When you think Disney, you automatically think of wholesome family entertainment. Which is ironic given how the Mouse has provided some of the hottest actresses and singers around. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera got their starts on the Mickey Mouse Club. Anne Hathaway became an instant star with The Princess Diaries while Lindsay Lohan rose fast on Disney films. Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus are three hot stars who were boosted by Disney. It’s amazing to see them turn from attractive to truly sexy women and unique how the Mouse can boost future sex symbols (Bella Thorne the latest to join that club).
However, there are a lot of ladies who have connections to Disney that are often overlooked. Actresses who have appeared in movies, both for the main studio and the Disney Channel when they were starting out and have been long forgotten. Even when these ladies became major stars (even a few Oscar winners), those credits are ignored and thus a surprise when you stumble upon them. Whether it’s a small bit in a big-screen picture or a leading role on a cable film, some starlets have some Disney credits that can be a real surprise. Again, a lot are famous for long-time Disney connections via their TV series and record deals, while some of the biggest names in Hollywood have done films for the Mouse when they were younger that even their most devout fans may not recall these bits. Here are 15 of the hottest starlets around who you didn’t know were in Disney productions and how fun it is to see them grow up so nicely.
15. Katherine Heigl – Wish Upon A Star (1996)
It’s true that Katherine Heigl has gotten a bad rap for her diva behavior over the years. However, there’s no denying the actress remains a very hot presence when she tries and still has a good humor in her roles. She had gotten attention as Steven Segal’s niece in Under Siege 2, handling herself well with the action. In 1996, Heigl starred in the Disney Channel film Wish Upon a Star, playing a popular gal in school who loves her style. Her jealous little sister (Danielle Harris) wishes on a shooting star to have her sister’s life. The next day, they wake up to find they’ve switched bodies and Heigl is fun to watch as she balances being a science nerd now in a hot body. Heigl had roles in numerous films before her star-making, Emmy-winning performance in Grey’s Anatomy. This led to box office hits like 27 Dresses and Knocked Up that added to her cred and showed her hot style more. She had a slump thanks to reports of her behavior but ready to return to TV in the drama Doubt and while some can slam her on her attitude, her sexiness still makes her quite the hot presence.
14. Reese Witherspoon – A Far Off Place (1993)
The Louisiana native had a major debut in 1991’s The Man in the Moon, winning over critics with her fantastic talent at only 14. In 1993, Reese Witherspoon had her first starring role in the feature A Far Off Place. While billed as a “family film,” the plotline is surprisingly dark as Witherspoon plays one of a pair of siblings who barely escape when their parents are murdered by poachers in Africa. Helped by a native, they embark on a trip across the desert for help that’s the equivalent of walking from Miami to New York. Even at such an early age, Witherspoon handles it well with some gripping scenes and real acting chops to carry the film along. Since then, Witherspoon has become one of Hollywood’s biggest leading ladies with Election and Legally Blonde as well as winning an Oscar for Walk the Line. She’s also showcased a truly hot side, shown in her nude scenes in Wild, her age doing nothing to rob her heat and bright smile. A long road indeed but Witherspoon handled it well.
13. Keri Russell – Honey, I Blew Up The Kid (1992)
Keri Russell had a long connection to Disney as she was part of the New Mickey Mouse Club in the early 1990s. Her sharp smile and frizzy hair made her stand out among the cast and was a star in the making. This led to her feature film debut in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid as a babysitter discovering her charge is growing into a giant. Roles in various TV shows followed until Russell became an instant star with the WB hit Felicity, a role so iconic that many still bring up her cutting her hair between seasons as the reason for a ratings slump. Currently, Russell is showing she’s gotten sexier with age with her starring role in the FX drama The Americans. It’s gotten huge acclaim as Russell shows off her body as much as basic cable can allow, adding startling heat to her scenes. Her lush curls may be gone but Russell still shines as bright as she did in her Disney days.
12. Megan Fox – Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen (2004)
In 2004, Lindsay Lohan burst into stardom after several Disney films like Freaky Friday and a few Disney Channel film appearances. Disney was pushing her more with her starring role in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen as a melodramatic student wanting to be an actress. Playing opposite Lohan, in her film debut, was Megan Fox as the “mean girl” competing with Lohan for a big acting break. Fox did showcase a great style as the “bad girl” but came around in the end while looking great in all her outfits. Three years later, Lohan’s career was starting its infamous free-fall while Fox exploded with her part in the first Transformers movie. Overnight, Fox was a stunning sexual presence on screen with her pursed lips, knockout body and flair for tattoos. Her career hit a bit of a slump but has seen success in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. Not to mention she still looks like one of the hottest women alive (unlike Lohan whose looks have… diminished).
11. Lena Headey – The Jungle Book (1994)
The lovely British actress had only a few credits to her name in her native England in the early 1990s. Her big break came in 1994’s The Jungle Book, a live-action take on the classic story which played much closer to the original text than the animated adventure. She played the daughter of a scientist who falls for Mowgli, the grown man long living in the jungle. The movie has plenty of adventure and fun seeing Lena Headey lose her straitlaced start to embrace the action a lot more. The actress had several such “proper lady” roles before becoming a star with her sensational, skin-baring performance in the hit 300. That led to her taking on the title part in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to show she had some major action chops. Headey currently has her more famous role of the conniving Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. Yet even this stunningly sexy woman had a start in a Disney film and it’s fun to see her in a more “proper” role.
10. Rose McIver – Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off (2003)
The actress from New Zealand came to prominence playing the Yellow Ranger Summer in the Power Rangers RPM version of the iconic franchise. She had made her debut in the Oscar-winning The Piano opposite Anna Paquin and thus showing her talent. In 2003, she starred in the Disney Channel film Eddie’s Million-Dollar Cook-Off, playing an athletic girl talked into joining her friends for a cooking competition. Rose McIver had another Disney Channel movie, Johnny Kapahala: Back On Board, playing a biker gal in Hawaii. In both roles, McIver showed a nice charm but also athletic skills. McIver has gone on to have other roles such as nude in Masters of Sex and currently plays the hottest zombie on television in the CW hit iZombie. McIver has a much sexier presence than she gets a chance to show and these movies were a great way for her to rise up in stardom.
9. Brie Larson – Right On Track (2003)
One might think Brie Larson just burst onto the scene in 2015 with her acclaimed Oscar-winning turn in the drama Room. But in truth, Larson had been a steady worker in Hollywood for years. She played Kat Dennings’ younger sister on the sitcom Raising Dad and various other TV shows. In 2003, she starred in the Disney Channel movie Right on Track, teaming with Beverly Mitchell as sisters who break out into the male-dominated junior drag racing circuit. While Mitchell got most of the attention, Larson showcased a nice charm and surprising talent. Larson would find further TV stardom playing Toni Collette’s daughter in United States of Tara before films like The Spectacular Now. Now an Oscar-winner, Larson is moving to blockbuster fare with the upcoming Kong remake and playing Captain Marvel but this film showed she had a knack for uniforms early on.
8. Kristen Stewart – The Thirteenth Year (1999)
Kristen Stewart became an overnight hit with her role as Bella in the Twilight movies, which were massive box office hits that put her on Hollywood’s radar. But Stewart had been working in the town for a decade before those movies, including her breakout as Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room. Before all of that, Stewart’s first acting credit was in the 1999 Disney Channel movie The Thirteenth Year. The comedy centers on a teen who discovers he’s actually a merman and handles the changes. One scene has him confronted by some kids at school on his behavior and trying to get away. Look closely and you’ll see that one of the girls by the water fountain is a young Stewart, almost unrecognizable from the actress known today. Stewart has gone on to carve a career in acclaimed indie films while also showing off a hot body in several. It’s remarkable how this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part was the debut of a future sexy starlet.
7. Keira Knightley – Princess Of Thieves (2001)
Her breakout was in 2002’s Bend it Like Beckham which had Keira Knightley hailed as “the sexiest beanpole on the planet.” She had been getting attention for playing Padme’s double in The Phantom Menace (aided by how Knightley and Natalie Portman do share a stunning resemblance). In 2001, Knightley starred as the title role in the Disney ABC film Princess of Thieves, playing Gwyn, the daughter of Robin Hood. Even in tight brown clothes and short hair, Knightley was lovely to look at with a funny scene where she seems surprised that folks are able to quickly figure out she’s a girl in men’s clothing. Two years later, Knightley had her more famous connection to Disney, starring in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie which made her an instant star. Since then, she’s balanced dramas (Pride and Prejudice), comedies (Love Actually) and more Pirates films while also standing out with her amazing sexiness in magazine spreads. But as this role shows, even when playing a tomboy, Knightley’s heat can never be hidden.
6. Milla Jovovich – Night Train To Kathmandu (1988)
Known for her quirky style and behavior, Milla Jovovich has also set herself up as a surprisingly successful action star. Her debut was in 1988’s Disney Channel film Night Train to Kathmandu, a fresh-faced ingénue barely recognizable today. The film has her as an American girl brought to Nepal and soon falling in love with the prince of a peaceful and invisible kingdom that only connects to Earth once a generation. A family film, Jovovich does show some surprising grit and intensity when needed to help the romance with the prince shine. Jovovich had roles in some movies like Return to the Blue Lagoon before becoming famous as the hot alien Leeloo in The Fifth Element. Since then, she’s become a major star with the Resident Evil movies, known for her great body and is amazingly skill kicking ass on the big screen. Yet it’s fun to see her so young and showing how even the most capable action ladies have unique starts.
5. Kate Winslet – A Kid In King Arthur’s Court (1995)
A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is a bad movie, there’s no getting around that. A take on the classic Mark Twain story, it focuses on a modern-day teenager who falls through a portal into Camelot and helps King Arthur fight a major threat. It’s really notable for two supporting performances. One is Daniel Craig (in a very bad haircut) as a knight. The other is that one of King Arthur’s daughter played by none other than Kate Winslet. Yes, before she became one of the most acclaimed Oscar-winning actresses of her generation, Winslet played the part of a British princess who turns out to be a more capable warrior in her own right. Even with the bad dialogue, Winslet is funny and smart and brightens the movie up whenever she’s on screen. Again, the movie is bad but Winslet does shine wonderfully to showcase the talent that made her a star.
4. Kaley Cuoco – Alley Cats Strike (2000)
The blonde had a number of small parts as a younger teen actress in various forgettable TV shows and small movies. In 2000, Kaley Cuoco starred in the Disney Channel film Alley Cats Strike, centering on a pair of teams battling for a bowling trophy. Even at this age, Cuoco showed a striking beauty and sharp wit while also looking great in the bowling outfit. That got her attention for her breakout role as the dim-witted beauty of the sitcom 8 Simple Rules. That led to roles in shows like Charmed before Cuoco’s career took off majorly playing Penny on the hit show The Big Bang Theory. She’s rocked various outfits from bikinis to costumes and showed great comic timing to shine among the cast. Cuoco is also known for a striking beauty outside the show, often looking stunning even when dressed in street outfits for errands. It all started here as this movie was the first taste of the great sexiness Cuoco has managed to turn into a top career.
3. Emmy Rossum – Genius (1999)
The lovely brunette got attention with movies like Mystic River and Phantom of the Opera, known as a bright presence and her warm roles. She changed that image big time for the Showtime series Shameless. In the dark comedy, Emmy Rossum goes all out as the eldest daughter of a wild Chicago clan, including doffing her clothing multiple times for some hot sex scenes. That’s why it’s funny that her very first major acting role was in the 1999 Disney Channel film Genius. It’s a classic story of a geek who tries to remake himself into a cool guy in order to win more friends. Rossum plays Claire, an older ice skater who falls for this “new kid in school” not knowing he’s a bit younger than she is. Rossum is charming in the part and even handles the skating sequences well as she helps the main character realize it’s better to be himself. Just amusing to see Rossum as such a straitlaced kid considering the wild lady she’s become on TV.
2. Hayden Panettiere – Remember The Titans (2000)
The lovely blonde became an instant star with her role as the indestructible cheerleader Claire on the hit TV series Heroes, many citing her as the best part of the show even when it hit a downturn in quality. But Hayden Panettiere had been rising up for some time and has a surprisingly long connection to Disney that’s ignored. She stole the show in the 2000 drama Remember the Titans as a football-obsessed little girl, audiences loving her fun lines and charm. In 2004, a teenage Panettiere starred in the Disney Channel movie, Tiger Cruise, playing a girl who’s part of a major school trip on a Navy ship when 9/11 occurs. Two years later, she starred opposite Michelle Trachtenberg in the movie Ice Princess as a rival figure skater. Today, Panettiere continues her role as hot country star Juliette Barnes on the drama Nashville and her Disney past shows just how well this cute little girl has grown up into a strikingly sexy starlet.
1. Kat Dennings – The Scream Team (2002)
The amazingly hot actress has risen well in various comedy movies but especially playing quirky Darcy in the hit Thor films. She’s also risen to stardom on TV starring in the hit CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls and is notable for her great humor and striking body. Before all that, though, Kat Dennings was just another struggling actress with roles like the short-lived Bob Saget comedy Raising Dad. In 2002’s The Scream Team, Dennings plays the older sister to a troublesome brother convinced that ghosts are haunting their house. It turns out he’s right and they have to help a trio of ghosts (Tommy Davidson, Eric Idle, and Kathy Najimi) taking out a major threat. Much of the role includes Dennings screaming at the FX ghosts and it’s funny seeing her in a more laid-back part. Today, Dennings is known for her stunning sexiness on full display on her TV show so it’s unique to see her as a dressed down teen here.