The List: Top 10 former child stars

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From the November 21, 2013 edition

This week, former Disney star Selena Gomez comes to town in the wake of her “Spring Breakers” performance and Daniel Radcliffe moves to break out of Harry Potter’s shadow as Allen Ginsberg in “Kill Your Darlings.” So we’re counting down 10 child stars who avoided the trainwreck trap and went on to better things.

10. Ron Howard

As an actor, he graduated from Opie to Richie Cunningham before growing up to be an Academy Award-winning director (“A Beautiful Mind”), but we love him most as the producer/omniscient narrator of “Arrested Development.”

9. Fred Savage

Yes, Kevin Arnold of “The Wonder Years” actually had a successful career post-pining for Winnie Cooper. He’s directed many episodes of great TV comedies (“Party Down,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), but also a few episodes of “2 Broke Girls.”

8. Jodi Foster

The star of the original “Freaky Friday,” Foster’s career has been far more stable than the star of its remake, Lindsay Lohan. Foster was nomintated for her first Oscar at the age of 13 for 1977’s “Taxi Driver” before going on to two Academy Award wins for “The Accused” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”

7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Some of you may remember JGL as a tyke on “Roseanne” as DJ’s weird friend, but he broke through in “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “10 Things I Hate About You.” He later went on to win over men and women in “(500) Days of Summer.” JGL must have a thing for numbers in titles.

6. Ryan Gosling

Yeah, yeah yeah. All the ladies love him (in “The Notebook”) and all the guys want to be him (in “Drive”). Who would’ve thought that would happen for a former Mickey Mouse Club-er? Wait, nevermind.

5. Natalie Portman

She was outstanding as a hitman’s 12-year-old apprentice in “The Professional,” and has just gotten better and better, from the Shins-loving pixie dream girl in “Garden State” to her Oscar-winning turn in the unsettling ballerina nightmare “Black Swan.”

4. Justin Timberlake

The most successful Mouseketeer ever, JT was both a Disney star and a boy-band member before becoming the heir to the King of Pop’s throne, as evidenced by his recent three-hour show at Nationwide. Oh, and he’s becoming a pretty good actor, too.

3. Leonardo DiCaprio

Remember him on “Growing Pains?” Rumor is he beat out Robin Thicke for the part. Oh, and he’s also become Martin Scorsese’s new Robert De Niro. Whatever.

2. Neil Patrick Harris

Nobody could have possibly predicted the Second Coming of Doogie Howser, M.D., but NPH has done the impossible since his return as Barney on “How I Met Your Mother.” He’s become both a gay icon and a bro icon. How can you not love the irony?

1. Stevie Wonder

As a teenager he had a huge hit in “Fingertips (Pt. 2)” — then as “Little” Stevie Wonder — composed "Tears of a Clown" for Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. Try doing that before hitting legal drinking age. Oh and later he released “Talking Book,” which is pretty cool too.