14-year-old Jamie Bell, a mere slip of a lad, from a small town in England landed a lead role in the exceptional, award winning Billy Elliot (2000), a film that has launched him into the same league as the likes of Hollywood greats Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe. As a trained Ballet dancer, Jamie Bell was picked from thousands to star as Billy Elliot (2000)'s namesake. From an ordinary life as a regular kid, Jamie has been propelled into a life of fame, fortune and award ceremonies, rubbing shoulders with megastars, but how will his new found notoriety affect him in the long run? Is this the beginning of yet another young starlet, projected into the showbiz world, subjected to a wild lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll?
Jamie promisingly insists his feet will stay firmly on the ground, appearing unfazed by the publicity he also claims he will return to school and carry on like a normal teenager - whether this will prevail, who knows?
Not all kid stars retain sensibility. In a world full of pressure and image-obsession, innocence may be jeopardized by the exposure to an adult world of partying and wild living. Porous like sponges, young minds soak up the world around them, their lack of general experience a hindrance, curiosity their accomplice: in a ‘cut throat' world this could be dangerous.
Original wild child Drew Barrymore (Charlie's Angels (2000)), born into a notorious showbiz family, plunged into the world of self-indulgence and repute. Following the success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), when Drew was six, she started drinking, by 11, she'd snorted enough cocaine to warrant a stay in rehab - all this, before her teenage years! Luckily for Drew, she immersed from her experience, to succeed as an actress.
But not everyone is as lucky as Barrymore, and sadly for some kids, the start of it all is so near the end of it all. So many great potentials succumb to life on the edge and fail in their chosen careers in Hollywood. But how much is Hollywood to blame for their downfall?
Charlie Sheen - Actor, Born 1965 - Acting debut - Execution of Private Slovik, The (1974), - Sheen has battled drug addictions for years
Robert Downey Jnr - Actor, Born 1960 - Acting debut Pound (1970) - Downey Jr, recently released from prison on drugs charge, still fighting his demons.
River Phoenix - Actor: Born 1970 - Died 1993 (drug-induced heart failure) - River's career started at the age of ten, one of his many success' was 'Stand By Me'. River, a strict vegetarian and animal rights activist was encouraged by his parents to pursue an acting career. Dazzled by the bright lights of stardom, he ended his life overdosed with drugs, at The Viper Room, a club in Los Angeles, owned by Johnny Depp - fellow movie star. To the point where he died, River was the personification of rock ‘n roll. When River Phoenix ceased to exist, he became a legend.
Judy Garland - Actress: Born 1922 - Died 1969 (accidental death by overdose of sleeping pills) - Started acting at the age of three, her major success was Wizard of Oz, The (1939). Feeling the pressure of constant film making, Judy was hooked on drugs by 1943, she gave birth to her first child, infamous Liza Minnelli, who followed in her mother's footsteps in the limelight. Liza was singing in Judy's shows by 1953, ten years later making her acting debut on stage in ‘Best Foot Forward' on Broadway. Like her mother, Liza has also suffered throughout her personal life, divorced three times and problems with drink and drugs.
For many children entering the world of fame and fortune, the pressure can prove too much. It's so tough growing up in this world, without having to contend with adults for attention, but in the process do these half-pint stars loose a valuable part of their childhood innocence?
"When I grow up, I wanna be a movie star, I wanna be dead famous"
Who wants to be 'dead famous' anyway?