscar in 2010 for his ability to immerse himself in roles. Le Mans '66 is his most recent film.
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