Everyone knows the pitfalls that can come with being a child actor, and Jonathan Lipnicki is speaking out about his personal struggle with achieving fame so young.
You probably remember Lipnicki best as “that adorable kid” from Jerry Maguire, where he more than held his own onscreen alongside Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger. The 1996 film was Jonathan’s acting debut, and at age 6 he was thrust into the crazy world of Hollywood. Now, the 26-year-old is opening up to TooFab about his battle with anxiety and depression, which began after he was bullied in middle school and high school over his early success.
“I’ve been in treatment for a very long time because I had a very serious problem with anxiety and depression,” he reveals. “I felt like I didn’t know how my life was going to end up. It was the lowest point of my life.”
On Monday, Lipnicki revealed on Instagram that he was “made fun of relentlessly” by classmates who taunted him and called him a “has-been.”
“I didn’t go a day without going home and being upset,” Lipnicki told TooFab. “I didn’t go a day without being called some form of gay slur, or a hateful slur pretty much every day of middle school.”
He continued, “I had my own group of friends, and people knew me, but it was a wide spectrum. It was kids who thought it was cool, but then you had kids who were really mean. It was something I definitely had to overcome. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me a little bit to this day, to a point where I do have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder where I want to prove the world wrong.”
It got so bad that Jonathan would have panic attacks every night before school.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do my entire life is make movies,” he explained. “To be made fun of for the thing that you love and be told you’re not going to be a success is hard. There were even teachers that called me lazy, but I later found out I had a learning disability called dysgraphia,” which causes problems with handwriting.
At one point Lipnicki’s anxiety was so severe that he says he gave himself eczema from constantly rubbing his hands together due to nervousness. He’s been in treatment for anxiety ever since. He also channeled his nervous energy into basketball.
“You have to turn it into something,” he stated. “Whether it’s arts, sports, or helping others. I think a lot of kids out there don’t have a direction to go with that pain, and they go inside of themselves and they suffer. It’s horrible.”
Online bullying is today’s main form of taunting, and it’s something Jonathan experiences every now and then.
“People write mean things online, but it never really got to me. It was the face-to-face, ‘You’re never going to make it. You’re worthless’ that got to me,’” he admitted. “I’ve heard stuff to this day where maybe I was tired at a coffee shop and news got back to me, ‘Oh, someone said you came into my friend’s coffee shop and you were a dick.’ It feels like you can’t have an off moment.”
Since sharing his story — which you can read in full below — on Instagram, Jonathan has gotten a lot of positive feedback. His former co-star, Tom Cruise, has also been a good resource for him during this journey.
“I wanted advice and also just wanted to see him again. He’s a really inspiring person to me. He still is,” Jonathan said of Cruise. “He took the time and was really gracious about it. He gave me a lot of time and a lot of great advice.”
Jonathan wants anyone who may be silently suffering to “find an outlet.”
“Whatever that is, just be the best you that you can be,” he concluded. “Just know that it does get better. I’ve never been in such a good place, because I’ve been striving so hard for what I love.”
After speaking with TooFab, Jonathan shared the following post.
In a follow-up post, he added, “I’m out to prove anyone that’s ever doubted me wrong. I love work and I love the art of it, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to go and say, ‘Look at me now. I’m happy. I’m creating my art. and you can’t stop me.”
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