Once upon a time, there was an obnoxious red-haired boy who drove poor John Ritter (may he rest in peace) to the precipice of mental stability. That kid was named — simply, memorably, dare I say eloquently — Junior, and he was the havoc-wreaking center of the movies “Problem Child” and “Problem Child 2.”
Naturally, since Junior was a fictional character, the little psychopath was played by an actual boy. His real name? Michael Oliver. What, you may ask, ever happened to him? And, more importantly, is he still a problem? Let’s find out together.
To backtrack briefly, Oliver made his film debut in the first “Problem Child,” a job he won at the age of eight after — according to Wikipedia — a casting agent spotted his previous work in a Chevron commercial. He also reprised his role as the pint-sized pain in the ass in “Problem Child 2,” a gig that proved controversial when the studio, Universal Pictures, ultimately sued Oliver’s manager/mom, Dianne Ponce. The 1993 suit accused Ponce of coercing the studio into renogotiating her son’s contract just before “PC 2” was about to start shooting, a move that increased his salary from $80,000 to $500,000. (Well, he was THE “Problem Child,” wasn’t he?)
Oliver even took the stand at one point during the trial, but a Superior Court judge ultimately ruled that $80,000 was all he should get, which meant he had to return the rest of the money Universal had paid him to that point, around $170K.
But of course, Oliver’s life as an 11-year-old wasn’t solely about Hollywood lawsuits and ugly court battles. He also continued to act, picking up a small part here and there on TV shows like “Drexell’s Class” and in a little-seen film called “Dillinger and Capone,” featuring Martin Sheen as John Dillinger and F. Murray Abraham as Al Capone.
He eventually left acting behind, though, and — according to imdb and other sources — is now a roadie for the bands Nural and The Samples. His bio on The Samples Web site, which identifies him solely as “PC” (clever code for “Problem Child” … get it??), describes him as a “highly evolved old soul with a love of his lady and a passion for swords. And his own written language!”
If you’re interested, feel free to read a lot more snarkily written information about Oliver over at the Washed-Up Celebrities blog. All I know is the guy is now 27, appears to be gainfully employed and managed to avoid appearing in “Problem Child 3: Junior in Love.” That’s got to be worth something.
Here’s what Oliver looks like today:
Images: Wikipedia and Washed-Up Celebrities