We’re used to putting our now-grown child stars in one of three categories: tragic failures, surprising success stories or tragic failures that managed to become surprising success stories. We mourn our Dana Platos and Corey Haims, celebrate the Jason Batemans and Neil Patrick Harrises and Danica McKellars, and are warily rooting for the Lindsay Lohans and Macaulay Culkins. But this week, we were reminded that like, you know, regular kids who grow up, there are many paths for child actors to take.
They can grow up to be Kirk Cameron, who’s long parlayed his Growing Pains fame into a platform for Christian evangelism, making Left Behind movies and all sorts public appearances to denounce the theory of evolution. Still, when he went on Piers Morgan last week and called homosexuality “unnatural, detrimental and ultimately destructive to foundations of civilization,” his co-stars, Tracey Gold and Alan Thicke, along with a whole lot of other celebs, reacted with outrage and disappointment in him. But really, whether we agree or not (not!), Cameron’s been rebelling against the Hollywood stereotype for ages now. Should we really be surprised?
And then there’s the story floating around (for which we cannot for the life of us find proper attribution) about Jake Lloyd, who played Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I when he was 8, and how he’ll never act again because he’s been bullied about the movie all his life. “Other children were really mean to me,” he told someone. And yeah, so were critics, ’cause that movie was terrible (but not his fault!). The news that he was scarred by the experience — while still cashing in on autograph-signing events — makes us sad. But we probably shouldn’t be surprised that he quit acting. Do you still do the things you enjoyed when you were 8? I mean, I would be a ballerina/professional unicorn illustrator/monkey-bar specialist if that were the case.
What’s my point? Well, we’ll always be fascinated by what becomes of the cute kids we once revered, but when they “disappoint” us, maybe we should just let them be and move on to the grownups who want and deserve our attention.
[Photos: Splash News Online, Getty Images, Warner Bros. TV, LucasFilms]