What ’90s teen stars are unrecognizable now? If you were born in the ’80s, you likely feel some occasional nostalgia for the incredible decade that was the ’90s. After all, the decade gave us some great ’90s fashion trends that are finally coming back in style, like bandanas, ripped jeans, and sheer everything. Also, who can forget pop culture phenomena like the “Macarena,” Friends, and Home Alone? Boy bands and girl bands were also all the rage, and best of all, we were introduced to our favorite ’90s teen stars.
Have you checked in on what your favorite ’90s teen stars are up to these days? Though several ’90s sensations have stayed in the spotlight (Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake come to mind), others have opted for a quieter, more private life. Some have changed careers completely, some have gotten married and divorced multiple times, and others are focused on parenthood and family life. These teen stars are well into their 30s and 40s now, and many look quite unrecognizable compared to their teen selves. Keep reading to find out what your favorite ’90s teen stars look like now!
'90s teen star Britney Spears hit rock bottom but bounced back, and she's unrecognizable now
Britney Spears — who’s undergone a stunning transformation — was a ’90s teen star with a glittering future, as detailed by popculture. However, she’s also had her fair share of troubles. The Grammy award-winning singer’s wholesome image was arguably tarnished, thanks to reports of mental health issues in the 2000s. She also went through an arduous custody battle for her sons.
Thankfully, Spears bounced back, both personally and professionally, and is unrecognizable now. Though she no longer has her girl-next-door demeanor, she’s still making records. Spears even locked in two Las Vegas residencies over six years!
Spears made headlines again in 2019, this time due to a conservatorship battle with her family. According to Refinery29, Spears’ father had been acting as her legal guardian since 2008 (after the star’s 2007 public meltdown). That meant he had the power to make decisions about every aspect of Spears’ life. Though he was briefly removed from the role in 2019 after a health scare, Spears’ sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, was appointed as trustee of her wealth. This is why Britney Spears wants out of her conservatorship.
'90s teen star Nick Carter has two kids, and he's unrecognizable now
’90s teen star Nick Carter began his entertainment career at the tender age of 11, according to HuffPost. That’s when he made the choice to turn down The Mickey Mouse Club, and join the Backstreet Boys instead. Carter was a heartthrob from the get-go, thanks to his baby-faced good looks, singing and dancing skills, and very ’90s blonde hairstyle. Thanks to the band’s success, Carter was catapulted into fame in the mid-’90s.
Carter may be unrecognizable now, with his refined, adult haircut and dearth of screaming teenage fans, but he’s still doing what he loves most: making music. Additionally, while he’s had some drama over the years, Carter has built a family of his own, as reported by PopSugar. The singer and his wife have been together ever since their first (blind) date all the way back in 2008, and he likely broke a few hearts when the pair married in 2014.
Carter and his wife have since had two adorable children: Odin, in 2016, and a baby girl in 2019. Who knew this Backstreet Boy was destined to become a family man?
'90s teen star Christina Aguilera, who's unrecognizable now, has two children
’90s teen star Christina Aguilera is one of many alumni of The Mickey Mouse Club who found fame in the ’90s. According to Billboard, the “Genie in a Bottle” singer went from a sweet ’90s teenager to a braid-flaunting diva within a matter of years. Since then, Aguilera reinvented herself a few more times, before settling into a “stripped back” look. Here are Christina Aguilera’s most dramatic transformations.
Aguilera has remained quite busy since she became a mega-celeb, though she’s unrecognizable now. She’s released a number of albums, toured the world several times, bought herself a “Mediterranean-style mansion” in Beverly Hills, and even worked as a Judge on The Voice for several years.
These days, Aguilera’s life is a little more low key, according to People. She takes a role as a mom quite seriously, and goes out of her way to be there for her kids. Aguilera shares a son, Max Liron, with her ex-husband Jordan Bratman; the singer also has a daughter, Summer Rain, with her fiancé Matthew Rutler.
'90s teen star Sarah Michelle Geller's family life is actually quite normal, and she's unrecognizable now
’90s teen star Sarah Michelle Gellar found fame in the ’90s as the lead actress in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After that, she went on to act in a number of films, including She’s All That, Cruel Intentions, and The Grudge, to name just a few (via IMDb).
While Hollywood marriages can be fickle at times, it looks like Gellar found the recipe for a blissful family life amidst the pressures of Tinseltown. According to Metro, she met her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr., when they starred together in the iconic ’90s horror movie I Know What You Did Last Summer. Gellar and Prinze got engaged in 2001, wed in style in Mexico a year later, and worked together on several movies in the years following. The pair share two children together, Charlotte and Rocky Prinze.
Despite Gellar’s high profile, she lives a pretty normal life, and is unrecognizable now. She’s also the success story we all need — especially amidst so many tales of splits and dysfunctional families in Hollywood.
'90s teen star Alicia Silverstone, who's unrecognizable now, played a mom in an iconic '90s franchise
Whatever happened to Alicia Silverstone? Lovers of the iconic ’90s movie Clueless will no doubt remember the ’90s teen star, who became mega-famous overnight after playing Cher Horowitz in the film.
Well, Silverstone is all grown up now, to the point that she’s unrecognizable. She’s also cast in roles that require her to play a mom instead of a teenager; notably, Silverstone played the role of Kristy’s mom in Netflix’s ultra-modern reboot of The Baby-Sitters Club, according to Entertainment Weekly. The series was based on the popular series of books by Ann M. Martin, which ’90s kids will no doubt remember.
The role reportedly hit quite close to home for Silverstone, who is also a parent (to human and fur children) in real life. “It’s such a different existence when you have kids and you’re working and if you’re alone too as a single mom, which my character is and I am too,” she reflected during the interview. “It’s a lot.”
'90s teen star Leonardo DiCaprio is trying to live a more normal life, and he's unrecognizable now
If you’re a girl who grew up in the ’90s, you likely had a poster of ’90s teen star Leonardo DiCaprio on your wall, or at least knew someone who did. DiCaprio is perhaps the quintessential example of a ’90s heartthrob, and his lust-factor around the time he starred in Titanic was unparalleled.
DiCaprio, however, considers that particular period of his life be surreal. “It was bizarre,” he told Time Out. “I took a break for a couple of years because it was so intense. I needed to recharge and refocus.”
DiCaprio has since grown older, wiser, and — dare we say it — has developed a dad bod. Though he’s still acting, he’s unrecognizable now, as he tries to lead a quiet life. Vanity Fair reported that he spent Labor Day weekend in 2020 at a beachside L.A. location with his longtime (given his previous track record) girlfriend. Seen in board shorts and a hat, this outing was not an attempt to live the high life. Instead, DiCaprio seems to be embracing the simple pleasures of life: sun, sand, and sea.
'90s teen star Kirsten Dunst has a son, and she's unrecognizable now
’90s teen star Kirsten Dunst began her career as a child actress in ’90s movies such as Little Women, Interview with a Vampire, and Jumanji (via IMDb). She went on to star in Bring It On in 2000, and her role in the movie arguably inspired budding cheerleaders across the country to “be aggressive, be be aggressive” in their pursuits!
In addition to acting, Dunst has started a family, too. The New York Times reports that Dunst met her fiancé, Jesse Plemons, when working on season 2 of Fargo. “I knew that she would be in my life for a long time,” Plemons gushed. The pair started dating a year and a half later, and got engaged soon after that. “We laugh about the fact that we were two child actors…and we both made it out ok,” Dunst revealed.
In 2018, Dunst and Plemons had an adorable son named Ennis Howard Plemons. Life as a mom seems to be agreeing with Dunst — though she’s unrecognizable now, her gorgeous smile still lights up the room.
'90s teen star Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a father, and he's unrecognizable now
’90s teen star Joseph Gordon-Levitt broke out in Hollywood as a baby-faced teen. In a video segment for Vanity Fair, the actor discussed his career, starting with A River Runs Through It all the way to Inception. And while Gordon-Levitt admitted to being fairly embarrassed about his work in 10 Things I Hate About You, he only had lovely things to say about the movie’s cast, as the group bonded with each other and spent time together off-set.
Gordon-Levitt is all grown up now, and is unrecognizable now. He’s also taking his role as a dad very seriously, which he discussed in an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. “I felt lucky I got to take some time off,” Gordon-Levitt shared. “I have two boys, and it’s the best.”
Though Gordon-Levitt hasn’t revealed many details about his boys, we can confirm his wife, Tasha McCauly, gave birth to the older son in 2015, and the pair welcomed the younger son to the world in 2017 (via People).
'90s teen star Justin Timberlake aged well, but is unrecognizable now
Remember back when ’90s teen stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were the power couple of the music industry? If so, you probably can’t help but conjure the image of his signature mop of curls and denim-on-denim outfits, too. How things have changed since Timberlake was the anchor of NSYNC!
Nowadays, Timberlake is a refined, sophisticated family man who’s unrecognizable from his youth. He found success as both a solo artist and an actor, adopted a more modern hairstyle, and managed to age like a fine wine. According to Life and Style magazine, he married Jessica Biel in 2012, and the couple have two children together.
Although Timberlake managed to steer clear from scandals for a long time, he did slip up in 2019, when he was caught holding hands with a co-star during a drunken night out. However, he apologized profusely on social media, and Biel eventually forgave him, so all is now well for this ’90s heartthrob. Here’s hoping he doesn’t slip up again!
'90s teen stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen own a fashion label, and are unrecognizable now
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, originally of Full House fame, went on to star in a number of movies including It Takes Two, Passport to Paris, and Billboard Dad (via W magazine). The ’90s teen stars are among the most recognizable twins in Hollywood, thanks to their childhood and teenage roles on both TV and the silver screen — and they sure leveraged that fame well into adulthood.
The Olsen twins have grown up to be successful, sophisticated women who still work together, but lead separate lives too. Business Insider reported that the duo are co-owners of a fashion label named The Row, which they founded in 2006, that sells retail garments and accessories. They also launched a vintage-inspired label named Elizabeth & James the following year.
The Olsen twins, who are unrecognizable now, are well-respected members of the fashion community. In fact, they were named Accessories Designers of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2014, 2018, and 2019. Impressive!
'90s teen star Kenan Thompson, who's unrecognizable now, is a regular on Saturday Night Live
Remember Kenan and Kel, the Nickelodeon sitcom teens couldn’t get enough of in the ’90s? Well, though Kel Mitchel didn’t stay prominent in entertainment circles, ’90s teen star Kenan Thompson certainly did.
If you think Thompson looks familiar — though he’s unrecognizable now — that’s because you’ve likely seen him on Saturday Night Live, as he’s been on the show for quite a few years. As an adult, Thompson has built himself a successful career in comedy and entertainment, and has won a bunch of awards for his work — including an Emmy for his 2018 Saturday Night Live sketch “Come Back, Barack” (via Gold Derby). He also revealed that is currently working on a new series named Kenan.
Finally, Thompson shared some exciting news for fans of his ’90s show with Mitchel: the duo are working together again, this time to co-executive produce a reboot of All That!
'90s teen star Larisa Oleynik is all grown up, and is unrecognizable now
Larisa Oleynik shot to fame as a teenager in the ’90s, thanks to her acting talents and her wholesome, girl-next-door looks. You might remember the ’90s teen star from the hit film 10 Things I Hate About You. She also played the titular role in Nickelodeon’s The Secret World of Alex Mack. Additionally, while playing Alex Mack, Oleynik also starred as Stonybrook’s resident California girl, Dawn, in the 1995 version of The Baby-Sitters Club.
Oleynik has now matured, and pretty much looks unrecognizable now. She has a number of TV and movie roles under her belt, including Netflix’s The Healing Power of Dude and Trinkets. Despite her work and busy schedule, however, she still keeps in touch with her old cast mates from The Baby-Sitters Club. “I am on a text chain with all the baby-sitters,” she revealed in an interview with Netflix. “I have made some lifelong friendships from The Baby-Sitters Club, and that’s what The Baby-Sitters Club is about.” And if you’re curious, here’s what The Baby-Sitter’s Club cast looks like today.
'90s teen star James Van Der Beek is a dedicated parent who's unrecognizable now
If you were fan of teen dramas in the ’90s, there’s no way you don’t remember James Van Der Beek. The ’90s teen star played the titular role in the hugely popular Dawson’s Creek (later becoming the subject of the hilarious “Crying Dawson” meme on social media). In an interview with The Ringer, Van Der Beek revealed that by season 3 of the show, he stopped watching it entirely. “It became healthier and easier to not watch it and not worry about what song they were going to put to it or how it would be edited or if I liked the performance,” he recalled.
More recently, US Weekly reported that now that Van Der Beek is all grown up, he’s a dedicated dad to his five kids: Olivia, Joshua, Annabel, Emilia, and Gwendolyn. And though he’s unrecognizable now, Van Der Beek has managed to hold onto some of his boyish good looks.
'90s teen star Melissa Joan Hart is unrecognizable now
Melissa Joan Hart lit up our TV screens in the ’90s as Sabrina, the lead character on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The ’90s teen star also starred in Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All. She’s come a long way since then, however, and has experienced quite a glow up, too — no wonder she’s unrecognizable today!
As an adult, Hart has landed a number of voice roles, working consistently in the animation industry. She’s also had the pleasure of working on shows that her children adore. “My kids endlessly watch Loud House and The Casagrandes, so it’s nice to be on something that my kids approve of,” Hart shared in an interview with TV Guide. She also revealed that her children have seen Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but aren’t really interested in watching shows just because their mom starred in them.
Though she’s been in contact with Nickelodeon about reviving Clarissa Explains It All, the project has sadly been on hold since 2018.
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