Making it as a child actor is next to impossible. Having very little life experience, you need charisma, the innate ability to act convincingly, and the emotional maturity to deal with fame and success. While most child actors burnout or simply decide they’d rather live a normal life once they reach adulthood, others have maintained a solid career and are now worth tens of millions. Here are 8 such success stories.
1. Elijah Wood
Net worth: $30 million
From the moment Wood made a brief cameo in Paula Abdul’s “Forever Your Girl” video at the age of 7, everybody was thinking, “He will be a Hobbit someday.” And everybody was so right! Although he’s best known for playing Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he has more than a 100 movies under his belt during his 30-year acting career, and plenty of money as a result.
2. Frankie Muniz
Net worth: $40 million
Here’s a useful tip: if you want to retire from acting at the age of 19, just land the titular role in a TV sitcom and hire an agent who’s good at negotiating contracts. After 7 seasons of Malcolm in the Middle, Muniz was set for life. This gave him the opportunity to expand his horizons and dabble in competitive auto racing. Unfortunately, in 2017 he got into an accident on the race track, breaking his back in the process. But he went on to perform on Dancing in the Stars shortly thereafter and even finished in 3rd place, which means he clearly has the healing abilities of Wolverine.
3. Brooke Shields
Net worth: $40 million
Although Shields isn’t a huge megastar these days, when she was a pretty big deal in her teenage years, commanding $300,000 for 1980’s Blue Lagoon, which is nearly $1 million in today’s money, and $500,000 per role thereafter. She was married to tennis star Andre Agassi for a while, and delivered a eulogy at Michael Jackson’s funeral where she insisted they had a close friendship, notwithstanding the fact that it had been almost 20 years since she had last seen him.
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4. Natalie Portman
Net Worth: $60 million
When she was 11, Portman turned down a modeling contract offer from Revlon in order to concentrate on acting. This decision has certainly paid off. The Oscar-winning actress has appeared in a whole bunch of critically-acclaimed films, along with a few crappy movies — the nonsensical Star Wars Prequel Trilogy makes my eyes rain — that were nonetheless huge box office hits. She’s still an A-list actress, but it’s only a matter of time before they start sticking her into roles where she’s playing the mother of an actor who in real life is only a couple of years younger than her because Hollywood is pretty much a terrible place for any woman over 40.
5. Kristen Stewart
Net worth: $70 million
You know what’s a really good career choice: playing a girl who’s in love with a vampire. It certainly worked for Stewart, who earned $34 million in just 2012 alone thanks to the success of the Twilight movies. These days she prefers to focus on indie films rather than big blockbusters with robots and exploding skyscrapers. But with all the money she’s pocketed, she would need any of that anyway.
6. Emma Watson
Net Worth: $80 million
Prior to winning the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, Watson had never acted professionally. But her confidence is what sealed the deal. She made more than enough money to spend the rest of her life in luxury — she was the highest-paid female actress in 2010 at the age of 20 — but she remains driven. She took a break to attend college at Brown University (Ivy League, which is cool. But it’s still Brown, so yeah), but remains a mainstay in Hollywood. Watson still commands a lot of money as an actress. In 2017 alone, she made $14 million.
7. Leonardo DiCaprio
Net worth: $260 million
DiCaprio has come a long way since he was hired to play the homeless kid in an attempt to boost Growing Pains’ stagnant ratings. Although he played lead roles in The Basketball Diaries and Romeo & Juliet, his huge break came in Titanic, a movie that in hindsight is super overrated, but whatever. It allowed DiCaprio to earn 8 figures ever since, and today he’s worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars.
8. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Net worth: $500 million
The Olsen twins got their start in acting when they were six months old, which means they literally have no memory of not being famous. After 8 seasons of Full House, they could have faded off into obscurity, but they had other ideas. At the age of 6, they became the youngest producers in Hollywood history when they launched Dualstar Entertainment. They starred in a series of wildly successful direct-to-video movies and today have a combined worth of half a billion dollars. Although they are involved in projects related to fashion design, they got out of acting in 2004 at the ripe old age of 17.