7 Child Actors Excelling At Acting Their Doppelgangers Younger Self

These kids killed it at playing younger versions of Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, and Bette Midler

Child Actors: Mayim Bialik & Bette Midler
Mayim Bialik & Bette Midler

It’s always nice to get a backstory. Whether it’s just a bit of info to help move the plot along, or a full-on origin story, those scenes are pretty much guaranteed to be some of the most entertaining parts of the movie. And with films like Never Been Kissed and There’s Something About Mary, the adult, the lead actor usually plays the part of their younger selves. However, it’s most impressive to see actual young actors taking on these roles. Just imagining the countless auditions, meetings with directors, producers, rehearsals, and preparation it must take to give a good enough performance that millions of people will watch is dizzying.

Oh, and now add on the challenge of the young performer having to embody an adult character in that movie. So now, not only are they needing to put on a solid performance, but they now have to put forth their best impression! And when the child/teen actor absolutely nails the character they’re portraying, it’s even more impressive. Here, we’re taking a look at the ones that really crushed the role; the younger actors who embodied the adult character they were impersonating. So, here are some of the best performances as younger versions of characters.

best performances as younger versions of characters.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Child Actors: Michael Conner Humphreys
Image Via Paramount Pictures

When Forrest Gump came out in 1994, plenty of moviegoers really didn’t know what to expect. Even with full-length trailers, it was difficult to pinpoint what this film was going to be like, or even be about. But it didn’t take long for the word to spread that Robert Zemeckis‘ movie was about a man, Forrest (Tom Hanks), who ends up doing extraordinary things with his life. And that story starts with a young Forrest (Michael Conner Humphreys) literally tiptoeing through his childhood, with the help of his best friend, Jenny (Hanna Hall). Humphreys absolutely nails the character and sets the tone for what we should expect throughout the rest of the film from this honest and lovable character. Going together with him like peas and carrots, Hall successfully portrays the character of Jenny, as someone who may not always be around, but will never be out of Forrest’s life. She’s sweet and innocent on the surface, but facing inner demons that only Forrest can understand.

Big (1988)

Child Actors: David Moscow)
Image Via 20th Century Fox

Out of all the films on this list, young Josh (David Moscow) in Big is surely the most important piece to his movie’s plotline. Moscow plays a 13-year-old who wants nothing more than to be, well, big. He just can’t wait to be appreciated just like adults do (as well as being tall enough to be able to ride a scary rollercoaster). But when young Josh makes a wish on a Zoltar carnival machine, he wakes up the following morning with the body of a man in his 30s. David Moscow manages to completely embody the (later) Tom Hanks character, in the most literal way possible. His shining moment in the film comes at the very end when Josh is back in his 13-year-old body, and you can see the change in the character’s demeanor as if Moscow himself really did spend the past few months as an adult.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Child Actors: Christian Coulson
Image Via Warner Bros.

When the second installment of the Harry Potter film series hit theaters, most fans already knew what they were about to see, since plenty of them devoured the novel moments after it hit bookstores. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when, in the movie, it was revealed that the character of Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson), was actually a young Voldemort. But, knowing this going in made it all the more impressive when we were introduced to Coulson’s portrayal of the teenaged dark lord. This was the first time fans were seeing a real-life “he who must not be named” since in the first film, he only took the form of Professor Quirrell‘s (Ian Hart) body parts before flying off. With his giant basilisk in tow, Tom’s memory arises from his old journal in order to open up the Chamber of Secrets and release the evil within. Coulson impressively embraced the character of Tom, as a curious, yet an internally evil teenager, just starting to learn about his magic potential and how far he can actually take it.

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Child Actors: Christian Coulson
Image Via Warner Bros.

The 80s kicked off a trend in which much older, successful TV series was being adapted into feature-length movies. Twilight Zone: The Movie was no exception, and with plenty of episodic plot lines to pull from, making this adaptation was a no-brainer. The movie reimagined four different classic stories from The Twilight Zone, with each segment taken on by a different director. One of those segments, entitled “Kick the Can,” was directed by Steven Spielberg. The segment takes place in a nursing home, where the majority of residents lack the drive and energy they once possessed in their earlier lives. That is, until a strange man named Mr. Bloom (Scatman Crothers), shows up with some Twilight Zone magic.

With a Steven Spielberg flavor all over it, the story takes a dreamlike turn when Mr. Bloom invites the old residents to meet outside to play the classic game “Kick the Can”. Once these old-timers begin playing, they are magically turned into their younger child selves. The rest of the story delightfully follows these talented child actors who are portraying the elderly people that they just transformed. What makes watching this scene most enjoyable is that the characters are still the same old people inside, but now have children’s bodies. In the end, despite a choice to stay as they are, most of the children decide to go back to their old selves, but now with a much younger heart.

Beaches (1988)

Child Actors: Mayim Bialik.
Image Via Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Directed by Garry MarshallBeaches follows Hillary (Barbara Hershey) and CC (Bette Midler), as lifelong friends that started their unbreakable bond back in 1958 when they met in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The plot of the movie follows different stages of the pairs’ friendship throughout the ups and downs of their lives. But we’re focusing on when these two characters met back in 1958. In this scene, we are introduced to the characters as young girls. Although Marcie Leads puts on a fine performance as a young Hillary, all attention was aimed towards the young CC, who was played brilliantly by our favorite Jeopardy host (sorry Ken JenningsMayim Bialik. Bialik absolutely crushes her Bette Midler impersonation, as she not only embodies the character but pretty much sets the stage for Midler‘s adult performance. Bialik steals the whole movie with her energy-filled portrayal of a child actress aiming to become a big star one day. I’ll take “Foreshadowing” for $2000, Miriam.

Goodfellas (1990)

Child Actors: Christopher Serrone
Image Via Warner Bros.

For as long as Henry Hill could remember, he wanted to be a gangster. That was the first thing we learned when watching 1990’s Goodfellas, a Martin Scorsese film. The movie follows the real-life story of Hill (Ray Liotta), as he changes from an innocent young New York boy to a fully connected member of a mafia crime family. Laid out in chronological order, the film follows the Hill character from his time in the crime family to his eventual personal prison in the witness protection program. But the star that shines the brightest in this flick is Christopher Serrone, who portrays a teenage Henry. Serrone embodies the future character while flashing the very same twinkle from Liotta’s eyes. From unloading cigarettes off the back of a truck, to successfully not ratting on his friends after his first arrest, Serrone whacks the ball out of the park with this performance.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Child Actors: Brendan Ryan
Image Via Orion Pictures

In the second installment of this totally excellent trilogy, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) find out not everything is hunky-dory, especially when you die. In fact, in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, these two do just that: they die. And apparently, these dudes haven’t done enough excellent things to make it to heaven, so they are totally sent down to that place of fire and brimstone. Even after trying to make good with the devil, Bill and Ted are forced into a hallway of purgatory with different doors leading to possible horrific eternities. At one point, both of them enter scenarios that transform their characters into younger versions of themselves. This is when young actors Brendan Ryan and William Thorne step in and experience the full brunt of this hell. For Bill, his hell is a family birthday party for his 8000-year-old grandmother, who wants nothing more than a sloppy kiss on the lips. For Ted, it’s Easter, and he has stolen his brother’s Easter basket, which leads a murderous bunny to chase him. The kids righteously crush these portrayals of our favorite time travelers. Their performances make fans of the movies wish there was a radical prequel.

7 Child Actors Excelling At Acting Their Doppelgangers Younger Self

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