There were so many good things from the 90s: good products, good fashion, and more importantly, good entertainment. Whether it’s TV or the movies, you would expect no less from this era of Hollywood. For some, it was arguably the golden era of television, judging from the illustrious and memorable shows that sprang forth from it. Whatever your opinion on this discussion is, it is hard to deny that everything from the 90s was entertaining.
With good shows and movies come great actors. These are the actors that have become pop-culture icons and have gained a cult-like following. From the hair to the clothes, to even their lines, people wanted to be them and be with them. These fresh-faced stars became the perfect examples of heartthrobs and goals for men and women that saw them on the big and small screens. And who could blame them? They shone and shone brightly in their prime.
But not all these actors and actresses stayed the same. Some transformed into better, more mature versions of themselves, while others… weren’t as lucky. Some might have made bad decisions, while others simply faded from the limelight. Here are 15 famous stars from the 90s who look insanely different now.
15. Mariah Carey
The “Butterfly” diva came onto the pop scene at a pretty young age and made waves with multiple chart-topping songs and albums. Mariah has earned many awards, including an astounding 32 Billboard Music Awards and 5 Grammy Awards! She is also known for her five-octave voice, which can reach a whistle-high pitch, and extravagant concerts, specifically in Las Vegas. Glimpses of her luxe life can also be seen in her reality TV series, Mariah’s World.
Throughout her career, Mariah has experienced media backlash due to her seesawing weight. Starting out as a svelte singer, it’s hard to disguise the weight she’s gained over the years. Comments have also been shared regarding the change in the quality of her voice, due to lip-synching moments caught in some of her concerts. The years have been kind on her looks, but they haven’t been as good to her voice.
14. Jared Leto
From teen star, to musician, to Academy Award winner, Jared Leto has probably done it all. Starring in the 90s TV show My So-Called Life alongside other fresh-faced actors, he got his start in Hollywood at a young age and used that to propel his career sky-high. And as if not content with that, he ventured into music, forming a rock band called 30 Seconds to Mars and performed hit songs worldwide. He then took a hiatus and went back to acting after a few years in the rock scene.
Like some lucky stars, Jared Leto aged like a fine wine. He grew into his bone structure and got even dreamier as the years flew by. He also took his time honing his acting, attaching himself to heavy acting projects such as his roles in Dallas Buyers Club and Suicide Squad. It looks like things are only looking up for this rock star!
13. Claire Danes
Alongside Jared Leto, Claire Danes was also included in the original cast of the famous television show My So-Called Life. Fresh-faced at fifteen, she was every young teenager’s idol. Everyone tried to dress and act like her. Claire has come a long way from playing straight-A student, Angela Chase. Nowadays, she is known as portraying kickass CIA agent Carrie Mathison on Homeland and winning three Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes and two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards for various roles she has played throughout the years.
Ms. Danes has still maintained her trademark green doe eyes that seem to bore into your soul when she stares at you, but gone are the days of ginger hair and innocent looks. She has played around with different hair colors in recent years and has since lost the baby cheeks she once sported on the much-loved show. Nowadays, she’s just all sophistication — Angela Chase grew up mighty fine.
12. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Buffy the Vampire Slayer popularized the glamorized version of vampires in television shows. Sarah Michelle Gellar played the part amazingly well as she slayed beasts that threatened to harm her community and her friends. She was every boy’s teen dream, and every girl’s role model as she displayed fierceness and a lovability on the small screen. No one could forget her spunk and blonde ambition.
Sarah Michelle Gellar is also popular for playing the sassy Daphne in the live-action version of Scooby Doo. She played the role opposite Freddie Prinze Jr., her real-life beau. She has stayed low-key with regards to acting for now, taking on smaller roles in lesser-known projects. But we know her personal life is bliss since she just hit her fifteenth anniversary with her loving husband.
11. Paul Rudd
This brown-haired dreamboat debuted his acting career way back in 1995, in the romantic comedy movie Clueless, next to Alicia Silverstone. He played the fashionable Cher’s step-brother and later love interest. From then on, he made his way to the A-List with the movies and shows which featured his boyish charm and dashing smile. Truly, he’s stolen hearts across the nation and become a household name.
As the years went by, Paul Rudd found his path in acting in romance and comedy. He also works as a producer, making and writing smaller films that are also no less enjoyable. He has also had a brief stint in theater, putting his classical training from the British American Drama Academy to good use. He may have grown out of his young looks, but he still has that charm!
10. Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock has gone a long way since her first appearance in the 1996 flick Speed. Starting out as a young actress alongside Keanu Reeves, she made her way through the A-list and through the hearts of fans quickly. She soon took part in famous comedies like The Proposal and the ever-iconic Miss Congeniality. Her wit and fresh-faced beauty just keep getting better over the years.
Now, she advocates for gender equality in mainstream media and production. She is also a happy single mom to her son, Louis. From a simple beauty to a powerful A-lister, Sandra Bullock proves to be an inspiration to all the single moms out there. She only gets better and better as time goes by!
9. Joseph Gordon Levitt
This teen star grew into an indie favorite as time passed. Joseph Gordon Levitt transitioned from an awkward teenager to a total babe in a span of a few years. He involved himself in serious, heart-wrenching films such as 500 Days of Summer, and a number of independent projects. He also dabbled in music and has been featured in TV show specials for his singing.
The main difference in JGL then and now is that he let go of his previously long locks. He was a cutie, but his shoulder-length hair didn’t go with the teen heartthrob look. Thankfully, he chopped it all off and proceeded to become a rising star. At 31, he doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.
8. Macaulay Culkin
I’m sure everybody remembers Macaulay Culkin as the kid who had it all. He starred in the Home Alone franchise and the Richie Rich live action movie and became the goal for all youngsters who had a TV. He also starred in one of Michael Jackson’s music videos and became one of his trusted friends. But everything went awry when money matters and family issues started to mix when he was only fourteen.
He decided to quit life as a young actor, but that did not stop him from getting into party drugs. In 2004, he was arrested for being in possession of Xanax and marijuana. He, unfortunately, spiraled downward, going from a fresh-faced actor to looking bedraggled and unhealthy. But recently, there are reports of him coming up with independent projects like a band and a parody of the Home Alone movies.
7. Alicia Silverstone
Who could forget the amount of sass and fashion Alicia Silverstone brought to the silver screen in the late 90s? This beautiful blonde played Cher in the film Clueless, alongside Paul Rudd. She was also a teenage sweetheart, with her straw-blonde hair and fashion-forward ensembles. She was one of the most recognizable faces at the turn of the century.
Alicia Silverstone, unlike her on-screen love interest Paul Rudd, has stayed low after the movie dropped. She has instead focused on healthy living, writing a book called The Kind Diet for women who want to lose weight through a more forgiving way. But just last year, she resurfaced on the big screen, playing a role in the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Let’s hope she brings more glam this year and comes back to Hollywood!
6. Mark-Paul Gosselaar
The teen pin-up heartthrob who played Zack Morris in the popular sitcom Saved By the Bell is all grown up now! Gone are the bleached-blond golden locks and a stylish haircut — Mark looks totally unrecognizable now. He now sports darker hair and a full, thick beard and looks totally badass. He has appeared in shows like NYPD Blue and CSI, lending his gruff appearance to add drama to some scenes.
Aside from being a continuing TV actor, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is also a doting dad. He has four children with his second wife, Catriona McGinn, whom he married in 2012. He most recently started in the Fox TV series Pitch, which motivated him to gain more weight and fully grow out his beard. Reports last year were that he has been cast in a TV version of the best selling books of The Passage. This is a transformation we won’t mind seeing more of!
5. Mario Lopez
Here we have another star from Saved By The Bell. Mario Lopez started out as A.C. Slater in the sitcom, garnering his own multitude of fans. After the series ended, he ditched the mullet and got to working out. His Mexican-American heritage helped spice up numerous films and Broadway shows, appearing in Grease: Live. He also acts as a television-show host.
Currently a host for Extra, Mario Lopez has grown so much from his sitcom days. He now has two beautiful children and continues to appear on various TV shows. He also focuses more on fitness and health, having written a couple of books on the subject. He has also written a children’s book about his baby daughter, Gia. His dimples are legendary and just get more luscious the older he gets!
4. Joey Lawrence
Joey Lawrence appeared on hit TV sitcoms in the 80s, such as Gimme a Break! and Silver Spoons. He was also known for his role as Joey Russo in the series Blossom. This dashing star then forayed into the theater, making his Broadway debut in the show Summer Rental. He then went on to star as Billy Flynn in a Broadway production of the ever-iconic Chicago.
Joey Lawrence may have ducked out of the spotlight for now, but he has been productive. In 2012, he was contracted to be a Chippendales dancer in Las Vegas due to his dance and theater background. He also focused more on his career in music, putting out a record and starting a band called Still 3 just last year. His looks may have changed, but he’s still got that fiery spirit and can-do guts he had when he first started!
3. Lara Flynn Boyle
This raven-haired beauty is best known for appearing in the original cult classic Twin Peaks, and the 90s flick Wayne’s World. However, she lost out on the role of spunky Ally McBeal to Calista Flockhart in the late 90s, a role which could have propelled her to instant fame. Despite that, she still gained quite a large following when she appeared on the series The Practice. Lara Flynn Boyle also gathered fans because of her mysterious, dark-haired allure.
Despite appearing in Men in Black: II, Lara Flynn Boyle seems to be avoiding the spotlight for now and has done some producing behind the scenes. It seems like time hasn’t been too forgiving, either. Compared to her come-hither looks before, she hasn’t aged very well and looks to be the victim of some bad lip injections.
2. Tia & Tamera Mowry
TV’s favorite twin sisters have been famous since the 90s! After appearing in their own widely-popular series Sister, Sister, everything was uphill from there. The two continued acting and producing, ending up with their own movie on Disney Channel, Twitches. But they soon took a break from acting to pursue their college degrees at Pepperdine University.
After pursuing their psychology degrees, Tia and Tamera Mowry went on to find wedded bliss with their respective partners. They have matured into successful grown women now, with Tia bearing one child, and Tamera having two. Rumors have spread that a Sister, Sister sequel series is in the works, but there’s no telling as of now. There’s no word yet on whether they’ll make their return to TV soon, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed!
1. James Van Der Beek
James Van Der Beek was the title character of the long-running TV series Dawson’s Creek, as Dawson Leery. He was every teenage girl’s fantasy: a handsome boy with a sensitive heart of gold. Before getting his start on TV, James was a theater actor. After trying out theater, his agent booked him a certain audition, and the rest is history.
James Van Der Beek looks totally different now. Gone is the floppy brown hairstyle, replaced by a closer cut and some stubble. He looks all grown up now, after taking part in different, more adult TV shows like Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23. But he’s still the same James that we have all come to know and love — just look into his grey eyes, and get ready to swoon like a teen all over again.