Family Movies News

Blasts from the Past: Famous Kids' Auditions

YouTube isn't just a great place to find cat videos and people making fools of themselves. It's also a great place to reminisce.
Here are five auditions by children who made their marks in film.
Jake Lloyd - Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace (1999)
Jake Lloyd was about seven years old when he went out for the role of young Anakin Skywalker in the prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy. He won the multi-country audition process that spanned three years and involved more than 3,000 children. Although Lloyd had previously worked on other films, most notably Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Jingle All the Way (1996), the role of the boy Vader seemingly so defined him (and, unfortunately, led to a lot of harsh childhood teasing) that he has largely chosen not to work in film again. Take a look at the emotional audition of a tiny Jake to see how he snagged the now-classic role.

Henry Thomas - E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Henry Thomas made his mark in this classic film involving a little alien left behind and the boy who befriends him and appeared in several family films through the mid '80s, but by the early '90s had largely transitioned to more adult roles. Today, he’s made a number of TV appearances, including a recurring role on Betrayal.  But back in 1981, a nine-year-old Thomas definitely knew how to hit all the right buttons with his crushingly tearful audition thinking about the real-life day his own dog had died. Get out a big hanky for this clip and stay tuned to see what a teary Spielberg says to Thomas at the end.

Scarlett Johansson - Jumanji (1995)
What? You didn’t know ScarJo was in Robin Williams’ Jumanji? You know, that mid-'90s film where a magical board game of fantastical adventures could swallow its players?  Well, you’re right, Johansson wasn’t in it. The role of the young girl, Judy Shepard, went to none other than Spider-Man’s Kirsten Dunst. But that didn’t seem to slow down the career of the ascendant actress who has met megabucks success in films like The Avengers, Iron Man 2 and the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier. Watch her audition when she was 11 years old.

Natalie Portman - Leon:  The Professional (1994)
Young Natalie, whom you may have spied during Jake Lloyd’s audition (above), was just 11 years old when she auditioned for her first feature film, Leon: The Professional. The future Queen Amidala hit the ball out of the park as the wise-beyond-her years, emotionally damaged girl who seeks out the help of a professional hit man to avenge her family. Have a peek at the audition that would put Portman on the road to stardom.

Ralph Macchio - The Karate Kid (1984)
Although he appears far younger, Macchio was actually 22 when he auditioned for the role of Daniel Larusso. The martial arts-themed film (that would spawn two sequels starring Macchio) involved a bullied high schooler who learns more than just self-defense skills from his Japanese master (Pat Morita as the incomparable Mr. Miyagi).  Today, Macchio makes occasional appearances in films (Hitchcock) and television (a recurring role on Ugly Betty a few years ago), in addition to producing. Enjoy this blast from the past.

Have you come across any kid auditions that you enjoyed seeing? Let us know below.
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