Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hollywood Child Stars: Fame and Struggle to Success

Growing up is difficult enough without having to do it on TV in front of millions of people. Some child actors can build a career on their fledgling fame while  others struggle to reproduce that early success.

America Ferrara, "Ugly Betty"

Before donning the poncho of adorable Betty Suarez, Emmy-winning actress America Ferrera had an impressive film and TV resume. In 2002 she appeared on CBS’ “Touched by an Angel,” as well as the HBO film “Real Women have Curves.” Ferrera continued to collect film credits with “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Lords of Dogtown,” before winning the lead role in “Ugly Betty.”

The show ended in 2010, but “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera continued to win fans with her roles in “How to Train Your Dragon” and CBS’s “The Good Wife.” She will also co-star with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena in the 2012 film “End of Watch,” in US theaters Sept. 21.

Robert Iler, "The Sopranos"

Who knew shock rocker Marilyn Manson had a connection to the Emmy-award winning cable series “The Sopranos”? In 1995, before being cast as A.J. Soprano, Robert Iler appeared in a music video for Manson’s single from his debut album. For six seasons, Iler would grow up in front of the audience as the often-troubled son of mobster Tony Soprano.

Since "The Sopranos" ended in 2007, Iler has appeared in a few films like “Tadpole” in 2002 and “Daredevil” in 2003, as well as an episode of “Law and Order." Iler has also had a few run-ins with the law. In 2001, the actor was charged with larceny and received three years probation. He was also present when police raided an underground New York City poker club in 2005.

Sawyer, Madylin and Sullivan Sweeten, "Everybody Loves Raymond"

The kids from “Everybody Loves Raymond” cemented their entertainment careers after filming the pilot episode in 1996. Madylin Sweeten played Ray Romano’s daughter, Ally Barone, alongside her real-life twin brothers Sullivan and Sawyer, who played Michael and Geoffrey Barone.

Today the Sweetens are still touting the “Everybody Loves Raymond” legacy since the Emmy-winning series ended in 2005. They are pictured at the TV Land Awards in 2010.

Cole and Dylan Sprouse

Who would’ve guessed in 1999 that the twins who played the mischievous kid in the Adam Sandler comedy “Big Daddy” would become such a success on their own? A year after the film’s release, Cole Sprouse won the role of Ross’ son, Ben Geller, on the hit sitcom “Friends.”

Although Cole did not share the “Friends” role with his brother Dylan Sprouse, as was the case in previous credits, they did earn their very own TV show. “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” first premiered on the Disney Channel in 2005 and continued with the spinoff “The Suite Life on Deck." The Sprouse twins currently attend New York University.

Michael Angarano, "Will & Grace"

Michael Angarano first appeared on television sets across America as the biological son of Jack McFarland on NBC’s “Will and Grace.” The young actor appeared in 11 episodes as Elliot from 2001 to 2006 and from then on took to the big screen for more roles.

Aside from being the guy Kristen Stewart dumped for Robert Pattinson in 2008, Angarano has led a colorful film career starring in “Seabiscuit,” "Sky High," “The Lords of Dogtown,” and “Red State.” Angarano is currently working on a few productions including the drama “Empire State,” which is to be released in 2013.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas, "Home Improvement"

We all remember his signature initials — "JTT". From jumping out of TV and into movies, to gracing the covers of Tiger Beat and J14, the original tween heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a surefire household name. For seven years he played Randy Taylor, the middle child on ABC’s “Home Improvement,” and voiced the young incarnation of Simba in Disney’s “The Lion King.”

Since his stint on “Home Improvement,” Jonathan Taylor Thomas continued a modest television career with small roles in “Smallville,” “8 Simple Rules,” and “Veronica Mars.” Thomas enrolled at Harvard University and in 2010 graduated from Columbia University.

Erik Per Sullivan, "Malcolm in the Middle"

You might have caught “Malcolm in the Middle” star Erik Per Sullivan in a few movies including “The Cider House Rules” and “Joe Dirt” before he was cast as baby brother Dewey on the hit Fox sitcom.

Since the show’s end in 2006, Per Sullivan has gone on to star in a few films, as well as attend USC. And did you know he is Swedish-born and fluent in the language?

Nicholle Tom

Before Emmy-nominee Fran Drescher became her “Nanny,” Nicholle Tom was already living the good life on the set of “Beverly Hill, 90210” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” She also starred in the family film “Beethoven,” along with its sequel, before playing Maggie Sheffield on “The Nanny.”

Nicholle Tom has maintained a steady television career appearing in a number of network series and movies. More recent appearances include ABC’s “Castle,” CBS’s “The Mentalist,” and “Without a Trace.”

Brian Bonsall, "Family Ties"

Native Californian Brian Bonsall walked onto set at 5-years-old after earning the role of little Andy Keaton on the NBC sitcom “Family Ties” in 1986. By 1994 Bonsall was starring in feature films including Disney’s “Blank Check” and landed a recurring role on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Bonsall retired from acting in 1995 shortly after his rapid rise to the big screen. He moved to Boulder, Colorado and became a musician, performing with local punk bands and eventually taking his act back to Los Angeles. Bonsall also has a history of run-ins with the law and has been convicted of driving under the influence and assault.

Michael Fishman, "Roseanne"

Michael Fishman warmed our hearts as D.J. Conner, the youngest of the “Roseanne” family. The show ran on the ABC network for nine seasons and, during that period, Fishman also made guest appearances on “Seinfeld” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

After “Roseanne” ended in 1997, Michael Fishman joined his TV mom for her variety talk show. He also earned a role in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi epic “Artificial Intelligence: A.I.” For a period, Fishman left acting to work behind the scenes and received an "Outstanding Set Design / Art Direction" Sports Emmy nomination in 2008 for his work on "Sport Science." Most recently, he was spotted at Barr’s Comedy Central “Roast” in August. Fishman, 30, is now married and has two children.


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