What the little girl from Little Miss Sunshine is up to now

Abigail Breslin is a rare exception in Hollywood: she's a former child star who has managed to build a career with real legs. By the time she received her first Academy Award nomination in 2007, Breslin had barely reached double digits in age, but she'd already forged quite a filmography for herself. Her first breakthrough came when she was just five years old, appearing as the adorable daughter in Signs opposite Mel Gibson. She then snagged a memorable role in the romantic comedy Raising Helen, before nabbing a leading part in 2006's Little Miss Sunshine — which would earn her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress at the age of 10.

But rather than peaking early and disappearing from the spotlight, as so many young stars did before her, this actress has since done a lot in showbiz — both good and bad. Here's what Breslin has been up to since she stole the hearts of movie audiences worldwide as the little sweatband-clad beauty queen in Little Miss Sunshine.

Abigail Breslin started a stage career with mixed results

After wowing critics everywhere playing the precious Olive Hooper in Little Miss Sunshine, Abigail Breslin took a note from her buzzy character and tried her hand at acting on stage. In 2010, she starred in the Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker, playing the lead role of Helen Keller. At the time, Breslin told Playbill the experience felt surreal, saying, "Heading towards the theatre, it's hard to believe I'm really on Broadway! This is the ultimate New York experience." Although critics weren't too kind about the overall production (The Hollywood Reporter highlighted its "uneven performances and problematic staging"), they did have praise for the young actress. As THR wrote, "Breslin, a 13-year-old playing ages 6-7, well portrays Helen's feral rebelliousness in the play's early sections and is deeply touching as her character's bond with her teacher grows."

Breslin returned to theatrical work in 2017 for the Off-Broadway run of All the Fine Boys, but this time, reviewers weren't so kind to her or the play. The Hollywood Reporter didn't mince words as it declared that "from its trivial opening scene to its melodramatic conclusion, All the Fine Boys feels shallow and superficial." Ouch. 

For her part, Breslin told TheaterMania that the stage felt like home: "I grew up in New York so I was really away from the scene of LA and the industry."

This Little Miss Sunshine star went from supporting actress to leading lady

Following her standout performance in Little Miss Sunshine, Abigail Breslin managed to maintain her status as a standout supporting actress. Given her young age, she was most often cast as the cute daughter figure in films like No Reservations and Definitely, Maybe, but she hardly faded into the background. Instead, she was witty and wise beyond her years and solidified her status as a young star who appeared to be an adult in kids' clothing.

It's no surprise, then, that as she aged, the actress reestablished herself as an equally talented title star. Breslin began making the jump to leading lady in 2008, when she snagged starring roles in Nim's Island and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Although the films were only moderately successful at the box office, they were well received by critics and fans alike. Kit Kittredge, for example, which was a big screen take on the ultra-popular American Girl dolls, got an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and helped prove that even as a pre-teen, Breslin had staying power!

Abigail Breslin's not scared to try different genres, regardless of feedback

Abigail Breslin likes taking risks in her career, and she's not too concerned about what others think. 2009 saw her next big breakout moment in a new genre when the actress was cast in the horror-comedy Zombieland opposite Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson. A slew of other roles followed — Breslin racked up over 15 credits in just 5 years — and then, in 2015, she had her TV breakthrough playing Chanel #5 on Fox's short-lived Scream Queens.

Breslin also took a side-step from comedy to try her hand at thrillers, albeit with little success. First, she starred in 2013's The Call opposite Halle Berry, which earned a mere $17 million opening weekend (and cost $13 million to make). Unfazed, she appeared opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2015's little-seen thriller, Maggie, which made less than $200k at the US box office. Final Girl and Fear, Inc. also failed to get a wide release and much attention.

In 2017, Breslin tried something new again when she was cast as Frances "Baby" Houseman in the TV movie reboot of Dirty Dancing. Although fans of the original were skeptical, Breslin wasn't too fussed. "I'm not a dancer, I'm not graceful, I can't even walk in a straight line," she told ABC News, but even with those trepidations, she went for it. Sadly, the risk didn't pay off, as Rolling Stone proclaimed, the "remake attempts to be all things to all people, and ends up being nothing to anybody."

Meryl Streep is Abigail Breslin's biggest inspiration

As Abigail Breslin's career began to take off, she had the opportunity to work alongside a slew of A-list actors, but there was one in particular who stood out: Meryl Streep.

Breslin was cast in 2013's August: Osage County with Streep, and the experience was awe-inspiring, to say the least. Opening up about the role of a lifetime to Entertainment Weekly, Breslin admitted, "Working with Meryl Streep was a huge thing for me. She's not the type of person who will come up and give you advice or tell you what to do, she's just so professional on set." She added, "She's always there off-camera for other actors and she just gives 110 percent. To me, that's the kind of actor I want to be."

But Breslin wasn't just in the presence of one megastar: the film also boasted the talents of Julia Roberts. Speaking with the Independent about the flick's star power, Breslin confessed, "It was pretty intimidating, very nerve-racking at first. They're like people that you've looked up to your whole life and then you have to, like, sit around a table and act with them." Even so, these two seemed quite fond of the budding starlet — so much so that Streep even gave Breslin "a little drawing that she drew of [her] character at the end of filming." Talk about a special keepsake!

The little girl from Little Miss Sunshine's foray into music was 'tragically bad'

In 2014, Abigail Breslin tried her hand at something new: the actress entered the music biz with the release of a song called "You Suck." In retrospect, that may not have been the best move, as critics were less than kind. Reviewing the song, which was reportedly about 5 Seconds Of Summer vocalist Michael Clifford, Bustle went as far as to call it "tragically bad and weird."

Speaking about her foray into music with Teen Vogue, Breslin explained, "I started writing and singing and taught myself guitar when I was about 13 after filming Janie Jones." After that, the budding musician got into the habit of bringing a guitar on-set. "I get ideas throughout the day and I'll record them into my phone and figure it out that night," she added, admitting, "I get inspiration from guys — they're obviously a huge source of information — living in New York, and my friends and experiences we have."

In addition to the media dissing the track, fans of Clifford also voiced their disapproval. The hashtag #YouTriedAbigail began trending on Twitter, and Brelsin even received death threats, but luckily, the actress-singer was able to tune out the haters. Also, it seems she didn't take it too personally. Speaking with Refinery29 years later in 2019, Breslin noted, "Oh, people hated it. You can call a spade a spade."

She escaped the child star curse thanks to her mom

Unlike many child stars, Abigail Breslin has managed to avoid the all-too-common pitfalls of growing up with fame and fortune — and it's all thanks to her mom. Getting candid with InStyle in 2018, the young actress revealed that her mother, Kim, has helped keep her grounded and strong. "She taught me from a very, very, very young age to stand up for myself and to not feel like my opinion didn't hold value," Breslin told the outlet. "She was like, 'Always say what you're thinking.'"

But it wasn't just her mom who played a vital role — it was Breslin's entire family who helped enforce a normal childhood. Previously speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the actress revealed, "My family's been really important. When I wrapped on the set and went home, it was always a set-free zone." Breslin recalled, "We couldn't talk about work, we just talked about real normal life things. And I think that helped a lot at keeping me from being weird. I mean I am, but, you know, they tried."

Growing up in New York, rather than Los Angeles, also helped keep her level-headed. "Being in the city is a little bit more grounded," Breslin said. "I think because there's so many different people here and so many different things going on, it's not all about making movies and making TV shows."

Abigail Breslin is a survivor of sexual assault

In 2017, Abigail Breslin opened up about a painful, intimate subject in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Taking to Instagram that April, she posted a photo showing a definition of consent, which read, "You are not obligated to have sex with someone that you're in a relationship with; dating is not consent; marriage is not consent," and captioned the text-image with, "I knew my assailant."

While most comments were supportive, Breslin had to clap back at one follower, who wrote, "Reported rapes are the only ones that count." In a second Instagram post, the actress revealed, "I did not report my rape." Getting extremely candid, she continued, "First off, I was in complete shock and total denial. I didn't want to view myself as a 'victim' so I suppressed it and pretended it never happened. Second of all, I was in a relationship with my rapist and feared not being believed [...] Thirdly, I knew how hurt my family and friends would be after finding out and I didn't want to put them thru that." Breslin concluded her emotional note by revealing that she had been diagnosed with PTSD "a year and a half" prior to these posts.

The Little Miss Sunshine star has been candid about her PTSD

After first revealing that she had been diagnosed with PTSD in April 2017, Abigail Breslin returned to Instagram that October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month to further share her experience. Uploading a photo of her injured ankle, she wrote, "I'm a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor. While I now am no longer with my abuser, in the aftermath of what happened to me, I developed Complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)." Blaming yhr injury on one of her "episodes," she told fans, "I was so freaked out and disoriented I slipped and fell on a piece of glass. Usually they occur right after I've been triggered." Breslin went on to explain, "Problem is, triggers are often very hard to detect."

Admitting that she initially felt "awkward and uncomfortable" about sharing her struggle with the world, Breslin concluded, "I reminded myself of something I say often: PTSD is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed or embarrassed about. PTSD is the result of an uncontrollable scenario. Never feel like you are less than because you have a condition that you didn't cause. You are still beautiful, you are still important, you are still WORTHY." 

We applaud Breslin for bravely speaking out on such important issues by sharing her own experience.

Abigail Breslin's not afraid of growing up

Audiences were first introduced to Abigail Breslin when she was just five years old in M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 film, Signs. It's no surprise, then, that many immediately picture a young child when they hear her name. But Breslin is all grown up now — and she's OK with that. The actress just wishes everyone else was, too.

Speaking with Refinery29 in 2019, a then-23-year-old Breslin joked, "Every article since I was 12 has been, 'She's all grown up,' and I'm like, 'When am I all, all, all grown up?' I'm not sure." She quipped, "That's what I'm gonna have on my tombstone: All grown up, like all the way. It's called puberty. It's a thing that happens to people, but some people really want me to just stay 9 years old forever."

While Breslin doesn't really mind, it has put a lot of pressure on her. The actress realized early on, "My mistakes are public mistakes, and when I was younger, there's no way I could have gone to a party and gotten a picture of me holding a beer in my hand. If I do it, I'm another child star gone down the wrong path." Breslin added with a laugh, "It's been that way since I was 14. I mean, I'll take it, but I am almost 24. I have been all grown up for quite a bit now, guys. That's going to be the headline for this article, right?"

This Little Miss Sunshine star is friends with Tiffany Trump and proud of it

Abigail Breslin isn't here for your criticism. In 2017, the young star defended her headline-making friendship with Tiffany Trump after sharing a photo of the two at a birthday party. As the hate messages poured in, Breslin took to Twitter to defend President Donald Trump's youngest daughter, writing, "ALRIGHT Everyone commenting mean s**t on my last insta, I have known Tiff for years she's a beautiful soul and regardless of [your] political views, do not take it out on her it is completely unfair." She continued on Instagram, "If you're judging me for hanging out with someone I've known for years [...] you need to reevaluate your life."

That wasn't the first or last time Breslin would proudly shut down Internet trolls. In January 2020, she didn't hold back when she unleashed on body shamers, slamming, "Dear [people] who call females, in my field (myself included) 'fat'; To quote 1 (*note sarcasm*) eloquent man 'did she go on the eat everything diet for z2?' Sir, did [you] go on the regurgitated, unrealistic, body shaming culture diet? Cuz...it's showing. P.s. Go f**k yourself."

Abigail Breslin is in a serious relationship

As previously stated, Abigail Breslin is all grown up now — and she's in a serious relationship. While the actress has done a great job of keeping her private life private, she hasn't been able to completely hide her love for one Ira Kunyansky. The pair have reportedly been dating since around 2017, and throughout that time, Breslin had gushed about her man on Instagram on several occasions.

In 2018, Breslin revealed just how sweet Kunyansky is, sharing a photo of herself hugging a gigantic teddy bear. "I asked my boyfriend for a teddy bear for Valentine's Day and he got me the teddy bear of all teddy bears and couldn't wait until Valentine's Day to give it to me," she explained. "So basically he won Valentine's Day this year." The pair have also walked the occasional red carpet together, and, in June 2019, Breslin shared a snap of herself sitting on her boyfriend's lap, and gushed, "Legit don't know what I'd do without you." Too sweet!

The little girl from Little Miss Sunshine's transformation almost broke the Internet

When it was announced that the original cast of 2009's Zombieland would be returning for the 2019 sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, Abigail Breslin's major 10-year transformation almost broke the Internet. As one Twitter user noted following the release of the film's trailer, "Only Abigail Breslin looks to have aged. That's nuts. Hell, Jesse looks like he just stepped off the set of the first one." Meanwhile, another posted a before-and-after shot of Breslin, jokingly asking, "Feel Old Yet?"

Yes, Little Miss Sunshine has grown up, and her on-screen roles are growing up with her. In July 2019, Variety confirmed that Breslin would be joining Matt Damon in Stillwater, a flick about an "American oil-rig roughneck from Oklahoma" who travels to Marseille, France to exonerate his estranged daughter from prison. In February 2020, reports of another major role surfaced when it was revealed that Breslin was supposedly being "eyed" to play Jill Valentine in the big screen reboot of Resident Evil. 

As we all can see, Abigail Breslin's future looks bright indeed.