Why Hollywood Won't Cast Steven Anthony Lawrence (Beans From Even Stevens)

Even if you don't recognize Steven Anthony Lawrence by name, it's almost certain you know him by face. Getting his start in the mid-nineties, the young actor would grow into a star with his role on Even Stevens. Playing Beans alongside Shia LaBeouf's Louis, Lawrence found his calling and instantly became a fan favorite. From there he turned in a strong film career for a child actor, appearing in a number of popular family films.

Things started to slow down for the actor in the second half of the noughties. After that, he could no longer be spotted in big studio films. While he popped up in a few TV episodes here and there, the 2010s were even more sparse for an actor with Lawrence's resume. As of this writing, his most recent role was the 2018 film, I Wrote This for You, in which he played "Cafe Guy."

So did something derail his career or cause him to take a step back? What is he doing now? Can he make a career comeback? Here's a closer look at why Hollywood won't cast Steven Anthony Lawrence.

Even Stevens left Beans ... closely counting the beans

Even when he was at the height of his fame on Even Stevens, Steven Anthony Lawrence was never raking in the big bucks. You might think that a big Disney Channel show would pay exceptionally well, but Lawrence's living situation made it pretty difficult for him and his family to thrive during that time.

"I was actually living in Fresno, California. About three-and-a-half hours north of Los Angeles. So when we were doing the show, I was living in a motel room five days a week, and I had to be back home during the weekend," he said to HuffPost. "My dad would, you know, God bless his heart, drive me back-and-forth, giving up his life to help me. So, obviously, that isn't exactly cheap, so a lot of the money I made from Even Stevens went to just doing that. ... And, you know, money was a little tight that year." 

It's impossible to say what the young actor could have done if he had been able to build a bit of a financial safety net off of that role, but it might have allowed him to be more selective in his career thereafter. The reality is, it sounds like it wasn't feasible for him to sit back and wait for that perfect role to thrust him further into the spotlight.

Steven Anthony Lawrence found work, but not much variety

After hitting his stride on Even Stevens, Steven Anthony Lawrence started getting calls from various Hollywood productions. He landed parts in big films next to some of the biggest comedians in the industry, films like Cheaper by the Dozen with Steve Martin, Kicking & Screaming with Will Ferrell, and Rebound with Martin Lawrence. There was just one small caveat. His role was often the same.

For some actors, getting typecast can lead to a lasting career. Reginald VelJohnson who wore a Hollywood costume badge for both Family Matters and the Die Hard franchise, for example, is happy to have been typecast as a police officer because it pays well. Getting typecast as the goofy kid, however, has a much shorter shelf life. By the time Rebound came out, Lawrence was already 15 years old and aging out of his niche. 

It didn't help matters that each of his comedic roles came in films that performed relatively poorly. Cheaper by the Dozen did well at the box office but failed to impress critics. Kicking & Screaming was called "groaningly familiar" by a BBC critic, and Rebound essentially copied the same formula, except did it worse.

Beans went bald right before our eyes

Let's face it, puberty happens to everyone. For some, the life change gives new confidence and turns ducklings into swans. For others, puberty can lead to an awkward in-between stage. While it's been suggested that this phase can build resilience in young people, it also seems like no one escapes adolescence unscathed. For young actors, it can be especially challenging to maintain a career during these turbulent times. Steven Anthony Lawrence lived this struggle. He had to go through puberty as a regular on popular TV shows and films. To challenge him even more, another typical male rite of passage befell him particularly early. 

"That sh*t really sucks, growing up on camera," Lawrence said on Kendall Talks TV. "You don't leave anything to the imagination. You see all the f**king weird phases, weird years, puberty, all that fun stuff. Watch my hair, every follicle lose its hair — each episode of Even Stevens." By the time he appeared on a single episode of Weeds in 2010, he had already lost much of his hair. 

Steven Anthony Lawrence is focused on his legacy

Around 2016, Steven Anthony Lawrence began running acting classes to pass on what he learned in his career. "I get a really big kick out of it," he told HuffPost in 2015, adding, "I've done a bunch of seminars at USC, I've done one at Berkeley, one at Pepperdine and a couple here at the high schools here in town in LA." He also started offering online classes through Skype around 2017, which have proven to be particularly prescient, considering how the COVID-19 pandemic drove many businesses to adopt a remote access model. 

While he's happy to help anyone — at the low cost of "forty bucks a week" — it's teaching kids that gives Lawrence the greatest satisfaction. "I teach kids, I teach all ages. Anybody that's hungry," he said to Business Insider, adding, "I think it's a big, big, big blessing to get kids to start learning technique at an early age instead of just making faces in front of the camera. We underestimate kids. Kids can be pretty darn smart at times."

By helping others, Lawrence is still leaving his mark on the industry, even if it's not onscreen. "I believe it's all about a man's legacy," he said on Where Ya Been??. "That's why we do what we do. We hopefully try to pass it on to the next generation. You know, inspire the next ones."

Steven Anthony Lawrence can't believe people still see him as Beans

Playing a beloved character is what most actors look to accomplish. Yet, sometimes a character can become so entwined with the actor, it's difficult to break free from it. Alfonso Ribeiro, for example, struggled mightily to move on from his character, Carlton, from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In fact, he went so far as to declare that his wildly popular portrayal of Will Smith's square cousin "stopped [him] from being able to be an actor" (per Guilty Pleasures On TV). For Steven Anthony Lawrence, Beans has followed him around ever since he was a child.

"I had no idea it would be this," told Kendall Talks TV. "To be real, when I auditioned for Beans, it was a guest star, possibly recurring." He added, "The fact that people still recognize me 20 years later is mind-boggling to me though, because I feel I look totally different." While recognizability can be a blessing, it can also be a curse. In 2015, when Lawrence took a job helping Santa at a local mall, fans came from all over to take photos with the former child star. As E! News reported at the time, this was possibly in "research" of his 2017 role in Holly, Jingles and Clyde 3D, which the outlet noted was "his first in three years," but many interpreted it as another former child star down on his luck.

Putting Beans back on the menu?

If Steven Anthony Lawrence can't shake the Beans tag, the next best thing would be to capitalize on it. According to Lawrence, an Even Stevens revival is not the craziest suggestion. "I don't think anything is out of the realm of possibility," he said in a 2015 HuffPost interview, adding, "I know Disney is doing the new Girl Meets World now. So you never know. Maybe Beans grows up and he has a kid who was like him when he was Beans, or something. You never know."

In 2018, his answer to the same question was more cryptic. "Maybe. Maybe, I can't actually say anything right now about that," he told Business Insider. And while other cast members have voiced their interest in an Even Stevens reboot, it would certainly be a challenge to complete without the involvement of the star of the show, Shia LaBeouf. As for him, the Transformers star didn't leave much daylight for fans holding out hope for a reunion. "I loved doing [Even Stevens]. It was a lot of fun," he told Entertainment Tonight, but added, "No, I haven't thought about that." In addition to that, LaBeouf's gut-wrenching, semi-autobiographical drama Honey Boy certainly cast a shadow over his time on the Disney show. However, LaBeouf could just be unpredictable enough to do it.

Steven Anthony Lawrence is a family man first

Steven Anthony Lawrence's filmography takes a noticeable drop after 2011. It looked like a hiatus, but the inactivity went unexplained for several years. Years later, the actor revealed that he was taking care of his family. Sadly, he lost both his parents to cancer at a young age. "My dad and I were really close," he said on Kendall Talks TV. "For me, family comes before everything, you know. So yeah, I stopped working to take care of my dad."

Losing his father, the man who used to drive him to his auditions and acting gigs all across the state, took a toll on the young man. "My dad actually got diagnosed with cancer actually on my 21st birthday," he explained on Where Ya Been?? "We were all planning on doing some, going to some bar, my dad and I and some friends. He had some check up, he had some, I forget what they thought it was, but it turned out to be something a little bit, it turned out to be cancer." He then stayed with his dad and took care of his needs until his death the following year. "If it wasn't for dad, I wouldn't be here today," he said. "Yeah, I love the guy and I miss him."