Nicholas Hoult

Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc/Sipa USA

We're all familiar with the child star whose adorableness doesn't quite translate to adulthood—but that doesn't mean there aren't a few—just a few—who've managed to reverse the pattern.

They started out as guys who entertained us on the small or big screen as the nerdy, quirky or homely kid. Usually the sidekick. Maybe they reminded you of your best pal in middle school, or your goofy little brother. You know, awkward. And relatable!

But then: They disappeared from your radar for about a minute and a half, and next time they popped up, they were all manly jawlines and pecs and testosterone and cheekbones, and generally looked like candidates for Sexiest Man Alive. What happened?! It just does not compute. 

 Well, we may never have an explanation for this wonderful phenomenon, but let's just take a moment to appreciate six stellar examples:

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Nicholas Hoult, About a Boy, Hunky Transformations

Universal Studios; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

1. Step Down, Hugh Grant: As an 11-year-old Nicholas Hoult played friendless little oddball Marcus in About a Boy opposite ladies' man Hugh Grant and endeared himself to audiences with his quirky little face and Vulcan eyebrows. A mere five or six years later and he'd morphed into sexy, troublemaking high school student Tony in the U.K. series Skins. And things have only continued to improve rapidly since, as the young Brit's taken recent hot-guy starring roles in Warm Bodies and Jack the Giant Slayer, all the while modeling occasionally for Tom Ford and rocking red carpets in his 6-foot-3-inch frame like nobody's business. That's one successful growth spurt.  

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Hunky Transformation

NBC; George Pimentel/WireImage

2. (At Least) 10 Things We Don't Hate About Him: His precocious talent was always obvious, so it hasn't come as any surprise that Joseph Gordon-Levitt proceeded to a prominent acting and directing career in adulthood. But who knew, back in the days when he played little Tommy Solomon, oddball alien on Third Rock From the Sun, that he'd end up so swoonworthy? Dapper Joe's as debonair as they come in a designer suit, and hello, have you seen the biceps in that Don Jon meme pic?!

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Matthew Lewis, Harry Potter, Hunky Transformations

Warner Bros.; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

3. Move Over, Cedric Diggory: Well! Neville Longbottom turned out not only to be Gryffindor's Heir but apparently Hogwarts' prom king as well. OK, maybe not as J.K. Rowling originally envisioned it, but Matthew Lewis' physical transformation during the eight Harry Potter films from an appropriately plain, dull-appearing young misfit to tall and studly added an interesting level to Neville the character's personal growth. Even the use of false uneven teeth and cheek padding (throughout the franchise) was doing little by the last two installments to tone down Lewis' charismatic good looks.  

Brian Austin Green, Beverly Hills 90210, Hunky Transformations

Fox; Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

4. Megan Fox Wouldn't Have Looked Twice: Hard to remember it now, even for those of us who were devoted viewers, but in the early years of Beverly Hills 90210, Brian Austin Green did not hold the ubiquitous Hollywood hottie vibe he's maintained for the last decade-plus. No, his David Silver started out as the, well, not-uncute, but kinda scrawny, younger tagalong of the gang, completely overshadowed by older, way-hotter (then) Luke Perry and Jason Priestley. Then sometime around the second season he blossomed before our eyes and achieved full Tori Spelling love-interest status before you could say "Donna Martin graduates." And the rest is history.  

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Josh Peck, Hunky Transformations

Dimitrios Kambouris/Kevork Djandsezian/Getty Images

5. Even Amanda Couldn't Diss This: Josh Peck spent his teenage years playing chubby second fiddle to Drake Bell's more conventional looks, first on The Amanda Show and then on Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh. But toward the end of the latter series Josh began working on getting fit, and, The successful voice-over actor(Ice Age films and others) keeps his handsome mug off-camera too much for our liking (apparently he's busy making Vines too), but check out 2012's Red Dawn, where he totally takes his rightful place among fellow hotties Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth.  

Patrick Dempsey, Can't Buy Me Love, Hunky Transformations

Touchstone Pictures; Paul Fenton/ZUMA Press

6. McDreamy Wasn't Always So McDreamy: Ah, Patrick Dempsey. The romance-novel-worthy hair, the misty gaze—this guy has to have always been gorgeous, right? Right? Well, er, no. Once upon a time in the '80s (ask your parents), he played nerdy-but-worthy everyteens in movies like Can't Buy Me Love, and had the appearance to match. And though he gradually grew into handsomeness, we'd even say it wasn't really until his later 30s, close to the start of Grey's Anatomy, that the star reached his full looks potential. Looks that are apparently Enchanted, as they haven't diminished the tiniest bit so far

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