Friday Face/Off: Former Child Stars
Florence (actually watches Macaulay Culkin’s new stuff):
Child actors becoming adult actors is categorically fine by me. I mean, some of our most cherished – and award-winning – actors started off their careers whilst still in their nappies. Jodie Foster, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Drew Barrymore – they all started acting when they were but wee bairns. And look where they are now! Drinking champagne out of hollowed out Oscar statuettes, no doubt. I literally see no reason why we shouldn’t embrace (not literally obvs) those teeny tots who wish to grow up and continue on with their acting careers. Yes, you may argue that there’s a dangerous, exploitative aspect to it, but you know what? Some people were born to act (in the same way that I was born to write about people who were born to act). If you want to be an actor from a young age then go ahead. But for god’s sake stay away from the drugs.
John (still hasn’t seen Léon in case it spoils Natalie Portman for him):
And for her next trick, ladies and gentlemen, Florence will list ten sequels which weren’t shit! Nobody’s saying that this is an infallible rule, Vince, just that it’s solid enough to rely on. Whilst the occasional child actor manages to wriggle from the bloodied amniotic sac of their pre-pubescent movie career and actually survive into adulthood, every Jodie Foster must surely be haunted by the ghosts of a thousand Jack Wilds. Do you even know who Jack Wild was? He played the Artful Dodger in Oliver!, and by the age of 21 he was a registered alcoholic. He’s dead now, and he’s at the head of a phantom army of failed child stars who howl for vengeance from the far bank of the Styx. We need child actors, I suppose, but the best thing to do is humanely re-release them into society at sixteen and hope for their sakes that we never hear from them again.
So Jack Wild died? That’s very sad but…so what? I’m sure I could list a thousand more adult actors who never acted when they were children but who still became alcoholics and/or dead. Oliver Reed anyone? He didn’t start acting until he was in his twenties but he most definitely died of alcohol poisoning aged 61, after downing three bottles of rum (THAT’S A LOT OF RUM). Who says that Jack Wild being an actor when he was a littl’un had anything to do with him becoming an alcoholic? How do you know that his life wouldn’t have turned out exactly the same or WORSE if he hadn’t been an actor? Huh? You literally know nothing.
At least I’m alive to know that I know nothing (Socrates, yo?) because I wasn’t a child actor who subsequently ended up all dead and that from the trauma of trying to make it in grown-up Hollywood. Tell me, do you know what Jake Lloyd’s up to these days? How about Mara Wilson? You’ve got no idea, have you? And that’s just as it should be. Despite playing (respectively) the youngest incarnation of Anakin Skywalker and Matilda/the little cute one from Mrs Doubtfire, both Lloyd and Wilson have quietly packed in the films and gone to university in the hope of not going totally mental. Many could profit from their example – eh, LiLo? Eh? Imagine how fondly we’d look on poor old Lindsay if she’d just wrapped things up after The Parent Trap or, at a push, Mean Girls. You flew too high, Icarus…
Yeah but that’s like saying everyone who chooses to go to university is automatically going to have a better life than people who don’t. Also, acting can be an extremely informative job. Like people who have to learn languages, or how to play instruments or do the Cruciatus Curse (information that should NEVER be used btw). What I’m saying is, acting is a bit like going to the university of LIFE. Is that a terrible point? Possibly. The point is, some young people are not destined to thrive in an academic career, which is why we have colleges that teach vocational subjects and also why a lot of kids go to drama school. What’s wrong with that? Obviously, Lindsay Lohan has had a bit of a terrible life, but – as with Jack Wild – who’s to say that she wouldn’t be messed up if she had quit acting earlier. Who knows, in a parallel universe where LiLo is no longer an actress she could be sitting at home right now, puffing on a crack pipe and bemoaning the fact that she never signed that contract for Herbie Fully Loaded.
Whereas in this universe she’s in prison and all her teeth have fallen out from doing too much meth. That’s a hell of an argument you have right there, Florence. She could have been a chartered accountant right now if she’d got out when the getting was good!
But where would Kirsten Dunst and her snaggleteeth be? If she had never become an actress, she wouldn’t be rich and famous now meaning she would’ve never been able to afford any teeth surgery or highlights or personal trainers. THUS she would probably be so ugly right now no one would be able to look at her. And she’d have to resort to working in a sewage works/on a film website where it didn’t matter how physically repugnant she was.
Speak for yourself – some of us have a prominent photo on the ‘About Us’ page. Kirsten would be a casualty of war, it’s true, but don’t you think missing out on the tiny minority of child actors who actually turn out to be talented and non-crazy would be a small price to pay compared to all the poor sods who never make it? Remember Gary Coleman, Florence.
Whatchoo talkin’ bout, John Underwood? Gary Coleman lives on in my heart. As do Kirsten Dunst’s doomed fangs. RIP Snaggleteeth. And long live child actors making the non-crack-addicted transition to adulthood.
Fine. But when that little cute girl from Outnumbered ends up cutting her face off à la Mason Verger, you’re paying for her plastic surgery. Deal?
By Florence Vincent and John Underwood