Charlie Derry researches into the phenomenon that sees young stars turning to drugs, alcohol and violence through the early exposure to glamourized, celebrity lifestyles
We all know the stories of Lindsay Lohan, Charlotte Church and Britney Spears; it’s well known for a child stars career to lead to disaster. Many are Oscar winners by the age of 10 but addicts by the age of 20, or even worse, have died from an overdose like The Client’s Brad Renfro. Young stars find themselves with too much too soon, missing out on the normal routine of childhood, and are eventually left with nothing. (Or at least a bag of cocaine and a few arrests on their files.)
More recently, the stars of our TV screens are getting younger and younger. Shows such as Britain’s Got Talent allow all ages to perform on stage in front of a large audience ready to judge their every move. New film releases such as Kick Ass use characters as young as 13, whose role is to fight and shoot weapons whilst swearing inappropriately.
But it’s not as if you can simply say, “I told you so.” Charlotte Church began her career as a classical singer at the age of 11. She was an innocent girl, described as having the voice of an angel. But as soon as she turned 18, she was known as a “notorious party girl” instead. The press started to criticise her for her smoking, swearing and “binge-drinking shame” as alcohol and cigarettes temporarily ruined her voice. Who could have expected that change?
Lindsay Lohan became famous with her role in the remake of the teen classic, The Parent Trap, also aged 11, but her career was sadly interrupted in 2007 when she turned 20. Lindsay admitted herself to rehab, was sent to rehab three times, arrested for driving under the influence twice and was found possessing cocaine on numerous occasions. Her career never picked up after this disastrous year, with many companies believing that she would be too much of a liability. It has, however, recently been reported on TMZ.com that Lindsay was offered $1 million to star on Celebrity Rehab. But she refused, commenting that she doesn’t have a problem anymore. Is this as good as it will get for Lindsay?
Chloe Grace Moretz, aged 13, is one of the most recent child stars in film. Some may recognize her voice as Darby from the pre-school series of My Friends Tigger and Pooh. But to most, Chloe will be known as the ass-kicking Hit-Girl from the new film, Kick Ass, whose role is to kill every person she comes into contact with. Her swearing becomes profound throughout the film, and she even says the dreaded C-word. Although she is supposedly a character still in primary school, this has not been picked up by the press, and I can’t help but think there’s something morally wrong with that.
One of Chloe’s first roles in film was for the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror; a horror film based on the true story of a family moving into a haunted house. Her character sees ghosts and disfigured bodies, something even I had to hide behind a pillow for. Chloe was aged eight; she wasn’t even old enough to attend the premiere of it.
In a much similar role to Hit-Girl, Chloe played the younger sister in the romantic comedy, 500 Days of Summer. It may have been before her killing spree days were in the making, but this is where her ‘adult’ role started to take place. Chloe’s character was the shoulder to cry on for her brother who had just broken up with his girlfriend. Her advice was to, “Stop being a p****” and offered him vodka in times of need.
Experienced in ‘play’ fighting with knives and guns, and her language as an accepted part of her character, Chloe is already ahead of her childhood days. Maybe her career will just develop into one as action-filled as Angelina Jolie’s. But we can only hope that she makes one of the few exceptions, and that she isn’t featured on a ‘Child stars gone bad’ list in the next ten years.