Words By S.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

On Child Actors.

Filed under: Film,Television — S @ 5:05 pm

I am of the multitude of moviegoers that is prone to announcing, “ugh, I hate child actors” with the utmost disgust.

Normally, I avoid films in which there would be an abundance of child actor presence, however months ago, I saw the [Swedish] film “Let The Right One In” and it made me ever so slightly change my tune (but, not by a whole lot).

The film stars two 12 year old Swedish children, one who plays a vampire.   They were both very good actors – actually, all of the children in the film were very good actors.  And afterwards, my friends and I commented on how normal and typical “every day” everything in the movie seemed.

That, in addition some interviews and articles I have been reading, got me to thinking…  Perhaps I don’t “hate child actors,” for the ones I’ve seen in a number of films (including ones that I grew up watching) aren’t all bad (after all, one of my favorites was always the French short film ‘The Red Balloon”).  There is such a difference between child actors in British and American film, and other forms of cinema that perhaps I just hate the child actors that I see every day.

To me, there’s nothing more irritating and creepy than the Dakota Fannings and Haley Joel Osments of the world with their cherub faces, and well-before-their-time intellect.  It’s almost as if they’re pod people, or even robots, sent down to suck the lives out of the normal every day people of the world, merely by appearing on film.

And let’s not get started on the Olsen twins…

At the same time that I am freaked out by them, I also have no choice but to feel pity for them.  It’s almost like pageant children who are picked out because they’re “cute” and shoved into show business by money/fame hungry parents who may or may not have their best interest at hand (Jean Benet Ramsay, anyone?).

In addition, when the child actors grow up, most of the time, they’re never as “cute” as they were when they were 6 or 7, instead looking like some bizarre, older and caricatured version of their younger selves;  and they end up royally fucked up, coked out, and corrupted.

How and why does this happen?

On the rare occasion that it doesn’t happen, how is it that they escaped the “child actor curse”?

How often is it that we see former child actors parodying themselves on television sitcoms or cameoing their past characters in slapstick films?

Sometimes, though, I do enjoy child actors.  I like it when I see an adolescent that acts and seems like a normal human being.  I like it when they look normal, as well – like all the children in ‘Let The Right One In’.   To me, it  seems like they’re the types who are well-adjusted, and will grow up to be normal adults.  Perhaps even not getting stuck parodying themselves for the rest of their existence.

I guess it’s more that I pity child actors…


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