Where child stars of Christmas films are now – unrecognisable Santa Claus actor, shock car chase and ‘dating’ Brad Pitt | The Sun

RECOGNISE these fresh faces from your favourite festive films?

These child stars had their big breaks in Christmas movies but might have you wondering what they went on to do. 

Christmas films have launched the careers of stars like Mara Wilson whose first role was in A Miracle on 34th Street and Game of Thrones actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster first appeared in Love Actually. 

It can be a tough industry and some make it and find fame while others end up in the depths of despair. 

From Christmas gigs to jail for car chases, we explore what became of the kids in your favourite Christmas flicks. 

Nativity! – Sydney Isitt-Ager

In the 2009 film, child actress Sydney Isitt-Ager played little Sadie in Mr Madden's class. 


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The film follows Mr Madden – played by Martin Freeman – as he fibs to his class his Nativity performance has been picked up by a Hollywood bigwig. 

But  after studying at theatre college in Epsom, Surrey, she has her first role as a grown up in a Netflix Christmas film. 

She plays Miss Nerris in the film Mistletoe Farm – also starring Nativity! Co-star Ashley Jensen.

She also told how she’s appearing in Nativity the Musical, saying: “Did someone say full circle moment?” 

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Elf – Daniel Tay

Daniel left Hollywood to study economics at Yale University

The child actor starred opposite Will Ferrell in 2003 Christmas flick Elf. 

In the movie, Daniel was just 12 when he played Buddy’s half brother Michael. 

Instead of pursuing a career in Hollywood, the brainbox went to study Economics at prestigious US college Yale. 

He also studied Chinese and now coaches students in their SATs while writing on the side. 

The Santa Clause – Eric Lloyd 

Eric played adorable Charlie Calvin in all three of the Santa Clause movies with Tim Allen. 

Aged just eight when he was cast in the role, he finished up the series in 2002 as a teen. 

But now aged 36, he still works in showbiz but opts for a behind the scenes role.

He got into sound engineering and opened his own production studios in Glendale, California. 

His costar David Krumholtz recently made a WWE Raw appearance.

Bad Santa – Brett Kelly

As chubby dork Thurman Merman, Brett Kelly had his first role in Bad Santa and its sequel. 

He went on to have roles in Paul Feig’s Unaccompanied Minors in 2006 and Adrien Brody film High School before studying business in Canada.

But in 2016, he chose to gain 50lbs to bring back his role as Thurman in Bad Santa 2.

He said: “The pain came after. It took about four months to put on and then I’d say about twice that to take it all off.”

This year he’s been cast in Canadian legal drama Family Law where he plays paralegal Cecil. 

Jingle all the Way – Jake Lloyd

The 1996 film was Jake Lloyd’s first Hollywood role – starring as Arnold Schwarznegger’s son Jamie in the holiday romp.

His biggest role came in 1999 when the ten-year-old was cast by George Lucas as Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. 

In 2001 he quit the industry after bullies targeted him over his Star Wars role. 

He told The Sun at the time: “My entire school life was really a living hell.”

In 2015, Jake was arrested after a car chase and was held for 10 months while awaiting trial.

He was then diagnosed with schizophrenia and transferred to a psychiatric facility. 

Deck the Halls – Alia Shawkat

She may be better known for playing Maeby Funke in Arrested Development but one of Alia’s first roles was in Deck the Halls. 

She starred as Matthew Broderick’s daughter Madison in Deck the Halls in 2006. 

Since, she has had roles in Broad City, sells paintings and provided vocals for band Fake Problems in 2010.

But in 2019 and 2020, there were rumours she was dating Brad Pitt after the pair were repeatedly spotted together. 

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But Shawkat laughed off the story, telling the New Yorker they were just friends: “It was so weird. Now it’s like a weird dream, where I’m, like, Did that happen?”

She added: "He was, like, 'I'm sorry. It happens. If you hang out with me, it happens.' He had no awareness of it at all."

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