Memorable Performances from Actors Under 12

Quvenzhene Wallis has gotten a lot of recent acclaim over her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, a film that was shot when she was 6 years old. There are those who believe really young children do not have the capacity to give an actual performance because they cannot intellectualize the process and are therefore simply behaving in the way that a trained seal might. Then again, what is acting if not behaving? Children possess innocence, and have marvelous imaginations, and acting requires both an ability to pretend, and a certain degree of openness. Though the stereotype exists of child actors giving robotic, coached performances lacking nuance and depth of emotion, there are plenty of young actors who have created memorable characters. While a number of iconic child roles were actually acted by teenagers playing younger, there are still many notable child performances achieved by actors who were under the age of twelve. Here are some of them.

Victoire Thivisol - age 4 - Ponette (1996)

Pierce Gagnon - Age 5 - Looper (2012)

Quvenzhane Wallis - Age 6 - Beasts of the Southern Wild (2011)

Hee-yeon Kim - Age 6 - Treeless Mountain (2008)

Dakota Fanning - Age 6 - I Am Sam (2001)

Melonn Levanna - Age 6 - Tomboy (2011)

Margaret O’Brien - Age 6 - Jane Eyre (1944)

Aida Mohammadkhani - Age 7 - The White Balloon (1995)

Ana Torrent - Age 7 - Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

Justin Henry - Age 7 - Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

Subir Banjelee - Age 8 - Pather Panchali (1955)

Ricky Schroder - Age 8 - The Champ (1979)

Tatum O’Neal - Age 9 - Paper Moon (1973)

Freddie Highmore - Age 9 - Finding Neverland (2004)

Mary Badham - Age 9 - To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Quinn Cummings - Age 9 - The Goodbye Girl (1977)

Vinicius de Oliviara - Age 10 - Central Station (1998)

Ana Torrent - Age 10 - Cria Cuervos (1976)

Ana Paquin - Age 10 - The Piano (1993)

Zoe Heran - Age 10 - Tomboy (2011)

Ivana Bacquero - Age 11 - Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Haley Joel Osment - Age 11 - The Sixth Sense (1999)

Elle Fanning - Age 11 - Somewhere (2010)

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