To celebrate the release of The Book Thief in cinemas on 26 February and its incredible actress Sophie Nélisse who plays Leisel Memminger in the stunning new film based on the international bestselling book by Markus Zusak, let’s take a look at some of the top child stars in film.
While Little Miss Sunshine was Breslin’s tenth film, this was the film that propelled her into young stardom at age ten. This Academy Award-nominated, iconic dark comedy follows the story of Olive (Breslin) and her family as they struggle to get her to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.
15-year-old River Phoenix shone in Stand By Me, a coming of age classic. Based on the Stephen King novel ‘The Body’, the film chronicles the countryside journey of four boys trying to find the missing body of a childhood friend. The film received critical acclaim, earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Drama. The role made River Phoenix a household name and marked the impressive start of his unfortunately short-lived career.
The second-youngest Oscar winner of all time, Anna Paquin took home the award for Best Supporting Actress at age 11 for her role in The Piano. Paquin played the role of the daughter of a mute piano player (Holly Hunter) who is sent to New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy frontiersman but soon falls for the friend of her fiancé, a retired sailor named Baines. This critically acclaimed dramatic masterpiece was Paquin’s first ever film.
At age 14, Jamie Bell took on the role of Billy Elliot, an 11-year-old son of a coal miner in North East England who dreams of being a ballet dancer. Pushed into boxing by his single father, Billy must fight through the negative views on male dancers to achieve his goal. Bell received widespread acclaim, earning a BAFTA for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures award for Outstanding Young Actor.
At the tender age of 12, Christian Bale was cast in the leading role of Jamie Graham in Steven Spielberg’s coming of age war drama Empire of the Sun. His gripping performance gained critical acclaim and The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures even created an award for his performance, Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor.
Known for her performance in Monsieur Lazhar, Sophie Nélisse will be taking to the screen again in The Book Thief. Directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey), The Book Thief is based on the beloved international bestselling book and tells the story of Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), an extraordinary and courageous young girl sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany. She learns to read with encouragement from her new family (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) and Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jewish refugee who they are hiding under the stairs.
For Liesel and Max, the power of words and imagination become the only escape from the tumultuous events happening around them. The Book Thief is a life-affirming story of survival and of the resilience of the human spirit.
Watch this featurette to learn more about Sophie and her character Liesel:
The Book Thief is in cinemas on Wednesday 26 February