The Forgotten Roles Stars Played as Kids

Jake Gyllenhaal, 'City Slickers'
Jake Gyllenhaal, 'City Slickers'
Don't remember Billy Crystal's character in the 1991 cowboy comedy having a son? You're forgiven. The kids of Crystal's Mitch Robbins were barely there at the beginning of the movie before he heads out west to bond with Oscar-winner Jack Palance. You have to look closely to see the future Donnie Darko. By the time of the sequel, Gyllenhaal was already off doing bigger parts in prestige pictures... like Josh and S.A.M..
Columbia Pictures
Leonardo DiCaprio, 'Critters 3'
Leonardo DiCaprio, 'Critters 3'
It's pretty well known that Leo was a regular on the final season of the Alan Thicke-Kirk Cameron sitcom Growing Pains, but you really have to be up on your trivia if you know anything about DiCaprio's film debut in Critters 3. He plays the stepson of an evil landlord who gets eaten by the title characters, leaving DiCaprio to join a group fighting for survival against the beasties. Luckily, you didn't have to have seen the first two for the story to make sense.
New Line Cinema
Kristen Stewart, 'Panic Room'
Kristen Stewart, 'Panic Room'
Stewart has become inextricably linked with mopey Bella from the Twilight series, but she was actually in a number of movies prior to finding eternal love with Edward... including this thriller in which she plays Jodie Foster's diabetic daughter. The pair locks themselves in their home's safe room to avoid a group of home invaders, one of whom is Jared Leto.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 'Angels in the Outfield'
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 'Angels in the Outfield'
His gig as an alien in a teenager's body on Third Rock From the Sun is still all over syndication, and 10 Things I Hate About You has become a teen classic. But before any of that, Gordon-Levitt was a young boy rooting on the unlucky Angels and getting his prayers answered by a group of real angels led by Christopher Lloyd in this Disney flick. Among the ballplayers that he roots on are a fresh-faced Adrien Brody and Matthew McConaughey.
Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection
Katherine Heigl, 'My Father the Hero'
Katherine Heigl, 'My Father the Hero'
Playing the daughter of French acting legend Gerard Depardieu would have been a great opportunity for Heigl if not for one little thing: the script. The future Grey's Anatomy star is a teenage girl on vacation in the Bahamas who tries to make herself seem older and more interesting to a potential boyfriend by claiming that her father is really her lover. Twenty years later and there's still no way to write that sentence without it coming off as creepy.
Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection
Keri Russell, 'Honey, I Blew Up the Kid'
Keri Russell, 'Honey, I Blew Up the Kid'
There's been a lot of hype about the early days of former Mickey Mouse Club stars like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christiana Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling. Most people forget that Russell was also part of that group in her pre-Felicity days. While still very much in Disney mode, Russell played the object of Rick Moranis' son's affection in the sequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Even while being carried in the pocket of a giant toddler her hair still looked great.
Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection
Jessica Alba, 'Never Been Kissed'
Jessica Alba, 'Never Been Kissed'
Before she was TV's Dark Angel or a Sin City stripper, Alba was one of the popular girls at the high school that Drew Barrymore's reporter goes undercover at in the Garry Marshall comedy. Her most memorable scene is when she shows up to the school's costume prom with two of her friends, each dressed as a different Barbie. There's an added bonus if you go back and watch now, since one of the popular boys is a pre-Freaks and Geeks James Franco.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
Scarlett Johansson, 'North'
Scarlett Johansson, 'North'
Rob Reiner's adaption of Alan Zweibel's novel about a boy (Elijah Wood) who sues his parents and is given two months to try to find new ones is a chaotic mess. Having Seinfeld stars Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play the parents and Bruce Willis show up as an imaginary guy in a bunny suit doesn't help. Johansson was only seven when she appeared as the daughter of John Ritter, one of the prospective replacements.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Matt Damon, 'Mystic Pizza'
Matt Damon, 'Mystic Pizza'
The movie found new life after one of its stars, Julia Roberts, skyrocketed to fame in Pretty Woman. It also helped the careers of Lili Taylor and Vincent D'Onofrio, and set the character template that Conchata Ferrell would use in Two and a Half Men. And, there at the dinner table in the home of Roberts' rich beau is Damon as the younger brother. Only 18 at the time, Damon looks about the same as he would with his buddy Ben Affleck a few years later playing prep school jerks in School Ties in advance of the the pair becoming Hollywood's golden boys.
Samuel Goldwyn
Taylor Lautner, 'Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl'
Taylor Lautner, 'Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl'
Before there was a Team Jacob, there was Team Sharkboy. The future Twilight star cut his teeth playing the imagined superhero friend of a young boy in Robert Rodriguez's CGI-laden fantasy. The movie might not have had the same broad-based appeal as Rodriguez's other children's movies — the highly-successful Spy Kids franchise — but how many actors can join Lautner in saying that they've played characters that were both part-wolf and part-shark?
Columbia Pictures
Zach Braff, 'Manhattan Murder Mystery'
Zach Braff, 'Manhattan Murder Mystery'
There are far worse ways to start an acting career than to play the son of comedy legends Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Coming a full eight years before Scrubs, the Wish I Was Here director doesn't get to do very much in the film. Still, it's a part in an Allen film, something that most actors like having on their resume. Plus, the film itself is one of Allen's funnier offerings from the second half of his storied career.
TriStar
Tobey Maguire, 'This Boy's Life'
Tobey Maguire, 'This Boy's Life'
Maguire's buddy Leonardo DiCaprio has frequently told the story that he was jealous of his friend getting the lead role in a Whoopi Goldberg produced TV movie called Hot Rod Brown, Class Clown. Three years later, however, it was Maguire playing a supporting role to DiCaprio in this film about a 1950s teenager terrorized by his step-father (Robert De Niro).
Warner Bros.

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