One Of The Most Famous Child Actors Explains Why He Left Hollywood

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Jonathan Lipnicki says he left Hollywood for a time because he was a bad actor.

By Charlene Badasie
| Published

Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire

Jonathan Lipnicki made his acting debut at the age of five. He starred opposite Tom Cruise as Ray, the adorable young son of Dorothy (Renée Zellweger) in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film Jerry Maguire. The youngster was an instant hit with viewers and subsequently landed roles in high-profile family films like Stuart Little, Dr. Dolittle, and Like Mike. Now, in a new interview with SlashFilm, the 31-year-old revealed why he took an extended break from Hollywood.

“The biggest transition for me was… I didn’t work for a long time,” Jonathan Lipnicki said. “And people always frame that as, ‘Oh, I went to high school,’ and whatnot. That’s the story people tell sometimes when they don’t work. Or if they’re a child actor or whatever, they took time off.” The actor added that while he did take time off, it wasn’t the only priority he had. He explained that he didn’t work because he didn’t really get any roles for a while.

Jonathan Lipnicki starred in several short films and direct-to-DVD projects for some time in the early 2010s. But his career never returned to the highs of his childhood stardom days. He went on to reveal that the biggest reason he didn’t get roles was his acting talent. “I’m honest about that. And it was because I wasn’t a very good actor at one point,” he told the publication. The 31-year-old attributes the change from being a carefree child to being older, more nervous, and trying to emulate actors he admired.

jonathan lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki in Circus Kane

“The great thing about being young, a kid, is there’s this nice inherent childlike wonder. And that’s why a lot of kids you see are quite talented,” he continued. “But then filters come in and you become nervous… or the world comes into play,” Jonathan Lipnicki said. “And so for me, I went from just doing the natural thing to trying to be like my favorite actors.” Wanting to improve his craft, the former child star enrolled in acting classes after high school. He also took theater roles as part of an effort to become a better actor.

This included working as an understudy in a production of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore which allowed him to learn from Chris Pine. Working on smaller projects also gave Jonathan Lipnicki the opportunity to see some amazing actors in that production work. He found the entire experience really inspiring. And although he never went on, the Jerry Maguire alum got to rehearse some really difficult material which was a formative experience in its own way.

These days, gave Jonathan Lipnicki has a renewed interest in bigger acting roles. In August, he joined the cast of Safier Entertainment’s indie horror flick Camp Lake Pleasant. Written and directed by Thomas Walton, the story follows an enterprising couple known as the Rutherfords. But their lives are thrown into disarray when they decide to open a horror camp on the abandoned property where a young girl was kidnapped, and her parents were brutally murdered 20 years ago.

Starring alongside Jonathan Lipnicki in Camp Lake Pleasant is Robert Lasardo, Kelly Reiter, James Di Giacomo, Michael Pare, Bonnie Aarons, Devanny Pinn, and Mike Ferguson. The actor will also appear in The Re-Education of Molly Singer, where are stars alongside Britt Robertson, Teen Wolf’s Holland Roden, and Jaime Presley. Directed by Andy Palmer from a script by Todd M. Friedman and Kevin Haskin, the story follows a young lawyer who must go undercover as a student to save her job.