Former child stars who now have surprising careers

Sam Ashurst
Toby Froud works on The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance (credit: Netflix)

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Toby Froud went from being the baby in Labyrinth to a puppet-maker on Netflix’s Dark Crystal series, as who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by Jim Henson puppets for their entire life?

And, after doing a bit of research, we’ve discovered there are several significantly more unlikely career paths that a whole bunch of child stars took up instead of acting.

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Jack Gleeson (Game Of Thrones) - Academic

Jack Gleeson then and now (credit: HBO)

Jack Gleeson is basically as far from the character he’s most known for, Game Of Thrones’ toxic Joffrey, as it’s possible to get (which is for the best, really), but despite that, he quickly decided that he was a rubbish actor and left the profession to dedicate his life to studying.

“Thankfully, I'm not a good enough actor to believe the things that my character believes," he told Vulture. "If you're a really good actor, you can completely believe what you're doing.”

Jack told The Irish Independent, "I'd like to be an academic, a philosophy lecturer if possible. I'd do a Masters in Ancient Hebrew maybe, and a Ph.D. hopefully, if I get in."

Gleeson was named a Trinity College scholar for his exceptional knowledge and understanding in his chosen subjects, philosophy and theology. So, yeah, definitely not Joffrey.

Read more: 'Dark Crystal' puppet designer was the baby in 'Labyrinth'

Jonathan Ke Quan (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) - Stunt coordinator

Jonathan Ke Quan then and now (credit: Paramount)

Jonathan Ke Quan, aka Short Round in Temple Of Doom was thrown around quite a lot during his adventures with Indiana Jones. As it turns out, doing crazy mine cart stunts can be quite addictive.

Ke Quan now works full time as a stunt choreographer, having studied Taekwondo under Philip Tan on the set of Temple of Doom. He took his talents onto movies like X-Men and The One, assisting legendary Hong Kong fight choreographer Corey Yuen.

Ariana Richards (Jurassic Park) – Artist

Ariana Richards then and now (credit: Universal)

Ariana Richards basically never needed to act again after appearing in Jurassic Park, as her eternal place in Hollywood history was instantly assured by her (brilliant) performance in the iconic film.

She carried on acting for a few more years, retiring in 2001 (returning for a TV movie in 2013, before quitting again).

She now works as an artist, and if you head over to her website, you can see she’s still pretty proud of her role in Jurassic Park - a still from the movie gets a fairly prominent placement.

Jeff Cohen (The Goonies) – Lawyer

Jeff Cohen then and now (credit: Warner Brothers)

When Jeff Cohen made The Goonies, he formed a friendship with director Richard Donner that would change his life forever.

Donner opened doors for Cohen to work summer jobs in the business-focused side of the industry, and he swiftly started to move away from acting.

“I grew up loving The Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers, but suddenly I had a new crop of heroes,” Cohen said.

Cohen chose to pursue a legal career after discovering many of the most important people in the business side of Hollywood had law degrees. He now works as a successful entertainment lawyer.

Read more: 10 Child Movie Stars Who Went Off The Rails

Peter Ostrum (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) – Vet

Peter Ostrum then and now (credit: Paramount)

Head over to Peter Ostrum’s IMDB account and you’ll see that his most famous acting credit is also his only acting credit.

Yep, Charlie left Hollywood after he realised he had a strong affinity for horses, and trained to be a vet - going from hanging around a chocolate factory, to saving his equine pals from the glue factory.

Carrie Henn (Aliens) – Primary school teacher

Carrie Henn then and now (credit: 20th Century Fox)

Another child actor who contributed one memorable performance to cinema, before swiftly retiring, is Carrie Henn - otherwise (mostly, mostly) known as Newt from Aliens to film fans.

Henn now works as a primary school teacher, with classes that we can only assume involve lessons on how to survive an attack by an acid-blooded movie monster.

Read more: What happened to these Oscar-nominated child stars?

Mara Wilson (Matilda) – Writer

Mara Wilson then and now (credit: TriStar Pictures)

When Matilda’s Mara Wilson started to grow up, she noticed an uncomfortable trend in Hollywood. “Something didn't make sense,' she said, after she saw her auditions dry up. 'At least until I was called for a role in a pilot. I would be auditioning for the "fat girl."

“I wanted to ask why they hadn't called me in for one of the other characters, Becca. Then I saw on a shelf a head shot of the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Right by her name, there was a Post-it note marked ‘Called back for Becca!’”

Uncomfortable with being judged for her looks, Wilson left acting behind the focus on her writing - and is now a successful author.

Lee McDonald (Grange Hill) - Locksmith

Lee McDonald then and now (credit: BBC)

In 2000 Grange Hill’s Lee McDonald (Zammo) had a major career change - he bought a locksmith business in Surrey. 19 years later, he still owns it. But he didn’t leave his character completely behind when creating the business.

“I went round local estate agents,” McDonald said, “and they would go: ‘Zammo!’ A lot of the work now I’ve got is from it.” Even now, on the website, it says: “Just say no to the rest!”

He recently returned to acting with a role in EastEnders.