8 Former Child Stars' Most Unexpected Movie & TV Roles

They've come a long way

01 of 08



The former Suite Life of Zach and Cody star, now a 24-year-old N.Y.U. graduate, tweeted a very serious-looking photo of himself in the CW drama, Riverdale. "It's at 9 pm so ask mommy and daddy if you can stay up and watch," he captioned the photo. Based on Archie Comics, the show explores “the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade.”

02 of 08



Justice, who starred on Nickelodeon's Victorious from 2010 to 2013, traded in her squeaky-clean image for a sexier role in Fox's TV adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. "I love Janet Weiss' character arc because she starts off as very innocent and naïve and pure," she told PEOPLE of her character. "As the musical progresses, we all go through this dark and stormy night in this night of debauchery, and [Janet has] a complete sexual awakening. I'm in, like, my bra and slip for more than half of the movie," she teased. "I think it's safe to say that my Nickelodeon days are over."

03 of 08


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The world was first introduced to a fresh-faced Hudgens back in 2006's High School Musical, but the actress was quick to ditch her good-girl image following the end of the franchise — both in 2012's Spring Breakers and 2013's Gimme Shelter. "It was fun, it was really fun. Just because it's so rare that you get to do that. I put on 15 pounds, ate whatever I wanted. I'm not complaining," she said of prepping for the role of homeless teen Apple. "I cut off all my hair, which really set the tone. It was such a liberating thing and kinda reminded me — if I can do that, I can do this."

04 of 08


SPRING BREAKERS, from left: Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, 2012. /©Annapurna Pictures/courtesy Everett

Following her departure from Wizards of Waverly Place, Gomez took on a handful of different roles, but nothing compared to her turn as one of four bikini-clad college students (albeit the more innocent of the group) in the dark Harmony Korine-directed film, Spring Breakers. "I think it was a good character choice," she said of her role. "It was the right role to do … [My character] Faith was someone that I completely relate to and have this vulnerability towards. I just care about her."

05 of 08



In a move that surprised fans of the Teen Beach Movie and Austin & Ally actor, Lynch signed on to portray serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the upcoming movie, My Friend Dahmer, inspired by a novel of the same name that details the happenings of a young Dahmer in high school.

06 of 08


THE WACKNESS, Josh Peck, 2008. ©Sony Pictures Classics/courtesy Everett Collection
Sony Classics

"I think Drake & Josh is something that spoke to me when I was 15, and now I'm 21. My tastes have matured," Peck said in an interview in 2008 while promoting The Wackness, a coming-of-age film that saw the Nickelodeon star take on the role of a depressed drug dealer — and tackle his first nude scene.

07 of 08


The CW

Lizzie McGuire, is that you? Fresh off her leading role on the Disney Channel hit, Duff went on to focus on her music and acting career, which included a six-episode stint on Gossip Girl — an admittedly controversial role seeing as one of the episodes featured a threesome with Dan (Penn Badgley) and Vanessa (Jessica Szhor).

08 of 08



Before Scream Queens, Roberts showed off her edgy side by starring on American Horror Story: Coven — a departure from the typical roles the former Unfabulous star would take on growing up. "It's a role I've always wanted to do … I feel like I've typically played the girl-next-door, in the past," she said of playing witch Madison. "So, it's nice to mix it up and play the popular girl."

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