Leonardo DiCaprio

Child Stars Who survived!

01 Dec 2010
By Ahlanlive.com

Broke! Homeless! Addicted! Fame at a young age can often end in disaster. But there are some stars who have defied the odds, made peace with the paps and survived, to tell their Hollywood tales. Ahlan! reveals the anti-Lindsays...

Who?Leonardo DiCaprio
Age: 36
Big break: The super-smooth Hollywood icon that Leo is lauded as these days, is a far cry from his troubled childhood. His parents separated when he was young – with his father described by sources as being “prominent on the LA hippy scene” – and young Leo was booted off the set of kid’s TV series, Romper Room, at the age of five, for being disruptive. However, his talent was finally recognised with his breakthrough role at the age of 19, playing a mentally handicapped brother to Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

Why’s He So Grounded?
“Out of the two main competitors for movie roles I had in the beginning, one hung himself and the other died of a heroin overdose,” the actor recently revealed. With Scorsese’s go-to guy insisting of the trappings of fame, “I was never into drugs at all... I have a drink and I smoke, that should be enough.”

And these days, Leo’s found his calling in his environmental work, alongside the likes of former Vice President Al Gore, with his charitable Foundation, recently donating Dhs3.6 million to a World Wildlife Fund project.

Who? Natalie Portman
Age: 29
Big break: Adamant that she wanted a career in acting “because I wanted to meet Patrick Swayze,” Natalie Portman was just 12 when she was spotted stuffing her face in a Long Island pizzeria by a modelling scout for Revlon. However, sticking with her dream, she insisted, “I don’t want to model, I want to act.” And a year later, she won critical acclaim as the precocious Mathilda in the 1994 movie, Léon.

Why’s She So Grounded?
Natalie was kept in check from the very beginning. Her parents, who were strict disciplinarians, ensured she concentrated on her studies before her acting. Even while working on Broadway, Nat still went to school, revealing, “We stopped for lunch from 2pm to 3pm, and during that time I was tutored in one of the classes that I missed at school: History, French, math or Japanese. Rehearsal would end by 7.30pm, and I got tutored again until 8.30pm. On weekends, I was also tutored.“

All of which saw the stunning star graduate from Harvard in 2003 with a degree in psychology – “I don’t care if [college] ruins my career,” she insisted. “I’d rather be smart than be a movie star.”

The actress also credits her co-stars also helped her mature, saying, “Acting made me grow up faster than I normally would because I’m around adults so much of the time. I’m friends with people much older than me. Ted Demme – [her director on Beautiful Girls] – told me that if anyone ever did anything bad to me, I have 20 big brothers who’d rush to my rescue.”

And never the subject of so much as a scandalous media murmur, Natalie even changed her surname to Portman in order to protect her family from harrassment.

Who? Christina Ricci
Age: 30
Big break: After making her movie debut at the age of six, alongside Cher and Winona Ryder in Mermaids, Christina became an overnight success as the deadpan Wednesday Addams in the movie version of the TV show, The Addams Family, with a slew of coming-of-age films following.

Why’s She So Grounded?

The star’s success is largely down to her maturity. “There are two sides of me,” she explains. “One is the professional side; when I`m working, I`m not a kid, and can`t be, otherwise no one would take me seriously. When I`m not working, then I`m normal.”

And it’s fair to say it was the fickle nature of La La Land that kept Christina’s feet on the ground – “Throughout my childhood, my favourite rejection was, ‘She looks too healthy.’ They wanted that really gaunt, runaway girl kind of look. I was like, ‘Mum, I thought you could never be too healthy.‘ She said, ‘Ignore them.’” Adding, “I’m not mainstream-looking. I’m not beautiful. The point of mainstream movies is to cast someone that everyone’s going to love. Because of my persona, I’m controversial. I don’t do anything in my real life to deserve that. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. But studio people don’t want to put me in their movies. They think I might offend.”

And vital to her success is her close-knit family, with the 30-year-old actress revealing, “I spend a lot of time with my mother, and because we’re together so much, we have to get along. We have to find ways to get to know each other. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff, you know, and I think we’re pretty close. That’s what’s really made me who I am today.” Dina Lohan take note.

Who? Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Age: 29
Big break: Most remember him as the awkward, hippy kid in 3rd Rock From The Sun, which he started on age 15. But Joesph’s career actually began at the age of six, with minor roles in a few TV movies. But recent roles in cute indie flick 500 Days Of Summer and the blockbuster Inception, has
seen the star enjoy a huge career resurgence.

Why’s He So Grounded?

Brought up within the industry meant that Joe was prepared for pretty much anything that Hollywood could throw at him.

But, despite now being one of Hollywood’s hottest properties, JGL’s kept his feet on the ground thanks to plenty of early career knockbacks – “I was going to a lot of auditions and getting rejected,” he says. “I was scared and depressed.”

And quitting movies for a while to focus on his education, Joe credits a stint at Columbia university with helping him to “grow as a person.”

Who? Ron Howard
Age: 56
Big break: You might remember him as the squeaky clean, red-headed Richie Cunningham, pal of The Fonz, in US TV show Happy Days, but Ron was actually treading the boards when he was six, starring as the freckled-faced Opie in The Andy Griffith Show.

Why’s He So Grounded?
You could say that it was the love of a good woman that kept Ron’s feet on the ground – he married his childhood sweetheart at the age of 19 and has been with her ever since. And it was around the same time that he quit acting for directing – ‘’I was disappointed by the scripts I was getting after American Graffiti. So, I made a decision to make movies instead,” he said.

Now, over 20 movies later (including Angels Demons and Frost/Nixon) and two Oscar wins, Ron attributes his success to his “rich family”. And his down-to-earth attitude is backed-up by his daughter, New Moon’s Bryce Dallas Howard, who insists, “The things that my parents stand for, which you can see in my dad’s work, are very pure and lovely.”