Ah, kids. We like watching them do their thing, but we hate taking care of them, which is why for this Kindergarten Day we’re celebrating all the fabulous, talented and cute child actors that have been blessing our screens since they were in diapers.
This isn’t really ranking children by their talent (because this isn’t The Voice, kids), but instead, more of an appreciation post for the little youngsters that deserve recognition.
Definitely one of the most recognizable child actors, Culkin showed us all how to give love on Christmas Day in the Home Alone films. True, his acting ability would only go until “cute”, but for his sake, “cute” would be enough. Whether he’s a boy allergic to everything or a sociopathic son, he’ll be a child actor that audiences will never forget.
Sometimes I forget how amazing Dakota Fanning is (I know, don’t hate me), but then a quick look at her filmography reminds me that she’s an acting force to be reckoned with. This was an actress that stood her own against the likes of Sean Penn, Robert DeNiro, Kurt Russell before she was 16. She garnered praises from critics around the world and Steven Spielberg by the time she was 11. She’s already proven herself a phenomenal actress and she’s only 21. I really can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her.
It’s only very recently that I watched The Andy Griffith Show, and I’m very glad that I did. Howard plays Opie Griffith, the six year old child of the main character, and he nails it. His comedic timing is very on point, which is a true feat for a child actor. Honestly, I haven’t watched much of his childhood work, but I definitely wanted to bring attention to his work on this show.
Say what you want about the guy, but LaBeouf can really act. I’ve been a fan of his since his Disney days, on his starring role in Even Stevens, and then his breakthrough role in Holes. It’s a small but entertaining beginning for an actor who’ll later take on real tough, dramatic roles (I’m not talking about Transformers or Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), so he’s definitely one of my faves.
At 14 years old, Foster burst on to the big screen with films like Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone, Freaky Friday, etc., proving herself a phenomenal talent for her age. To this date, she still remains one of the youngest actresses to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and to win a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA, and rightfully so. I’m actually pretty eager to go back and rewatch her older films after seeing how her career has grown unimaginably.
Steinfeld is also another one of the youngest actresses ever nominated for an Academy award. Quickly garnering our attention with her role as Mattie Ross in True Grit, Steinfeld still continues to impress me, and us all, by diversifying her roles. She proves herself in supporting roles, roles in romances, thrillers, sci-fis, and I can’t wait to see her tackle musicals in this summer’s Pitch Perfect 2.
I idolized Edward Furlong for a short time period in my childhood. It says a lot that the best portrayal of John Connor we have is that of a 14 year old (and, I know, probably not the best of role models), but Furlong managed to become an iconic figure in sci-fi history. I wouldn’t neglect his indie roles following that, but Furlong brought such heart and a charming bad-assery to Terminator: Judgement Day, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
“Hey, kid. Would you like a Hershey bar?” Yes, please someone get Christian Bale a Hershey bar, he totally deserves it. Bale proved himself to be an amazing actor even at a young age, with him becoming the best part of Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. Thankfully, Kenneth Branagh was able to convince him not to quit acting (silly kid) by putting him in Henry V, otherwise we would’ve lost one of the best actors of the 1990s and 2000s.
Chloe Grace Moretz
Moretz had quite a few small scene-stealing roles in films in the 2000s, but it was in 2010 where she really broke out. Playing the foul-mouthed, insanely talented, killer child Hit-Girl in graphic superhero flick Kick-Ass, Moretz amazed us all with how far they pushed the envelope of how much child actors could do in a movie, nothing a child actor has recaptured since. In the half decade since, she reprised her role in the film’s sequel, showed us her dramatic chops in Martin Scorcese’s Hugo, even took the iconic role of Carrie White, and more roles showing that she’s developing into a fine young actress.
She’s a Gryffindor member who didn’t pay to get into this list, she got in just on pure talent. That’s a Hermione Granger quote paraphrase for you folks (I hit the library for this one). Seriously, Emma Watson is a pretty astonishing actress. Of course, everyone in the world will recognize her as Hermione from Harry Potter, where she charmed her way into our hearts, but she has also been turning heads in her films post-Harry Potter. From her brilliant appearance in This is the End to her distinctive roles in Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Bling Ring, she’s proven herself an actress to watch out for. She’ll next be starring in the live-action adaptation of my favorite Disney film, Beauty & the Beast.
Where to even begin with Shirley Temple? Looking back at the work she’s done before she was nine years old, I’d already consider her a remarkable woman. She was a true star, a world-class entertainer, a phenomenal dancer, she broke down racial barriers in film, she was a drink, she was the Little Princess, the biggest box office draw in Hollywood for a couple years, and all this as a child. Truly remarkable, and that’s not even including the work she did later as a politician. We were truly blessed to have her, and we all know it. She was given a lifetime achievement award not too long ago, and her advice on how to get one is very true: “start young.”