They were the children who gave you nightmares…so where are they now?

Children seem to portray horror better than anyone else and these iconic characters were portrayed brilliantly by talented actors. But where are they now?

                            They were the children who gave you where are they now?


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One can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic while reading up on what your favorite childhood stars are up to these days. You practically grew up with them, and subconsciously associate so many good times and memories with the TV shows, movies, and performances you so eagerly watched, eyes peeled to the TV, that they have intrinsically become a part of who you are; a part of you that you yearn to relive once again.

So, when you do catch up on their current endeavors and hardships, it’s as if you were attempting to live vicariously through these stars; as if their success somehow equated to yours. But sometimes, the memories of these stars are not so pleasant, especially if they proverbially made you soil yourself while simultaneously scaring the living daylights out your woefully unprepared soul. That is not to say those weren’t cherished times, but let’s be honest, jumping out of your skin is rarely a memorable experience.

Nonetheless, these stars arguably deserve a special mention, especially considering they managed to pull out impeccable and flawless performances at such a young age. But did their gruesome roles impact them as they grew up? Did the fame get to their head? How have they turned out as they grew into adulthood?

#10 Damien Thorn from The Omen (1976)


Harvey Stephens (IMDb)

Damien Thorn is the classic horror child: merciless, apathetic, and inhuman. Thorn is adopted by American diplomat Robert Thorn without the knowledge of his wife in a secret scheme fabricated by Father Spiletto after the couple loses their child due to complications at birth.

Despite Father Spiletto’s warnings that the family remain wary of Damien, Robert initially pays no heed but is later forced to acknowledge the supernatural as events spiral out of control: a large Rottweiler dog appears near the Thorn home; Damien’s nanny publicly hangs herself at his fifth birthday party; the five-year-old Damien violently resists entering a church; and zoo animals are terrified of the boy.

Damien was brilliantly portrayed by a then four-year-old Harvey Spencer Stephens, who was picked to play the part after he attacked the filmmaker during the audition, punching him in the testicles for good measure. ‘The Omen’ was the only major film role in Stephens’ acting career, though he did play a small role in the 1980 TV film ‘Gaugin the Savage’ and appear in a cameo as a reporter in the 2006 remake of ‘The Omen.’ Unfortunately, his most notable ‘achievement’ has been a suspended 12-month prison sentence handed down in 2007 for a road-rage attack on two cyclists. He was also ordered to undergo rehabilitation, perform 150 hours of unpaid work, and pay compensation of £1,000 to each victim.

#9 Eli from Let the Right One In


Lina Leandersson (IMDb)

Despite its obvious horror, in a sense, ‘Let the Right One In’ is actually a heartwarming tale of the friendship between a relentlessly bullied 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and his newfound best friend Eli, who also happens to be a bloodthirsty vampire. Oskar has violent tendencies. He spends his free time hatching elaborate schemes for revenge and collecting clippings from newspapers and magazines about gruesome murders. While initially unaware of Eli’s vampiric tendencies, he’s not taken aback by the revelation, realizing that they were perfect for one another: Oskar wanted to kill and Eli needed to kill.

A year-long casting process was held in Sweden to select the leads for the movie, at the end of which Lina Leandersson was chosen to play Eli. She had begun performing at an early age but it was undoubtedly ‘Let the Right One In’ that set her career rolling, bringing her widespread critical acclaim and several awards and nominations – including Most Promising Performer, Best Performer, and Best Performance By an Actress in a leading role. In the years 2011–2014, she was studying theatre at Kulturama, a school for performing arts in Stockholm, Sweden, turning out to film for Estonian director Kadri Kousaar’s movie ‘The Arbiter’ and Swedish director Sofia Norlin’s feature debut ‘Tenderness’ in 2012.

#8 Gage Creed from Pet Sematary


Miko Hughes (Getty Images)

Adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, ‘Pet Sematary’ takes you on a thrilling journey of hope and horror. The film centers around a supernaturally powered burial ground which can bring a loved one back to life, and when the Creed family loses their young son Gage to a road accident, there is only one solution. But the reincarnated Gage is different. He is angry, he is malicious, and he will stop at nothing in terrorizing his family out of their collective wits.

Director Mary Lambert handpicked a 3-year-old Miko Hughes to play the role of Gage Creed because she felt drawn to his natural talent, lobbying the studio to accept her choice despite their objections. He appeared in numerous films such as ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘Mercury Rising’ in the 90s, receiving an Emmy Award certificate for his participation as the voice of Tommy in the number-one-rated Fox animated television series ‘Life with Louie.’ After a break in his career, Hughes re-emerged as a teen in the science-fiction series ‘Roswell,’ later becoming a writer and director, creating the ‘See’ segment in ‘Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear,’ and starring in a 2016 film ‘William Froste.’

#7 Isaac Chroner from Children of the Corn


John Franklin (IMDb)

Another film based on the brilliant work of Stephen King, ‘Children of the Corn’ is set in a fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska, where all the adults have been murdered as human sacrifices by Isaac Chroner and his cult of bellicose children. When couple Vicky and Burt stumble into Gatlin while on their way to Seattle, they discover the conspicuous lack of adults and the palpable sense of dread that constantly hangs around the town. The film was so popular, that eight sequels have since been produced, gaining it a significant following.

John Franklin was chosen to play the role of 12-year-old Isaac Chroner, but surprisingly, he was 23-years-old at the time of casting. He suffers from a growth hormone deficiency, meaning his height topped out at just 150cm and gave him his signature child-like appearance. Over the years, he appeared in several films – ‘Highway to Heaven,’ ‘The Addams Family,’ ‘Tower of Terror, Star Trek: Voyager’ -but decided after 9/11 that teaching was his true calling. At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, Franklin announced to the students and staff of Golden Valley High School that he would be retiring from teaching to reprise his career as a writer and actor and is currently working on several projects, including a young adult novel.

#6 Carol Anne Freeling from Poltergeist (1982)


Heather O’Rourke (IMDb)

It’s a testament to its quiet brilliance that the concept and format of ‘Poltergeist’ is one that has been adapted countless times over the years, but never to the same effect. The story is set in a California suburb and focuses on a family whose home is haunted by malevolent ghosts that abduct the young daughter, Carol Anne. Soon, things begin to go awry. A drinking glass of milk spontaneously breaks, silverware bends and furniture moves of its own accord, and soon, the supernatural phenomena are entirely out of control, and the exasperated family is desperate for relief.

A 5-year-old Heather O’ Rourke was chosen to play the role of Carol over a young Drew Barrymore, and unfortunately, hers is a story that is undeniably tragic. Discovered by Stephen Spielberg when she was visiting MGM Studios and cast in ‘Poltergeist,’ Heather was primed to make it big. But after playing Carol in all three installments of ‘Poltergeist’ and a small recurring role on ‘Happy Days’ from 1982 to 1983, her life was cut short at the age of 12 when she suffered cardiac arrest and septic shock caused by a misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis.

#5 David McGowan from Village of the Damned (1995)


Thomas Dekker (IMDb)

‘Village of the Damned’ was a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, which in turn was based on the novel ‘The Midwich Cuckoos.’ Marketed with the tagline ‘Beware the Children,’ the story revolves around the quiet coastal town of Midwich in California’s Marin County where all the animals, people, and birds fall unconscious for six hours one day. Ten females mysteriously fall pregnant during the blackout and from one of these pregnancies, David McGowan is born: a pale-skinned, platinum blonde haired boy with cobalt eyes who has an eerie psychic ability that often results in violent and deadly consequences whenever he experiences pain or provocation.

Thomas Dekker was chosen to play the role of David McGowan, and out of all the child actors on the list, it is he who probably went on to have the most successful acting career. He played the roles of John Connor in ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,’ Jesse Braun in the 2010 remake of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street,’ and voiced Littlefoot in ‘The Land Before Time V-IX.’ He has since been a regular in the 2015 Fox crime drama ‘Backstrom’ but was most recently in the news for his views on veganism and coming out as gay, revealing that he married Canadian actor Jesse Haddock in April 2017.

#4 Esther from Orphan (2009)


Isabelle Fuhrman (IMDb)

‘Orphan’ is the perfect psychological thriller. It blends drama, suspense, and horror in sizeable proportions to deliver an experience you will not forget. Esther is adopted by Kate and John Coleman after the couple’s third child is stillborn, and though their deaf-mute daughter Max takes to Esther, 12-year-old Daniel is less welcoming. What follows is Esther’s terrifying and methodical manipulation of the family to tear them apart and her violent tendencies that most often end in frightful deaths.

Isabelle Fuhrman was cast as Esther after an exhaustive nationwide search, and her previous experience in the 2007 drama ‘Hounddog’ certainly helped her case. She’s had an accomplished career since, appearing as the Girl Ghost opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt in ‘Ghost Whisperer,’ Angie Vanderveer in the dark comedy ‘Salvation Boulevard,’ and Clove in ‘The Hunger Games.’ She graduated from Stanford University Online High School in 2015 and is a celebrity advocate for Save the Kids’ ‘Caps for Good’ project where volunteers help knit hundreds of baby caps in an effort to reduce the death rate of newborns in developing countries.

#3 Regan from The Exorcist (1973)


Linda Blair (IMDb)

William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist,’ based on William Blatty’s novel of the same name, is considered by many to be the greatest horror movie of all-time. The film follows the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl, Regan, and her mother’s attempts to win her back through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The film has had a significant impact on popular culture, with its notable psychological themes including the nature of faith and the boundaries of maternal love. Regan’s portrayal as the guttural-voiced, demon-eyed girl scared audiences across the globe and is still remembered as one of the greatest performances of all-time.

Linda Blair was selected from a field of 600-odd applicants for the role of Regan, and she is still best-remembered for that very role, which would earn her an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe. Blair would go on to star in numerous controversial dramatic television films, such as ‘Born Innocent’ and ‘Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic,’ appearing in over 50 films in total in a stellar career. She is now known for supporting various charitable causes, specifically animal rights, founding the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which serves to rehabilitate and adopt rescue animals. Currently a resident of California, she revealed in 2014 that she was treated for an umbilical hernia.

#2 Samara Morgan from The Ring (2002)


Daveigh Chase (IMDb)

Based on a novel of the same name by Koji Suzuki, ‘The Ring’ is about a supernatural videotape: whoever watches it dies within seven days. It follows an investigative journalist as she tries to solve the death of her sister’s daughter, but begins experiencing the same phenomena that plagued the other victims after she watches the tape herself. Samara is the evil child behind the tape and possesses the ability to psychically etch images onto objects and into minds, tormenting her parents and their horses. The race against time is on. Who will fall first?

Daveigh Chase was cast in the role of Samara and had previously provided the voices of Chihiro Ogino in the English dub ‘Spirited Away’, and Lilo Pelekai in the Disney animated film ‘Lilo & Stitch.’ But it was her portrayal of Samara that earned her widespread acclaim and the 2003 Best Villain Award at the MTV Movie Awards. In 2015, she starred in the thriller film ‘Killer Crush’ and in the horror/indie film ‘Wild in Blue’ with Karen Black, and in 2016, she starred in the thriller film ‘American Romance’ with Nolan Gerard Funk. She was in the news last year when she was arrested and questioned for allegedly dumping a dying man outside a Los Angeles hospital.

#1 The Grady Twins from The Shining (1980)


Lisa and Louise Burns (IMDb)

It’s only apt that the list is topped by characters from a film that was based on the greatest horror novelist of our times: Stephen King. ‘The Shining’ was directed by Stanley Kubrick, who managed to give life to the movie’s varied characters and in the process, quite possibly made the greatest horror movie of all-time. It follows Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and son Danny as they stay at the mysterious Overlook hotel. But Danny has supernatural powers, and the hotel’s disturbing past soon festers itself in out-of-control visions that show Danny the horrifying future.

Unlike the other children on the list, the Grady Twins were not significant characters in the movie. Identical twins Lisa and Louise Burns were chosen to portray the twins and it’s their brief appearance in their movie that is now a part of pop-culture folklore. The iconic scene where the twins are asking Danny to come play with them and the subsequent blood-swathed hallway punctuated by their mangled corpses is one that will be never be forgotten. Louise had previously appeared in ‘Kids’ and went on to act in ‘From Borehamwood to Hollywood: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Elstree.’ Lisa is now a published scientist. The British twins briefly stepped back into the spotlight during the 50th-anniversary screening of ‘Dr. Strangelove’ at the British Film Institute in London in 2014.