May 26, 2004

Too old for Hollywood?

Will the characters in Harry Potter outgrow their roles? And if so, how will they mask their adult transformation (I sound like an episode of X-treme Makeover). Though the alterations to mask their growth probably won't be as obvious as Debra Messing's pregnancy on Will and Grace ("Let's give her a big purse"), I wonder how they will do it.

I have been amazed by the amount of child stars that have been welcomed into the American entertainment industry far beyond their tender years. Lindsay Lohan, Hillary Duff, Haley Joel Osment, and most notably, the Olsen twins.

Why the shift? When Shirley Temple outgrew the curls and tap dancing, she was thrown into child star obscurity. What is it that makes these child stars die, and others remain?

Is it the star as a person or actress that makes the difference (looks, charisma)? Or does it have to do with the films they do? Harry Potter, for example, has an incredible cult following. I have a theory. With some projects, such as The Lord of the Rings, the characters go on to other films and have great success. Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen have each had success after LOTR. Not all of their success can be attributed to the trilogy. Perhaps they do possess other skills besides looking broodingly into a camera.

But back to child stars--When talking film history, Shirley Temple was up for the role in The Wizard of Oz, but Judy Garland was cast.

Executives at Loewes, Inc., owner of MGM, were nervous about having Judy in the lead of such an expensive film, since her box office popularity was -- as yet -- not well established. So they insisted that Mayer test Shirley Temple for the part. Roger Edens, Judy's vocal coach and greatest supporter was sent to Twentieth Century-Fox to test Shirley's singing voice, and of course he reported back to MGM-boss Louis B. Mayer that there was no way Shirley could play the part.

I think in this case, America was introduced to Garland as an adolescent, rather than child, and her growth into adulthood wasn't a shock. For Temple, however, her Wizard of Oz knockoff: The Blue Bird, was her first failure; some say because she was growing up.

Instead it was Temple's biggest flop and the beginning of the end of her career. The bluebird, it seems, doesn't bring happiness to everyone.

I guess the biggest question I entertain (excuse the pun, of course) is: "Do we like the child star for their ability, looks, or age they embody?" I really do not know, but I have to say that the Olsen twins, Lindsay Lohan, and Hillary Duff cannot act. I think it has something to do with how easily puberty has been on their skin.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at May 26, 2004 10:58 AM

*insert old-lady voice here* Having been acquainted with modeling, pageantry, a little acting, and a little commercialism in my day, I must remind you, my dear, that there are crews of makeup artists, dermatologists, and nutritionists tailgating these teens to ensure their flawless looks. I'm certain they have breakouts, but enhanced images have done a lot for the modeling world, let me tell you.

*normal Karissa voice* Do you suppose that the child stars go on hiatus when they enter puberty or go into hiding at the first flag of a pimple? haha... just wondering, I suppose.

Posted by: Karissa at May 27, 2004 10:10 PM

I really wouldn't be surprised. I haven't heard from the country singing child sensation Billy Gilman since he entered puberty about two years ago. You really wonder...

Posted by: Amanda at May 27, 2004 11:18 PM

Hey Amanda,
I think the reason why we still like the child stars is because we feel close to them. We saw how they grew up and matured right before our own eyes. Some how, they've become "some sort of lovable relative" that you'd want to support no matter what they do.
I agree on what you said about the maturity (Adolescent being "easy" for them), it will take time for them to develop their craft. Just look at Drew Barrymore for example, she was a star in E.T., her adolescent years were hell ,considering the drinking and drug problems she'd picked up and all the other problems and obstacles she had to overcome, and now she's a mega-star and a very successful actress and businesswoman.
Anyway, speaking of child star's so called fame and success, have you ever seen the comedy "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star", David Spade played a former child star who is trying to find an acting job as an adult. You should watch it, it's a parody of the whole child star saga.

Posted by: Michael Diezmos at May 28, 2004 4:06 PM

I have to agree with you, especially about the Olsen twins. I never liked them. And to this day I still think they are dumb. Hillary Duff is ok, I think that she might be better off as a singer, although I can't help but wonder if she will end up just like Brittney Spears and all the others. Lindsay Lohan is ok.
I guess in a way I feel bad for them, since they all have to start somewhere. Oh well.

Posted by: Sue at June 1, 2004 2:30 PM
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