Then and Now: '90s Teen Heartthrobs

Clarisse Loughrey

Considering everyone on the internet is obsessed with the '90s at the moment, I thought I might as well give in to the trend and shove some nostalgia in your faces. So to celebrate the release of Richard Linklater's Before Midnight and the enduring memory of Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites, I've tracked down a few of your favourite '90s teen heartthrobs to see who's stayed on top and who's been relegated to guest appearances on CSI (aka the acting-career death-knell).


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Then: I'm assuming I don't need to explain this considering people still won't shut up, in the year 2013, about there supposedly being enough room on the floating door to support two people.

Now: Defintely not winning Oscars, that's for sure. Sadface.


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Then: The all-star jock of the '90s. While we obviously all remember him fondly from American Pie, Klein also comfortably filled the role for both Election and that terrible Farrelly Brothers movie Say It Isn't So. You know, the one about two lovers who may or may not be siblings. Which is, like, the most Farrelly Brothers-esque plot ever; so much so, it doesn't even sound real.

Now: While we were all briefly reminded of how great Chris Klein is in last year's American Reunion, even though it's a movie I can only describe as "acceptable", unfortunately Klein's typecasting has pretty much left him in a rut now he's aged out of teen roles. He did get to star in a movie called Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li though, so it's not all bad news.


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Then: Can we all please take a moment to remember how great a movie The Craft is? It's the kind of movie which, everytime you watch it, you suddenly find yourself 3 hours later in IKEA shopping for candles and black bedsheets. And getting back to Ulrich, absolutely no one was surprised that Sarah (aka Robin Tunney) would want to make a love potion to use on the high school hottie Chris.

Now: Ulrich guest-starred in both CSI:NY and and Law & Order: LA. The fact he didn't even land guest-spots on the original versions of both these shows is a very depressing indicator of his current career prospects.


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Then: The fact that I never knew Trip Fontaine from Sofia Coppola's adaptation of The Virgin Suicides in real life is one of the greatest tragedies of my teenage years. Coppola really knew how to use her directing skills to turn Hartnett from handsome young actor to Magic Man. Just look at that hair swish majestically out of his face. Hartnett's golden years in Hollywood, however, came round the first couple of years of the 2000s with his triple whammy of Pearl Harbour, Black Hawk Down, and 40 Days and Nights.

Now: Throughout the 2000s he continued to star in some fairly big budget movies, including Sin City, Lucky Number Slevin, and vampire action-movie 30 Days of Night. In more recent years, he's turned to lower profile indie projects, including ensemble-comedy Girl Walks into A Bar. However, Hartnett has yet to make a movie which really tops The Virgin Suicides, so here's hoping he'll pull a McConaughy sometime soon and make a big comeback. And by "pull a McConaughy" I of course mean only accept parts in which he can act mildly/fully psychopathic.


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Then: Terminator 2: Judgement Day's John Connor was the bad-boy tween girls everywhere dreamed of whisking them away into the sunset on his rad motorcycle. I mean, who wouldn't fall for a juvenile deliquent turned robot-rebellion leader? His debut movie turned him from total unknown to teen idol almost overnight; he graced teen magazines and became both a Calvin Klein and GAP model, starring in ads alongside Kate Moss and thus officially making himself "a 90s thing".

Now: Furlong has unfortunately been victim to the numerous pressures surrounding child stars, having battled with substance abuse throughout much of his life. It's also had a terrible effect on his career, which finds him now pretty much only starring in straight-to-DVD movies like The Crow: Wicked Prayer. Although he was initially offered the chance to reprise the role of Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, producers dropped him and eventually went with Nick Stahl instead.


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Then: Ryan Phillippe formed one of the essential power couples of the decade with Reese Witherspoon, marrying in 1999. The two then went on to star in that canon '90s teen movie, Cruel Intentions, the adaptation of Dangerous Liasons which added to that weird trend of modern teen adaptations of classic literature. He also took a turn in I Know What You Did Last Summer, which I assume was not a modern teen adaptation of classic literature.

Now: Phillippe hasn't actually fallen as much to the wayside as so many of his fellow 90s teen idols, nailing some pretty high profile roles throughout the 2000s, including Gosford Park, Crash, and Igby Goes Down. Bad news was though that Witherspoon and Phillippe went their separate ways in 2006, which was the symbolic equivalent of punching the 90s in the face. RIP love.


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Then: In the '90s, there once existed a magical, unicorn-like creature called Marky Mark. He rapped, wore backwards caps, and rarely wore a shirt. He was a precious gift to the world who endowed us with the classic song 'Good Vibrations' and starred in one of the most awkward celebrity ads ever to grace the small screen.

Now: At some point in the late '90s, some type of Pokemon evolution took place and Marky Mark became Mark Wahlberg. Mark Wahlberg has had a pretty successful acting career, garnering acclaim for Boogie Nights, The Departed, and The Fighter. Unfortunately, The Happening also happened.


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Then: Look, I know Batman Forever was bad (and Batman & Robin, let's just not talk about Batman & Robin). But you have to hand it to teen heartthrob O'Donnell for landing the sidekick role. Not only did he manage to beat out Matt Damon, Jude Law and Ewan McGregor, but when the decision had narrowed down to him or Leonardo DiCaprio, they made the final decision by asking a bunch of children who they thought would win in a fight. Oh yeah, Chris O'Donnell is Robin because Jay Gatsby is a total wimp.

Now: Good thing Leonardo DiCaprio is perceived to be weak by small children because starring in Batman & Robin pretty much killed Chris O'Donnell's career. I mean, imagine it the other way round. Chris O'Donnell as Tarantino's Calvin Candie and Leonardo DiCaprio with guest roles on Two and a Half Men and Grey's Anatomy. How does that make you feel?


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Then: Remember when the number one indicator of whether someone was famous was whether they'd guest-starred on either Friends or The Simpsons? Well Freddie Prinze Jr. was definitely famous in the '90s because he played that male nanny on their 200th episode. You also maybe knew him from I Know What You Did Last Summer, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, and I Have Concrete Evidence of What You Did Last Summer/ She's All That.

Now: Prinze Jr. has bizarrely primarily left the film industry behind to pursue his other great love: WWE. OK, wait, before you completely freak out, Freddie Prinze Jr. did not become a wrestler. He did, however, join the creative staff for a period of time before going on to guest host, produce and direct for WWE. He also married Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2002 and they're still together today. They are currently out there, being awesome somewhere.


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Then: Er, Randall "Pink" Floyd from Dazed and Confused, of course!

Now: I really would not recommend looking at London's post-Dazed filmography. To sum it up for you, he plays not-the-lead in a movie about Golden Retriever puppies callled...A Golden Christmas. How does this make you feel?


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Then: With so much critical success with Girl, Interrupted, The Thin Red Line, and Fight Club, Jared Leto was the intellectual's brand of teen idol.

Now: There's no slowing Leto down anytime soon. He's managed to brand himself as somewhat of a method actor, undergoing several dramatic changes in weight for roles. He lost 25 pounds to play a drug addict in Requiem for a Dream, then gained 67 pounds to play John Lennon's murderer in Chapter 27, and then lost 30 pounds to play an HIV victim in upcoming release Dallas Buyers Club. On top of that, he's of course been heavily involved with his band 30 Seconds to Mars for which he always seems to do weird things to his hair.


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Then: Joseph Gordon-Levitt pretty much spent the '90s being absolutely adorable in that TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun and 10 Things I Hate About You.

Now: Gordon-Levitt's new-millenium resolution was to only ever star in good movies and he's been pretty good at keeping it up (unlike the rest of us and our pathetic attempts to go to the gym). Sure, I know G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra somehow happened (has anyone ever figured out what that movie has to do with G.I. Joe the toy?), but he's more than made up for it with his performances in Brick, Mysterious Skin, and 50/50. And now, to top everything off, Gordon-Levitt is about to unleash his directorial debut Don Jon on the world. Basically, Gordon-Levitt still has our hearts and he's not planning to give them back anytime soon, sorry.

Who was your favourite 90s teen heartthrob? Let us know in the comments!

Follow Clarisse on Twitter: @clarisselou


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