The ‘90s may be long gone, but for those who grew up during that time, the decade certainly holds its fair share of fond memories. For whatever reason, the 1990s seemed like it had a surplus of content aimed at teenagers that was both relatable and entertaining.
On the big screen, there were comedies like Clueless and Can't Hardly Wait. Both might have exaggerated the day-to-day life of a high schooler, but there was something that captured the teenage experience which hadn’t been seen before. Not to mention that the movies featured their fair share of actors who would go on to bigger and better things, which is no doubt why these movies have remained popular today.
Meanwhile, on the small screen, audiences got to enjoy coming-of-age shows like Boy Meets World and Dawson’s Creek. And once again, the relatable storylines and talented actors are what kept us coming back for more.
Let's take a look back at some of the biggest stars of the 1990s! We're not saying that these actors haven't enjoyed success before or since, just that some of their biggest hits came out during the '90s. So pick out the favorites and pass on the others and we'll see if we can match the player to their corresponding sign!
Born in 1979, Andrew Keegan popped up in a number of popular shows throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. He had guest appearances on such series as Full House, Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Party of Five. But most probably remember him thanks to his role as Joey Donner in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You. Keegan continues to act today, and last year, he appeared in the horror film Living Among Us (Wikipedia). So how do you feel about this ‘90s actor?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar is probably best known for playing Zack Morris, the main character of the popular sitcom Saved by the Bell. The series ran for five seasons and 86 episodes between 1989 and 1993, and it followed a group of teenagers trying to navigate the ups-and-downs of high school and adolescence. But Gosselaar has also appeared in a number of shows since, including NYPD Blue and Franklin & Bash. He most recently premiered in the new Fox series The Passage (Wikipedia).
Of course, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is still a huge star today, but things really started to take off for the actor back in the 1990s. When he was still a kid, he appeared in the movies A River Runs Through It and Angels in the Outfield before he landed a main role on the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He continued to star in movies at the same time, many of which still remain popular today (Wikipedia). But are you a fan?
Freddie Prinze Jr.:
In 1997, Freddie Prinze Jr. played one of the main characters in the horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer. He appeared alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar — another breakout star of the 1990s — and the two would eventually tie the knot in 2002. Both Prinze Jr. and Gellar would go on to star in the Scooby-Doo live-action film series together as well, where they appeared as Fred and Daphne, respectfully. More recently, Prinze Jr. has provided his voice for the shows Star Wars Rebels and Bordertown (Wikipedia).
Most know Matt LeBlanc thanks to his role of Joey Tribbiani on the popular sitcom Friends. The series was a hit right out of the gate, and it went on to run for an impressive 10 seasons and over 200 episodes from 1994 to 2004. He even starred in a spin-off series, title Joey, which ran for two seasons also on NBC. More recently, you can catch LeBlanc in the TV series Man with a Plan, where he has played the lead since 2016. A second season of the show is expected out in February 2019 (Wikipedia).
Seth Green is one of a few actors who skyrocketed to fame thanks to the appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here, Green played the character of Daniel Osbourne, better known as Oz, who first appeared in season two before becoming a regular member of the Scooby Gang. Throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Green appeared in a number of comedy films as well, including the Scooby-Doo and Austin Power series. He also provides his voice for the character of Chris Griffin on Family Guy (Wikipedia).
Mario Lopez first caught the public attention when he appeared as the character of A.C. Slater on the NBC sitcom Saved by the Bell. He portrayed the character for five seasons of the show before going on to reprise the role in the spin-off series, title Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Today, Lopez is probably best known for being a TV host, appearing on shows such as Extra, Dancing with the Stars, and The X Factor (Wikipedia). So would you pick or pass on Lopez?
James Van Der Beek:
One of the biggest teen stars of the 1990s, James Van Der Beek is best known for playing the title character of Dawson Leery on Dawson’s Creek. The WB series ran six seasons between 1998 and 2003, where it was a huge hit among younger audiences. Van Der Beek used this success to break into movies, where he appeared in the 1999 drama Varsity Blues along with the 2000 comedy Scary Movie, where he played a satirical version of his character from Dawson’s Creek (Wikipedia).
Sean William Scott:
From 1999 to 2012, Sean William Scott played Steve Stifler in the R-rated comedy film series which helped make him a star. Throughout the early 2000s, he continued to pop up in other comedy films, including Road Trip, Evolution, and Dude, Where’s My Car? In 2008, he starred opposite Paul Rudd in the hit comedy Role Models, which grossed over $90 million against a $28 million budget. Scott has also enjoyed playing the lead character of the Goon film series (Wikipedia).
From 1994 to 2004, Matthew Perry starred as Chandler Bing on Friends — one of the most popular and successful sitcoms of all time. During this time, he also appeared in a number of comedy films, including Fools Rush In and The Whole Nine Yards. More recently, he played Ted Kennedy in the TV miniseries The Kennedys After Camelot, which Perry also served on as an executive producer. But for many, the actor will forever be known as the sarcastic and self-deprecating Chandler Bing (Wikipedia).
A popular sitcom star of the 1990s, Joey Lawrence played one of the leading characters throughout five seasons of the NBC sitcom Blossom. Right after the series ended, he played another leading character on Brotherly Love, where he starred opposite his two real-life brothers, Matthew and Andrew. Throughout the ‘90s, Lawrence also enjoyed a musical career, turning out two studio albums between 1993 and 1997. Today, he is probably best known for being a TV host and starring in the sitcom Melissa & Joey (Wikipedia).
While most people today probably know is brother Ben better — the star of Boy Meets World — his older brother, Fred, previously had a sitcom of his own titled The Wonder Years. The series ran from 1988 to 1993, where it was popular amongst both critics and audiences. While Fred doesn’t do that much acting of his own anymore, he is very active in the world of TV directing — turning out multiple episodes of shows such as Modern Family and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Wikipedia).
David Boreanaz rose to fame in the ‘90s thanks to his role as Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angel was a vampire who develops a romantic relationship with the series protagonist. Boreanaz continued to play the part in the spin-off series, which ran for a successful five season of its own from 1999 to 2004 on The WB. More recently, Boreanaz played one of the two leads on the police procedural series Bones, which also had an impressively long run of over 10 seasons (Wikipedia).
Today, most people known Johnny Galecki thanks to his performance of Leonard Hofstadter — who he has been playing since 2007. But the actor's successful career stretches back much farther than The Big Bang Theory. For instance, from 1992 to 1997, Galecki enjoyed a recurring part on Roseanne playing David Healy — a part which he recently got to reprise in the spin-off series, The Conners. But you may also remember him in the role of Rusty Griswold in the holiday film classic Christmas Vacation (Wikipedia).
Today, Mark Wahlberg is best known for being a big screen star. But the actor actually got his start in the entertainment industry by working as a model and a singer. It wasn’t really until his appearance in 1995’s The Basketball Diaries that Walhberg’s acting career started to take off. Then, in 1997, Wahlberg was solidified as leading man material thanks to his performance as Dirk Diggler in the Paul Thomas Anderson movie Boogie Nights. This year, he will star in the crime film Wonderland (Wikipedia).
Rider Strong is probably best known for playing Shawn Hunter in the popular ‘90s sitcom Boy Meets World. Here, Strong played the best friend of the series protagonist, who comes from somewhat of a troubled background. He more recently reprised the role in the Disney Channel spin-off series Girl Meets World. In 2002, Strong appeared as the lead in the horror film Cabin Fever, which was the directorial debut of Eli Roth (Wikipedia). So are you a fan of this '90s star?
Jaleel White shot to stardom when he landed the role of Steve Urkel on the popular ABC sitcom Family Matters. While the character was only slated to appear for one episode, Urkel was such a favorite amongst audience members that he went on to become a series regular. Eventually, the show even presented Urkel as the main character. He’s guest starred on a number of other shows since, and White is also known for being the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in a number of animated series (Wikipedia).
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Chris Klein was known for starring in a string of R-rated teen comedies. He made his film debut in the 1999 film Election, where he starred opposite Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. While the movie didn’t fare too well at the box office, it was a hit amongst critics, earning Election a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. More recently, you may have spotted Klein in The Flash TV series, where he plays the character of Orlin Dwyer/ Cicada (Wikipedia).
Kenan Thompson rose to prominence thanks to his role in the Nickelodeon sketch show All That. The series and Thompson were so popular, that the actor went on to star in his own sitcom alongside Kel Mitchell on the same network. Kenan & Kel ran for four seasons between 1996 and 2000, at which time Thompson also starred in the 1997 comedy film Good Burger. Today, most people know Thompson as a performer on Saturday Night Live, where he is currently the longest-running cast member of the entire series (Wikipedia).
From 1998 to 2006, Ashton Kutcher played Michael Kelso on That ‘70s Show. The series turned Kutcher, and a number of the other stars, into household names — paving way for a successful TV and film career in the following decade. Some of Kutcher’s biggest films including the comedies Dude, Where’s My Car? and My Boss’s Daughter, as well as the thriller The Butterfly Effect. More recently, you may have caught Kutcher on the Netflix sitcom The Ranch, where he plays Colt Bennett (Wikipedia).
Ben is best known for playing Cory Matthews, the main character of Boy Meets World. The ABC sitcom ran for seven seasons between 1993 and 2000, where it followed the coming-of-age tale of Cory, his friends, and his family. The series remained popular even after it ended, which lead to a spin-off titled Girl Meets World, which ran on the Disney Channel from 2014 to 2017. Once again, he reprised his role as Cory Matthews, this time in the role of the show’s fatherly figure (Wikipedia).
Throughout the 1980s, Johnny Depp became a favorite of many thanks to his role in the teen drama series 21 Jump Street. But in the 1990s, he opened up to a much wider audiences thanks to his film work. Some of these movies included Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, and Sleepy Hollow — all of which were directed by Tim Burton. Depp enjoyed an even bigger jump in popularity thanks to his turn as the swashbuckling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise (Wikipedia). So are you a fan?
Jonathan Taylor Thomas:
Jonathan Taylor Thomas may not do much acting as of late, but the young star was all the rage throughout the 1990s. He was a regular on the ABC sitcom Home Improvement, where he played one of the three sons of Tim Allen’s Timothy “Tool Man” Taylor. The actor also had success up on the big screen with the Disney movies Tom and Huck, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Man of the House. You may have also recognized his voice as that of Simba’s in The Lion King (Wikipedia).
One of the biggest movie stars of all time, Tom Hanks starred in a string of comedy films throughout the 1980s, including Big and Turner & Hooch. But it was in the 1990s that the actor really started earning critical acclaim thanks to movies like Apollo 13, The Green Mile, and Cast Away. He even won the Academy Award two years in a row thanks to his performances in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. Hanks also continues to provide his voice for the character of Woody in the Toy Story series (Wikipedia).
After already acting for a number of years, George Clooney’s career really began to pick up in the 1990s thanks to his recurring role as Dr. Doug Ross on ER. He appeared on the show from 1994 to 1999, at which time Clooney also began branching out into movies. Some of his earlier films included Out of Sight and From Dusk till Dawn, both of which found Clooney playing the leading man. Of course, this success has continued till today, as the actor more recently starred in 2016’s Hail, Caeser! and Money Monster (Wikipedia).
After working as a child actor on shows like Growing Pains and in movies such as This Boy’s Life, Leonardo DiCaprio really skyrocketed to fame thanks to his role in 1997’s Titanic. The film follows an unlikely romance between two passengers on the ill-fated ocean-liner, and Titanic held the title of the highest-grossing movie of all time for the better part of a decade. DiCaprio has continued to be one of the most commercially and critically successful actors working today, and in 2015, he finally won the Academy Award thanks to his performance in The Revenant (Wikipedia).
After rising to fame the decade before thanks to movies like Top Gun and The Color of Money, Tom Cruise enjoyed continued success throughout the 1990s. In 1996 he appeared in both Jerry Maguire and Mission: Impossible — the latter of which would launch a successful franchise that has continued until today. Some of his other hits have including Minority Report and War of the Worlds — both of which were directed by Steven Spielberg (Wikipedia). So would you pick or pass on Cruise?
Brad Pitt caught the public eye in 1991 when he landed the supporting role of J.D. in the drama Thelma & Louise. After that, Pitt solidified himself as leading man material in movies such as A River Runs Through It and Interview with the Vampire. He went on to received critical acclaim in later ‘90s films, including Seven and 12 Monkeys — the latter of which found Pitt nominated for an Academy Award. Of course, his success has continued to today, where Pitt seems to enjoy more ensemble work rather than always playing the film’s lead (Wikipedia).
After popping up in a number of comedy and drama films, including Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and River’s Edge, Keanu Reeves went on to be established as an action hero throughout the 1990s. This first occurred in 1991’s Point Break, where he starred opposite Patrick Swayze. But it was really 1994’s Speed that brought Reeves his first massive hit. From there, Reeves has continued to headline action franchises, including the Matrix and the John Wick series (Wikipedia). So are you a fan?
Yet another ‘90s star to come out of Dawson’s Creek, Joshua Jackson starred as Pacey Witter throughout all six seasons of the popular teen series. That same decade, Jackson also played the leading character in The Mighty Ducks film series, which ran from 1992 to 1996. Jackson has enjoyed continued success since then, as he played one of the series leads on the sci-fi show Fringe, which ran for five seasons and exactly 100 episodes between 2008 and 2013. You may have also spotted him in the Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Wikipedia).
In 1997, Matt Damon played the title character in Good Will Hunting. He also wrote the screenplay alongside co-star and real-life friend Ben Affleck, and the two ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay that year. Damon starred in a number of other critically acclaimed films throughout the remainder of the ‘90s, including Saving Private Ryan, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Dogma. In 2017, he starred in the Alexander Payne comedy Downsizing (Wikipedia). So how do you feel about Matt Damon?
One of the biggest action stars of his day, Bruce Willis has been at the center of a number of popular franchises. He first enjoyed mainstream attention in the 1980s, and the actor’s success only continued to grow in the following decade. Some of his biggest movies of the ‘90s include Pulp Fiction, Armageddon, and The Sixth Sense. This year, he will star in the upcoming thriller Glass, which finds Willis reprising his role as David Dunn from the 2000 film Unbreakable (Wikipedia).
Throughout the ‘90s and 2000s, Brendan Fraser starred in The Mummy films, which followed an adventurer seeking to uncover ancient Egyptian relics. Though the films were action blockbuster, they also featured their fair share of comedy — something that Fraser is also known for. For instance, he also starred in the ‘90s comedy films Encino Man and George of the Jungle. More recently, he’s enjoyed TV work in shows such as The Affair and Trust, which currently airs on FX (Wikipedia).
From 1990 to 1996, Will Smith played the lead character on the massively popular NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. During that time, Smith began making his transition into feature films, and the movies Bad Boys and Independence Day found Smith becoming one of the biggest blockbuster stars of the decade. While he’s continued to appear in his fair share of action movies, Smith has also earned critical acclaim for his performances in films such as Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness (Wikipedia).
Between 1992 and 1993, Ryan Phillippe caught the public eye with his portrayal of Bully Douglas on the long-running sitcom One Life to Live. From there, Phillippe transition into film work, showing up in movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions. Phillippe has enjoyed continued success on the big and small screen ever since, popping up in the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer, as well as playing the lead in the USA Network series Shooter, which ran from 2016 to 2018 (Wikipedia).
While many may first remember taking note of Paul Rudd in the ‘00s thanks to his appearances in movies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy among others, the comedic actor had already enjoyed mainstream success in the previous decade. This was largely thanks to his role in the 1995 teen comedy Clueless, which remains popular today thanks to its sharp writing and cast of then-rising stars. Rudd currently portrays Scott Lang/ Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Wikipedia).
Matthew McConaughey’s first big role came when he landed the supporting part of David Wooderson in the 1993 teen comedy Dazed and Confused. Some of his other ‘90s hits include Angels in the Outfield, Contact, and Amistad — which earned McConaughey critical acclaim. In the 2000s, the actor starred in a string of romantic comedies before eventually branching back out into more diverse work. In 2013, McConaughey won the Oscar for his work playing Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club (Wikipedia).
Richard Gere has been acting professionally for 40 years. He began working on the stage in the 1970s before making his jump to the big screen in the following decade. But one of the actor’s biggest hits came in the ‘90s when he starred opposite Julia Roberts in the romantic comedy/ drama Pretty Woman. The movie was such a smash hit, that only a few years later Gere once again teamed up with Roberts, this time for the 1999 film Runaway Bride (Wikipedia). But are you a fan of the actor?
David Duchovny is best known for playing FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder on the Fox sci-fi series The X-Files. The show originally ran from 1993 to 2002, while also turning out one feature film in that amount of time. A second film was eventually released in 2008, and the show was even brought back for a revival series in 2016. Outside of The X-Files, Duchovny is known for playing the lead character of Hank Moody in Californication, as well as starring in the movies Evolution and Zoolander (Wikipedia).
A member of the Brat Pack, Rob Lowe enjoyed mainstream success throughout the ‘80s thanks to movies such as The Outsiders and St. Elmo’s Fire. His success continued in the 1990s, where he appeared in the comedy films Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Wayne’s World before he went on to secure a role on The West Wing. Today, Lowe is probably best known thanks to the sitcom Parks and Recreation, where he played the chipper State Auditor Chris Traeger (Wikipedia).