Adolescence is a tough time in a person’s life. Fraught with changes in your body and emotions that take time to understand, there are a few things that make it a little bit more palatable to go through. First off, in a huge portion of the world, we have s*x education now that allows people to have an understanding of what is happening to us and assures us that we aren’t alone in it. Another aspect of this time of life that is fun, especially when looked at it in retrospect, is to develop crushes on people for the very first time. After all, becoming infatuated with someone at a young age is something none of us are likely to forget. And, it is oftentimes amusing to look back at our ignorance of human relationships.
Of course, having eyes for one of your classmates is a rite of passage we all go through. But that is more likely than not going to be awkward as you feebly try to interact with the one that has your heart. Instead, it is the crush that youngsters tend to get on celebrities that are more easy to be amused by, both at the time and when looking back. That is because you are largely unlikely to meet the person in question at all, let alone interact with them on a regular basis. The celebrities from the 2000’s that were best situated to be fantasy fodder for youngsters from that era are an interesting bunch as they are likely still trying to transition to their adult life to a certain degree. Realizing that made us curious to see what many of them are up to now. That is why we put together this list on looking at kids’ crushes from the 2000’s and where they are now.
In order for someone to be up for consideration to be included on this list, they first need to have attained a certain level of fame in the 2000’s. Next, they need to be people that many younger people at the time had a crush on, which means that we gave a premium to stars below a certain age. Finally, it doesn’t matter what the people in question did to earn their fan following; so those involved in the acting, music, or any other industry could have been in the running.
20 Larisa Oleynik
She is a former child star that played the lead role in a show called The Secret World of Alex Mack, as well as the film The Baby-Sitters Club. Despite that, Larisa Oleynik’s star-making role was still to come. Cast as one of two high school sisters that a pair of boys had their eyes on in 10 Things I Hate about You, her character was lovable despite her duplicitous actions. Entering the year 2000 right after that film’s release, she would appear in several episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun. She also showed up in several other films and shows. Still an actor today, over the last few years, she appeared in episodes of Mad Men and has three movies set to be released in the year 2017 alone.
19 Julia Stiles
When we touched on the career of Larisa Oleynik, we mentioned that she had a sister in the film 10 Things I Hate About You; and it was Julia Stiles. Going on from that to enter the 2000’s as a key part of several films, she would play major roles in movies like Save the Last Dance, O, Mona Lisa Smile, A Guy Thing, and the Bourne franchise over the following years. Unfortunately, her stature diminished; and by the year 2010, she had a recurring role in Dexter and her biggest performance since as Jennifer Lawrence’s sister in Silver Linings Playbook. Recently cast in the main role of a show called Rivera, that and her recent return to the Bourne series are her most important performances of late.
18 Alexis Bledel
Entering the year 2000, Alexis Bledel had only appeared in one film, Rushmore, which she wasn’t even credited for. Given one of the lead roles in the show Gilmore Girls that year, the series would go on to have a massive following and create several characters that people would come to love. Going on to appear in movies like Sin City and the film franchise The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, unfortunately, she hasn’t received any other film roles that were huge hits. However, over the last few years, TV has been good to her, including roles in the shows Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale, on top of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
17 Michelle Trachtenberg
Another former child star, Michelle Trachtenberg was cast in the show The Adventures of Pete & Pete before she turned ten. She also played the main role in the movie Harriet the Spy. Going on to play much more mature roles in the 2000’s, she was seen in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gossip Girl, as well as movies like EuroTrip and Black Christmas. Most recently seen on screen in the movie Sister Cities, as well as making an appearance on the show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, she also took part in a Buffy reunion in the year 2017.
16 Hayden Panettiere
Earning the hearts of many early on in her life, due to movies like Joe Somebody and Remember the Titans, from an early age, Hayden Panettiere showed an adorable screen energy. That said, much of the world altered the way they saw her when she brought Claire Bennet to life in superhero show Heroes. Playing a beautiful blonde cheerleader is always going to be a sure-fire way to earn the affection of millions. Getting a few prominent roles in movies in the years after that show came to an end, she appeared in I Love You, Beth Cooper and Scream 4 to name only two. However, we’d argue that her most important gig came as one of the stars of the show Nashville, which she continues on to this day.
15 Rachel Bilson
At one time, it could easily be argued that The O.C. was the hottest show on television. Making stars out of people like Ben McKenzie, Mischa Barton, and Adam Brody, it didn’t take too long for Rachel Bilson to become the cutest of the group. Going on to appear in a few memorable movies such as The Last Kiss, Jumper, and New York, I Love You, she too has found her greatest success on TV. Earning the main role in the series Hart of Dixie, hopefully, she gets another big role soon aside from her recent guest spots on Drunk History and Nashville.
14 Shiri Appleby
An actress that started getting roles all the way back in the ‘80s, Shiri Appleby worked consistently over the following years in supporting or guest roles in shows and movies. Then, she was cast as the female lead of the show Roswell which ran for three seasons and showed her ability to anchor a fan favorite series. Unfortunately, in the years since it was canceled, she has appeared in supporting roles in movies like Charlie Wilson’s War and has played bigger roles in movies that have largely been forgotten like Swimfan. Most recently garnering attention for a small but recurring role in the show Girls and being the victim of a nude photo leak recently, she does have one film set to be released in 2017 called Lemon.
13 Mandy Moore
Arguably the most seemingly innocent person on this list, over her many years in the spotlight, Mandy Moore has always seemed like a sincerely sweet person. Starting out her career as a would-be pop princess, by the time the 2000’s had come to an end, she had already released six albums. Also an actress from the early stages of her career, she received lead roles in movies like Saved, A Walk to Remember, and License to Wed. Spending much of the intervening years making guest spots on shows like Scrubs, The Simpsons, and How I Met Your Mother, she also was tapped to voice Rapunzel in the animated movie Tangled. Recently undergoing a career renaissance due to getting one of the lead roles in the ensemble series This Is Us, she seems more poised today to becoming a major star than in years past.
12 Hilary Duff
From a Disney princess to a former cog in their television machine, Hilary Duff was cast in the titular role in the series Lizzie McGuire at an early age. A beautiful blonde from the start, she would take that platform and become an even bigger star through films like Cheaper by the Dozen, A Cinderella Story, and Agent Cody Banks. Also a burgeoning pop star, she released four albums over the 2000’s and had several hit songs. Now a mother who got a lot of attention when she was revealed to be on Tinder, she now plays one of the main roles on the show Younger and has guest hosted The Talk more than once.
11 Gabrielle Union
One of the most beautiful actresses of her generation, the only reason why Gabrielle Union wasn’t placed higher here is because she has kept a higher profile than many on this list in the years since. Seen in movies like She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You, her career went to another level when she had one of the main roles in Bring It On. Going on to get a role in the series City of Angels, as well as films like Deliver Us from Eva and Bad Boys II, whenever she appeared in something, it was nearly impossible to look away from her. Continuing to act to this day, she appeared in several episodes of a show called The Lion Guard and films like Top Five, The Birth of a Nation, and Sleepless in recent years.
10 Anna Paquin
One of the youngest people ever to win an Academy Award for her work in The Piano, Anna Paquin would appear in a handful of films over the remainder of the 1990’s. Cast as Rogue in the year 2000, her part in the film X-Men raised her profile immensely due in part to the fact that her character was just entering the fantastical world that audiences were still trying to grasp at the time. Continuing to play parts in a series of films like 25th Hour, Almost Famous, and other X-Men films in the 2000’s, she also got the lead role in the show True Blood, which kept her active for seven seasons. Given a role in The Good Dinosaur, that is her most recent film role to date. She was also in a TV Series and Miniseries that were released in 2017.
9 Elisha Cuthbert
An actress that first came to prominence when she was cast as the daughter of Jack Bauer in the series 24, Elisha Cuthbert would go on to be one of the most lusted-after actresses of the 2000’s. Seen in movies like Old School, House of Wax, and The Girl Next Door, she still called TV her home more often than not over the decade, as she continued on 24 for many seasons. Also cast as one of the main roles in the sitcom Happy Endings which garnered a rather large cult following, fans of the series are quite rabid in their appreciation. Currently appearing in a Netflix series called The Ranch, she also gained a role in the 2017 comedy sequel film Goon: Last of the Enforcers.
8 Rachael Leigh Cook
Turned into a star seemingly overnight due to getting one of the main roles in the teen romance film She’s All That, her lovable turn in the movie led to millions of people developing a huge crush on her. Given lead roles in movies like Get Cater, Antitrust, and Josie and the Pussycats in the first two years of the 2000’s alone, Rachael Leigh Cook started out the decade as someone very much on the rise. Appearing in seventeen films in the first half of the decade, unfortunately, none of them were the hits she needed and before too long, her career hit the skids. Seen in two made-for-television films in 2016 and set to appear in another movie that is still in post-production, there is hope for her acting career yet. Still, if it is never revived, she still seems to have a great life judging by her social media where her life as a mother of two seems like a lot of fun; and her work with several charities seems quite rewarding.
7 Alexa Vega
One of the stars of the Spy Kids franchise from a very early age, if you were of age in the 2000’s, then Alexa Vega wouldn’t have been for you. But if you were of a similar age range she probably was, then you probably would have noticed her. Also seen in movies like Sleepover, Remember the Daze, and Repo! The Genetic Opera before the decade came to an end, for many years, she seemed to have no trouble receiving roles. Growing up to be a gorgeous and sexy woman, as anyone who saw her scantily clad in Machete Kills can attest, she also made an appearance in the scintillating Sin City sequel. Said to be appearing in an upcoming comedy drama named Sleep Away in 2017, this mother of one was also followed during her pregnancy for the “reality” show Vex: Pregnancy VBLog last year.
6 Sophia Bush
One of the stars of the 2000’s teen drama series One Tree Hill, Sophia Bush started out her run on the show seeming like she was going to be the cookie cutter, popular girl. Soon revealed to be a lot sweeter and more sensitive than she initially seemed, before too long, her character was arguably the most likable of the entire cast. Going on to appear in a handful of films, including John Tucker Must Die and a remake of The Hitcher, she was never able to find a hit movie to be a part of. Fortunately, she still had the small screen as she was cast as Erin Lindsay, a character that appeared in four series in the last two years, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago Justice.
A Russian pop duo that took the world by storm when they released an album in Russian and English in the early 2000’s, t.A.T.u. embraced a s*xual image from the start. In fact, their first and biggest hit song in North America and Europe was “All the Things She Said,” which was accompanied by a music video where the pair wore school girl outfits and kissed one another. Releasing six albums over the span of the decade, they were never able to release a hit that big in much of the world but they remained very popular closer to their birthplace. Eventually breaking up more than once, aside from a reunion in May of 2016, they haven’t been seen together in public for years now. That may in part be due to one of them undergoing surgery to combat cancer that damaged her voice on top of her courting controversy due to a rather homophobic statement.
4 Amanda Bynes
It’s hard to remember now, but there was one time in which Amanda Bynes seemed like an extremely talented and well-adjusted young woman that was poised to be a star for years to come. Known since she was a child star, The Amanda Show introduced her to many. As a teen and woman in her early twenties, she became an even bigger star through the show What I Like About You and movies like She’s the Man, Sydney White, and Easy A. But nobody knew what was to come next.
Undergoing a personality change in the year 2010, she announced her intended retirement from acting, went on to alter her look dramatically, and was in and out of courtrooms and therapists’ offices. Looking like she was another former child star with a troubled adult life, out of nowhere, in June of 2017, she gave her first interview in years where she stated she wanted to make an acting comeback. Appearing to be a lot more like the person her fans had previously known, she did appear to be nervous, but who wouldn’t be in that situation?
3 Sarah Michelle Gellar
No matter what Sarah Michelle Gellar does in the rest of her acting career, there is one role that will likely define her career—the titular character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A show with a large and loyal following, it made the world take note of her in the late ‘90s and early 2000’s. Still, she has been able to find some success in the movie world in between flicks like Cruel Intentions and the Scooby Doo franchise, on top of horror films like The Grudge and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
No longer acting as much as she used to, she was set to appear in a Cruel Intentions TV series that wasn’t picked up recently. But she was a part of both The Crazy Ones and Star Wars Rebels. A mother of two that is married to her former co-star, Freddie Prinze Jr., they seem to have a great family which makes her launch of a lifestyle brand, aimed at bringing families together in the kitchen, logical.
2 Shannon Elizabeth
Giving the biggest performance of her career in a movie that came out in 1999, when Shannon Elizabeth played Nadia in American Pie, it made her a s*x symbol for millions overnight. A character that was a foreign exchange student, the movie’s lead character had a huge crush on her, which he was nearly able to consummate. Taking off her top onscreen and showing off much of her figure, her body was confirmed to be simply outstanding.
Appearing in four movies in the year 2001, Tomcats, American Pie 2, Thir13en Ghosts, as well as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it was obvious that Hollywood wanted to take advantage of her newfound fame. Unfortunately, none of them upped the ante for her career as they were either flops or she played too small a role in them. Eventually turning into someone that is seen in direct to video movies more often than not, she has been in many films over the last several years—most of which you probably haven’t heard of.
1 Eliza Dushku
The second star of Bring It On to make this list, Eliza Dushku was also seen in movies like True Lies, The New Guy, and Wrong Turn in the early years of her career. Also a recurring character in the shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, where she played a character named Faith, she would go on to a part of the cast in Dollhouse, which was created by Joss Whedon, the man behind the Buffyverse. Since the year 2010, Eliza has yet to star in a blockbuster film or any ongoing series that was a hit. That said, the list of her work is extensive and includes voice-overs for DC and Marvel’s animated projects which seem to be a major step in a new aspect of her career.