Shaun Alexander is a Film student at UEL and blogs about cinema for Your Universe.
Where Are They Now?
With so many films released year after year, some stars find it difficult to maintain momentum. For every Joseph Gordon Levitt that is able to jump from child star to adult romantic lead and action hero, there is a Danny Lloyd who, after finding early showbiz success in The Shining, moved to Kentucky to pursue the more down-to-earth rewards of teaching biology. I look at five actors who found success early in their careers and investigate where their careers have taken them since.
Hayden Christensen had been acting on screen for almost a decade when he got his biggest part, Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones. He was only 21 when he took on the role that would see him eventually fill the boots of Darth Vader. There was pressure in playing such an iconic figure, and fans were ruthless in their judgement of him. His dialogue in Attack of the Clones became a major point of ridicule and this continued when Revenge of the Sith was released a few years later.
So where do you go after playing one of the biggest roles in history? If you are Hayden, you move away from the limelight and take a break. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times he was quoted as saying “I felt like I had this great thing in Star Wars that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me.” From there he has gone on to star in a number of films including Jumper opposite his Star Wars co-star Samuel L Jackson. Most recently he can be seen in the romantic comedy Little Italy with Emma Roberts about two families at war over their pizza restaurants.
Haley Joel Osment
A famed child actor who made a number of successful films in the late 90’s and early 00’s, Haley Joel Osment will probably sit most vividly in your memory as the kid who sees dead people in The Sixth Sense. With Forrest Gump, The Sixth Sense and AI: Artificial Intelligence all being incredible films to have on your CV before your 14th birthday, where do you go after being an Academy Award nominated child star with the world at your feet?
Surprisingly, Osment’s most impressive credit from his post-child actor stage was his voice work in the video game series Kingdom Hearts in which he voiced the lead character, Kora. Spanning nearly 15 years, the Kingdom Hearts series has given him solid work throughout his career while he has also been able to ply his trade in the comedy game. For me, his best work in recent years was his role on Silicon Valley where he played Keenan Feldspar, sporting long hair and a massive beard which made him nearly unrecognisable. Expect to see him next in Kingdom Hearts III revisiting his role as Kora.
In the 90s no one had as giant a rise to fame as Alicia Silverstone. Becoming a regular in Aerosmith’s music videos, she appeared in ‘Cryin’, ‘Amazing’ and ‘Crazy’ which helped her land the lead in Clueless. As Cher Horowitz she cemented herself as a 90s icon. When she took on the role of Batgirl in Batman & Robin, it seemed like the perfect next step. But it proved to be a poor decision which saw her win a Razzie for worst actress, and Batman & Robin itself was an underperforming blockbuster.
From then onwards Silverstone moved away from the big blockbusters and spent most of her time jumping from theatre performances to small indie flicks. Her biggest role in the 00s proved to be in Stormbreaker, a British teen spy movie playing the friend of Alex Rider (played by Alex Pettyfer). While keeping out of the mainstream spotlight she has been able to forge a successful career in smaller supporting roles, including that of a divorced mother in 2017’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which competed for the main awards at Cannes. You may have seen her most recently playing the daughter of Diane Keaton in The Book Club. She’s also created a very successful side business for herself as a vegan cookbook author and animal advocate.
Starting your career with a sitcom that spans almost an entire decade is not a bad way to begin your acting life but Topher Grace did just that with That 70’s Show, which ran from the late 90s up to the mid 00s. Starring alongside Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher (who have both gone on to successful careers), Grace played the lead role of Eric Forman and seemed to have a world of possibilities ahead. Picked up by Sam Raimi for Spider-Man 3 to play the role of Eddie Brock, he was a massive fan of the comic villain he portrayed (Venom). The role seemed outside of his repertoire and, in the end, proved to be one of fans’ least favourite portrayals within the trilogy.
Since then he has been able to steadily rebuild himself with a number of smaller comedies, indie dramas and a couple of supporting appearances in films such as Predators and American Ultra. This year, however, things have taken a massive upturn as Spike Lee brought him on to BlacKkKlansman portraying David Duke, the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. His villainous portrayal is one of many highlights in the film and shows that he can still perform at the highest level. We may potentially see him vying for some awards come the beginning of 2019.
A child star from as young as 10, Shia LaBeouf began as a Disney star on the TV show Even Stevens and eventually appearing in the children’s classic Holes, based on the book of the same name. This stint with Disney proved to be a powerhouse move for him. Moving forward he took on massive blockbuster projects for the likes of Michael Bay (Transformers) and Steven Spielberg, for whom he played role of Indiana Jones’ son in Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
His path since then has been a rollercoaster ride filled with more surprises than you could imagine. On screen he has been working steadily within the independent film game. Hits such as American Honey and Nymphomaniac proved to be divisive but his performances were mostly praiseworthy.
Outside of Hollywood it’s been a steady stream of incidents of drunk and disorderly conduct with him being taken to rehab as recently as 2017. He has become a figure within the art world with his art piece He Will Not Divide Us becoming a massive talking point for months when it was set up the same day as Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017.
His next big project is a film he has written and starred in based on his own life and relationship with his father called Honey Boy, co-starring Lucas Hedges and FKA Twigs. When we look back on LaBeouf’s career, will he be remembered more for his film work or his off-screen behaviour?