Many teen heartthrobs who dominated the late '90s and early aughts have fallen into the abyss — but there are a bevy who are still doing their thing! From Josh Hartnett to James Van Der Beek and more, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at some of our favorite teen heartthrobs who have reinvented themselves in the past few years and are now enjoying career comebacks… beginning with Josh, who turns 39 on July 21, 2017. He captured teenage girls' hearts in the popular 1999 horror film "Halloween H20" before garnering more fame in films like "Pearl Harbor," "The Faculty" and "Black Hawk Down." Read on to see what he and other former heartthrobs are up to today!
There was a bit of a lull in Josh Hartnett's career for a while, but it was largely his own choice. He passed on lead roles in 2005's "Batman Begins" and 2006's "Superman Returns." "I didn't want to be labeled as 'Superman' for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger," he told Details in 2014. He moved back to his native Minnesota for a bit to reorient himself, though eventually got back in the Hollywood saddle, joining the cast of the Showtime series "Penny Dreadful" from 2014 to 2016. He also acted in 2017 films "The Ottoman Lieutenant" and "Oh Lucy." Josh is currently in a relationship with model-actress Tamsin Egerton. They have one daughter and another on the way.
Teen dreamboat Ryan Phillippe began his acting career on the ABC soap "One Life to Live" in 1992. That gig led him to landing a role in 1997's "I Know What You Did Last Summer" — alongside fellow teen stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Jennifer Love Hewitt. In 1999, he carved a lead actor name for himself as Sebastian Valmont in "Cruel Intentions" alongside future wife Reese Witherspoon.
Ryan Phillippe continued to act in the early 2000s, but his star power comparatively decreased after divorcing Reese Witherspoon in 2007. In 2012, Ryan took on a role in the TV show "Damages" and in 2015 he acted in the series "Secrets and Lies." But lately, Ryan's career is on the upswing! He is currently portraying Bob Lee Swagger in the USA Network show "Shooter." On July 17, 2017, news broke that the actor was hospitalized for a broken leg due to a freak accident away from the set, which will expectedly force some adjustments to the show's production schedule. Coincidentally, the second season premiered on July 18. Ryan and Reese had two children together — Ava and Deacon — and the actor has another daughter — Kai Knapp — from his relationship with Alexis Knapp. He most recently split from ex-fiance Paulina Slagter in November 2016.
James Van Der Beek gained a massive teen following when he played Dawson Leery on "Dawson's Creek" from 1998 to 2003.
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In the years since "Dawson's Creek" ended, James Van Der Beek has taken on myriad TV roles including on the short-lived show "Mercy," "Don't Trust the B—- in Apartment 23" (in which he played a fictionalized version of himself) and "Friends With Betters Lives." In 2015 and 2016, James acted on "CSI: Cyber" and he's currently in production on "What Would Diplo Do?," Viceland's darkly comedic take on DJ-producer Diplo's life, which debuts in August 2017. He married Kimberly Brook in 2010 and they have four children together.
Teen girls went crazy over Milo Ventimiglia when he took on the role of Jess Mariano, one of Rory Gilmore's boyfriends, on "Gilmore Girls" from 2001 to 2006. Milo told W Magazine in June 2017, "Still to this day, you know, it blows me away — the impact of the Jess character, how much everyone was in love with him and wanted to find a guy like Jess. He was kind of trouble, you know?" He then starred on "Heroes" from 2006 to 2010. He famously dated "Gilmore Girls" co-star Alexis Bledel and "Heroes" co-star Hayden Panettiere during the peak of his teen-heartthrob status.
Milo Ventimiglia has matured into an in-demand actor with numerous film and TV credits to his name. In recent years, he's lent his voice to animated Spider-Man projects and reprised his role as Jess Mariano on "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" for Netflix in 2016. The same year, he landed the role of Jack Pearson on the successful NBC show "This Is Us," which has reinvigorated his career. He also acted in 2017 films "Sandy Wexler" and "Devil's Gate." In early 2017, he was romantically linked to Stella McCartney marketing coordinator Kelly Egarian, who once dated *NSYNC's JC Chasez.
Chad Michael Murray got his big break on the drama "One Tree Hill." He portrayed Lucas Scott from 2003 to 2009 and returned again for one episode in 2012. The actor famously married his "OTH" co-star Sophia Bush in 2005, though their union lasted just a few months. The show surely put him on the map back then, but it's still being discovered today. "Tons and tons of young fans are just finding the show for the first time on Netflix. So thank you, Netflix, for bringing the show back, because it speaks to all these generations," Chad told InStyle in July 2016.
Although he's never landed another role as career-defining as Lucas Scott, Chad Michael Murray went on to act on shows like "Texas Rising" and "Agent Carter." Most recently, he had a guest-starring role on "Scream Queens" and currently portrays Sam Phillips on the CMT show "Sun Records." Chad also released a novel, "Everest," in 2011. His second novel, "American Drifter," is due in November 2017. He is married to Sarah Roemer and they have two children.
The world fell for Benjamin McKenzie when he played Ryan Atwood, the sly and sensitive bad boy on "The O.C.," from 2003 to 2007. He quickly shot to fame and twice appeared on Teen People's annual list of "25 Sexiest Stars under 25."
After "The O.C." finale, Ben took on roles here and there until landing a starring role on the critically acclaimed but little-seen TV drama "Southland" from 2009 to 2013. In 2014, Ben raised his profile again when he was cast as Detective James Gordon on the FOX crime drama "Gotham," which is still going strong today. In June 2017, Ben married "Gotham" co-star Morena Baccarin. They share a daughter, whom they welcomed in March 2016.
Shane West achieved bona fide teen heartthrob status after starring in 2002's "A Walk to Remember" alongside Mandy Moore. Before that, he had a role on the TV show "Once and Again" and acted in 2001's "Get Over It." "We did not expect the success of the film and that was something that was a wonderful surprise. And I think what's exciting about it even to this day is that it seems to continue to garner a new audience constantly, sort of like 'The Notebook,'" he told Harper's Bazaar in 2016 of "Walk."
Shane West focused on music for a while as the frontman of the punk band Jonny Was. Shane proceeded to get back into the acting game when he co-starred with fellow former teen heartthrob Devon Sawa on the CW spy drama "Nikita" from 2010 to 2013. More recently, he portrayed John Alden on the TV series "Salem" from 2014 to 2016. He also acted in 2017's "Awakening the Zodiac." He now plays in the band Twilight Creeps. Not much is known about his personal life.
Freddie Prinze Jr. was on the tippy-top of the list when it came to teen heartthrob prestige in the late '90s and early aughts. He was well-known for his work in films such as "She's All That," "Boys and Girls," "Summer Catch" and "Head Over Heels."
After Freddie Prinze Jr. married Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2002, his star began to wane. He stared on the short-lived TV series "Freddie" from 2005 to 2006 and took on guest-starring roles here and there. A lot of fans might not know how much Freddie loves cooking. That passion inspired him to release the cookbook "Back to the Kitchen" in 2016. "I have been cooking longer than I've been acting — in fact, if I hadn't made it as an actor, I'd probably be a chef today," he told E! News. Additionally, from 2014 to 2017, he's voiced multiple characters for "Star Wars: Rebels." He is a father of two.
Nick Cannon came up in Hollywood as a handsome, lovable teenager on Nickelodeon's sketch series "All That" and proceeded to host "The Nick Cannon Show" from 2002 to 2003. He evolved to host MTV's improv comedy show "Wild 'N Out" in 2005. Nick also notably acted in the films "Drumline" and "Love Don't Cost A Thing."
Nick Cannon has endured a lot of ups and downs in his career and personal life since the early aughts, but he's also become a go-to host for various networks. In 2012, Nick took on hosting duties for the revival of "Wild 'N Out" on MTV2 after a six-year hiatus and has been leading it ever since. Nick took the show, now in its ninth season, on the road to college audiences in 2017. Additionally, the multi-hyphenate hosted "America's Got Talent" for eight years. In February 2017, Nick starred on his own Showtime comedy special, "Stand Up, Don't Shoot," in which he made a racial joke and mentioned NBC. The network reportedly threatened to fire him from "AGT," which led to his own voluntary departure. As for his personal life, Nick famously married Mariah Carey in 2008 and divorced her in 2014. The exes share twins Monroe and Moroccan, born in 2011. He had another child, this time with beauty queen Brittany Bell, in 2017.
Actor and singer Jesse McCartney first gained fame starring on the soap opera "All My Children" from 1998 to 2001 and then transformed into a teen pop sensation when he joined the group Dream in 1999. After releasing his debut solo album, "Beautiful Soul," Jesse hit the zenith of his heartthrob fame and took home Teen Choice and Nickelodeon Kids' Choice awards. He went back to acting on the TV series "Summerland" in 2004 and 2005 and "Greek" in 2009.
Jesse McCartney released his fourth studio album in 2014 but it landed under the radar. Also in 2014, he had a guest-starring role on the TV series "Young & Hungry." Additionally, Jesse voiced the character Dick Grayson on the TV series "Young Justice." As of late, Jesse has been capitalizing on his older hit songs like "Beautiful Soul" and "Leavin'," performing them on various college tours. Not much is known about his personal life.
Jared Padalecki first gained prominence on "Gilmore Girls" in 2000 when he appeared as Dean Forester, Rory Gilmore's first love. He then went on to portray the resident bad-boy hottie in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's "New York Minute" in 2004 and starred opposite Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray and Paris Hilton in 2005's "House of Wax."
In 2005, Jared Padalecki landed the role of Sam Winchester on the series "Supernatural" — which is currently in its 12th season and has been renewed for a 13th! The show is the longest-running American fantasy series to date. He is married to Genevieve Padalecki and they have three children.