Ah, the 2000s. If those years were a person, she would be the awkward younger sibling of the 1990s, who dressed in shiny silver tight pants handed down by her older sister, and neon crop tops that were soon to be out of style. The 2000s were a celebration of a new century, new technological advancements and new things to explore. Cellphones? Check. Instant messaging? Check. Email? Check. Needless to say, the 2000s started a new era of technological modernity, which has given us the conveniences that we now enjoy. But the 2000s weren’t just about groundbreaking technology.
It was also a great period for pop culture, which got even more popular thanks to the internet. If we ever needed to look up our favorite celebrities, all we had to do was turn on our computer, open our browser, type our search engine’s address, type a keyword into the search bar and hit enter. And speaking of celebrities, who could possibly forget Paris Hilton, probably the first biggest reality TV star, all dressed in pink, describing anything she remotely liked as “hot?” But Hilton wasn’t the only one who made it big in the 2000s. There were many others who became almost as popular, although their careers didn’t necessarily continue to flourish, no thanks to the tough competition in the industry. Now that it’s almost 2018, we’d like to remember some of the stars who were at the top of their game in the early 2000s, from TV, film, and music.
15. Sarah Michelle Gellar
In the 2000s, there were probably only two blonde-haired women who young girls wanted to be when they grew up — Britney Spears and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Girly girls wanted to grow up like Britney, but the tough girls wanted to be like Gellar. And while Spears rocked the pop music scene, Gellar dominated on television, playing the titular character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1997 to 2003. Thanks to her stint in the equally memorable Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer (where she met her future husband, Freddie Prinze Jr.), she easily transitioned to film. She later dyed her hair red for her role as Daphne Blake in the 2002 movie Scooby-Doo. Gellar’s last memorable TV stint was The Crazy Ones with the late Robin Williams. When she’s off camera, however, she’s mom to two children with Prinze Jr. She’s also currently working on a Cruel Intentions TV pilot, so we hope that pans out.
14. Rachael Leigh Cook
Rachael Leigh Cook achieved mainstream success with 1999’s She’s All That, in which she played Freddie Prinze Jr.’s love interest, Laney Boggs. To this day, the film is regarded as one of the best films of the late 1990s and early aughts. Cook followed it up with a role in the massively successful Texas Rangers, alongside her contemporaries, James Van Der Beek and Ashton Kutcher. However, the actress limited her work to direct-to-VOD films in the late 2000s to the early 2010s. Today, the actress maintains a low profile and spends most of her time raising her two children, Charlotte and Theodore, whom she shares with actor Daniel Gillies. The pair, who began dating in 2001, married in 2004 and had their first child in 2013.
13. Mischa Barton
British-American actress Mischa Barton has come a long way from her 1990s role in Nickelodeon’s KaBlam! to be one of the most recognized faces in Hollywood, especially in the 2000s. The actress is still best known as Marissa Cooper in The O.C., but also has several films to her name, including M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense in 1999. Her fame fizzled out in the late 2000s, however, and she only had some low-budget films to her name in the last few years. On television, Barton appeared in Dancing with the Stars season 22, where she was eliminated in just the third week of the competition. In 2017, she was involved in a lawsuit when her ex-boyfriend threatened to release her private adult tape. Thankfully, he agreed not to release it.
It was an interesting time for pop music in the early 2000s. Radio airplay was a diverse mix of girl bands, boy bands, rappers, solo artists and even Latino stars. Ashanti rose to fame in 2002 when she was featured on two tracks that soon occupied both the number one and number two spots in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously. Those two songs were “What’s Luv?” with Fat Joe and “Always on Time” with Ja Rule, both of which remain to this day her two biggest hits. The third one was “Foolish,” whose music video features Terrence Howard of Iron Man and Empire fame. Ashanti most recently reunited with Ja Rule to record “Helpless” for the Hamilton Mixtape by Lin Manuel Miranda. She also announced her sixth studio album this year, to be released in 2018. The album’s first single, “Say Less” feat. Ty Dolla $ign, was just released in November.
11. Mandy Moore
In a world full of Britneys and Christinas, be a Mandy Moore. The singer was once forced to comply with the early 2000s definition of a pop princess: blonde hair and bubblegum pop music. But as she grew up, she decided that she didn’t want to be a manufactured pop artist. Following her early success in pop music and her A Walk to Remember leading role, she released three more records between 2003 and 2009 that weren’t as big as her previous pop records. In 2015, Moore and singer Ryan Adams separated after six years of marriage, and in 2016, she returned to acting with the critically acclaimed NBC drama, This is Us. She’s now engaged to her boyfriend, Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith and enjoying a second chance at superstardom — something we believe she truly deserves as she’s a really talented artist.
10. Seann William Scott
Seann William Scott was in almost every comedy film that came out in the 2000s. The Minnesota native earned a name for himself in the American Pie films, as well as Final Destination, Dude, Where’s My Car? and The Dukes of Hazzard. Despite his critical success with Goon and Role Model, the actor soon faded into obscurity and decided to delve into voice roles. Yes, the actor who had multiple film roles throughout the early 2000s was delegated to voice roles when he couldn’t find a project that would be successful. The actor lent his voice to the Ice Age series, in which he played the role of Crash four times from 2009 to 2016. He did, however, reprise his leading role in the Goon sequel, Last of the Enforcers, in 2017. Here’s hoping we see more of him in the coming years.
9. Ashley Tisdale
Like her other peers, actress Ashley Tisdale began her acting career with Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, where she played the supporting role of Maddie Fitzpatrick. However, the role that led her to further mainstream success was that of Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical films, which produced three films between 2006 to 2007. In it, she played the villain who wanted to destroy the romantic pairing of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. In 2011, she reprised her iconic Paris Hilton-like role in the direct-to-DVD film Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure. After the HSM projects fizzled out, she had a few projects, including Amateur Night in 2016, in which she played the very mature role of an escort alongside Jenny Mollen and Janet Montgomery. The film starred another 2000s star, Jason Biggs.
8. Toby Maguire
Tobey Maguire dominated the early 2000s with Sam Raimi’s adaptation of the Marvel superhero, Spider-Man, with three films in 2002, 200, and 2007. Before there were Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland‘s teen versions of the wall-crawling superhero, Maguire launched his career as Peter Parker, and to this day is still hailed as one of the best actors who played the role. In fact, many 90s kids only acknowledge Maguire as the real Spider-Man, snubbing both Garfield and Holland. Soon after the franchise ended its run, however, the actor sporadically appeared in several films, which either tanked or never really gained any traction. His only major films post-Spider-Man is Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, and Tom McGrath’s animated film, The Boss Baby, which earned almost $500 million at the box office. In it, Maguire had a small role as the adult version of the narrator, Tim.
7. Michelle Trachtenberg
Michelle Trachtenberg is one of the biggest supporting actresses of the 2000s, given her role in the massively successful Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In it, she played Dawn Summers, the younger sister of the titular character. While she only played the role for three years, it was one of her two early roles that launched her career, the second being Nona in The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Post-Buffy, the actress delved into hosting with Truth or Scare, and also landed the part of Georgina Sparks in Gossip Girl, a role she played for four years. In addition, Trachtenberg appeared as Chloe Payne in Mercy, and was later relegated to guest starring roles in several TV series, as well as low-budget or direct-to-TV films. She’s no longer one of the biggest supporting actresses of the present time, but maybe she’ll make a comeback sometime soon.
6. Tom Welling
Tom Welling is arguably one of the most recognizable stars to come out of the early 2000s. His 11-year stint as Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, in Smallville earned him superstar status. But being too attached to that role made it difficult for him to expand his acting reach. After the conclusion of Smallville in 2011, Welling delved into film with Parkland, where he starred alongside Zac Efron. The John F. Kennedy drama was a major disappointment, earning only $1.4 million against a $10 million budget. In 2014, Welling starred in Draft Day alongside Kevin Costner. He also played a supporting role in the Nicholas Sparks film The Choice in 2016 and made his way back to TV with Lucifer‘s third season in 2017, where he plays Marcus Pierce. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to be as big as he used to be, but at least he’s still in the industry.
5. Sean Astin
Sean Astin is one of those amazing actors who just manages to pick projects that will truly resonate with audiences. Astin is still best known as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but he also established pop culture status as Mikey Walsh in the 1980s as Mikey Walsh in The Goonies. While he had minor roles and smaller projects after The Lord of the Rings, he again reaffirmed his place in pop culture when he starred in the second season of the critically acclaimed Netflix series, Stranger Things. In it, he played Bob Newby. For those who haven’t caught up with the new season yet, Astin guest starred as Winona Ryder’s new love interest and quickly captured the hearts and minds of the show’s fans, but not before everyone had an “aha” moment upon realizing it was the same guy who portrayed Samwise Gamgee.
4. Chad Michael Murray
Chad Michael Murray was one of the most popular young stars of the 2000s, with roles in several teen and horror films. On TV, he launched his career with Gilmore Girls as Tristan Dugrey, followed by a role in Dawson’s Creek as Charlie Todd. However, he is still best known as Lucas Scott in One Tree Hill, a role he played for six seasons. In films, you probably remember him as Lindsay Lohan‘s love interest in Freaky Friday, and Hilary Duff‘s love interest in A Cinderella Story. Over the last few years, Murray has kept working on projects, with a role in Zac Efron’s Cavemen and a regular supporting role as Jack Thompson in the ABC Marvel series, Agent Carter, which was unfortunately cancelled after two seasons.
Orville Richard Burrell, a.k.a. Shaggy, is one of those artists who has managed to stay relevant during the turn of the century. In the 1990s, he achieved mainstream success with hits like “Oh Carolina,” which was his 1993 cover of the 1958 John Folkes song, and “Boombastic,” which was released in 1995. His next major hit came in 2000, when he released “It Wasn’t Me,” which achieved mainstream success as well. He followed it up with “Angel” a year later. Shaggy’s undeniable global appeal was what helped make his mark in music, as his hits were also popular in countries like Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, to name a few. Nowadays, the singer is busy with his clothing line, Rae Town Apparel, and sharing his life on Instagram.
2. Jesse Metcalfe
While Jesse Metcalfe launched his acting career with his role as Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald in Passions in 1994 (a role he played until 2004), the actor is more recently remembered as John Rowland in Desperate Housewives. In the series, he is the love interest of Eva Longoria‘s character Gabrielle Solis, with whom she has an affair despite being married to Carlos. Before coming back to mainstream TV, Metcalfe was in the discontinued procedural Chase and the three-season-long soap opera, Dallas. Metcalfe continues to appear on television as Trace Riley in the Canadian/American drama series Chesapeake Shores. The actor is also a fitness enthusiast and is a spokesperson for Bodylogix. He’s set to star alongside Sylvester Stallone in 2018’s Escape Plan 2, for which he is physically preparing through spending long hours at the gym.
1. Chris Judd
Unlike the rest of the celebrities on this list, Chris Judd didn’t actually achieve stardom because of his acting career or even his dancing career. A now-famous choreographer, Judd started his career in the entertainment industry as a professional dancer, dancing alongside Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, NSYNC, Enrique Iglesias, and Brian McKnight. After collaborating with choreographer Eddie Garcia for the first time, he went on to choreograph numerous videos, one of which was Jennifer Lopez’s music video for “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” The chemistry between the two must’ve been strong, as they married just a year later, making Judd an instant star. They unfortunately broke up after just less than a year of marriage, and Judd now lives a quieter life with wife Kelly Wolfe and their four-year-old daughter.
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