From the little boy in Love Actually to the then unknown Zooey Deschanel in Elf, here’s what your favourite Christmas film stars look like now…
Christmas films are a tradition, with families re-watching the same age-old classics year after year. Whether it was Home Alone or Love Actually, we grew up with the characters, idolising them in our youth and now watching them back with nostalgia – maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to differentiate the Christmas film characters from the actors who play them.
To us, David Krumholtz will always be an elf and Macaulay Culkin will forever be a young boy terrorising burglars – making their adult transformations a lot more surprising. (Especially in the case of Macaulay Culkin, who has since made a twisted Home Alone parody which will pretty much ruin the holiday season.)
But what’s the difference between our favourite Christmas film actors then and now?
Remember sweet little Cindy Lou from Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas? With her adorable outfits, rosy cheeks and that fabulous plaited updo? What if we told you she went from Grinch to grunge, now the front-woman of the rock and roll band, The Pretty Reckless?
Or what about our favourite Love Actually couple: primary school classmates Sam and Joanna? We all remember them giving us unrealistic young love goals as he ran through an airport to catch her before her flight – no school relationship could ever compete. What if we told you Joanna (Olivia Olson), now 24, is a YouTuber starring as Marceline in Adventure Time and that Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), now 26, has racked up credits in Game of Thrones and Wolf Hall?
And spoiler alert – Mara Wilson, little Susan Walker from Miracle on 34th Street, is no longer seven years old and 3ft tall – I know, we were shocked too. She’s now almost 30, devoting her time to writing, recently coming out as bisexual after the Orlando Shootings earlier this year, in support of the LGBT community.
Yes, like we said, Christmas film star transformations are the most surprising. However that said, we’ve also been surprised by a few famous faces in our child stars then and now gallery (Viktor Krum? Is that really you?).
Scroll through below to find out what your other favourite Christmas film actors are up to nowadays…
Mara played the impossibly cute Susan Walker in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, already a well-known child star for her role in Mrs. Doubtfire.
Now 29 years old, Mara has (for the most part) left acting in her past, going on to pursue a career in writing. She even released a book earlier this year, ironically named Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame. Having suffered with mental health in her teenage years, she is an advocate for the cause, in 2015 joining Project UKROK, a non-profit organisation helping teenagers with mental health issues. She also recently came out as bisexual after the Orlando Shootings earlier this year, in support of the LGBT community.
Macaulay Culkin began acting aged 4, starring as Kevin McCallister in the 1990s Christmas classic Home Alone at just 10 years old, and returning for its sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York two years later.
His Home Alone days made Macaulay one of the most famous child stars of all time, and following his emancipation from his parents, an early divorce, a few internet hoax deaths and a close friendship with Michael Jackson, it seemed impossible for him to avoid the media scrutiny.
Now 36 years old, Macaulay makes a conscious effort to stay out of the public eye. He returned to acting briefly as an adult, starring in the independent films Party Monster and Sex and Breakfast – even making a cameo appearance in Zoolander 2 earlier this year.
Modeling from the age of two, Taylor got her breakthrough acting role starring as the adorable Cindy Lou in Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas at just 7 years old. Quite the child star, she also played Alexandra in Spy Kids 2 and was even shortlisted for the role of Hannah Montana (just FYI).
Taylor is perhaps best known for her recurring role as Jenny Humphrey in CW teen drama series Gossip Girl, but now aged 23, she focuses more on music. Her band, The Pretty Reckless, are known for grunge and hard rock, their hits including ‘Light Me Up’ and ‘Going To Hell’. With Taylor fronting the band on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, The Pretty Reckless have broken records, becoming the first female-fronted band to achieve number one in the rock radio charts.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Olivia Olson starred in Richard Curtis’ Christmas classic, Love Actually, a whopping 13 years ago. Thomas and Olivia played Sam and Joanna, the film’s young love story. We all remember Joanna serenading Sam with her performance of ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and then Sam sprinting through the airport to catch her before she left for America – they set the bar high for school romances across the world. But what are the two actors up to 13 years later?
Since Love Actually, Olivia has unsurprisingly carried on singing, even releasing a solo EP and uploading her recordings to her YouTube channel. As for her acting, she previously starred in Phineas and Ferb opposite Love Actually co-star Thomas and is now, at 24, involved in the Emmy award-winning animation, Adventure Time.
These days, Thomas is most known for playing Jojen Reed on Game of Thrones, but since his Love Actually days he has starred in everything from The Maze Runner and Star Wars: The Force Awakens to Wolf Hall. He recently spoke about his work on Love Actually explaining, ‘It’s still something that I hold close to my heart, even though it comes up all the time. People are only ever nice about it.’
Having started his acting career aged 13, David starred as Bernard the elf in The Santa Clause at the age of 15, also reprising the role for the sequel.
Now aged 38, David is happily married with two children, still pursuing an active career in film. To us he will forever be Michael Eckman, his loveable role from 10 Things I Hate About You, but he has since starred in a range of TV and film projects including Mr Popper’s Penguins and Sausage Party.
It’s hard to look past Will Ferrell’s character Buddy climbing escalators and shouting ‘SANTA’S COMING!’ so many forget that it was actually Zooey Deschanel who played his love interest, Jovie. Although Almost Famous was Deschanel’s debut, Elf was definitely her breakthrough performance.
Now aged 36, Zooey is Hollywood royalty, starring in a selection of films since Elf, most notably Yes Man, Trolls and 500 Days of Summer. She is best known however for playing Jess in the TV series New Girl. She and film producer husband Jacob Pechenik have a daughter, Elsie Otter.
12 year old Daniel Tay played Buddy the Elf’s estranged little brother, which looked like it was a blast with snowball fights, cookie dough feasts and generally hanging out with Will Ferrell.
26 year old Daniel Tay has steered away from Hollywood, but he still does a bit of voice acting here and there. More recently, he was a voice actor for Grand Theft Auto IV – a bit of a change from his light-hearted days at Elf.
Credit: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Remember this ray of sunshine? Jake Lloyd played Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son in Jingle All The Way and his Christmas wish kickstarted a wild holiday adventure through the streets of New York. If he looks veeery familiar, then you’ll also know him from the Star Wars prequels where he played mini Anakin Skywalker.
Jake Lloyd – well – didn’t stay in acting. He got into a high speed car chase with the police back in 2015 and was promptly arrested, then thrown in jail.