15 Child Stars We Watched Grow Up (Into Nothing Like We Imagined)

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As a kid, there was nothing better than tuning into your favorite television show and watching your favorite child actor or actress make you laugh, cry, and (let’s be honest) some of us ended up having crushes on these stars. These childhood celebs were gaining massive attention, but their fame and fortune were getting to their heads. As these child stars grew older, we believed they’d go on to do great things because they appeared to be so successful at such a young age. However, we learned that all that glitters is not gold, especially not in Hollywood.

Tremendous pressure is put on childhood stars and this list of 15 Child Stars We Watched Grow Up (Into Nothing Like We Imagined) highlights how demanding Hollywood is, no matter how old you are. Stars like Amanda Bynes, who made us all laugh on All That and The Amanda Show, totally blindsided us when she announced that she was retiring from acting in 2012 and ended up in a mental health treatment center for quite a few outrageous stunts. We were also shocked to see our favorite childhood twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, grow up from being two cute and lovable stars to looking like they aged 50 years and ravaged through their grandmother’s closet.

Check out this list of 15 child stars that grew up in ways we never imagined and stunned us all with their transformations into adulthood.

15. Kelly Clarkson – Criticized Over Weight Gain

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Kelly Clarkson was the first person to win the popular singing competition television series American Idol and shot to fame with songs like “Since U Been Gone,” “Miss Independent,” “Because Of You,” and her American Idol winning performance song “A Moment Like This.” She was only 19 years old when she won in 2002 and has continued to be a successful entertainer now at the age of 35. She started her career as a thin woman, but it appeared that the pressures of Hollywood were getting to her. Clarkson did gain some weight over the years, but she stays body positive and thankfully has a good outlook on life no matter how she looks now. She even seems happier these days, taking care of her two children and continuing to give epic performances.

14. Lindsay Lohan – Partying Lifestyle Nearly Destroyed Her Career

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Who doesn’t love The Parent Trap? We all fell in love with Lindsay Lohan when she played a pair of twins named Hallie and Annie in the kid drama and won our hearts with her charm and acting skills. As she got older, she would act in many other promising films like Freak Friday and the ultimate teen movie, Mean Girls. Lohan skyrocketed into fame and even released many songs and had an album that sold four million copies worldwide. However, Hollywood got the best of her, and instead of focusing on her career, Lohan excessively partied, used drugs, was addicted to alcohol, and admitted herself into rehabilitation centers. The redhead we all loved as a kid was nothing like we imagined, especially since her career was going so well for her.

13. Abigail Breslin – Using Her Figure For Attention

Abigail Breslin basically grew up in the Hollywood spotlight after starring in the 2002 movie Signs at the age of seven. Abigail blossomed as a child star, and she landed yet another fantastic role as the charming Olive Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine. Breslin stole our hearts and she went on to star in films like Zombieland and Definitely, Maybe. Breslin has grown up in front of our eyes and even landed a role in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. However, now at the age of 21, Abigail appears to be dressing way beyond her years and loves showing off her curvaceous figure. We’re sure her career isn’t over as an actress, but we’re just not used to seeing the cute Olive Hoover change so drastically.

12. Amanda Bynes – Had A Mental Breakdown

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Amanda Bynes would literally make us cry from laughing so hard when she starred in Nickelodeon’s All That and then landed her own show as a teen in The Amanda Show. After that, she continued to act in a number of teen films like What A Girl Wants, She’s The Man, and Hairspray. Her acting career skyrocketed, and we all loved her girl-next-door look. Suddenly, in 2012, the star admitted that she was quitting acting, and that’s when things got a little weird. Bynes was spotted wearing wigs, getting her cheeks pierced, acting outrageous on social media and in public and overall, looking like a hot mess. It appeared that the once fun-loving and young starlet was having a mental breakdown. We’re hoping she makes a big comeback one day.

11.  Kylie Jenner – Still Being Questioned About Her “Realness”

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Kylie Jenner was 10 years old when she appeared on the reality television show Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Jenner grew up in the spotlight, and the pressures of looking a certain way in Hollywood clearly got the best of the young star. With an Olympic star father, Jenner looked as though she was growing up with his slender and athletic build rather than the build of her Kardashian sisters. But as she got older, she got much curvier, and a lot of people were questioning if she went under the knife. After finally admitting to getting her lips done, there are still many people wondering if she’s also got other parts of her body worked on so that she resembles her older sisters, Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe. She’s a successful businesswoman, but she sadly fell into Hollywood’s trap.

10. Britney Spears – Was Almost Destroyed By Fame

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Britney Spears was destined for stardom after being cast in “The New Mickey Mouse Club” at the age of eleven. In the late ‘90s, she received her own record label and released one of the most famous pop songs ever recorded, “Baby Hit Me One More Time.” She had crazy success as a pop star, but the spotlight took a major toll on Britney’s personal life. After the birth of her first son with Kevin Federline, Spears was caught driving with the baby on her lap. She had a second child with Federline, but eventually lost custody of both of them, thanks to her reckless behavior. After getting a divorce, the pop singer was seen partying 24/7, ended up going to rehab, and had a breakdown when she was seen shaving her head.

9. Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen – Frumpy Style Ages Twins

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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were babies when they shared the role of Michelle Tanner on Full House. They were quite successful as kids, with their own show, The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, starring in Two Of a Kind and So Little Time, and acting in a ton of movies. As they got older, they continued their success, creating their own clothing line and even owning their own private entertainment company named Dualstar, which produces movies, TV shows, magazines, and more. Now, the twins look to be under the radar as we only see them at some red carpet events. However, one major thing that sticks out about them is their style. A lot of people have questioned the way they dress, which seems more frumpy than stylish. They even look old, and they are only 31!

8. Macaulay Culkin – Will Always Be Known As Kevin McCallister

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We all recognize Macaulay Culkin from the famous Christmas movie Home Alone. Culkin played Kevin McCallister, a young boy who gets left home alone while his family goes on vacation and he must protect his home from two intruders. He also ended up starring in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which was just as good. The actor has never really done anything major in film or television as he got older, and it appeared that Culkin would always be known as Kevin McCallister. He went down a wrong path in 2004, after police found marijuana and prescription drugs on him. Since then, he’s been performing with his Velvet Underground cover band, “Pizza Underground.” We hope to see him on the big screen one day.

7. Mischa Barton – Personal Struggles Ended Her Acting  Days

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Mischa Barton was the girl you wanted to be in the early 2000’s when she starred on The O.C. But after appearing on the show, she’s had some major personal struggles that ended her acting career. The actress was arrested in 2007 for driving under the influence and, two years later, was hospitalized in a psych ward because of suicidal reasons. Barton decided to ditch acting and tried being a fashion designer but that turned out to be a disaster. Sadly, in 2017, she was hospitalized yet again after her neighbor witnessed Mischa acting erratically. Hopefully, she gets back up on her feet and gets back into acting one day.

6. Jodie Sweetin – Struggled After Full House

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Jodie Sweetin was only five years old when she starred on Full House, but after the show was canceled in 1995, Sweetin began drinking heavily, which led to a shocking .9 GPA in college. After marrying, the star continued down a wrong path and experimented with drugs. But she knew she had to change her life around and entered a rehab facility to get help. She was married three times but all ended in divorce. Sweetin later came out with an autobiography, titled unSweetined, which chronicles her life dealing with drug abuse and struggles to fit in. She returned to the continuation of Full House, called Fuller House, and appears to be doing better.

5. Corey Haim – Started At A Young Age…

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Corey Haim was an ‘80s teen idol when he appeared alongside Corey Feldman in The Lost Boys. However, as a young teen, Haim struggled with his acting career and started taking drugs, which resulted in giving him a negative image in Hollywood. Being reckless and abusing a number of drugs, the actor had a hard time finding success in acting, and most of the films he was in went straight to video. Haim was also having a tough time with money and had to file for bankruptcy in 1997. Shockingly, Haim entered rehab a total of 15 times throughout his life, but it wasn’t working and continued to use prescription drugs. Sadly, the actor died in 2010 of an overdose and pneumonia.

4. Dana Plato – Bad With Diff’rent Strokes Co-stars

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Dana Plato was another young star that just couldn’t deal with the pressures of Hollywood. You probably remember the actress from the show Diff’rent Strokes, where she co-starred along with Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges. To cope with the hardships of being a child star, she and her co-stars all abused drugs. She was ultimately kicked off the show when she became pregnant. Plato would continue to abuse drugs and even posed for Playboy when her acting career was going down the drain. Dana’s life was spiraling out of control, and after moving to Las Vegas, she held up a video store with a BB gun and only made it out with less than $200. She received 5 years probation, 30 days in jail, and had to go to rehab. Like Corey Haim, Plato also sadly died from a drug overdose.

3. Drew Barrymore – Began Partying With Her Own Mom At Age Nine

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Drew Barrymore has been acting since she was in diapers. The star was only eleven months when she starred in a dog food commercial. She would later make her film debut in Altered States at the young age of five. Her most famous childhood role was in the blockbuster film E.T., where she portrayed Gertie. However, her personal life was rough, and Barrymore would tag along with her mother to one of New York’s most famous clubs, Studio 54, where she was a regular. At the age of eleven, Drew started smoking, and by 12 and 13, she was smoking pot and doing cocaine. At the age of 15, Barrymore entered a rehab center where she had tried to commit suicide. Thankfully, she’s left her abusive past behind and is better than ever before.

2. Aaron Carter – Had A Rocky Journey To Adulthood

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Aaron Carter is the younger brother of former Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter and, at a young age, was able to snag a solo record deal and even opened up for his brother’s boy band. Carter was doing pretty well for himself—his song “Crush” went gold in five different countries and his album, Aaron’s Party, sold 1.5 million copies in the United States. As he got older, Carter became rather reckless and was arrested for speeding in 2008. The next year, he admitted that when he was on Dancing with the Stars, he was so nervous to perform that he would take a Xanax and ended up abusing the drug. His mother and brother forced him to check into rehab and, in 2013, had to file for bankruptcy.

1. Demi Lovato – Couldn’t Go An Hour Without…

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Demi Lovato recently opened up about her struggling past with coke, suffering from bulimia and self-mutilation. Lovato first got her big break in the Disney movie Camp Rock alongside the Jonas Brothers and later received a starring role on the network’s Sonny With A Chance when she was just fifteen. She was both a talented actress and singer and was toured with the Jonas Brothers for quite some time. However, she admitted that she started using coke during that time and couldn’t go an hour without the drug. In 2010, she realized it was time to get clean. She checked into rehab and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Thankfully, the beautiful star is now sober and continuing to put out hits.



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