12 surprising jobs that former child stars do today

Left: Peter Ostrum  as Charlie Bucket in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." Right: Ostrum today as a large animal veterinarian.
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At 14 years old, Ariana Richards played Lex Murphy in the 1993 sci-fi blockbuster "Jurassic Park."

Ariana Richards in a scene from Jurassic Park.
Ariana Richards in "Jurassic Park."Universal

Richards played Lex, one of the grandchildren of Jurassic Park's creator John Hammond. Even though it was her first big role, she had started acting six years prior, in a 1987 episode of "The Golden Girls."

After that, she appeared in multiple made-for-TV movies and made a cameo appearance in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

Richards shifted her focus to painting, and now she runs her own gallery.

Actress Ariana Richards in 2018.
Ariana Richards in 2018.David Livingston/Getty Images

Richards graduated from Skidmore College in 2001 with a degree in fine art and drama and sells a variety of paintings including portraits, landscapes, and still life.

Richards made a brief return to TV in 2013, with a role in "Battledogs," but it was just a one-time thing. Before that, she'd last appeared in the direct-to-video movie "Tremors 3: Back to Perfection" in 2001.

Jeff Cohen played the clumsy Chunk in 1985's "The Goonies."

Actor Jeff Cohen as Chunk in "The Goonies."
Jeff Cohen as Chunk in "The Goonies."Warner Bros. Pictures

The accident-prone member of "The Goonies" gang originated the "Truffle Shuffle."

He stayed in the industry as an entertainment lawyer.

Former child actor Jeff Cohen speaks on a panel.
Jeff Cohen in 2013.Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

He attended Berkeley and earned his law degree from UCLA, then cofounded the entertainment law firm Cohen Gardner in 2002.

Ross Bagley worked with Will Smith on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in the '90s.

ross bagley
Ross Bagley in 1994.Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

He also appeared in "Independence Day" and played Buckwheat in "The Little Rascals."

Bagley has continued to act occasionally, while also working as a realtor and DJ.

Former child actor Ross Bagley poses for a photo.
Ross Bagley in 2020.Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage/Getty Images

Bagley appeared in "Dead Ringer" and "Gnome Alone" — "Dead Ringer" was his most recent movie, in 2015.

As a DJ, he works under the name DJ Ro$$y B. He's also a realtor based in Los Angeles, according to his Instagram bio.

Lisa Jakub played Lydia in 1993 comedy "Mrs. Doubtfire," as well as Alicia in the 1996 disaster epic "Independence Day."

Actress Lisa Jakub in a still from "The Beautician and the Beast."
Lisa Jakub in "The Beautician and the Beast."Paramount Pictures

Jakub starred alongside fellow child star Mara Wilson in "Mrs. Doubtfire" when she was 15. Her first role, though, was in 1985 drama "Eleni," when she was only 7.

She also appeared in the disaster movie "Independence Day" and the rom-com "The Beautician and the Beast."

Jakub retired from acting at age 22 and became an author and yoga instructor.

Actress Lisa Jakub in 2021.
Lisa Jakub in 2021.Bobby Bank/Getty Images

Jakub last acted in "Double Frame" in 2000.

She went on to earn a degree in sociology from the University of Virginia and became a yoga instructor, creating classes specifically for veterans and others who experience anxiety.

She has also written two books: a memoir, "You Look Like That Girl," in 2015, and a book detailing her struggles with anxiety, "Not Just Me: Anxiety, Depression, and Learning to Embrace Your Weird," in 2017.

Danny Lloyd played the supernaturally gifted Danny Torrance in 1980 horror classic "The Shining."

the shining danny
Danny Lloyd in "The Shining."Warner Bros.

Danny was Lloyd's first role, and, it turns out, his second-to-last one. He only appeared in one more project, "Will: G. Gordon Liddy," a TV movie in 1982, before leaving acting behind at age 9.

Lloyd is now a biology professor at a community college in Kentucky.

danny lloyd doctor sleep
Danny Lloyd's cameo in "Doctor Sleep."Warner Bros.

He returned for a brief cameo in the 2019 "Shining" sequel, "Doctor Sleep," as a spectator at a baseball game.

"I don't do many interviews. But when I do, I try to make it clear, 'The Shining' was a good experience," Lloyd told The Guardian in 2017. "I look back on it fondly. What happened to me was I didn't really do much else after the film. So you kind of have to lay low and live a normal life."

Peter Ostrum's first and only role was as Charlie Bucket in 1971's "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory."

Charlie Bucket
Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory."Paramount Pictures

Ostrum was 12 years old when he was cast as Charlie. He was discovered by talent agents in Cleveland while acting in a play. After a relatively lengthy casting process, he was told to be in Munich, Germany, in the next 10 days to begin filming.

The studio was prepared to offer Ostrum a three-movie deal, but he declined.

Ostrum is a veterinarian in upstate New York working with large animals, mostly in the dairy industry.

Peter Ostrum in an interview for OWN. He wears a plaid shirt and overalls.
Peter Ostrum.OWN

Ostrum left acting after "Willy Wonka," and he decided to keep his role as Charlie private from almost everyone in his life, including his wife, whom he didn't tell until right before she was going to meet his mother.

"Acting was fine, but I wanted something more steady, and the key is to find something that you love doing, and that's what my profession has given to me," Ostrum told the American Veterinary Medical Association in an interview in 2000.

He continues to keep a low profile, but he does speak at public schools about his time on "Willy Wonka" and appeared on a 2014 episode of OWN's "Where Are They Now?"

Carrie Henn played Newt in the 1986 movie "Aliens."

A still of Carrie Henn in "Aliens."
Carrie Henn in "Aliens."20th Century Fox

Henn was 9 years old when she was cast as space orphan Newt in "Aliens," and she had no prior acting experience. She won a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor.

Henn left acting and became a teacher, instead.

Former child actor Carrie Henn in 2016.
Carrie Henn in 2016.John Sciulli/Getty Images for WIRED

She made an appearance at the Comic Con 30th Anniversary panel for "Aliens" in 2016, with fellow cast members Sigourney Weaver and Bill Paxton, but she has otherwise stayed out of the limelight.

"I would miss being in the classroom," Henn told People in 2001 of her decision to pursue teaching over acting. "I love being in there with the kids."

Ross Malinger portrayed 9-year-old Jonah Baldwin in the Nora Ephron classic "Sleepless in Seattle."

Ross Malinger as a child actor.
Ross Malinger in 1993.Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Malinger's other roles in the '90s included multi-episode appearances in "Good Advice," "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher," "The Simple Life," and "Party of Five." He also had a memorable "Seinfeld" appearance as a boy who had a crush on Elaine.

He also voiced TJ Detweiler on the '90s cartoon "Recess."

Malinger retired from acting in 2006, and he is now a car salesman.

ross malinger
Ross Malinger in a 2006 episode of "Without a Trace."CBS

According to his LinkedIn page, Malinger works as a sales manager at Keyes Automotive Group. His last onscreen role was a 2006 episode of "Without a Trace."

Kay Panabaker starred in Disney Channel original movies such as "Read It and Weep," as well as hit shows like "Summerland."

Actress Kay Panabaker in 2004.
Kay Panabaker in 2004.Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage/Getty Images

Panabaker often appeared alongside her sister Danielle in Disney Channel shows and movies. She also played Jenny Garrison in the 2009 remake of "Fame."

Panabaker now works as a zookeeper.

Kay Panabaker in 2011.
Kay Panabaker in 2011.Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Panabaker studied history at UCLA and completed an 18-month zoology program at Santa Fe College. She currently works as an animal keeper at Disney World.

Panabaker said she became disillusioned with acting after a producer told her she needed to lose weight because her character on a TV show was getting a love interest.

"Looking back, finding my true passion was worth all of the extra time," she told Naperville Magazine in 2016. "I work with some of the most incredible people, who inspire me to work harder and make a bigger difference in the world. That aspect was missing in my previous career and is something that feeds my soul in my current line of work. I love it when I leave work and have felt like I was able to inspire and make a difference, even if it was just one person that day. I don't earn a fraction of what I used to, and yet, I couldn't be happier."

Dylan Sprouse and his twin brother, Cole, got their first TV role before they even turned 1.

Cole and Dylan Sprouse in 1999.
Cole and Dylan Sprouse in 1999.Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Born in 1992, the twins' first show was "Grace Under Fire," in which they shared the role of Patrick Kelly from 1993 to 1998.

Cole Sprouse played Ross' son, Ben, on "Friends," and together the twins starred as Zack and Cody Martin on Disney Channel's "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody."

Dylan still acts, but he also owns a brewery where he produces mead.

Dylan Sprouse.
Dylan Sprouse in 2020.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Montblanc

Dylan returned to acting with 2017's indie "Carte Blanche" and has most recently starred in "The Curse of Turandot," "Tyger Tyger," and "After We Collided."

He opened the brewery All-Wise Meadery with two business partners in 2018.

Cole still acts, most famously in "Riverdale."

Jennifer Stone starred as Alex's best friend Harper on Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place."

Jennifer Stone in 2007.
Jennifer Stone in 2007.Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Before her Disney Channel debut, Stone had appeared in episodes of "House" and "Without a Trace." She went on to act in TV movies such as "High School Possession" and "Nasty Habits."

Stone is now an emergency-room nurse and advocate for people with type 1 diabetes.

Jennifer Stone in 2018.
Jennifer Stone in 2018.Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for Scale Management

Stone works in the emergency room at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, and has testified about her experience with type 1 diabetes before the US Senate Special Committee On Aging.

She told Deadline in 2020 that her character work as an actor has been helpful as a medical professional.

"In nursing, you come across so many different kinds of people ... To be able to say, 'I may not know what you're going through because I personally haven't gone through it, but I can only imagine and I'm here to listen. I'm here to empathize. I'm here with you for whatever you need me to do.' I don't know if I would have been able to do that as effectively without being an actor," she said.

Frankie Muniz is best known as Malcolm from the early-2000s sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle."

frankie munez
Frankie Muniz.Ron Davis/Getty Images

The role earned him both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

After a stint on "Dancing with the Stars," Muniz left Hollywood to run an olive-oil shop in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife. He's also a race-car driver.

Frankie Muniz and his girlfriend, Paige Price.
Frankie Muniz and his wife, Paige Price.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Muniz won third place on season 25 of "Dancing with the Stars" and hosted "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors."

He married longtime girlfriend Paige Price in February 2020. Together, they took over the premium olive-oil store Outrageous Olive Oils & Vinegars.

"We were looking for something to do together," Muniz told the Arizona Republic in 2019. "We had been customers at the store before and we just knew we liked the product and we wanted to do something together. Now, it's become our lives."

He is also pursuing a professional race-car driving career, according to his website, and he participated in the ARCA Menards Series pre-race practice earlier this year.

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