Some remarkable child performers have very brief moments in the spotlight — Carrie Henn in Aliens is a great example. Others fizzle around the time they reach adulthood, often through unfortunate circumstances like drug addiction. Then there are people like Ron Howard, Jodie Foster, Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Neil Patrick Harris, Sidney Lumet, Jackie Cooper, Elizabeth Taylor …
The list can go on and on and on (especially if we’re counting those who switched roles in Hollywood like Howard and Lumet). We should also include the ones who had missteps during the transition to adulthood but made comebacks, like Drew Barrymore and Jason Bateman.
But nobody today, certainly not the younger generation of talents like Natalie Portman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, can be as yet recognized as being the success that Mickey Rooney was. He made his movie debut when he was only six years old and he continued acting into his 90s, through to his death earlier this week.
Maybe some of those mentioned above and others like them will also be stars in their old age. But how about the child actors of today who haven’t even reached adulthood yet? Will Game of Thrones standout Maisie Williams or Joe‘s Tye Sheridan (also noteworthy in Mud and The Tree of Life), both nearing 18, still be working in the industry 75 years from now? I will probably never know since I’d have to be in my 100s then.
If only they had the kind of encouragement Rooney’s generation did with the Academy’s annual recognition of juvenile performances (he received one in 1939, which was technically past his time of being a juvenile, but whatever). Who might have won such an Oscar last year, marking them the current best in the business? I’ve thought before that Sheridan, his Mud costar Jacob Lofland and What Maisie Knew actress Onata Aprile might have been the chosen ones.
Other great child performers of today that seem to have what it takes for a long career include Elle Fanning, Quvenzhane Wallis, Hailee Steinfeld and her Ender’s Game costar Asa Butterfield. Hopefully they satisfy that promise, or are at least are successful in whatever other path they go in.
Which child stars of today will likely be the nonagenarian actors of tomorrow?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
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