See '90s Teen Idol Devon Sawa Now at 43
The actor became a heartthrob after starring in movies like "Casper" and "Now and Then".
If you were coming of age in the 1990s, there's a strong chance that one of your first celebrity crushes was Devon Sawa. The young actor's roles in Casper, Little Giants, Now and Then, Idle Hands, and, later, Final Destination cemented his teen heartthrob status. But his popularity also led him to rebel in order to break away from it all. Speaking of his career slowdown in the late '00s, Sawa told The Independent in 2022, "It wasn't completely my choice to take the break. I was burnt out, I was drinking too much. I was partying too much." Luckily for his fans, the former child star got through the tough time and is active in the business again. In fact, he's received a lot of positive attention for two recent roles. Read on to find out more about the now-43-year-old's life today.
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He hated being pigeonholed by his teen idol status.
Fans still reach out to Sawa on social media to tell him how much they love him in the movies from his early career, including the live-action 1995 comics adaptation, Casper. But he found it difficult to make the transition into being taken more seriously as an adult actor, despite winning roles in less wholesome movies, including Idle Hands and Final Destination. "I had to smoke pot in movies and I had to be in a hip-hop video," Sawa told The Independent, referring to his appearance as the title character in the 2000 video for Eminem's song "Stan." That's what I felt like I had to do to get away from 'Can I keep you?'" That's the most beloved line from his scene with Christina Ricci in Casper, which many fans hold dear.
Sawa also explained to the outlet what helped him escape his rut and come to terms with his reputation. "And so I went back to Vancouver and got sober," he said of giving up his partying days. "After a couple of years, I met my wife and we went away to southeast Asia. I wrestled with the idea of never acting again. I had started doing a little bit of real estate in Vancouver. I bought a little old building and started to renovate it myself."
He got Emmy buzz for a recent guest role.
When he did return to Hollywood, Sawa took on several roles in independent movies before joining the cast of Nikita in 2010 and staying on the show until it went off the air in 2013. In 2017, he played Nico in the series Somewhere Between, and, over the last few years, has done episodes of Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, and Magnum P.I. He's also appeared in movies including The Fanatic, Hunter Hunter, and Gasoline Alley. Right now, he's a recurring cast member on the well-received TV version of the horror franchise Chucky, which is coming back for a second season. And he thrilled fans by recently showing up in the HBO comedy Hacks, playing a younger man who helps Jean Smart's character get her groove back. Some TV critics even predicted that he'd score a Guest Actor Emmy nomination for the role.
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He's a husband and father.
Sawa married his wife, Dawni Sahanovitch, who is a producer, in 2013, and the couple have two kids: a son, Hudson, born in 2014, and a daughter, Scarlett, born in 2016. When his daughter was born, the Chucky actor told People, "My wife Dawni and I welcome a beautiful little girl into the world—our daughter. Please say prayers that she is quiet and calm… Unlike my son, who would shoot himself out of a cannon if we let him."
Sawa has tried to share his work with his kids—with differing results. In 2021, he told Us Weekly that his son was "confused" to see his father looking so young in Casper. As for just the trailer for Chucky? "[T]hey're not having it," the actor said. "I gave it a shot! They weren't having the Chucky show, so I don't think there'll be watching that either."
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Being such a successful child actor made auditioning more difficult.
In an interview with Collider this year, Sawa talked about the process of auditioning for Hacks, and how—in the age of COVID—most auditions happen by an actor filming themselves doing a scene and then sending it off, rather than having to show up to read the scene in person. The actor also said that, because of his level of fame post-Casper, he usually didn't have to audition for projects as a kid and got out of the habit.
"All I could think about was wanting to leave the room," he said of a terrible audition experience he had after his acting hiatus. "I don't even remember the audition. I just wanted to leave. It was horrible. It was a horrible experience." Sawa added, "I was thinking, 'But this is not how it's gonna be on set. I've been on set. It's a lot different from this big room with all these suits, who are not laughing at the right things and who are just eating.' I didn't get that job, by the way, after all that."
But, despite not being the quintessential LA actor who Sawa describes as knowing how to schmooze all the casting agents, he's forged an adult career that he loves. "Listen, I'm on Hacks and I'm on Chucky," he told the site. "I'm a happy guy. I really, really truly am."