Being successful in the acting world—especially in big-budget films and TV shows—is no easy feat, and actors have to pay their dues. But who’s to say that process can’t start when the actor is not even old enough to drive a car? There have been Oscar-winning performances from children who are barely in the double-digit age range, and there’s a whole new crop of talented young actors showing up in TV shows and movies, and they’re often placed in the starring role. So, Paste gathered this list 20 actors age 20 and under who we think will be gracing television and movie screens for years to come.
She was perfect as bratty know-it-all Violet in 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and starred alongside Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson and Dennis Hopper in 2008’s Sleepwalking. But her big-time breakthrough may just come with her portrayal of a rough-around-the edges street kid in the forthcoming Goodnight Moon. Robb is set to star in the film with Kate Bosworth, Leslie Mann and Greenberg’s Juno Temple—who was just one year too old to make this list.
Quite a bit different than this guy, the angelic-faced Kross made his Hollywood debut with a role opposite Winslet in The Reader. Kross delivered a stirring performance as Michael, Kate Winslet’s young lover who later discovers she has Nazi ties. His portrayal of first love found and lost was not overshadowed by his Academy Award-winning co-star.
At the ripe old age of seven, Fanning held her own against Academy-Award nominee Sean Penn in 2001’s I Am Sam. And she hasn’t slowed down since. The now 16-year-old actress has so far avoided the pitfalls of the child-to-adult actor transition moving from roles in War of the Worlds and Charlotte’s Web to a very grown-up portrayal of seminal rock goddess Cherie Currie in this year’s The Runaways.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse earned instant fame with his good nerd gone bad role as Fogell/McLovin in the 2007 hit Superbad. In the recently-released Kick-Ass, he still plays the nerdy guy, but his time with superhero flair.