Jerry Maguire star Jonathan Lipnicki unrecognisable ahead of big screen return

Bursting onto the acting scene at the age of five, Jonathan Lipnicki certainly made an impression as Renée Zellweger's son Ray in the blockbuster film Jerry Maguire.

With his cheeky smile and adorable lisp, it was no surprise he then did a run of films including Stuart Little and The Little Vampire.

He caught the acting bug after attending acting workshops with his older sister Alexis.

"I decided it might be fun and gave it a go," he told the BBC in 2002. "I liked it so much that I started auditioning for stuff, and I got into commercials which led me to audition for Jerry Maguire."

Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry McGuire and on the red carpet for the film's premiere in 1996.
Who can forget Jonathan Lipnicki's debut in Jerry Maguire when he was just 5 years old? Photo: Getty Images

Even as a five-year-old, he was thrilled to meet Tom Cruise.

"I was so excited because I loved Top Gun," he told Bustle. "He comes with his big movie star smile into his trailer and I’d never met anyone like him. And to this day, I’ve never met anyone like him.

"He has so much charisma and so much focus, it’s a beautiful thing."


Now at almost 32 he rarely gives interviews, particularly about the past, however, he recently opened up about his love for acting as a young child and his later struggles with acting as an adult.

"I went from reading 'Go, Dog. Go!' to scripts," he told /Film. "It just was engrained in me. And it was always my choice. My parents, after every project, would ask me if I wanted to continue doing it. And the answer was always yes.

"And it went from just being this thing that I loved doing probably to actually thinking of the craft and whatnot kind of early on. Maybe 10? The biggest transition for me was... I didn't work for a long time.

"I didn't work because I just didn't work. I didn't really get any roles for a while. It was because [I] wasn't a very good actor at one point. 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."

Jonathan instead turned to acting classes, theatre and independent films to hone his craft.

Jonathan Lipnicki outdoors and with his Cairn Terrier Denny from his Instagram account.
Jonathan loves the great outdoors and his Cairn Terrier Denny. Photo: Instagram/@jonathanlipnicki

He also indulged in his passions including Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

"My family actually owns an MMA promotion company, so it’s kind of a family deal," he revealed to ESPN in 2012.

"I wouldn’t call myself an instructor by any means. I wouldn’t want to give myself that kind of credit because there are black belts out there who are phenomenal. But I do help out."

He also revealed in the interview that he had reached out to his Jerry Maguire co-star Tom Cruise for guidance on his acting career.

"I’ve seen Tom Cruise a few times this year and he’s always been super-supportive of me," he said. "I wanted advice and also just wanted to see him again. He's a really inspiring person to me. He still is.

"He took the time and was really gracious about it, he gave me a lot of time and a lot of great advice."

Jonathan Lipnicki on the red carpet in 2021 and 2022
Jonathan may have grown up but he's stayed in the industry. Photo: Getty Images & Instagram/@jonathanlipnicki

In 2017 Jonathan admitted that, despite his fame, he'd been bullied at school and as a result had suffered from anxiety and depression.

"As a kid-teen I was made fun of relentlessly by some people who are now even my friends on FB," he posted on Instagram. "I was told I was a has-been and would never book a job again."

He also spoke with TooFab about that time in his life, saying: "I didn't go a day without going home and being upset.

"I didn't go a day without being called some form of gay slur, or a hateful slur pretty much every day of middle school. All I've ever wanted to do my entire life is make movies. To be made fun of for the thing that you love and be told you're not going to be a success is hard.

"It was something I definitely had to overcome. I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me a little bit to this day to a point where I do have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder where I want to prove the world wrong."

Jonathan sought out treatment for his anxiety and depression and will be returning to the big screen next year, first in the horror flick Camp Pleasant and then The Re-Education of Molly Singer which also stars Brittany Robertson, Jaimie Pressley and Wendie Malick.

"I'm very grateful for what I did as a kid, and it definitely helps in a lot of ways. But it opens some doors and it closes some," he admitted to /Film.

"I'm 31 years old, I'm almost 32. And I love what I did, but I also ... I want to live in the present, here. And I have a lot more, as an actor, to offer than what I did when I was a child."

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