The child stars of Christmas films: then and now

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  • Christmas is just the most wonderful time of year for so many reasons, but we have to admit that festive films is definitely high on the list...

    After all, what would Christmas be without a marathon sofa-session and watching all of those festive favourites withh our favourite Christmas film stars? It’s the only appropriate accompaniment to a tummy full of turkey and Quality Street chocolates.

    Here in the GoodtoKnow office we are big fans of festive films and we love looking back at all the child stars who’ve graced our TV throughout the holiday season – we can’t believe how much they’ve all changed!

    From Elf to It’s A Wonderful Life, we’ve selected some of our favourites. But be warned you might not recognise some of them…

    Olivia Olson – Love Actually

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    Joanna captured the affections of the nation with her rendition of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ in Richard Curtis’ 2003 film Love Actually. The young American songstress is now 27 years old.

    Thomas Brodie-Sangster – Love Actually

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    Who could forget Sam’s hilariously deep thoughts on the struggles of young love in Love Actually? His elfin features lit up the screen and melted our hearts. The child star is all grown up now, and the 29 year old will be giving us the chance to watch him again in the Richard Curtis favourite, as he’s pictured here filming the charity sequel Red Nose Day Actually!

    Daniel Tay – Elf

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    Daniel Tay had a sharp rise to fame at the age of 12 playing Buddy’s younger brother Michael in Elf. Eating a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough, putting cookies in the VCR and singing loud for all to hear alongside global star Will Ferrell. Daniel then went on to play the title role in the animated film Doogal – the dog from the Magic Roundabout. He is now 27.

    Lulu Popplewell – Love Actually

    Lulu played Daisy, the daughter of Emma Thompson’s and Alan Rickman’s characters in one of the most loved Brit Christmas films ever. She was just 12 when she starred in the hilarious Nativity play as a lobster (well, First Lobster, actually, as we all now know that there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus). She’s also the sister of Anna Popplewell, who played Susan in the hit Narnia fims.

    At 26, Lulu opened up to Digital Spy about her role: ‘Every Christmas, people still bring Love Actually up to me and I get a bit awkward because I was such a small part in it. It’s become a joke. I clearly peaked age 11 and there aren’t many crustacean-based acting roles going these days – it’s a niche skill,’ she said. ‘I’m looking to get back into acting – specifically comedy acting – but acting is tougher to break into than stand-up in a way.’

    Macaulay Culkin – Home Alone

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    Macaulay Culkin has to be the most easily recognisable child star in the history of Christmas films. He played Kevin McCallister who gets left Home Alone for the holidays when his parents forget him. Macaulay is now 39-years-old and has featured in many television and film projects including Will & Grace and Saturday Night Live. He also has his own band – The Pizza Underground and in May 2014, he stormed off stage at Rock City during his kazoo solo after fans began booing and throwing pints of beer at the band.

    Mara Wilson – Miracle on 34th Street

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    Mara Wilson had an extensive career as a child actor, most notably in Miracle on 34th Street, Mrs Doubtfire, alongside Robin Williams, and as the lead role in Matilda. She also auditioned for the 1998 film Parent Trap, but lost the role to Lindsey Lohan. She now leads her life away from the spotlight with few pictures of her published recently and doesn’t have a public Instagram or Facebook account like most celebs. She currently writes children’s books for guin publishers.

    Karolyn Grimes – It’s a Wonderful Life

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    Karolyn Grimes is in the most iconic film on our list. She played the adorable Zuzu Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life in 1946. After suffering numerous deaths in her personal life – her first husband’s death in a hunting accident, her 18-year-old son’s suicide and her second husband’s death from cancer, she could not financially recover. She currently tours big-screen showings of It’s a Wonderful Life and has produced a cookbook and a limited line of Zuzu dolls.

    Taylor Momsen – The Grinch

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    Taylor Momsen played Cindy Lou Who in the adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2000. As a child star she also appeared in Spy Kids 2 and Hansel & Gretel. She later auditioned for the lead role in Disney’s Hannah Montana but the role was given to Miley Cyrus instead. Between 2007 and 2012 she played the character of Jenny Humphrey in the TV series Gossip Girl. Taylor now fronts a rock band – The Pretty Reckless – and is signed to IMG model agency.

    Eric Lloyd – The Santa Clause

    Eric is best known for his part as Charlie Calvin in The Santa Clause film trilogy and as “Little John” Warner in the NBC television series Jesse. His film credits include Batman & Robin, Dunston Checks In, The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars, and The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue. In 2015 he opened a production studio in Glendale, California.

    Ian Petrella – A Christmas Story

    Ian’s career may have started out in showbiz, playing the role of Randy Parker in A Christmas Story in 1983 but Ian now works a normal job in Ohio, as part of an animation and puppetry team. Ian did rekindle his love for Christmas cinema in 2010 when he served as a tour guide at the A Christmas Story house in Cleveland. It is the original house used for filming.

    Miffy Englefield – The Holiday

    Miffy – whose real name is Rebecca – played the adorable Sophie in The Holiday alongside Jude Law (her on-screen dad), Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Miffy was nicknamed by her parents on account of her messy hair! She was born in 1999, making her 20-years-old now. The Holiday was her only major film role to date, she now works at McDonalds and goes to school like any other normal teenage girl!

    Jake Lloyd – Jingle All The Way

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    Jake Lloyd had a phenomenal child-acting career after getting his big break in Jingle All The Way. He was then cast by George Lucas to play the young Anakin Skywalker in the 1999 film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He also played Mark Armstrong in Apollo 11. Jake continues to make appearances at sci-fi and comic-book festivals despite brushes with the law.

    On June 17, 2015, Lloyd was arrested for reckless driving, driving without a license, and resisting arrest.