The Evolution of Madeline Zima from “Hand That Rocks the Cradle” Until Now

Madeline Zima started out as being kind of a tough kid her first feature which was Hand That Rocks the Cradle. As Emma she was kind of precocious in a way but also very innocent. One thing she wasn’t though was weak-willed, since after all she did manage to fight back against Peyton when she decided to go after her family. Obviously as a little girl there wasn’t much she could do but she did her absolute best to keep Peyton from killing everyone. In this movie she kind of made a statement about what kind of actress she was going to be right off the bat. Most people would have easily said that as a kid there was no way that she could tell just what kind of actress she would continue to be if she went on to have a career, but so far it seems that the evolution she’s undergone between films and TV has shown that she’s still the talented girl that she started out as, but now with a great deal of experience behind her.

The First Evolution

Emma was an innocent in this film, but at the same time she learned to toughen up throughout the movie since she did go against Peyton near the end. Not much was expected of her but to be cute and take direction, but it seems that this film sparked something that kept her going and allowed her to become the actress she is today. Obviously she had to prove herself more than once throughout her career but that hasn’t been too difficult since she’s been acting now for a while. In fact after Hand That Rocks the Cradle she started in on her TV role as well, beginning with appearances on Law & Order and The Nanny, where she became a main character. During this first evolution there was a short period of transition that saw Emma go from being the young girl onscreen who couldn’t do much in the way of protecting herself to the young girl that was a little more capable but still needed a great deal of help.

The Second Evolution

The role of Grace wasn’t so much a backward slide as it was a step forward under the radar. Her character was an intelligent young girl that required therapy for a condition that has been lost to time, but thanks to the presence of the nanny, Fran Drescher, she eventually got to stop her therapy and found a deeper sense of purpose in her life and acclimated very well to the nanny, thinking of her as a mother figure. The show was actually pretty entertaining and lasted for six seasons, just long enough for Madeline to say that it was very influential in her personal growth and beneficial to her time spent as an actor. Throughout these six years she continued to act in other venues but she also gained a great deal of experience that allowed her to move on with her career when the show was over. From this point she went on to guest star on a number of shows and continued to do movies, though many of them likely aren’t remembered quite as well. Thankfully the point is that she continued to change and evolve as her career went forward and didn’t perform any serious backslides that are all too common among child actors. It’s strange, but those that are are cared for by their parents and kept under close observation so as not to stray too far tend to be the most balanced when they reach adulthood. Odd how that happens isn’t it? You would almost think it could become a trend.

The Third Evolution

Her innocence is all but gone now. She can still be a nice girl in films and TV as it’s possible as an actor, but just this one clip from Californication shows that the little girl she was is gone. That’s a heck of a leap from The Nanny but it’s one that’s important since it shows that the last vestiges of girlhood are really and truly gone from this talented young woman, as are any of the nerves she might have experienced in her earliest and transitory years. It’s not a negative thing in the least since it means that she has matured and managed to become a well-established actor that has found her place in Hollywood and is accepting it fully and without reservation. But if you compare the young character of Emma to anything that Madeline does now there are worlds of difference in how she started and how she is now. You might say ‘of course there is’, but really and truly the evolution of any actor tends to be something amazing when you sit back and look at it. Like anyone in this world there’s no telling which way they’ll go, whether they’re going to be a success or a flash in the pan. Thankfully for Madeline her evolution has been something she can be quite proud of.


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