ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

Kids from Christmas movies: Where are they now?

Happy Christmas ya filthy animals

Kids from Christmas movies: Where are they now?
13 December 2016

Another year goes by, and we’re all a little older and a little wiser. Well, //almost// all of us are.

But what else have he and the child stars of yesteryear been up to? We have a rummage around the record books (use Google) and find out. Happy Christmas you filthy animals...

Macaulay Culkin (Kevin McCallister, Home Alone)

Did you know, prior to Home Alone, Macaulay was in The Equalizer? Us neither. Uncle Buck (1989) also proceeded Home Alone (1990) before the 1992 sequel.

Culkin hosted Saturday Night Live in 1991 before My Girl. Getting Even with Dad, Richie Rich and The Pagemaster were all released in 1994. He also appeared in a filmed version of The Nutcracker and the 1998 music video for the song Sunday by Sonic Youth.

At 14 he retired from acting and after several years of inactivity, returned in 2000 with a role in the play Madame Melville, which was staged in London's West End.

In the spring of 2003, he made a brilliant guest appearance on Will & Grace as snot-nosed lawyer Jason Towne.

Culkin returned to movies in 2003 with Party Monster, in which he played a drug user and murderer. After a trumping all other performances in Saved! Culkin began doing voiceover work, with appearances in Seth Green's Robot Chicken.

In 2006, he published an experimental, semi-autobiographical novel, Junior, before a role in the thirteen-episode NBC television series Kings.

In 2007, Culkin appeared in a UK-based commercial for Orange before, in 2009, making a cameo in WWE Raw which included this classic Home Alone prank.

In April 2011, Culkin was featured in musician Adam Green's experimental film The Wrong Ferarri, he dated Mila Kunis, had brief run-ins with the law, famously defended Michael Jackson in court and has been dating former All My Children actress Jordan Lane Price since November.

Since then he's toured with Pizza Underground - his pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band - to the consternation and occasional ire of gig-goers the world over. In 2014, the band were pelted with booze during their Dot To Dot performance in Nottingham and booed offstage.

In 2016 he starred in the Compare the Meerkat ads, as a grown man being treated like a child. Meta. 

Thomas Sangster (Sam, Love Actually)

Fact bomb! Sangster is the second cousin once removed of actor Hugh Grant, alongside whom he appeared in Love Actually, back in 2003.

Prior to that Brits may remember him in TV adaptation Stig Of The Dump and post-Love Actually he appeared in Nanny McPhee, as the eldest of seven children.

In 2007 he appeared in a two-part story in Doctor Who and also starred alongside Colin Firth in the film adaptation of Valerio Massimo Manfredi's historical novel The Last Legion.

In 2008 it was announced that Sangster would star in The Adventures of Tintin as the title character, but he left the project after scheduling difficulties when filming was delayed, and his loss was Jamie Bell's gain.

In 2009 Sangster played a young Paul McCartney in Nowhere Boy, for which he taught himself to play guitar left-handed.

In 2011, Sangster made his guest appearance in an episode of British detective drama Lewis and in 2012 he starred in The Baytown Outlaws.

Most recently, and most notably, he now plays the role of Jojen Reed in the HBO series Game of Thrones, and has starred as Newt in The Maze Runner.

In 2015, he reprised his role in the sequel, The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, and played Gordon Tracy in ITV's reincarnation of Thunderbirds: Thunderbirds Are Go!. His next film on the horizon? Another Maze Runner - this time it's The Death Cure – a fitting name given that the filming has stopped indefinitely following an accident on set which broke a few of his co-star’s bones.

Daniel Tay (Michael, Elf)

Things have been a little quiet for Tay in the decade since the runaway smash, Elf. Shortly after the movie he appeared in three episodes of The Jamie Kennedy Experiment and, in the same year, played a young Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti playing the older Harvey) in American Splendor.

In 2005 he voiced the part of Doogal alongside some huge Hollywood names for the movie Doogal. Here in the UK, of course, the movie was called The Magic Roundabout and had many different voiceover stars. The role of Doogal was actually provided by former Take That singer Robbie Williams.

In 2006 he voiced Pedro De La Hoya in videogame Bully and appeared alongside Ralph Macchio and Artie Lange in softball comedy Beer League before, in 2007, playing the young Bobby in Brooklyn Rules. Jerry Ferrara (Turtle from Entourage) played the same character in the same film, but years older, with Alec Baldwin and Freddie Prinze Jr also starring. Here's the trailer.

In 2009 Tay voiced Blue Bill in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, but things have gone quiet from there. In fairness, he can dine out on Elf for the rest of his life, in our book.

Mara Wilson (Susan Walker, Miracle On 34th Street)

Mara's part as Natalie in Mrs Doubtfire (1993) predates Miracle by a year, but prior to both she starred in TV ads for Lunchables.

In 1994, Wilson had a recurring role as Nikki Petrova on Melrose Place and played Barbara Barton in the television film A Time To Heal.

Her performances caught the attention of Danny DeVito and led to her being cast as the titular character in Matilda for which she was nominated for, and won, a veritable Santa sackload of awards.

Mara auditioned for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, but she was considered to be too young for the role and her appearance in the 2000 film Thomas and the Magic Railroad (yes, a Thomas The Tank Engine film) was her last major film role to date.

In 2013, Wilson wrote '7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)' for, before returning to the site to pen '4 Most Horrifying Marriages Between Fans and Their Idols' and '4 Things No One Tells You About Having OCD'.

She is now hoping to break into young adult novels and has written her first Off Broadway play called Sheeple. Her website: is worth a visit, especially this page on Frequently Asked Questions, which explains, twice, why she left acting.

In 2014, the website Longreads published a comprehensive interview, too.

In 2016 she’s still writing, is known for her witty and honest observations on Twitter and has released an autobiography called Where Am I Now? The answer being just here. 

Jake Lloyd (Jamie Langston, Jingle All The Way)

Prior to 1996's Jingle All The Way Jake appeared in four episodes of E.R. His turn as Jamie was followed, three years later, by his much maligned part of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Poor Jake really got it in the neck and despite reprising this role in five subsequent Star Wars video games, he turned his back on acting.

In an interview with Blackbook, he revealed that the role pretty much ruined his childhood. “Other children were really mean to me," he said. "They would make the sound of the lightsaber everytime they saw me. I didn't even hold a lightsaber in the movie. It was totally mad."

He left Hollywood for Chicago, where by 2012, he had finished studying film and video at Columbia College. Apparently he destroyed his Star Wars memorabilia, and does not watch the films. He continues to make appearances, however, at sci-fi and comic-book festivals and speaks highly of George Lucas.

There was a rumour that Jake auditioned for the role of Ender Wiggin in the film Ender's Game, but it was feared that fans of Ender's Game would judge him for his role in Phantom Menace.

Since then, he’s been arrested for leading South Carolina police on a high-speed car chase before crashing his car into a tree. He’s been in jail since June 2016 and has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia so will be moving to psychiatric facility. 

Johnny Galecki (Rusty Griswold, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation)

In the same year as Christmas Vacation Galecki appeared in a very different Christmas movie by the name of Prancer. It does not look great.

In 1991 he made one appearance in Blossom before 17 episodes of TV comedy American Dreamer.

Things really picked up a year later when he appeared in the first of 92 episodes of Roseanne playing David Healy. He was called Kevin in that first episode, however. The reason was that Johnny was appearing on another show (Billy, opposite Billy Connolly) at them time, with the character name of "David", which is what Roseanne Barr wanted to call him. In those days weird broadcasting rules prevented an actor from appearing on two different, non-related shows using the same name (unless it was their real/stage name). By the time Johnny made his second appearance on the show, his other job had ended, and they were free to call his character "David".

Post-Roseanne he starred in I Know What You Did Last Summer , The Opposite Of Sex and Bounce before, in 2005, playing Mark in the pilot for an American version of hit British comedy Peep Show. Jeremy was played by Josh Meyers. The UK show's creators say that the American version did not use the point-of-view filming technique of the original and it never got past pilot stage.

He also appeared in Suicide Kings (1997), Bean (1997) and a minor supporting part in Vanilla Sky (2001) before appearing in Hancock and playing a parody of himself in Entourage. He has been in both American Dad! and Family Guy but is, of course, best known for The Big Bang Theory, which debuted September, 2007. He was originally asked to play the role of Sheldon Cooper, but he said he was better suited for the role of Leonard Hofstadter. The series has just been renewed for an 11th season and the actor is said to be earning $1m an episode.


Brett Kelly (Thurman/The Kid, Bad Santa)

Brett's movie debut came in the depressing-sounding Kill Me Later which starred Max Beesley and Selma Blair, three years before Bad Santa. Although mostly known simply as The Kid, his character's actual name is brilliantly revealed on his report card as Thurman Merman. Which just makes him even cooler. (Interesting aside: Bill Murray was signed on to play Billy Bob Thornton's role, but dropped out for Lost in Translation.)

After Bad Santa Kelly appeared in three episodes of Dead Like Me before roles in Birthdays and Other Traumas, Like Mike 2: Streetball and The Sandlot 2. In 2006 he played Timothy 'Beef' Wellington, in Unaccompanied Minors which, for our money, is an even funnier name than Thurman Merman.

More recently he appeared in the clunkily named Trick 'r Treat ("presented by Bryan Singer") and a bit part in What Goes Up which starred Steve Coogan.

He attended St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby British Columbia. He is quoted as saying he plans to keep acting until “no one will hire me anymore” and if that eventually happens, he’d like to become a lawyer.

Unfortunately for the US legal system, Bad Santa 2 came out last month and Kelly reprised his role as Thurman Merman. Bad news for his doctor – he had to put on 40 pounds for the role. 


Taylor Momsen (Cindy Lou Who, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas)

Taylor Momsen is a now an actress, musician and model, which surely is just plain greedy?

She began acting professionally at 3 with a Shake 'n Bake commercial. Look, here it is. She was then cast as Honey Bee Swan in The Prophet's Game (starring Dennis Hopper), just months before landing her second silly-named character role, Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch.

Aged five, she recorded the song "Christmas, Why Can't I Find You?" for the soundtrack to The Grinch and in 2002, she recorded the songs "One Small Voice" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" for the compilation album School's Out! Christmas.

The same year she was given the role of Gretel in the motion picture: Hansel and Gretel, as well as Alexandra, the President's daughter, in Spy Kids 2.

Taylor received a lead role in the never aired series Misconceptions prior to missing out on the role of Hannah Montana to Miley Cyrus. In 2007 she starred in the film Underdog (tagline: One Nation... Under dog.) before playing Jenny in Gossip Girl.

In 2009 her band, The Pretty Reckless, signed a deal with Interscope Records and the band's debut album Light Me Up was released in 2010 where it debuted in the UK at number 6. The first single peaked at 16, while the second peaked at 39.

In August, 2011, Momsen quit acting to focus on her music and in the same year they supported Evanescence, before touring North America and supporting Marilyn Manson. The band release Going To Hell in 2014 and in October 2016 released their third studio album in Who You Selling For.

Peter Billingsley (Ralphie Parker, A Christmas Story)

Our UK readers may not be au fait with this movie, which is huge in the US and features Ralphie, a kid who has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a B.B. gun really is the perfect depression-era gift. It is apparently broadcast for twenty-four hours from Christmas Eve until Christmas Day on US channel TBS.

Billingsley's first acting role was as a two-year-old in a Geritol commercial and he went on to star in about 120 television ads throughout the 70s and early 80s, with a series for Hershey's being his most famous. At 12, the same age that he played nine-year-old Ralphie, he was quoted as saying: "After 100 commercials, you lose count."

Prior to 1983's A Christmas Story he was in Paternity opposite Burt Reynolds and Honky Tonk Freeway earning him a guest slot on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

In 1982 Billingsley starred in several features including Little House On The Prairie and post-Christmas Story he starred in an adaptation of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency before guest starring on Who's The Boss? and The Wonder Years.

The early 1990s saw Billingsley tackling a mixed bag of older roles, before 1993's Arcade, in which he starred as a teenaged "virtual reality" addict. He also worked as the post-production supervisor on the film, which seemed to kickstart a career behind the camera.

He was assistant editor on Knights, a film which featured Kris Kristofferson before working on The Discovery Channel's A.R.K., The Adventures of Animal Rescue Kids, The X Show, Made, and Elf, in which he has a cameo appearance.

In 2001 he was nominated for an Emmy Award as co-executive producer for the show Dinner For Five.

He was an executive producer for The Break-Up, in which he also plays Andrew, appearing alongside frequent collaborators Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau.

Billingsley served as executive producer on Favreau's Iron Man in which he also played a scientist. Billingsley, Favreau and Vaughn all appear in 2008's Four Christmases. Couples Retreat (2009) starring Favreau and Vaughn was Billingsley's first major film as director.

In 2010 he signed on as Executive Producer of a musical adaptation of A Christmas Story which last Christmas, sold out Madison Square Garden.

Since then, he’s produced multiple TV shows (including one of the first documentaries distributed on Netflix, Art of Conflict) and films. He produced A Case of You alongside Justin Long which featured in the Tribeca Film Festival and most recently released Term Life, a thriller starring Vince Vaughn.

Not bad at all.


(Images: Rex, Getty, YouTube - Brett Kelly grown-up photo courtesy of Jacob Zinn)