10 Best Child Actors In Steven Spielberg Movies, Ranked By Success

With two Oscar wins, several box office blockbusters, and seven of his movies added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, Steven Spielberg is one of Hollywood's most prolific directors. He has accomplished so much across several genres, and in many cases, by working with children, bringing the best out of the young, inexperienced actors.

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A few of Spielberg's movies are focused on children, and the director not only has an eye for young talent, but he also has the skill of putting the actors in situations where they succeed more often than not. He also has a history of working with kids who grew up to become some true Hollywood superstars years later.

10 The Lost Boys: Hook (1991)

Hook is not one of Steven Spielberg's better movies, and it is often ranked low when it comes to his output over the years. However, one thing that the movie possesses is heart, and for those who were children when they watched it originally, the Lost Boys in Hook remain memorable and crowd favorites.

Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, and Dustin Hoffman were the box office stars, but the kids who played the Lost Boys — Dante Basco, Raushan Hammond, Isaiah Robinson, Jasen Fisher, James Madio, Thomas Tulak, Alex Zuckerhman, and Ahmad Stoner — stole almost every scene they were in. These kids didn't grow up to great success in Hollywood, but their performances in the movie were a highlight.

9 Ariana Richards: Jurassic Park (1993)

When people look back at Jurassic Park, they mostly think of the adult stars and with those actors returning for the next Jurassic World movie, that is still who most people will remember. However, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Sam Neill are all big-name actors, it was the two kids that gave Jurassic Park its focus.

The entire movie was about saving these kids' lives. Ariana Richards played older sister, Lex Murphy. Richards won a few awards for Jurassic Park but she moved away from acting as an adult, only appearing in two movies since 2000.

8 Jonathan Ke Quan: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984)

Jonathan Ke Quan looked like he was having the time of his life in his movie roles in the 1980s. However, looking back on the movies today, his roles seem difficult to defend based on the stereotypes they infer. His two biggest roles were as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data Wang in The Goonies.

In Temple of Doom, Quan provided comic relief, even if his characterization was problematic. The actor has since resurfaced in the Netflix family movie Finding 'Ohana.

7 Ruby Barnhill, The BFG

Ruby Barnhill was the leading star in the Steven Spielberg movie The BFG, based on the Roald Dahl story about an orphan girl who befriends a big friendly giant. In the film, Barnhill held her own, which was impressive since she was only 12 when she took the role and she played opposite a motion-capture character portrayed by Mark Rylance.

While not a giant box office success, The BFG was a critical success and Barnhill was a large reason for that. She has done little since the movie but works in local youth theater productions in England.

6 Joseph Mazzello: Jurassic Park (1993)

The younger sibling in Jurassic Park was Joseph Mazzello as Tim. He was only 10 when he appeared in the movie, but held his own among the adults in the cast. He was also the one that seemed a little less precocious of the two.

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Mazzello has had a decent career in movies over the years, with roles in The Social Network, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Bohemian Rhapsody, making him more successful than Richards.

5 Henry Thomas, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Henry Thomas is a case where his skills as a Spielberg child actor were so great that his lack of a major career after that never comes into consideration. Thomas was Elliott in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and he carried that movie on his young shoulders, convincingly working alongside an "alien."

RELATED: Steven Spielberg’s 10 Best Fantasy Movies, Ranked According To IMDb

Thomas won a Young Artist Award for his performance and picked up Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations as well. He has had small movie roles since then, most notably in the Stephen King movie Doctor Sleep and the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House, but his role as Elliott makes him an icon all by itself.

4 Haley Joel Osment: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Haley Joel Osment has a fascinating Hollywood story. In 1999, he received a lot of attention and became the next big thing after his work in the M. Night Shyamalan movie The Sixth Sense, earning an Oscar nomination at the age of 11. It looked like he would pick up some major roles in the future, but it never happened.

There were some minor fun parts in movies like Secondhand Lions, but the only thing Osment really shone in after Sixth Sense was Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence. He won a Saturn Award for the role of a young android child taught to love and carried this Spielberg movie to its strikingly dark ending.

3 Dakota Fanning: War Of The Worlds (2005)

Dakota Fanning co-starred in Steven Spielberg's sci-fi movie adaptation of War of the Worlds. The alien invasion movie mostly focused on Tom Cruise's father character trying to find and protect his kids, and the oldest son, played by Justin Chatwin. However, Fanning stood out and that was no surprise.

Fanning was already a success before appearing in Spielberg's movie at the age of 11. Four years before, she picked up a Screen Actors Guild nomination at the age of eight for I Am Sam. She also appeared in Uptown Girls, Cat in the Hat, and Man on Fire, all before joining the War of the Worlds cast. She has since become an acclaimed adult actress, most recently earning acclaim for her work in the TV series The Alienist.

2 Drew Barrymore: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

While Elliott was the main star of Steven Spielberg's alien movie, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, his sister in the movie went on to become the bigger star. This was a seven-year-old girl named Drew Barrymore, who played Gertie. The granddaughter of John Barrymore joined the movie as a young actor and held her own.

This was just the beginning, too. Barrymore went on to star as a child actress in Firestarter, based on the Stephen King novel, picking up a Saturn Award nomination at the age of nine. She carried that success into her adult career, where she is a five-time Emmy nominated actress, a Golden Globe winner for Grey Gardens, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1 Christian Bale: Empire Of The Sun (1987)

Christian Bale is the actor who not only had the greatest success as a child actor but carried that over to enjoy an extremely successful career as an adult movie star. Bale starred in the Steven Spielberg historical war movie Empire of the Sun in 1987 at the age of 13.

That was just the start for Christian Bale. He has since received four Oscar nominations, winning in 2011 for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Fighter. He has five Golden Globes Award nominations, winning twice for The Fighter and Vice. He has played in dramas, historical epics, and even took on the role of Batman in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Bale is easily the most successful Spielberg child actor in history.

NEXT: Steven Spielberg's 10 Best Summer Blockbusters, Ranked

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