The fates of cinema’s most beloved child actors — from little Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) to little Gertie in E.T. (Drew Barrymore) to little Claudia in Interview With the Vampire (Kirsten Dunst) are well-known. But what about child actors who couldn’t even walk, talk, and, in some cases, even sit up when they made their film debuts?
Though newborns, babies, and toddlers certainly play crucial (and sometimes controversial) roles in cinema, they aren’t generally as widely credited as their older co-stars; it is, after all, hard to establish a reputation for greatness when all you can do is smile, coo, cry, and toddle around the set (not that those characteristics haven’t left an endearing legacy of their own: it’s all in a baby’s day’s work to be adorable).
However, filmic babies do eventually evolve into into adults — and some of them even stay in show business and become wildly successful. Read on to find out what happened when some of America’s most iconic onscreen tots grew up.
The baby who was kidnapped by David Bowie in Labyrinth
Everyone loves baby Toby from 1986’s Labyrinth. Most fans, however, probably don’t know that baby Toby is Toby Froud, the son of legendary fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, who’s perhaps best known for his work on the internationally best-selling Faeries. The younger Froud is now a puppeteer living in Portland, Oregon.
In 2004, Froud described what he could remember of his stint as Baby Toby for PDX Monthly. "I have vivid memories of goblins’ faces and strange creatures and chaos around me that could just be from growing up in the house I lived in, or from seeing the film as many times as I have, or it could be remembering the puppets that were in front of me," he said. "I’m not sure."
When asked if he’d ever re-encountered the late, great David Bowie, with whom he co-starred, as an adult, Froud replied, "I wish I had. I grew up a huge fan of his music — and knowing I sat in his lap! I believe the first time I met him, I peed on him, but I haven’t met him since."
The baby who was kidnapped by a cop and an ex-con in Raising Arizona
At the age of one, T.J. Kuhn debuted as Nathan Jr. in the Coen brothers’ cult classic Raising Arizona, the story of an ex-con (Nicolas Cage) and his police officer wife (Holly Hunter) who meet when the latter is taking mugshots of the former. Desperate for a baby, they kidnap one of the quintuplet children of a wealthy Arizona businessman, and hilarity (and tenderness) ensue.
In 2014, baby Nathan, now a real estate agent in Phoenix, reminisced about his early stardom on The Today Show, admitting that seeing himself on the big screen as a babe was both fun and "surreal" adding, "I don’t think I can do this [acting] every day."
Kuhn’s parents, who were interviewed along with him, recalled that their son was very at ease. "During the auditions … he just didn’t care. They passed him all around, and he’d go to anybody."
The baby who died and crawled across a ceiling in Trainspotting
Few onscreen babies are as hauntingly heartbreaking and unforgettable as baby Dawn of Trainspotting, who dies of neglect at the hands of her junkie parents and is later seen crawling across the ceiling in a surreal, withdrawal-induced hallucination.
Fortunately, however, the fates of the real-life babies who played Dawn was far happier. Behind-the-scenes photos from the 1996 Trainspotting set (via Daily Record) show a cheerful cast holding smiling, healthy tots. In 2017, Trainspotting director Danny Boyle tracked down the twins who had portrayed Dawn — Lauren and Devon Lamb — who were then 22 years old.
As Lauren recalled for the Daily Record, "When we were growing up, mum let us watch some of the film but she didn’t let us watch any of the drug-related bits — only a few shots of us that were good bits, like us rolling over in the flat, and definitely not when baby Dawn died. I thought the film was great and I remember going to school and telling all the other kids they should watch it. I can only imagine what their parents must have thought."
Car-hoisting baby Clark Kent in 1978’s Superman
Fans of 1978’s Superman, starring Christopher Reeve, will remember adorable three-year-old Clark Kent being adopted by a kindly Midwestern couple who figure out that he’s most certainly not of this world after he lifts their car off the ground. That Herculean tot was played by Canadian actor Aaron Smolinski, who’s still in the business.
"I was three, and it’s interesting: I have vivid memories of being on set," Smolinski, who recalled being on location for just over a week, told Alberta Primetime television. He added that he specifically remembered "all the behind the scenes stuff, the actual lifting of the car; telling my dad that my arms were tired from holding them up for so long."
Since then, Smolinski has worked pretty much steadily in the industry, appearing in shows such as The Outer Limits, JAG, and the miniseries Lonesome Dove.
Baby Oscar, who was snatched by supernatural entities in Ghostbusters II
Who could forget baby Oscar of Ghostbusters II — he of the haunted baby carriage; the tot who’s snatched by a whimsically malevolent supernatural entity as he toddles around the edges of the Gothic high towers of Manhattan? In fact, little Oscar was played by not one baby, but two: twins Will and Hank Deutschendorf, who also happen to be nephews of famed singer John Denver of "Rocky Mountain High" fame.
As it turned out, baby Oscar’s stunts didn’t end with Ghostbusters: In 2007, barely out of their teen years, the Deutschendorf twins opened a martial arts school in San Diego. "We hold a yearly Kick-a-Thon for the Liam’s Fund of Rady’s Children’s Hospital. We have also hosted a free 8-week women’s self defense seminar, as well as held self defense seminars for Girl Scout troops and high school sports teams," Will told 92127 Magazine.
Despite these good deeds and a promising future, however, things did unfortunately end in tragedy for Hank, who passed away at age 29 in 2017.
Baby Gage, who died and was reanimated in Pet Sematary
Poor baby Gage in Pet Sematary. He had a fate as tragic as Baby Dawn’s in Trainspotting, and had to suffer the indignities of being reanimated into a homicidal zombie tot, to boot. Yet things turned out much better for Miko Hughes, the toddler who played him.
Since his 1989 breakout role as Gage, Hughes has been all over the movie map, starring in everything from Wes Craven’s New Nightmare to Apollo 13. You may also recognize him as Michelle Tanner’s friend Aaron from Full House.
In 2016, the then 30-year-old Hughes gave an interview to Scream Horror Mag, in which he recalled his time on the set of Pet Sematary with vagueness as well as insight. "I don’t think I knew I was acting for Pet Sematary; I was just playing pretend," he remembered. "I was practically a baby. I think a lot of it I owe to the director, and the cast and crew, for cultivating that character out of me at such a young age. I was a bit older before I started really having conscious thought about characters and development."
Baby Mary from Three Men and a Baby
In 1987’s Three Men and a Baby, little Mary stole the hearts of three freewheeling NYC bachelor-artists. A variation on the proverbial tale of a baby that’s left on a doorstep with a note attached, Three Men went on to become a major box office success.
In 2014, twins Lisa Blair and Michelle Blair Ontonovich, who played the tot, were interviewed by The Today Show. The then 27-year-old sisters explained that their stint as Mary was their first and only acting job — and something of an unexpectedly drawn out one, at that. As their mother remembered, "I was just bored at home on [maternity] leave, and I heard about this casting call. I thought it was just for a scene in a movie."
Michelle, now an insurance agent, recalled, "At first, when we were little, it wasn’t a big deal to us at all. I think it was when we became teenagers, people started coming up to us a lot more."
Both twins now reside in Waterloo, Canada.
Baby Sunny Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
In 2004, twins Kara and Shelby Hoffman charmed audiences in the Gothic fantasy comedy thriller Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events — the memorable adaptation of the novel sequence of the same name, which has since been adapted into a hit Netflix series.
Starring alongside the likes of Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Emily Browning, and Jim Carrey, the twins got to walk around in fabulous costumes, sporting razor sharp teeth (which many critics enthusiastically remarked upon), talking animatedly in subtitled baby-speak (a step up from the cheesiness of Look Who’s Talking), and cavorting with computer-generated vipers the way some babies cavort with kittens.
Since then, the twins (who turn 16 in August 2018) have acquired only one new acting credit: Kara and Shelby both appeared as themselves on the Kroll Show. The girls also appear to have maintained a joint Twitter account at one point, but other than that, they have been out of the limelight.
Precocious baby Sylvester in Baby Geniuses
You might recognize triplets Gerry, Myles, and Leo Fitzgerald as star hockey players from Bemidji State University in Minnesota, but you most likely know them as Sylvester from 1999’s Baby Geniuses.
In 2017, the New York Times ran a profile piece on the Fitzgerald brothers, who revealed that they recalled "almost nothing" about their time as actors, which ended shortly after the second Geniuses film did.
As Myles describes it, the boys had the option of continuing in cinema, but ultimately decided not to. "Our parents asked us if we wanted to keep trying the acting thing or play hockey," he explained. "Obviously, we all wanted to play hockey. We were so young at the time to make a decision, but hockey is where we wanted to focus."
That decision was clearly the right one. The boys, whose careers are steadily on the rise, have been called "three fireballs on the ice at once, kind of like three Tasmanian devils," by their coach.
Baby Michael in The Godfather was played by a girl… and not just any girl
Ever wonder who played baby Michael in 1972’s The Godfather? The same person who’s since directed now-iconic films like 2003’s Lost in Translation, 1999’s The Virgin Suicides, 2006’s Marie Antoinette, and, most recently, 2017’s The Beguiled. That’s right: baby Michael is actually award-winning director Sofia Coppola, daughter of award-winning Godfather and Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola.
Considering that she was an infant for the scene, Coppola can hardly be expected to remember anything about her film debut. But, truth be told, it wasn’t her actual film debut — that occurred before The Godfather, the moment she was born. "Yes, my dad videotaped my birth," she told The Talks in 2011.
"Today a lot of people are doing that but I think back then it was a little more unusual," she shared. "When the doctor told them that I was a girl my dad dropped the camera because he was so surprised. Film is our family business."