Making the transition from squeaky clean kid actor to all-grown-up serious thespian is a bumpy road. Choosing the right "adult" project is key to successful career—but wrong move could solidify you as the "Disney Kid." Susie Mains, co-owner of Trilogy Talent and manager for onetime child stars Tobey Maguire and Fergie, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2010, "When you're done with your contract, where do you stand in the acting community? Is a serious film going to (consider) you as a lead?" Perhaps, but it's never a sure thing.
Real life "Disney Kid" Selena Gomez is the prime example. Post her breakout role in Wizards of Waverly Place, she's spent her big screen career voicing animated characters and appearing in the tween comedy Monte Carlo. But now she's ready for the big leagues, teaming up with the unpredictable Harmony Korine for Spring Breakers—part spring break romp, part crazed heist film. We seen some behind-the-scene (and scantily clad) shots of Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens riding around Florida, but who knows which way the movie will fall on the quality scale. But this is a big one for Gomez. Like all child stars, Spring Breakers is her gamble into serious movies. The results could make or break her future.
Looking back, here are few other child stars who did manage to keep their careers going, one way or another. Growing up is inevitable, but in Hollywood, it's how you do it is everything.
Dakota Fanning in Hounddog
Quite possibly the most infamous of all "Look, I'm not starring in any more Cat in the Hat movies, OK?" casting decisions, Fanning dropped her little girl persona earlier than most, tackling the serious Southern drama Hounddog at the age of 13. The movie's sensationalized, defining moment is a sequence in which Dakota's character Lewellen is raped by a boy her age, and while the movie was barely a blip when it hit theaters, the ripple effect from the brave move elevate Fanning above the rest of her young contemporaries.
Macaulay Culkin in Party Monster
Culkin disappeared in 1994 after a string of uber-successful kid movies: Home Alone and its sequel, Pagemaster, Getting Even with Dad and Richie Rich, among others. He returned in 2003 for Party Monster—older, wiser and a little more strung out than his fans may have recalled. That may have come with the role, a small towner who drowns finds himself drowning in the New York party scene. We knew Culkin would one day return to the big screen, but no one was expecting him to do it with a yellow feather dress, purple wig and lipstick.
Drew Barrymore in Scream
Coming from a family of Old Hollywood players, no one was worried about Barrymore crashing and burning post-E.T., but few expected the actress to have such a keen sense of the business in integrating herself back into the talent pool. Barrymore made a cameo appearance in the opening scene of Scream, a now-classic moment featuring a babysitter caught in Ghostface's deadly slasher game. It was just the right amount of screentime; a reminder that Drew Barrymore was still thing—and an adult one at that.
Daniel Radcliffe in Equus
In the home stretch of his eight-movie Harry Potter run, Radcliffe made a wise decision: head to the theater. After all, isn't that where real ac-toooors go to work? Answer: yes, and Radcliffe proved himself worthy of the title. His performance in Peter Shaffer's hard-hitting play, in which Radcliffe appeared nude in front of many a giggly Potter fan, earned him rave reviews.
Haley Joel Osment in Sassy Pants
Much like Gomez, Haley Joel Osment is currently in transition phase. Difference is, his fate is in the can. After nabbing an Oscar-nomination for Sixth Sense and following it up with solid-to-middling follow ups (remember Secondhand Lions?), Osment ducked under cover and did what any 18-year-old would do: went to college. Enrolled at New York University, Osment dabbled in theater, making a brief appearance on Broadway in David Mamet's American Buffalo, before receding back into his studies. But Osment could make a return if Sassy Pants, his latest film role, makes waves. In the movie, Osment plays the younger boyfriend of a girl's recently out father. A far cry from his ghost-seeing days, but a role that could reposition him for years to come.
Mary Kate Olsen in Weeds
Mary Kate and Ashley weren't just the breakout names of Full House, actresses making a killing off home video entertainment, or inevitable big screen stars. They became a brand—an asset to their eventual fashion empire. Eventually, the fashion biz took priority in their careers (New York Minute bombing probably didn't hurt either), removing from the immediate spotlight that comes hand and hand with child stardom. But Mary Kate returned three years after New York Minute in a role designed to debut her new on-screen presence. In Weeds, Mary Kate played weed-smoking "bad girl" who romanced Hunter Parish's Silas. Since, Mary Kate's continued to land similarly spacey, low-key roles, never hitting the stride of her early years, but intentionally so.
Anna Paquin in True Blood
What's amazing about Anna Paquin is that she never had a moment of transition. She was a child actor only because she was a child. From her first (and Oscar-nominated) role in The Piano at age 11, Paquin continued to book challenging material. Spielberg's Amistad, Jane Eyre, even Fly Away Home and the X-Men were above and beyond anything people her age were pulling off. Paquin's still young—only 29 and with over thirty credits to her name—but if she's had a memorable reinvention during her short career, it was the jump to HBO's True Blood. Vampire sex: always a wake up call, regardless of past or present career.
Miley Cyrus in LOL
Cyrus's early career had two roadblocks to overcome: she was another literal Disney Kid (starring in Hannah Montana for five years) and her faith-laden, country music image shoehorned her into the good girl role. For a few years, she owned it, translating Hannah Montana to the big screen and starring alongside real life boyfriend Liam Hemsworth in 2010's The Last Song. But the star stirred up controversy after paparazzi caught her smoking pot, then followed up the incident by taking on the role of a stoner in LOL. The rebellious move is an obvious play to drop the Hannah Montana baggage, but will it work?
Previously on Harry Potter: Big bad Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave while Harry mourns the loss of his wee elf friend Dobby and begins his search for the remaining Horcruxes.
If that recap leaves you with hazy memories of last year's Deathly Hallows - Part 1 you may want to pop in the DVD before taking on the Harry Potter franchise's grand finale Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The eighth film in the series doesn't pull any punches demanding your knowledge of the saga's previous events and crescendoing off a foundation of character and connection built over a decade of cinematic excursions. That's not a fault -- Deathly Hallows - Part 2 serves hardcore fans and dedicated patrons of the franchise alike bouncing elegantly back and forth between explosive action and emotional conclusions. At this point that's what matters.
Whereas Deathly Hallows - Part 1 took Harry Hermione and Ron on a gritty race through the real world Part 2 brings the trio back to their home base Hogwarts School of Magic and Child Death where their colleagues and professors find themselves defending it against the empowered Voldemort and his band of Death Eaters. Similarly to Transformers: Dark of the Moon Deathly Hallows - Part 2 spends most of its run time following various established characters as they navigate the epic battle. Unlike the clunky erratic action of TF3 director David Yates manages to execute the sequences in Potter with bravado making sure we give a damn every time Potter discovers a secret from the past blows a Death Eater out a window or glances upon one of his closest friends lying dead on the floor.
For all its otherworldliness Potter is and always has been a human story one that puts its characters before spectacle. But when Yates and his team of FX wizards do unleash their bag of spells on the screen they do it with a very BIG bang. Deathly Hallows - Part 2's scope is on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy bringing everything from trolls to spiders to animate statues into the wizards' massive assault. The franchise hasn't seen action on this scale before but Yates never misses a beat or opportunity to dazzle with visual eye candy. Turning the crumbling of Hogwarts castle into a riveting poignant experience -- true magic.
Once again Daniel Radcliffe Emma Watson Rupert Grint and a cast of veteran British thespians deliver the necessary gravitas to anchor Potter's fantastical elements in reality. With everything finally on the line in Deathly Hallows - Part 2 each performance is at its best and Radcliffe steps up to the plate to make his final showdown with Voldemort one to remember. He spends most of the movie covered in dirt encrusted blood on his face and a harrowing sense of death behind his eyes. Heavy material but Radcliffe pulls it off.
Few franchises have the chance that Harry Potter has been fortunate enough to receive to follow the same familiar faces through years of ever-complicating story. Thankfully Deathly Hallows - Part 2 doesn't squander the opportunity. The saga swells with a triumphant final act one that never forgets why people love the movies in the first place. The adventure the awe the comedy the thrills the people the places the things -- those are the elements that make Harry Potter grand and they return in perfect form once more to say good-bye.