Have you ever binge-watched your favorite show from when you were a teen? Or maybe you saw a cult film from the early 2000’s and thought, ‘whatever happened to X?’ It’s easy to forget about your favorite teen star until the show or movie that made them famous pop-ups on Netflix. Sometimes you might even wonder if they’re still around.
To answer your question, they are. They’re just doing other things aside from being famous, because you know being famous can be such a bore. Literally, if a nickel was given for every time an actress or actor complained about being famous, Hollywood could end world hunger. When we looked up what teen stars have been up to over the years, it seemed like a lot of them packed their bags to live regular lives away from the spotlight. Sure, some have managed to keep the media interested in them (we’re looking you, Leonardo DiCaprio), but for the ones who made a clean break from Hollywood, they seemed pretty bent on leaving it all behind.
There are a few who have been lured back to the big (or small) screen, but even they seem anxious to avoid being famous. Mayim Bialik only began acting again on Big Bang Theory to be eligible for health insurance and she lived her teen years on television. But, where are all those other teen stars that have disappeared? We’ve done the hard work of raiding celebrity IMDb pages and Twitter accounts, so you can sit back and test your knowledge about your favorite teen idols.
15 Taylor Momsen (Gossip Girl)
It turns out that we all want to forget about junior high, even if it just so happened that you lived out the most awkward years of your life starring in a hit television show. Taylor Momsen, whom teen fans will remember as Jenny ‘Little J’ Humphrey on Gossip Girl is determined to leave those years as a teen star far behind her. In fact, the former teen actress finds it frustrating to be asked about her time on the show. “It’s such a past life that it’s strange to continue to get asked [about it].” Towards the end of the show’s run on the WB, Taylor’s interest was already waning and her character was written off as ‘moving to a different city’. In real life, Taylor was focusing her attention on her newly formed rock band, Pretty Reckless, that has performed at Lollapalooza and opened for Evanescence.
14 Jamie Lynn Spears (Zoey 101)
Yes, she is the little sis to one of the biggest pop stars of our time, Britney. However, Jamie Lynn was paving her own path outside of her sister’s shadow as an actress. As a teen, she had a television show on Nickelodeon called Zoey 101 about a teen at a fictional boarding school in California. It was a success and Jamie Lynn seemed poised to be the next big Hollywood starlet. Then, overnight her budding acting career came to a screeching halt. At the age of 16, Jamie Lynn found out that she was pregnant. Her ‘perfect girl’ image was tarnished and Nickelodeon ended the show. On June 19, 2008, the former teen star gave birth to her daughter. She moved to Mississippi, got married, and chooses to live her life outside of the spotlight.
13 Rider Strong (Boy Meets World)
He popularized ‘bad boy’ bangs and oversized jackets on the sitcom Boy Meets World. The show was a replacement for the 80s ‘Wonder Years’, with the coming-of-age story of Corey Matthews. Rider played the bad-boy friend, Shawn Hunter, who provided most of the drama and girl crushes on the show. When the show ended 7 years later, Rider went to Columbia. He mostly stayed out of the spotlight focusing on screenwriting and directing. His short film Irish Twins premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and went on to win the Jury Award. After a few commercials and voice-over work here and there, Rider reprised his bad boy role as Shawn on the spin-off Girl Meets World in 2012. This time around he also stayed behind the camera, directing a few episodes.
12 Frankie Muniz (Malcolm In The Middle)
The former star of Malcolm in the Middle is known more for his Twitter rants about his distrust of self-driving cars and his health issues. The 31-year-old has been candid with magazines like People about his problems with long-term memory. Sadly, it has affected his memories of the time that he was the teen star of the hit show. Muniz has admitted that he doesn’t remember going to the Emmy’s or even how he got the job in the first place. After the show ended, Muniz’s interest shifted from acting to becoming a professional racecar driver and musician. Since 2004, Muniz racked up points to eventually join Team Stargate Worlds in 2009 and finished in the top 10 of every race. As a musician, he’s gotten a steady amount of work as a drummer performing with bands such as You Hang Up and Kingsfoil.
11 Jack Gleeson (Game Of Thrones)
His character was brutally killed off and as far as King Joffrey is concerned he has no intention of coming back to the screen, big or small. Jack Gleeson, the Irish actor who portrayed the worst king in history, won critical acclaim for his role as television’s most hated character. However, once his character was brutally murdered, Gleeson announced that he was packing his bags for college. He studied theology and philosophy in his native Dublin and then headed off to appear in a few puppet shows. Why? Well, the young actor is simply just too down-to-earth for Hollywood fame and prefers his local pub to the red carpet. And, his puppet show about two bears keeps him busy between Dublin and New York these days.
10 Andrea Barber (Full House)
Andrea Barber thought that she would never act again and that was quite all right with her. She played nosy neighbor Kimmy Gibbler on Full House, but after the show ended in 2015, she found that she dreaded the thought of going through the audition process. So, she left Hollywood and fame behind for college. She interned at the UN and even studied abroad in the UK. She got a job in international education and then left that to raise her two children. Her life seemed set and as far away from the spotlight as she could imagine. Then, she got a call from Netflix wanting to do a reboot of the show, this time called Fuller House. Andrea said yes and the rest is Netflix history of a former teen star coming back into the spotlight after living twenty years away from the small screen.
9 Tatyana Ali (Fresh Prince Of Bel Air)
Will Smith has moved on from his Fresh Prince of Bel Air days, but it appears his former co-star Tatyana Ali has not. The actress recently spoke to ‘US Magazine’ that she would be into doing a reboot of the hit 90s show. She played Ashley Banks on the show and used her fame to jumpstart her musical career. In case you’re wondering, it included an appearance on Smith’s album ‘Millennium’ and her own single ‘Everything' which made it to the top 20 in the UK. Other than that, Tatyana’s career has mostly been a few guest appearances here and there and Lifetime movies. She’s also a mom and even though she never went on to achieve the same level of fame as Will Smith, the actress admits that she’s happy with where she is in life.
8 Dan Benson (Wizards Of Waverly Place)
When you’re on a hit Disney show that won an Emmy, it might seem like you have a clear path to success in the entertainment industry. After all, Dan Benson stared in the same show, Wizards of Waverly Place, that launched the mainstream success of his co-star, Selena Gomez. It also doesn’t hurt that he went from sweet-faced best friend to a well-toned hunk. However, the teen actor doesn’t seem to be doing much acting these days. In fact in IMDb page looks pretty empty after 2012, which is when the show ended. His Instagram account does mention the hit show that he was once a part of, but he appears to stay out of the spotlight as a head talent manager at Ader Acting. We wonder if he still keeps in touch with his former co-star Selena Gomez?
7 Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas is the ultimate teen idol. During the late 90s, you couldn’t walk into a group of teen girls without them swooning at the sound of his name. And, let’s face it, he was the main reason that teen girls crowded around the TV to watch Home Improvement with their dads. He single-handedly made the sitcom popular with girls ages 13-25. For nine years he was a regular on the show and even put out a few cute films during his time on the show. Yet, when the show ended after nine years in 1999, he packed his bags to get away from fame and head off to college. He studied philosophy and history at Harvard and Columbia University. Then, in 2013 he resurfaced to reunite with his TV dad, Tim Allen on the show Last Man Standing.
6 Mara Wilson (Matilda)
You might know her better as Matilda. Sure, Mara Wilson also starred in the films Mrs. Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street, but it wasn’t until the 1996 film, Matilda that made the young actress famous and mistakenly called Matilda for the rest of her life. Yet, the actress didn’t seem that interested in acting. She turned down the chance to audition for the movie Donnie Darko and even stated that, ‘Film acting is not very fun.’ Instead, she chooses to focus her attention writing and guest starring in shows such as Broad City. She graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Queens where she focuses on ‘writing stuff’ as her website states. Apparently, the stuff included listicles for various websites.
5 Andrew Keegan (10 Things I Hate About You)
In case you forgot, he was the teen hunk who cracked the first jokes about different model faces. The movie was 10 Things I Hate About You and Keegan was a male model long before Zoolander. However, as an actor, his carer didn’t seem to go much further than his pretty boy role in the teen film. He did become a recurring character on 7th Heaven, but after the show ended in 2002, so did Keegan’s career. He didn’t seem too bothered by it as he created a religion (or cult depending on the circles) called Full Circle. It was based out of Venice and was described by Keegan as “a non-denominational spiritual community center where people…come together to meditate, practice yoga, and engage artistically.” We’re guessing his biography will read ‘90s Teen Idol to Cult Leader’.
4 Danica McKellar (Wonder Years)
If you looked up ‘girl next door’, Winnie Cooper would be the definition. On the iconic 80’s show Wonder Years, Danica McKellar played Winnie to perfection. She was beautiful, the best friend, and the love interest that millions of fans thought Kevin would marry. Not to mention that most coming-of-age boys wanted to marry her themselves. When the show finished, Danica pursued her bachelors in mathematics at UCLA. It was at this school that she had a new mathematical proof named after her called the Charles-McKellar-Winn theorem. She tried her hand at acting again and had a few guest spots, but later went right back to mathematics to earn her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. In 2007, she published her first in a series of best-selling books about math for young adults. So, yes it turns out that the girl-next-door is a mathematical genius.
3 Ariana Richards (Jurassic Park)
After 20 years, Jurassic Park has been rebooted. Let’s face it, it’s the best dinosaur film and perhaps one of the greatest films there is. So, it makes sense. Yet, some fans of the original are wondering what ever happened to Ariana Richards? You might remember her as the blonde little girl whose wide-eyed stare while eating Jell-O, let the audience know that the dinosaurs were coming. She stared as Lex in the 1st film of the franchise and aside from a few episodes on The Golden Girls and Boy Meets World she has seemed to disappear. It turns out that Arianna has become a successful painter over the last twenty years. She won the National Professional Oil Painting Competition in 2005 and is an official portraiture. And, in case you were wondering she happens to be a vegetarian now. No doubt her starring role had something to do with it.
2 Omri Katz (Hocus Pocus)
He was the virgin who lit the black flame candle to meet a bunch of ‘old broads’ in 1993. And, while the movie lives on as a Halloween cult favorite, Omri’s career hasn’t had the same amount of luck. He made a few appearances here and there on shows like Freaks and Geeks and General Hospital, but as far as far as picking up steady acting work goes, his most famous work to date is as ‘the virgin’. He has made a few guest appearances at events for fans of the cult film. Yet, aside from that, we don’t really know what he’s been up to all these years. Wikipedia listed him as a ‘retired actor’ and ‘People’ magazine stated that he was a hairdresser who moved back to Israel where both of his parents are from.
1 Kevin Jonas (The Last Name Says It All)
If you’ve been around in the last ten years, you’ve heard of the Jonas brothers. They’re a pop sensation from Disney set to make girls swoon. Eventually, the popular boy band did what all boy bands do. They broke up. Yet, some of them still find ways to stay in the spotlight. Joe Jonas is engaged to Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner and Nick’s good looks and a self-titled album keep him in the press. Yet, Kevin seems to have fallen off the media’s radar over the years. After he and his brothers went their separate ways in 2013, Kevin appeared on Celebrity Apprentice. And, that is literally it. No albums, no television shows, just a growing family with his wife Danielle. And, while his two children are absolutely adorable, they’re not enough to keep him in the spotlight, but they’re enough to make him happy.
References: PerezHilton.com, People.com, TheDailyMail.co.uk, Imdb.com