When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen

  • Sean Astin and Elijah Wood in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (2001-2003)

    Made their names with:
    Astin made his name as loveable asthma-sufferer Mikey in ‘The Goonies’ (1985), while Wood fought his way up the Hollywood kiddie ziggurat in films like ‘Radio Flyer’ (1992) and ‘Flipper’ (1996).

    Got serious with:
    ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, in which they played plucky Hobbit heroes Sam (Astin) and Frodo (Wood), bound together in master-servant bondage as they slog doggedly towards the fiery mountain.

    How did it pan out:
    Reasonably well. Both men secured their names in the geek-icon pantheon, but have they just shaken off their child-star roots only to be shackled with another, equally pervasive public image, as humble, hairy-footed shortarses? As of writing, Astin’s career seems to have stalled while Wood is making a decent fist of it in smaller films and TV.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

  • The Fellowship of the Ring

    Young hobbit Frodo Baggins comes into possession of the ring of power - a talisman of evil so potent it corrupts everyone who touches it.

  • The Two Towers

    Aragorn emerges as a charismatic leader; Pippin and Merryweather get lost in the woods; Arwen is token romantic interest; Gandalf is resurrected; Frodo and Sam are sidetracked by Gollum.

  • The Return of the King

    The longest climax in film history: more than three hours of mad kings, massing troops, battle cries and ballyhoo. In terms of spectacle, there's nothing like it.