Everybody keeps talking about grown-up actors. Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Evans, Jennifer Lawerence, and so on. But what about the kids?! The poor little tykes act too! In fact, you might argue that they act even better than the grown ups! Some movies were definitely saved by child actors. After all, who can forget Cole Sear in the sixth sense (“I see dead people”), or Ray Boyd from Jerry Maguire; and let’s not forget Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. These child actors were amazing and as such have become part of a short list of the 25 Most Amazing Kids In Film History Whose Roles Were Epic.
So, who’s your favorite child actor? Is he or she on this list?
Thomas J. Sennett
Thomas (portrayed by the boy wonder of the nineties Macaulay Culkin) *SPOILER ALERT* died while trying to find his crush Vada’s mood ring. She had lost it the day before in the woods near a beehive hanging from a tree. The most tragic part of this beautiful love story is that Thomas knew he was allergic to bee stings but still took the risk in the name of unconditional, innocent love.
This beautiful pale-skinned, brown-eyed girl from the Harry Potter films discovered her “magic” powers at the innocent age of eleven when she received a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry stating that she had been accepted as a student. Since then she has become our favorite witch.
Lydia (Winona Ryder) from Beetlejuice is a serious but kind and sensitive Goth girl who feels isolated in the world. Her father and stepmother don’t take anything she says seriously and often ignore her to pursue their own selfish desires. Lydia loves writing poetry, photography, and anything supernatural and paranormal. She’s a really special kid who never got the love she deserved from her parents and for that alone we love her even more.
Richie Rich (Macaulay Culkin) has every toy any little boy could ever want, in addition to an adoring mother and father. The one thing Richie doesn’t have is friends. However, when his parents suddenly go missing, Richie hooks up with a group of kids who become his friends and helps him save his folks. All right, all right, not one of Macaulay’s best but we still love everything about him from that decade.
Hit-Girl might not be the protagonist of the Kick-Ass comics and films but she’s awesome regardless. She might be young but she’s super effective at kicking behind and was trained by her father from an early age to be a costumed superhero. She’s just a kid who saves the world from the bad guys. What more can you ask from a kid, huh?
If you’ve seen Kramer vs. Kramer you can’t help but feel bad for little Billy who is in an awkward situation where his parents (Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep) fight like mad dogs in court for custody of him. Now that I think about it I still feel sorry for this boy even though if he was a real person he would be in his forties now with his own family.
The orphan from Martin Scorsese’s Hugo lives in the walls of a train station in Paris and watches over the big clocks. He lives in constant fear of being caught by the station inspector and brought to an orphanage. In the meantime he tries to repair a robot built by his real father. What more do you need to love this amazing kid?
It would be blasphemous not to include on a list that has the word “kid” in its title the one and only Daniel LaRusso aka the original karate kid. Even though after re-watching the film a few years ago I realized Daniel wasn’t all that innocent and nice as we originally thought, he remains a classic character.
Way before Léon and Mathilda there was Iris “Easy” Steensma (a twelve-year-old prostitute portrayed by a young Jodie Foster) and Travis Bickle in one of the most iconic movies ever: Taxi Driver. If you’ve seen the film you know why Iris is on this list; if not, then go watch the film.
The boy known as Short Round was born back in 1926 (I know, he sounds ancient) as Wan Li and was orphaned during the Japanese bombing of Shanghai in 1932. Li picked up his alias as a pickpocket on the streets of his hometown and attempted to rob the man by whose side he would end up, making history by becoming part of the incredible world of Indiana Jones.
Charlie Bucket is the poor boy in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory who lives with his mother and grandparents. One day he buys a Willy Wonka Chocolate Bar, not knowing that it will change his life and give hope to millions of kids around the world who hope magic might happen to them one day too.
As the dumb-lucked but extremely cute Ralphie Parker, actor Peter Billingsley delivered one of the most famous child actor performances in film history. The image of him, with his huge, dorky glasses and a smile on his face, getting pushed down a slide by the boot of a stern department store Santa in A Christmas Story is simply unforgettable.
Chunk is the funny, chubby kid from The Goonies who will always bring back memories of our childhood and how great it felt to be a kid. Of course, he was the dude that his friends loved to make fun of and mess with but deep inside everybody loved him.
Who wouldn’t love a kid who could ride a mini motocross bike like a pro? Or even better, that he would save you from tyranny and destruction in the near future when robots will try to take over and enslave humans?
Dorothy Gale was a young girl (about twelve) and one of the very first kids the world embraced through film. She’s the young heroine of L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories, best known in pop culture for her portrayal by the timeless Judy Garland in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.
Remember this kid? That adorable, cute little guy from Jerry Maguire who made big, dorky glasses look cool again many years after Ralphie did in A Christmas Story. Well, it may not seem like that much time has passed, but it’s actually been twenty years since Jerry Maguire came out but we will always remember this awesome little fella.
Claudia (a young Kirsten Dunst) is a blood-thirsty vampire in Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. She is one of the main characters in Interview with the Vampire and became the reason Louis (Brad Pitt) attempted to kill Lestat (Tom Cruise). We still love her for some reason.
Let’s put it this way: this kid is responsible for the book series that has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, making it the bestselling book series in publishing history. It has been translated into seventy-three languages, while the films have made billions for its producers. This kid is simply amazing anyway you look at it.
Wednesday Friday Addams is a fictional young girl created by American cartoonist Charles Addams in his comic strip The Addams Family. Later generations discovered the character when she was portrayed by Christina Ricci in the 1991 film version of the well-known TV series. Who didn’t love this creepy kid, really?
Gertie (a very young Drew Barrymore) is undoubtedly the sweetest character in E.T. Little Gertie is kind of inquisitive and impulsive as children are at that age, and the most touching part about this character is the innocence of childhood she depicts, which makes you see what a beautiful gift children can be. Gertie makes you love children so much while watching the movie that you start missing your own childhood.
Little Kevin (Macaulay Culkin…again) is the reason why we will always love Macaulay Culkin and watch Home Alone every Christmas. He’s also the kid who will always remind us to be careful what we wish for because it might just happen.
Mathilda, a twelve-year-old girl whose family was murdered by a gang of corrupt cops, was the role that introduced Natalie Portman to the world. She and Léon—a badass professional assassin—develop an unusual relationship as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade in one of the classic nineties films that we can watch over and over to this day.
Who doesn’t love a young tortured soul who can see and communicate with dead people? Cole Sear was the reason The Sixth Sense became such a massive hit even though Haley Joel Osment who portrayed him didn’t have the future most film critics expected him to have after this film.
When his parents have to go out of town, Dennis stays with Mr. and Mrs. Wilson and the little menace drives Mr. Wilson (portrayed by the great Walter Matthau) crazy, but we love Dennis because all he tries to do is be helpful. So what if Dennis manages to make life miserable for Mr. Wilson? All that matters is that he has good intentions, right?
Believed to have been conceived by the will of the Force, Anakin Skywalker was born to the slave Shmi Skywalker on the desert world of Tatooine. Skywalker and his mother were originally owned by Gardulla the Hutt until she lost them to the Toydarian Watto in a podracing bet when Skywalker was three. Affectionately nicknamed “Ani,” this innocent, cute little blond boy worked in his master’s shop, located in Mos Espa but was destined to be the greatest and most evil villain in film history. If you don’t know it by now ladies and gentlemen, Anakin Skywalker—the boy—became the man we would later be know as *SPOILER ALERT*, Darth Vader.