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Year In Review: The child stars of then and now

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk
December 21, 2012
Christian Bale, right, and Steven Spielberg during the late '80s
Christian Bale, right, and Steven Spielberg during the late '80s

Over the past year, Yahoo! Movies had the chance to catch up with stars of yesteryear. Many were former child stars, some of whom now have children of their own -- like Fred Savage, Kim Fields and Candace Cameron. Some got their first gigs working for Steven Spielberg. We spotted one former "Growing Pains" star in the year's highest grossing film, while we also managed to ruffle the feathers of another former kid actor of big screen fame.

Click through to see all of who we are talking about and what they are up to today.

Thirty years after 'E.T.,' Henry Thomas, left, starred in 'The Last Ride' in 2012
Thirty years after 'E.T.,' Henry Thomas, left, starred in 'The Last Ride' in 2012

Recognize the guy on the left? It's Henry Thomas, who played Elliot in the Steven Spielberg classic "E.T." " It certainly wasn't something that I ever thought I'd be talking about 30 years from then," Thomas told Yahoo! Movies earlier this year about the anniversary of the iconic film. "It's funny because I think it's just now starting to hit me how hugely successful it was and what a big deal it was." Thomas, now 41, married, and the father of three, is still acting, recently portraying Hank Williams Sr. in "The Last Ride."

[Read our entire interview with Henry Thomas.]

Fred Savage (far left) and Peter Falk in 'The Princess Bride'
Fred Savage (far left) and Peter Falk in 'The Princess Bride'

Fred Savage, now a television director and producer, a husband, and a father of two, is as nice a guy as you'd hope he would be. We spoke with Savage, who is now 36 years old, about the 25th anniversary of "The Princess Bride," in which he appeared as child. "It's pretty incredible the life that this movie has taken on," Savage told Yahoo! Movies earlier this year.

[Read our entire interview with Fred Savage.]

Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure

The girl who once played D.J. Tanner on "Full House" has indeed grown into a gorgeous woman. But you may be surprised the extent to which Candace Cameron Bure (yes, she has tacked on her married name) has truly become an adult. Now 36 years old and the mother of three, her oldest, daughter Natasha, is three years older than Candace was when she first appeared on the popular family sitcom 25 years ago. She also recently starred in "The Heart of Christmas." Yes, she is still acting, but told Yahoo! Movies she chooses her roles carefully: "Over the years there are television shows that are on right now that I've been asked to do -- and just have turned down because I have some boundaries as to what I will and won't do with characters, even in just some moral choices that I don't necessarily want to push on every character."

[Read our entire interview with Candace Cameron.]

Kim Fields
Kim Fields

You may not have noticed Kim Fields' small role in "What To Expect When You're Expecting" earlier this year. She played a social worker who helps a couple in the adoption process.

The actress-director-producer, who enjoyed television sitcom fame in the '80s and '90s on hit shows "The Facts of Life" and "Living Single," doesn't seem to concerned. While Fields realizes her fans will always know her as Tootie and Regine, she told Yahoo! Movies it's important that "...they see me as Kim Fields (actress, director, poet, wife, mom), and that means a lot to me."

[Read our entire interview with Kim Fields.]

Ashley Johnson, center, in 'The Avengers'
Ashley Johnson, center, in 'The Avengers'

Remember the little curly-haired carrot top Chrissy on "Growing Pains"? Well, that's her in the above image, front and center, in a small but memorable role in the year's highest grossing film, "Marvel's The Avengers." Ashley Johnson, now 29 years old (she has since had a birthday since we first mentioned her brief appearance in the film) didn't feel like revisiting her past childhood stardom, but did tweet her appreciation when we took notice.

[Related: Former ‘Growing Pains’ child star has small-but-important ‘Avengers’ role]

Mara Wilson
Mara Wilson

Another former child star of the '90s took to Twitter when we wrote about her this year. But she wasn't all that jazzed we had done so. Mara Wilson -- who appeared in films such as "Matilda" (1996), "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993) and "Miracle on 34th Street" (1994) -- wrote a personal blog post to her fans, telling them she's not interested in a big screen comeback, revealing in a blog post: "Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: film acting is not very fun." After we wrote a story about it -- which became much more popular than we could have ever imagined -- Wilson, now 25, smart, and openly opinionated, tweeted at us, seemingly frustrated over the attention she was getting. (She also took us and other publications to task on her blog.) We tweeted back. And all seems to have ended well.

[Related: 'Matilda' child star: Film acting is not fun]

Christian Bale in 'Empire of the Sun'
Christian Bale in 'Empire of the Sun'

As "The Dark Knight Rises" started gaining momentum at the box office over the summer, we thought it fitting to take a look back at how Christian Bale first broke into the industry. We now know him as Batman and also as the actor who went to Aurora, Colorado, to pay his respects to the victims of the deadly July 20 mass movie theater shooting. But when Bale was just around 13-years-old, he was the star of the Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun."

[Related: Christian Bale’s first major film role: ‘Empire of the Sun’]

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