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'90s Child Star Says He Stopped Working Because He "Wasn't a Very Good Actor"

Jonathan Lipnicki is still beloved for roles in Jerry Maguire and Stuart Little.

If you can easily remember that the human head weighs eight pounds, you probably owe that knowledge to the little kid in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire. Ray, the son of Renée Zellweger's single mom character, loved sharing facts like that one with Tom Cruise's Jerry, and the actor who played him, Jonathan Lipnicki, was a scene-stealer in the film. Jerry Maguire was Lipnicki's film debut, but he continued on to other popular movies and TV shows during the 1990s and early 2000s, including Stuart Little and its sequel, Like Mike, The Little Vampire, Dawson's Creek, and The Jeff Foxworthy Show.

Today, Lipnicki is 31 years old and back to performing. But, he took some time off from the entertainment business during his teenage years, and he explained the reason why in a new interview. Rather than simply wanting to live a normal life as a high schooler, as he thought his hiatus was construed, Lipnicki actually felt that he "wasn't a very good actor" at the time and needed to work on his craft. Read on to see what else he had to say.

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Lipnicki stopped acting in the mid-'00s.

Jonathan Lipnicki at the Beverly Hilton Hotel where Tom Cruise was honored with the John Huston Award by the Artists Rights Foundation in 1998
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

If you check out Lipnicki's resume, it looks like he's been working pretty consistently ever since he was a kid, but there's a gap during the mid-to-late '00s. At this point, Lipnicki was attending high school and not acting professionally.

"I didn't work for a long time," Lipnicki told Slash Film in a new interview. "And people always frame that as, 'Oh, I went to high school,' and whatnot. And that's the story that people tell sometimes when they don't work. Or if they're a child actor or whatever, they took time off. I did take time off, in the sense that it wasn't the only priority I had. But I didn't work because I just didn't work. I didn't really get any roles for a while."

Lipnicki previously told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017 that he was still "auditioning here and there" during that time.

He thinks he lost some natural ability as he got older.

Jonathan Lipnicki at the premiere of "Men in Black II" in 2002
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Referring to not getting roles during his teens, Lipnicki continued to Slash Film, "I'm honest about that. And it was because [I] wasn't a very good actor at one point."

He explained, "Because 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. And filters come in and you become nervous, or … The world comes into play. And so for me, I went from just doing the natural thing, to trying to be like my favorite actors."

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He lost confidence.

Jonathan Lipnicki at the premiere of "Monster House" in 2006
s_bukley / Shutterstock

In his Hollywood Reporter interview, Lipnicki shared similar thoughts, and said that he wasn't feeling confident in his talent in those days.

"I was kind of in an awkward phase, and I wasn't as confident in myself, and the best thing as an actor you can bring to a role is yourself," he said. "When you aren't confident in who that person is, you're not going to be the best actor. Truthfully, I wasn't the best actor for a while."

He started taking acting classes.

Jonathan Lipnicki at the premiere of "My Truth: The Rape of 2 Coreys" in 2020
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Lipnicki said that taking acting courses and working in theater helped him feel more confident in his talent.

"So there was a transition I had where I got out of high school and I started doing acting classes. And I took a beginning acting class and worked my way through," he told Slash Film. "And that was really where it took it to a new level where I was studying it. Really, really studying it. I'd never done theater as a kid, so I started doing theater. I always loved it, but I found a new, renewed type of love for it."

Today, he's back to loving what he does.

Jonathan Lipnicki at The Algemeiner's 8th annual J100 Gala in 2021
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Lipnicki returned to consistent onscreen work around 2012 and has appeared in movies, short films, and TV shows, along with continuing to act on stage. Some of his recent roles were in the TV series The Resident, the comedy Pooling to Paradise, and the horror movie Broil.

"I've thought about other career paths, especially during my teenage years, and there's nothing I'd rather do in my life," Lipnicki said on The Real in 2019. "Whether I'm doing big movies like I did in my childhood or—you know, I've actually done more work as an adult. It's just the films I've done haven't hit quite as hard as the ones I did as a kid. But, if you love what you do you've got to chase it."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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