Everyone goes through a stage of their life when growing up just becomes incredibly uncomfortable. Yep, we’ve all been there. Suddenly, you’re sporting an awkward hairstyle (that your mom said made you beautiful), you’re growing into your ears (it’s a real thing y’know), and you’ve got a few spots here and there (okay, all over your face). Unfortunately, it’s a stage we all have to go through – although we can’t say we welcome all of these new additions to our face and body.
What makes this situation even more depressing is the fact that we’re constantly bombarded with pictures of beautiful celebrities when they were younger. We get it, you’re perfect. We get it, you have amazing genes. We get it, you’re just better than us mere mortals. We get it. It’s even worse when you grow up with child stars who go through puberty at the same time as you – because you can almost guarantee they’re not experiencing the same effects as you. While you’re sat there watching their movies with your head guard, your brace and your ankle-grazers (that aren’t supposed to be ankle-grazers) they’re just chilling out with their professional stylists, their on-call orthodontists, and their beauty therapists. And you know what? It totally sucks.
Thankfully this isn’t always the case. Yes, dear readers, even the rich and famous go through this awkward stage too! In some cases, puberty is just too strong to overpower with professional dentists and stylists, and they have to endure the gut-wrenching pain of growth (okay, it’s not really that bad). But as we all do, they soon grow out of this phase and blossom into the beautiful celebs we know and love (and fawn over) today. Take a look at these 23+ (you guys couldn’t get enough so we added in some bonus ones!) awkward child stars who did some serios growing up…
Before her time on Cheaper By The Dozen, Camp Rock and Step Up, Alyson Stoner made her dancing debut on the hip-hop stage in two of Missy Elliot’s music videos; ‘Gossip Folks’ and ‘Work It’ – which is the coolest thing we’ve ever heard. Stoner played your typical tomboy in most of her appearances as a child and teenager, but has since come into her own and is now rocking the Red Carpet. What a beauty.
Tyler Posey first came onto the acting scene at the young age of six, and has been utterly adorable throughout his career – just look at that face! His most prominent roles came from his appearances in Maid In Manhattan and Collateral Damage. However, his most recent role came when Posey (and his abs) transformed into a Teen Wolf for the hit MTV show of the same name. And I think we’d all be lying if we say we haven’t tuned in for at least one episode just for this guy…
She’s just so fetch. Chabert first came to the forefront in 1994 with her role in the TV drama, Party of Five. However, she is most known for her role in the iconic movie, Mean Girls, alongside fellow awkward child star, Lindsay Lohan. Not forgetting Rachel McAdams and Tina Fey, of course. Nowadays, Chabert’s face is behind the cameras as she spends most of her time providing voice over for TV shows and movies.
Okay, what happened to Josh from Drake & Josh? Josh Peck was the definition of the awkward child star (in the best way), and we absolutely loved him on the Nickelodeon show. He was famous for playing the funny (yet slightly larger) brother and is now the definition of a heartthrob. He has since appeared in The Big Bang Theory and has voiced characters in the Ice Age Saga. This is one transformation we would never have anticipated…
Trachtenberg first appeared on our screens in Harriet and the Spy – the Nickelodeon classic we used to obsess over. Later on, Trachtenberg used her child star talent on the hit show, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which is super cool) and as Georgina Sparks from Gossip Girl *boo* *hiss.* Nowadays, Trachtenberg is keeping her acting career on the down low (probably to avoid devoted Gossip Girl fans) – and we’re really hoping she doesn’t get even more beautiful because we don’t think we could be any more jealous if we tried…
Madison De La Garza
We always felt kinda sorry for Juanita Solis – she was always getting picked on by the Desperate Housewives lot *sobs* Madison De La Garza made her first proper TV debut on the show when she was just seven years old and is the half-sister of one of the other awkward child stars on this list…can you guess who? (Hint: It’s Demi Lovato!) Luckily, this awkward child star has now grown out of her awkwardness and is now one beautiful lady.
Well, if this isn’t the most epic awkward child star transformation, we really don’t know what is. Momsen started her acting career as the adorable and lovable Cindy Lou Who in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (how did she get her hair like that?). Momsen then continued a pretty successful career as an actress and was then cast in the best show of all time – Gossip Girl (you know it’s true). Nowadays, she’s not sporting rosy cheeks from Whoville, or the sophistication from the Upper East Side. Instead, she’s embraced her inner rocker as the lead singer of The Pretty Reckless.
Who can forget the first time they saw the scowling (yet adorable) face of Hermione Granger? Emma Watson had to basically do all of her growing up in the public eye, as we watched her grow from first year at Hogwarts all the way through to becoming an adult. Emma Watson is now an ambassador for the UN HeForShe campaign and kicks some serious butt in the modeling/acting/activist world.
Awwww, look at little Demi Lovato! Did you know, she first cut her teeth in the showbiz world as a child star on Barney and Friends when she was 10? I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family… Yep, that Barney. Of course, Demi Lovato is now one of the best-selling female artists of all time, with five gold albums and a double platinum single to her name. No more singing the Barney song then Demi!
Alyssa Milano got her first taste of acting aged just 7, thanks to her babysitter sneaking her to an audition! However, she quickly rose to fame (and the babysitter was forgiven) in the ’80s sitcom Who’s the Boss? She then dominated the ’90s in Melrose Place and Charmed, before landing roles in Mistresses and My Name is Earl. She’s grown for a super awks child star into a jaw-dropping beaut!
Long before Hayden was the super-cool Claire Bennet in Heroes, she played someone a little less cool on Malcolm in the Middle. Yep, this is Hayden Panettiere as the kinda geeky, kinda gawky, frizzy-haired, beanie-wearing, Jessica. Of course, now we all know and love Hayden for her work in Heroes, Nashville, and for being Kairi in Kingdom Hearts (fellow nerds rejoice).
Aw, we all remember Vern from Stand By Me, right?! Who knew that the plump, awkward kid would turn out to be so… Ahem. Well! Jerry O’Connell was just 11-years-old when he starred in his first feature film, the Stephen King coming of age flick. He then played some major roles in ’90s TV shows, including Sliders and My Secret Identity, before becoming the Hollywood hunk he is today. He’s so good looking, he plays Superman! Animated, but still.
Fans of The Wonder Years will definitely remember the super adorable (but a little bit dorky) Winnie Cooper. Danica admits it was difficult for her to move on from being child actress to adult actress and found herself landing roles in a lot of TV movies. However, she has since gone on to write five non-fiction books about math (yep, she is super smart) and was in the Netflix original TV show, Project Mc2
Awwww, lickle Leo! Leonardo Dicaprio started off his child star career in commercials when he was in his early teens and soon went on to star in the likes of Growing Pains and Critters 3. Of course, Leonardo really came into his own as he got older – he really is like a fine wine – but we had to get these photographs in because he was just so darn cute. We’re so glad he finally got his Oscar.
If you’re a fan of Modern Family, you’ll recognize Ariel Winter as the super-nerd, Alex Dunphy – and it’s totally okay that we call her a super-nerd because Alex would definitely see that as a compliment. Before her time on the show, Ariel had already made a name for herself as an awesome child star and had appeared in the likes of Phineas and Ferb. Nowadays, Ariel continues to play Alex on the show but ditches the nerd stereotype as soon as she’s finished filming, and returns to her sassy, fashionable self.
When he was just 12-years-old, Christian Bale got his first big break in Empire of The Sun, a Steven Spielberg movie. At the time, no one knew quite how big this awkward looking actor would become – I mean, he’s Batman! Or how much of a diva he would become (we all remember THAT rant on the Terminator Salvation set), but you know, that kind of comes with being one of the biggest stars on the planet.
Who remembers this little cutie from one of the best kids movies OF ALL TIME – Hook? She may not have been as awkward and goofy as some of the others on our list (especially some of the ones coming up) but she still deserves a mention because she got so darn beautiful! Unfortunately, Amber Scott hasn’t had any acting roles since Hook but at least she can say she was a main part in an absolutely epic film!
Okay, we’ll admit, Ryan Gosling has always been absolutely adorable. However, he also had curtains and wore gold chains when he was a kid, so, y’know. Young Ryan Gosling was part of the same Mickey Mouse Club crew that saw people like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake make it big. Now, he has transformed from a little geeky gosling into…uhhh a beautiful goose?
It’s Will Smith’s little cousin in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air , Ashley Banks! Just look at that monobrow and the ’90s clothes. Eeeeeesh! Luckily, Tatyana quickly grew out of her awkward stage and has become the head-turner that she is today. While she may not have had any big acting roles since Fresh Prince, she still looks so very Hollywood.
Did you know that one of Mila Kunis’ first big TV roles was in Baywatch, when she was 11-years-old? Obviously she wasn’t clad in a red swimming costume and running down the beach, especially not looking how she did, but she could definitely rival Pamela Anderson in the looks department now. She’s often voted one of the best looking women on the planet and we are not jealous. Nope. Maybe a little bit.
T-Swizzle has always been awesome…but you have to admit there have been a few awkward moments (ahem, like those corn rows she sported back in the ‘90s). However, just like her transition from country music star to pop icon and epic posse member (think Gigi Hadid and Selena Gomez), Swift has also transitioned into the elegant pop queen she is today. There’s a reason the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now…
What happened to Neville Longbottom? Matthew Lewis rose to fame for his role in the Harry Potter saga, as the dweeby goodie-two-shoes Hogwarts student. But growing up seems to have done Lewis a world of good, and has us all thinking – Harry Potter, who? And how did he get those abs? Since his time on Harry Potter, he’s become even more popular and has appeared on TV shows like Ripper Street, Bluestone 42 and The Syndicate. Wanna know what the other Harry Potter stars look like all grown up? You might wanna read this!
You probably remember the British-born Hoult as the unconventional cutie who starred alongside Hugh Grant in the 2002 hit movie, About A Boy (cue everyone saying ‘awww’ as they remember that movie). Hoult’s big blue eyes set him apart from every other child star in the industry and landed his biggest teen part in the British TV show, Skins. Now he’s all grown up, Nicholas has landed huge roles in Mad Max: Fury Road and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
We all remember Lindsay Lohan (x2) in everyone’s favorite double trouble movie, The Parent Trap, but she actually started her professional career much earlier than this. In fact, Lohan started modeling and acting at the age of 3-years-old. A few years on and Lindsay Lohan has skipped her awkward stage (although she did have some…err…drama…in between) and has now come out the other side; as beautiful as ever. Nowadays, Lohan is lying low and working on herself and her religion, but she has a new TV show coming out soon, so keep your eyes peeled…
Oh, Zac. Well you’ve certainly grown up, haven’t you? Before his High School Musical days (oh, the nostalgia), Zac was cast in small roles on TV shows like ER and Firefly. Nowadays, Efron is a definite force to be reckoned with! He has recently starred in hit movies such as Bad Neighbors 1 and 2, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and the (kinda rubbish) Baywatch remake…which is where the (ahem) dashing image on the right is from…
Alexa Vega first started her acting career at the young age of five. However, it wasn’t until a few years later that she became a huge name in the industry for her role in the tween spy movie, Spy Kids (we miss Spy Kids). Nowadays, Vega has become a country belle in the hit TV series, Nashville, and has also starred as Killjoy, the femme fatale in Machete Kills.
Scottish-born Thomas Sangster was born into the world of acting, as both of his parents were previously actors – so it’s no surprise he chose the same career path. He landed his first professional gig when he was just eleven-years-old, and then went on to star in movies such as Feather Boy, Nanny McPhee, and Love Actually (and his character just makes our heart melt). Nowadays, Thomas Sangster is still taking the world by storm and has appeared in Game of Thrones and Star Wars. Not bad, ey?
Who remembers the Nickelodeon show, Cousin Skeeter? We loved that puppet – and Bobby Walker of course. And it seems Robert Ri’chard has now ditched his puppet pal and embraced what puberty has given him. Since his time on Cousin Skeeter, he has starred alongside Paris Hilton in House of Wax and has appeared in Meet The Browns and The Vampire Diaries. He’s even starring in a new movie, which is coming soon…
Dylan & Cole Sprouse
Aagh, Dylan and Cole Sprouse just make our hearts melt. When they were younger, they rose to fame as the adorable identical twins from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and the twins also appeared on Big Daddy and Just for Kicks – and they pretty much rocked the Disney Channel. After taking a break from acting and going off the college (smart and attractive? They do spoil us) Cole is now acting again in Riverdale, and Dylan is now a brewmaster. Because apparently, that’s a thing child stars do.