Top 10 Child Actors of All Time

Hollywood has a long and rich history of young actors making their mark on the big screen with powerful, even Oscar-worthy performances. Many go on to become career actors and actresses who give us many more memorable performances. Many more go on to put on a bigger show in their personal lives as they crash and burn in the public eye.

Here’s our list of the top 10 child actors of all time, listed in no particular order:

1.) Jodie Foster

Child Actors of All Time

Jodie Foster made film history when she played a 12-year-old child prostitute in the film Taxi Driver (she was 14 at the time). She earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, then went on to give other noteworthy performances (including more Oscar nominations) over a long and varied career.

2.) Drew Barrymore

Child Actors of All Time

Drew Barrymore enchanted audiences as the little girl, Gertie, in the movie E.T. She went on to light up the big screen again in Firestarter and a number of other roles. Now she’s one of Hollywood’s top actresses, with many blockbuster titles to her name.

3.) Tatum O’Neal

Child Actors of All Time

Tatum O’Neal is the youngest person to have won an Academy Award, which she received for playing Addie in Paper Moon when she was only 10. Unfortunately, she didn’t go on to have much of a career after that – mostly garnering the limelight for her tumultuous relationships with her father Ryan O’Neal and former husband John McEnroe.

4.) Natalie Portman

Child Actors of All Time

Natalie Portman is a respected actress who has won a number of awards for her work. She captivated audiences as Mathilda in Leon: The Professional when she was only 13. Her character’s relationship with the title character was a driving force behind the action and the emotional weight of the film.

5.) Dakota Fanning

Child Actors of All Time

Dakota Fanning turned critic’s heads in the movie Hounddog when she was only 13. Though she had been in a few other big movies before that, the weighty subject matter and her handling of it earned her critical accolades. She continues to make blockbuster movies (starring in the Twilight series), and we’re eager to see what this 17-year-old will do next.

6.) Kirsten Dunst

Child Actors of All Time

When she was only 11, she was holding her own against Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. Since then, she has starred in dozens of movies, from small indies to mega blockbusters.

7.) Haley Joel Osment

Child Actors of All Time

Haley Joel Osment had a big debut as the frightened kid who could see dead people in The Sixth Sense. He had a cute turn as the son of Forrest Gump and starred in a few other movies before taking a hiatus. He’s due to appear in a new movie later this year.

8.) Macaulay Culkin

Child Actors of All Time

Everybody remembers Macauley Culkin and the iconic moment when he realized that he was Home Alone. He starred in a few other movies after that, but he hasn’t had as big a career as an adult actor. He’s appeared in a few indie movies, but no major blockbusters. Still, he will always have that iconic role.

9.) Judy Garland

Child Actors of All Time

Judy Garland had a long career as an actress and a musician. However, most people will remember her for one role: Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Her braided pigtails and doe eyes will be forever memorialized.

10.) Shirley Temple

Child Actors of All Time

Shirley Temple is perhaps the most iconic child star of all time. She started acting when she was just 3, and she starred in 59 movies by the time she was 21. Even people who have never seen her movies know her image and her name. She is perhaps the most famous child star of all time.

Who are your favorite child actors or actresses? Share them in the comments!

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance blog and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching school culinary. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

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