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‘Home Improvement’s’ Zachary Ty Bryan is ‘a cautionary guardrail’ for child stars: expert

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“Home Improvement” alum Zachary Ty Bryan is one of many former child stars who have struggled into their adulthood and ended up with a rap sheet. 

The 42-year-old, who starred as Tim Allen’s oldest son on the classic sitcom from 1991 to 1999, was arrested for DUI last Saturday night. 

The actor also pleaded guilty to felony assault in the fourth degree last year for a domestic violence arrest, and he was arrested in 2020 for allegedly trying to strangle his girlfriend. 

Doug Eldridge of Achilles PR told Fox News Digital said Bryan’s situation is different from some other child stars because he is in his 40s, and it is “not his first run in with the law, as he was also convicted on domestic violence charges in recent years.”

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‘Home Improvement’s’ Zachary Ty Bryan is ‘a cautionary guardrail’ for child stars: expert

Zachary Ty Bryan, seen in 1997, left, and in a 2020 booking photo for a domestic incident, was arrested last weekend for DUI. (Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images/Lane County Jail)

“The recent arrest for DUI is a somewhat binary decision: you’re either above the legal blood-alcohol threshold or you’re not,” Eldridge said. “In that sense, he’ll be facing a legal gauntlet, given his priors, which might be considered by the court. While he’s certainly going to receive some measure of legal punishment, at least nobody was injured in the incident. There’s always a positive to draw from stories like this; if his management team is both savvy and sincere, they’ll rebuild his ‘brand’ around sobriety and responsible lifestyles.”

He said Bryan’s name still has “cache” and he could “make a positive impact, using his own story and personal missteps as a cautionary guardrail for others.”

The 'Home Improvement' cast

Zachary Ty Bryan, second from right, played Tim Allen’s oldest son on “Home Improvement.” (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Kathy Fielder, president and CEO of Kathy Fielder Design, told Fox News Digital, “There are many childhood actors and performers who are known for making mistakes during their careers. It takes so much to learn how to properly manage money, fame, and fortune for anyone, much less someone who isn’t an adult.” 

She added, “The exposure that young celebs receive and the sheer amount of luxury can become addictive and create unwanted behavior in adulthood. When you make enough money that you are able to live an incredible lifestyle at such a young age, it can be difficult for ‘normal’ life to hold your attention and looking for diversions can many times become a recipe for trouble. When you have never known ‘normal,’ it becomes hard to marry reality with idealism.”

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Zachary Ty Bryan in a 1994 episode of 'Home Improvement.'

Zachary Ty Bryan in a 1994 episode of “Home Improvement.” (ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Fielder said that some former child stars feel the need to continue the “feeling for being in the limelight and aligning your worth outside of being on camera or at the right party or awards show,” adding that it is “undoubtedly a hard reality when you no longer may be the center of attention.”

Here are some other child stars who ran into trouble with the law.

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan's booking photos

Lindsay Lohan was arrested several times in her 20s. (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Monica Police Department)

Lindsay Lohan is one child star who seems to have turned her life around. 

She got married in 2022, welcomed her first child in 2023 and has started to make a comeback after leaving the industry for nearly a decade. The now 37-year-old found her way into moviegoer’s hearts when she played both scheming, yet well-meaning twins in 1998’s “The Parent Trap” when she was just 12 years old. 

She went on to make hits like “Freaky Friday” and “Mean Girls,” but as she entered her 20s, the star started to become more known for her legal problems and hard-partying than her career. 

Lindsay Lohan and her husband at the Falling for Christmas premiere

Lindsay Lohan married Bader Shammas in 2022. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Netflix)

The actress was first arrested for DUI and cocaine possession in May 2007 and again on similar charges in July of that year. She pleaded guilty to the charges later that year and was sentenced to community service, a day in jail and court-ordered rehab. 

In 2010, a judge issued an arrest warrant for her when she failed to appear in court after allegedly losing her passport while attending the Cannes Film Festival in France. 

She was sentenced to 13 days in jail and was jailed again that September for failing a drug test. 

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The following year, she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor grand theft charge over a necklace taken from a store. She was sentenced to 120 days in jail, but ended up serving it as house arrest due to overcrowding. 

Her probation was also revoked that year after she failed a blood alcohol test. 

July 6: Lindsay Lohan cries in a Beverly Hills Court House after being sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Lindsay Lohan cries in a Beverly Hills Court House after being sentenced to 90 days in jail in 2010. (AP)

Her problems continued into 2013, including pleading no contest to leaving the scene of an accident after hitting a hotel employee with her car.

“Most celebrities are allowed whatever they need or want at any given moment, which brings a sense of entitlement for those who may not have the best leadership and inspiration around them,” Fielder said. “Many manage it well; but for a childhood actor, now adult, it becomes more difficult in many cases to face the realities of normalcy. As a society, we have seen over and over again, young actors who fall into trouble, many times out of sheer boredom with the status quo.”  

Macauley Culkin 

Macaulay Culkin at walk of fame ceremony

“Home Alone” star Macauley Culkin went through his share of troubles as a former child star but now has his life together and just received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Getty Images/Shutterstock)

Macauley Culkin also found stardom in the 1990s but at an even younger age than Lohan. 

The now 43-year-old is engaged and is the father of two children. He also seems to be working on his own comeback, receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December. However, Culkin had his fair share of struggles for years after starring in the megahit “Home Alone” in 1990. 

Fourteen years after being cast as Kevin McCallister in the holiday classic at just 10 years old, Culkin was arrested on drug charges and later pleaded guilty. 

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Macaulay Culkin's mugshot

Macaulay Culkin in a mug shot following his arrest on drug charges in 2004. (Kypros/Getty Images)

He also had some trouble with his now-estranged father, Christopher Cornelius “Kit” Culkin. 

The “Uncle Buck” star has accused him of physical and mental abuse, including threatening violence against him if he messed up a take when he was acting on set. Culkin also filed a lawsuit to get access to the fortune he made after his father kept the millions the “My Girl” actor had earned a secret from him. 

Eldridge told Fox News Digital that the guardians of child stars should always make sure first and foremost that the young actor “has a safe, stable, and nurturing environment in which to grow and develop.”

“First, the term ‘child star’ itself denotes the would-be celebrity is by definition a minor; in the case of Hollywood, that doesn’t just mean under the age of 18, it often means children as young as 3, 5, 7 years old, etc,” Eldridge said. “Point being, if a starlet is young enough that he or she needs help going to the bathroom, writing their name, or crossing the street, everything else should be viewed through that same lens—they are a child first and foremost.” 

Macaulay Culkin makes a face like his "Home Alone" character.

Macaulay Culkin makes a face like his “Home Alone” character. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

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Eldridge noted that the child star “often pays for the sins of the parents, who put themselves and the prospect of fame and fortune above that of their job as guardian, protector, and provider.”

He added, “Problems that surface in early teenage years – in the case of Lohan, [Edward] Furlong, [Haley Joel] Osment, and others – often began when they were still at the elementary level. It’s not always a case whether they were pushed into the deep end, but rather, that there wasn’t a responsible, guiding hand to pull them back when they wandered toward the edge of the proverbial pool.”

Tatum O’Neal 

recent photo of Tatum ONeal split with photo of her with her Oscar at age 10

Tatum O’Neal became the youngest person to win an Oscar in 1973 for “Paper Moon,” but she has spent much of her life struggling with drug addiction. (Getty Images)

Tatum O’Neal was just 10 years old when she won an Oscar for 1973’s “Paper Moon,” which she starred in with her father Ryan O’Neal. She still holds the record for being the youngest winner of an Academy Award. 

The now 60-year-old went on to star in “The Bad News Bears” in 1976 and “Little Darlings” in 1980. 

O’Neal was arrested for cocaine possession in 2008 after a police officer watched her buy the drugs in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. She was remanded to a drug treatment program at the time. 

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Ryan O'Neal wearing sunglasses posing with Tatum O'Neal

Tatum O’Neal with her father Ryan O’Neal in 2011. Ryan died in December 2023. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images For PSFF)

“Just when I was about to change that and wreck my life, the cops came and saved me,” O’Neal told the New York Post in 2015.

In 2020, “The Runaways” actress overdosed and suffered a near-fatal stroke that left her in a coma for six weeks. 

“I’ve been through a lot,” O’Neal told People magazine in December. “I’ve been trying to get sober my whole life. Every day, I am trying.”