Our favorite holiday movie, "A Christmas Story," will celebrate its 35th anniversary on Nov. 18, 2019. In honor of the film about a boy named Ralphie's desperate attempt to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, Wonderwall.com is checking up on its star, Peter Billingsley, to find out what he's up to three and a half decades later, along with several other all-grown-up holiday movie child stars. Keep reading for more…
These days, Peter Billingsley has a thriving career primarily as a TV and film producer. After "A Christmas Story," he maintained a steady but low-key on-screen presence in Hollywood, appearing in smaller movies or doing guest spots on TV shows like "Punky Brewster" and "The Wonder Years" before starting his shift to filmmaking. 2005 was a big year: He popped up in "Elf," produced the fantasy children's film "Zathura: A Space Adventure" and was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding nonfiction series for a show he produced, "Dinner for Five." Over the next few years, he both produced and appeared in movies including "The Break-Up," "Iron Man" and "Four Christmases" and directed "Couples Retreat." In 2019, Peter popped up in his "Iron Man" role (a Stark Industries scientist) in "Spider-Man: Far From Home." On the production side, Peter's busy well into 2020 with his long-running animated comedy series, "F is for Family," and the upcoming comedy film "The Opening Act."
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Macaulay Culkin starred as Kevin, a young boy accidentally left behind by his family during Christmas break, in the "Home Alone" holiday film franchise, which premiered in 1990.
Following his Golden Globe-nominated performance in "Home Alone," Macaulay became an overnight sensation, landing roles in films like "My Girl," "Ri¢hie Ri¢h" and more all within four years of the film's debut. He also struck up a long friendship with pop icon Michael Jackson after appearing in his "Black or White" music video and later became godfather to MJ's daughter, Paris Jackson. Behind the scenes, Macaulay was struggling with child stardom: He claimed he suffered "mental and physical abuse" at the hands of his father, Kit Culkin, whom he's accused of pressuring him to work from a young age. Following his parents' 1994 divorce, Macaulay took a break from Hollywood and in 1995 sued his parents for control of his more than $17 million fortune. At 15, he became legally emancipated. Macaulay returned to the big screen in 2003 with "Party Animals" followed by 2004's "Saved!" More recently, he's appeared in a few minor films as well as on TV shows like "Robot Chicken," "The Jim Gaffigan Show" and ":DRYVRS." In 2019, Macaulay — who split with Mila Kunis in 2010 after about seven years of dating — teamed up friends Seth Green and Breckin Meyer to film the comedy "Changeland." Since 2017, he's been in a committed relationship with actress Brenda Song.
In 1994, a young Eric Lloyd landed his most famous role to date playing Charlie Calvin in the Christmas adventure "The Santa Clause." Eric reprised his role in 2002's "The Santa Clause 2" and for the last time in 2006's "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause."
Following "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" in 2006, a then-20-year-old Eric Lloyd wanted to focus on his studies at Chapman University so he stepped away from acting for five years. In 2011, he returned to Hollywood, appearing on two episodes of the romantic-comedy series "About Abby" and in the horror flick "Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2," which he followed with an appearance in the miniseries "True Perfection" in 2012. Taking another five-year acting break, Eric launched his own production company, LP Studios, in 2015. Since then, we've seen him in the 2017 TV movie "Weedland" and the drama "The Onyx of Wall Street." In 2019, Eric shared this pic of himself and girlfriend Cam on Instagram, captioning it, "Missing weekend getaways with my babe."
In the 1947 holiday movie "Miracle on 34th Street," Natalie Wood starred as Susan Walker, the disbelieving young girl who discovers her Christmas faith after forming a friendship with a department store Santa.
After "Miracle on 34th Street," Natalie Wood appeared in dozens more films during her childhood before appearing in the 1955 drama "Rebel Without A Cause" at 17. The film — which co-starred James Dean — earned Natalie her first of three Oscar nominations. At the height of her popularity, Natalie married her Hollywood crush, actor Robert Wagner, in 1957 but divorced him in 1962. Natalie racked up film credits through the '50s, '60s and '70s with movies like "West Side Story," "Love with the Proper Stranger," "Penelope," and "The Candidate." From 1969 to 1972, she was married to British filmmaker Richard Gregson, the father of her first child, actress Natasha Gregson Wagner. After they divorced, Natalie rekindled her romance with first ex-husband Robert and remarried him the same year, welcoming a daughter, Courtney Brooke Wagner. In 1981 at 43, Natalie mysteriously drowned while staying on a yacht off the coast of California's Catalina Island. The night of her death, she was with Robert and their close friend, actor Christopher Walken, who co-starred with Natalie in her final film, "Brainstorm." The circumstances of her death remain murky but Robert, who's long been accused of being involved — in 2018, he was even branded a person of interest by investigators — has denied any wrongdoing.
In the 1994 remake of "Miracle on 34th Street," an adorable Mara Wilson took on the role of notorious Santa-denier Susan Walker.
A year before Mara Wilson starred in "Miracle on 34th Street," she'd made her acting debut in "Mrs. Doubtfire" and appeared on "Melrose Place." She also memorably starred as a young telekinetic foster child in the 1996 fantasy-comedy flick "Matilda." In 1997, Mara returned to the big screen in the family comedy "A Simple Wish" alongside actor Martin Short. It premiered a year after her mother, Suzie Wilson, died of breast cancer. A grieving Mara went on hiatus and returned to Hollywood in 1999 — for a brief time — to appear on two TV series, a TV movie and her final film for more than a decade, 2000's "Thomas and the Magic Railroad." During her time away from the limelight, Mara dealt with anxiety and OCD — diagnoses she openly spoke about in 2018 — and went to college at New York University where she studied writing. We've seen very little of Mara since. In 2012, she appeared on episodes of "Demo Reel" and "Nostalgia Chick," the latter of which she also wrote, and in the 2015 movie "Billie Bob Joe." Since then, Mara's main work has been as a voice actress on animated shows like "BoJack Horseman" and "Big Hero 6: The Series." In 2016, following a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Mara publicly revealed that she's bisexual, though later admitted she regretted the timing of her disclosure. That same year, she published a memoir, "Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame."
In the 2013 holiday family drama "Black Nativity," Jacob Latimore starred as Langston, a young teenager from Baltimore who travels to New York City to spend Christmas with relatives he hardly knows.
The same year a 17-year-old Jacob Latimore starred in "Black Nativity," he released his third EP, "This is Me 2." A year later in 2014, Jacob landed roles in two hit films, "Ride Along" and "The Maze Runner," and appeared on an episode of "Survivor's Remorse." He later appeared in the Will Smith drama "Collateral Beauty." At the end of 2016, Jacob dropped his debut studio album, "Connection," which reached No. 36 on the U.S. R&B chart. More films followed, including "Detroit," "Krystal" and "Candy Jar." In 2018, Jacob landed a recurring role as Emmett Washington on "The Chi." 2019's proven busier than ever. In addition to appearing in the films "Gully" and "The Last Summer," Jacob released his sophomore album, "Connection 2." Up next, he has the 2020 comedy "Like a Boss." Since early 2019, Jacob's been romantically linked to "Empire" actress Serayah, who also appeared on his song "Caught Up."
In the 2000 film adaptation of the Dr. Seuss holiday story "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," 7-year-old Taylor Momsen starred as Cindy Lou Who, the adorable child from Whoville who manages to teach the Grinch a thing or two about holiday spirit.
Taylor Momsen went from being one of the cutest child stars to one of the baddest women in rock 'n' roll. After "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," Taylor appeared in films like "Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams" before landing her other most notable role — Jenny Humphrey on the popular series "Gossip Girl" in 2007 — while continuing to appear in movies. While on "Gossip Girl," Taylor formed the rock band The Pretty Reckless in 2009. They released an eponymous EP and a studio album, "Light Me Up," in 2010 with Taylor on lead vocals. The album reached No. 10 on the alternative chart, giving Taylor the courage to pursue her music full time. In 2011, she left "Gossip Girl" and got to work on her band's second EP, "Hit Me Like a Man," which debuted in 2012 — though she did come back for the "Gossip Girl" series finale. The band released a massively successful sophomore album, "Going to Hell," in 2014, which reached No. 2 on the U.S. alternative and rock charts. A third album followed in 2016 and a lengthy world tour wrapped up in 2017. A new album is slated for release in 2020.
In the 1989 holiday comedy classic "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," Juliette Lewis (back) starred as Audrey Griswold and Johnny Galecki (right) played Rusty Griswold, two children in the midst of adolescent angst during their drama-filled holiday break.
At the time Juliette Lewis appeared in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," she was just emerging as a Hollywood star. At 18 — not long after she started dating Brad Pitt — she starred in the Martin Scorsese thriller "Cape Fear," which garnered her the first and only Oscar and Golden Globe nominations of her career. Her fame — she also starred in "Natural Born Killers" and "The Basketball Diaries" in the early-to-mid-'90s — came at a price. A few years after she and Brad broke up in 1993, the same year she starred in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," Juliette went to rehab to address an addiction to prescription painkillers and cocaine. Since then, she's appeared in numerous films including "From Dusk Till Dawn," "Enough" and "Starsky & Hutch" and on TV shows like "The Firm" and "The Connors." Along the way, Juliette made an incredible transition from actress to rock star, in 2003 forming the band Juliette and the Licks. Along with frequent tours, the band's released two studio albums, an EP and numerous singles. In 2019, Juliette's as busy as ever, making new music while also continuing to act including in "Dreamland" and "Ma." Up next are the 2020 films "Breaking News in Yuba County" and "Mayday." Since 2016, she's been romantically linked to Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk. In 2019, Brad's wife, Selene Vigil-Wilk, filed for divorce, alleging in court documents that her husband's affair with Juliette is what broke up their marriage.
Johnny Galecki wasn't just the child star of one Christmas movie. In 1989 — the same year he starred in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" — he also appeared in the holiday film "Prancer." Following those, Johnny transitioned to the small screen, landing roles on popular shows like "Blossom" and "American Dreamer" before scoring the part of David on "Roseanne" in 1992, which he played until 1997. The same year "Roseanne" ended, Johnny landed his first big screen role since 1989 in the comedy "The Opposite of Sex." More films followed including "Suicide Kings," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "Playing Mona Lisa" and "Vanilla Sky." In 2006, Johnny not only made his Broadway debut in "The Little Dog Laughed" but landed the role of Leonard Hofstadter on the long-running, award-winning comedy series "The Big Bang Theory" — which would earn him the first Golden Globe and Emmy nominations of his career. In 2018, Johnny reprised his role as David on the "Roseanne" reboot before the series was canceled and rebooted again that same year as "The Connors." In 2019, he announced that he and love Alaina Meyer (pictured) are due to welcome their first child, a son, late in the year.
In the 1996 romantic holiday drama "The Preacher's Wife" — a remake of the 1947 film "The Bishop's Wife" — young Justin Pierre Edmund made his acting debut as Jeremiah Biggs, the son in a family visited by an angel.
Justin Pierre Edmund would only work in Hollywood for four years following "The Preacher's Wife." After he appeared in films like "Music of the Heart," Justin's final two acting roles came in 2000 with an appearance on "Law & Order" and in the film "Once in the Life" before he disappeared from the limelight. In 2007, he traded fame for an education, studying at Carnegie Mellon University where he earned a degree in communication design. After his 2011 graduation, Justin became the first designer hired by Pinterest. Today, he's based in San Francisco and works as a product designer while living, loving and gaming with his partner, computer engineer Linna La (seen here).
In the 2003 holiday romantic dramedy "Love Actually," young Thomas Brodie-Sangster played Sam, a boy left in the care of his stepfather following the death of his mother. He's also dealing with the drama of having a major crush on one of his classmates.
Following his film debut in "Love Actually," Thomas Brodie-Sangster turned up everywhere. This young British star appeared in popular films like "Nanny McPhee," "Tristan + Isolde" and "The Last Legion." In 2007, he scored his longest running role ever voicing Ferb on "Phineas and Ferb." Thomas also made numerous TV appearance on shows like "Doctor Who" and "Inspector Lewis" and in 2013 landed a recurring role on HBO's "Game of Thrones" as greenseer Jojen Reed. The following year, Thomas co-starred in "The Maze Runner." He also made a cameo in "Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens" in 2015 — the same year he landed the voice role of John Tracy and Pirate Dobbs on the animated series "Thunderbirds Are Go." In 2019, Thomas reprised his voice role as Ferb in the animated adventure "Izzy Got the Frizzies." For the last few years, Thomas has been dating model, photographer and Instagram star Gzi Wisdom.
In the playful 1991 holiday family comedy "All I Want for Christmas," Ethan Embry and Thora Birch starred as Ethan and Hallie O'Fallon, siblings who are determined to get their divorced parents back together with a little help from Santa Claus.
The same year Ethan Embry starred in "All I Want for Christmas," he appeared in the Thanksgiving dramedy "Dutch" alongside "Married… With Children" star Ed O'Neill and in the TV movie "Bad Attitudes." After just two years in Hollywood, the young actor took a two-year hiatus, not returning until 1993's "A Far Off Place." That same year, he also appeared on the TV series "Harts of the West." More films followed, including "Empire Records," "White Squall," "That Thing You Do" and "Can't Hardly Wait." Ethan also appeared on various TV shows like "Murder, She Wrote" and "Work With Me" and lent his voice to several animated series such as "Hercules," "The Wild Thornberrys," "Rocket Power" and "Batman Beyond." 2002 saw Ethan starring alongside Reese Witherspoon in "Sweet Home Alabama," which he followed with "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" and the TV crime drama "Brotherhood." In 2011, Ethan got sober after battling an addiction to heroin and prescription pain pills. Sober Ethan landed roles on shows like "CSI: Miami," "Grey's Anatomy," "Once Upon a Time," "Hawaii Five-0" and "The Walking Dead" and in films like "The Guest." In 2015, Ethan landed two pivotal TV roles — as Pete Murphy on "Sneaky Pete" and as recovering addict Coyote Bergstein on "Grace and Frankie" — and in 2018 appeared in the film "First Man." Ethan remarried second wife Sunny Mabrey in 2015 following their 2012 split. He has an adult son with his first wife, Amelinda Smith.
Thora Birch was just 9 when "All I Want for Christmas" debuted in 1991 — the same year her role as Taylor Buckman on the series "Parenthood" came to an end. By 1992, Thora was back on the big screen in "Patriot Games." More films followed, like "Hocus Pocus," "Now and Then" and "Alaska." After taking a three-year movie break, Thora returned in the 1999 Oscar-winning drama "American Beauty." Since then, she's appeared in projects including "Ghost World" — which earned her a Golden Globe nod — "Silver City," "Slingshot," "Deadline," and "Affairs of State." In 2003, she also appeared in the made-for-TV-biopic "Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story," which earned her an Emmy nod. Expanding her acting horizons, Thora made her off-Broadway debut in 2011's "Dracula." In 2019, Thora appeared in three new films, "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," "Kindred Spirits" and "Above Suspicion." She also began a new role as Gamma on the apocalyptic sci-fi series "The Walking Dead." In 2018, Thora married editor Michael Benton Adler.