Whatever Happened To These 2000s Teen Crushes?

The following article includes brief references to domestic abuse, mental health issues, and suicide.

How can the teens of the aughts forget their celeb crushes from the halcyon days after the world made it through Y2K unscathed? Those growing up in the 2000s might fondly recall the satisfying snap of a flip phone, giggling over the "Buffy" and "Harry Potter" entries on FanFiction.net, and believing that Ask Jeeves (the O.G. ChatGPT) had all the answers. You didn't have to be a cheerleader to rock a pleated micro-mini, and if your frosted tips failed to make you look like a boy band star, you could just throw on a trucker hat. And when it came to celebrity photos to plaster on your wall, there were so many options.

For many of the aughts' younger pop culture consumers, early crushes came from the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. It was a dark day for a lot of "High School Musical" fans when they learned that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were dating IRL, while for others, the co-stars' split in 2010 marked the sad end of an era. Older teens, meanwhile, had more sophisticated fare to watch, including the soaps "One Tree Hill" and "The O.C." Or perhaps they found their famous crushes in teen films such as "Bring It On," "Mean Girls," and "EuroTrip."

While much of the tech and trends of the 2000s might be obsolete now, the stars that were popping up consistently in LiveJournal entries are still out there — and we're about to hit you with some cotton candy body spray-scented nostalgia.

Shane West's sweet reunion with Mandy Moore

Shane West broke a lot of young hearts when he co-starred with Mandy Moore in the 2002 tearjerker "A Walk to Remember." But he moved away from the romance genre when he moved to the small screen, landing roles in "ER," "Nikita," and "Salem." In 2019, he played the Batman villain Bane in the "Gotham" TV series, and he faced off against a killer shark in the 2022 horror flick "Maneater." Like Moore, West has also dabbled in music. The "A Walk to Remember" soundtrack features a song by his punk rock band Jonny Was, and he later joined a horror rock band called Twilight Creeps. In 2019, the group released a festive holiday tune titled "Poison in the Mistletoe."

When Moore got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019, West gave a sweet speech at her induction ceremony. "Your smile is ridiculous. ... It lights up a room when you walk in," he told her. "Your energy is irresistible, and your heart is second to none." Two years later, West would fondly reminisce about working with Moore. "There was chemistry," he confessed to Vulture. "I think we [Mandy and I] both had a little bit of a crush."

West also concocted a rather creepy way he and Moore could reunite in a sequel to their tragic onscreen romance. "She comes back from the dead, and it's a zombie movie," he suggested. We're assuming that Twilight Creeps would record that soundtrack.

Sean Patrick Thomas worked with Kerry Washington again

In "Save the Last Dance," Sean Patrick Thomas romanced Julia Stiles and made viewers swoon with his smooth moves. The 2001 movie also helped change many viewers' attitudes toward interracial relationships, and Thomas would later learn that he's partially responsible for the existence of a number of children. "A lot of brothers or white women say, 'You know, I saw "Save the Last Dance" [and] I felt like I was ready to have an interracial relationship,'" Thomas told the New York Post. "'And now, look, I have like four mixed kids.'"

Thomas went on to star in the "Barbershop" franchise, and he reunited with his "Cruel Intentions" co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, when he landed a role in her CW series "Ringer" in 2012. A decade later, he found himself working with another former castmate: Kerry Washington. Her career was in its infancy when she played the sister of Thomas' character in "Save the Last Dance." But by the time Thomas got cast in the Hulu legal drama "Reasonable Doubt," Washington was sitting in the executive producer's chair. "What attracted me to the role, obviously right off the bat, was the chance to work with Kerry again," Thomas told People.

Thomas' role as a billionaire in need of legal counsel came as he was experiencing a bit of a career renaissance. In 2022, he also starred in the biopic "Till" and appeared in the critically acclaimed Apple TV+ series "For All Mankind."

Jonathan Bennett found love and made Hallmark history

Thanks to Jonathan Bennett, October 3 will always be an unofficial holiday for fans of the 2004 movie "Mean Girls." After playing the love interest of Lindsay Lohan's character, Bennett did a lot of work on television, including playing Bo Duke in the 2007 movie "Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning." In 2009, he scored the lead in another prequel, the direct-to-video film "Van Wilder: Freshman Year." Bennett kicked off his Hallmark movie career the following year, when he starred alongside his "Mean Girls" castmate Lacey Chabert in "Elevator Girl." He then became a fixture in the network's festive features.

In 2017, Bennett came out as gay on Instagram by sharing a photo of himself and his then-boyfriend, Jaymes Vaughan, dressed up as "Top Gun" characters Maverick and Goose. Vaughan later told The Knot that he felt pressure to plan the most romantic proposal possible because of Bennett's Hallmark background. He definitely delivered when he popped the question in 2020; Vaughan composed an original love song and performed it for Bennett. "I knew I was being proposed to and began to ugly cry," Bennett recalled.

The couple wed in March 2022, and Bennett had another reason to celebrate months later when he starred in "The Holiday Sitter," Hallmark's first Christmas movie centered on a gay couple. "Am I the gay King of Christmas?" Bennett pondered in an Out interview. "It feels like such an honor to kind of forge this movement in the holiday movie space."

Taylor Momsen remains focused on her rock career

Disney and Nickelodeon stars dominated the 2000s teen scene, so Taylor Momsen was an anomaly of the era with her platform heels, fishnets, and generously applied black eyeshadow. Momsen also had real rock cred, thanks to her ability to shred and her frontwoman status within the band The Pretty Reckless. But before the group released its debut album in 2010, Momsen explored a world that had little in common with the rock scene: Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Momsen played the ambitious "Gossip Girl" character Jenny Humphrey from 2007 to 2012, and as of this writing, her non-music-video acting credits end there. She decided to prioritize her music career but found herself in a dark place after suffering two devastating losses. Momsen was touring with Soundgarden when the band's frontman, Chris Cornell, died by suicide in 2017. A year later, The Pretty Reckless' producer, Kato Khandwala, died in a motorcycle crash. "I was just extraordinarily depressed," Momsen told The Telegraph. "I couldn't get off the couch." Eventually, she turned to music to help her heal and started writing some of the songs that would be featured on her band's 2021 album, "Death by Rock and Roll." She said of the record, "If I hadn't written it, I don't know if I would be here."

As for her former career, Momsen told Elle in 2022, "Acting is something I did and maybe I'll do it again. Who knows? But music will forever be a constant."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jesse Bradford starred in a romantic holiday movie

Jesse Bradford charmed "Bring It On" fans with one of the aughts' most memorable flirty film moments: his adorable tooth-brushing scene with Kirsten Dunst. Fast-forward to 2022, and Bradford found himself shooting another scene that he definitely wanted to have minty-fresh breath for. And if there was no toothpaste handy, we're betting there was a candy cane within reach.

But let's back it up a bit. After his 2000 appearance in "Bring It On," some of Bradford's other notable acting credits have included the 2006 Clint Eastwood film "Flags of Our Fathers" and the TV shows "The West Wing," "Guys with Kids," and "Shooter." Bradford and "Twin Peaks" actor Andrea Watrouse got married in 2018, and they became first-time parents in 2021. 

Bradford told MovieWeb that fatherhood helped sparked his interest in the seasonal film craze. "I think it starts to make you appreciate stuff like this even more, and the holiday season in general," he said. His daughter, Maggie, also got to make some new friends when he filmed "Merry Kiss Cam." The Hulu holiday movie is about two people who attend a hockey match for their first date. When they're featured on the kiss cam, they get pressured into locking lips. Bradford's co-lead is "Scandal" star Katie Lowes, who is also married with children. "It's always fun when you make a new friend from work. ... We've gotten together a bunch of times with our kids," he said.

Kiely Williams joined another girl group on BET

Kiely Williams and Adrienne Bailon were two members of the girl group 3LW when Disney came a-knockin' with an opportunity for them to sing and act in the 2003 TV movie "The Cheetah Girls." The Disney Channel film was wildly successful, and along with co-star Sabrina Bryan, they started performing as the titular girl group.

Like many of the singing acts forged in the House of Mouse, The Cheetah Girls couldn't extend their shelf life indefinitely and disbanded in 2009. However, Williams and Bryan reunited to film the comedic web series "Bad Sex with Good People" in 2017, and Williams helped form yet another girl group in front of reality show cameras for the 2021 series "BET Presents: The Encore." Blaque songstress Shamari DeVoe and Cherish members Fallon and Felisha King joined her to create the R&B supergroup BluPrint.

Williams later made headlines in 2023 when she criticized Chris Brown for collaborating with Chlöe Bailey. Williams accused Brown of using Black female artists to restore his tarnished image, tweeting in part, "Let him come out with his own record — so genius, so captivating that it makes us all forget HE BEATS WOMEN. He can't so he won't." Brown didn't do himself any favors when he fired back on his Instagram Story by trying to mock Williams for having a lisp. In addition to being insulting to people with speech impediments, his attack was inaccurate, as Williams told "That Grape Juice" that she doesn't have a lisp.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Michelle Trachtenberg returned to Gossip Girl

After appearing in "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" and "Harriet the Spy," Michelle Trachtenberg parlayed her child stardom into successful stints on two series popular with teens, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Gossip Girl." She also had no problem landing movie roles, with those credits including "Ice Princess," "EuroTrip," "Mysterious Skin," and "17 Again."

For a while, Trachtenberg seemed well on her way to having a long and fruitful career with no shortage of work, but those really juicy roles became fewer and farther between over the years. So, it makes sense that she would be interested in reprising one of her former characters — the cunning, calculated force of chaos that is Georgina Sparks — a decade after fans last saw her on "Gossip Girl." In fact, the series creator, Joshua Safran, told Deadline that Trachtenberg was chomping at the bit to announce, "The b***h is back," on the reboot. He recalled, "Michelle actually started DMing about it during the Season 1 writers room." However, Safran wanted a little more time to develop the new characters before unleashing Georgina on them.

Unfortunately for Trachtenberg fans, the "Gossip Girl" reboot was canceled after she made her triumphant return during its second season. The actor is active on Instagram, however, so fans can keep up with her there. She even shares occasional pics of her significant other; in 2020, Us Weekly reported that she was dating her agent, Jay Cohen.

Erik von Detten works in finance

In the 2001 classic "The Princess Diaries," Erik von Detten played the guy who Genovian Princess Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) dreamed of getting a foot pop from. But instead, his character ended up getting a shoe to the head after forcibly kissing the royal. Erik still managed to remain a wall-worthy heartthrob in the eyes of many fans, but after he voiced the villainous Sid in the 2010 animated movie "Toy Story 3," his acting career came to a screeching halt.

In a 2021 interview with E! News, Erik revealed that his dream of becoming a dad made him decide that it was time to pursue a new career. "The fickle nature of employment as an actor just wasn't consistent enough for me," he explained. Luckily for him, he found what he was looking for fairly easily. "It's a sales position with a company working in finance. I've grown into a management position and it's worked out really well," Erik said. After gaining that financial stability, he and his wife, realtor Angela von Detten, welcomed a baby girl named Claire Elizabeth in 2019. The couple's son, Thomas, joined the family two years later.

While Erik no longer acts for a living, he told Romper in 2018 that it's something he does for fun. He just sticks to low-key theater performances, such as holiday plays at community theaters. Oh, and in case you're wondering, he told E! News that his wife has requested a foot pop.

Corbin Bleu worked with his wife

For Corbin Bleu, diversifying his portfolio of musical performances proved difficult after he graduated from the "High School Musical" films. "It was always these tenor roles and I'm always screaming. It felt like, 'I don't feel like I can do this,'" he said during the 2023 winter TCA press tour (via CTV). But he eventually found a new vocal niche: the classic crooning style. It was the perfect fit for the Broadway musicals "Holiday Inn" and "Kiss Me, Kate," which opened in 2016 and 2019, respectively.

Bleu also continued acting on screen. He married another Disney Channel alum, "How to Build a Better Boy" star Sasha Clements, in 2016. The couple first co-starred in the 2021 Hallmark film "Love, for Real" but weren't romantic co-leads. And Clements had to watch her hubby pretend to fall in love with his former "HSM" castmate, Monique Coleman, when they all worked together in the aptly titled 2021 Lifetime movie "A Christmas Dance Reunion."

After expanding his horizons as a performer, Bleu eventually quit singing the blues about his "HSM" days and actually returned to the franchise in 2022. But in "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series," he portrayed himself, albeit with some added unsavory personality traits, instead of reprising his role as Chad Danforth. "Enough time has passed that I can now visualize it not as something that's dragging me or holding onto me," Bleu told People of his "HSM" past. "And I appreciate it so much."

JoJo landed a Broadway role

Joanna "JoJo" Levesque appealed to the angstier teenage experience with her 2004 bubblegum pop earworm "Leave (Get Out)," which earned the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Pop chart when she was just 13 years old. Unfortunately, her experience with fame soured when her music label, Blackground Records, stopped releasing her music but wouldn't terminate her contract. Worse yet, she claimed to UPROXX (via Celeb***hy) that the head of the record company had a nutritionist put her on a 500-calorie-a-day diet.

After a prolonged legal battle, JoJo eventually extricated herself from her contract and could shift her focus back to simply making music. She released her third album "Mad Love" in 2016 after signing with Atlantic Records and re-recorded her first two albums. "I went from feeling like a disempowered child to feeling like a capable woman," she said. Her fourth album "Good to Know" followed in 2020. Also that year, she was asked to record Joe Biden's official campaign song, which was written by Diane Warren. "[She] came in and gave one of the best vocal performances I've ever heard," Warren recalled to Variety.

JoJo also began exploring other musical avenues. Performing as the Black Swan, she finished second on "The Masked Singer" in 2021. Two years later, she landed her first Broadway gig: the lead role of Satine in "Moulin Rouge! The Musical." She told People, "I really wanted to step up to a challenge, and that's what I think Broadway is — it's the best of the best."

Chad Michael Murray found a home at Hallmark

From 2003 to 2009, Chad Michael Murray was tasked with serving up drama and soapy plot twists on "One Tree Hill." But as he aged out of catering to a teen audience, he did a 180 by helping Hallmark bring its signature brand of comforting predictability to the masses. 

He appeared alongside another former teen drama icon, "Friday Night Lights" star Minka Kelly, in the 2018 romance "The Beach House," and he reunited with his "One Tree Hill" co-star, Torrey DeVitto, the following year in "Write Before Christmas." Murray particularly likes filming the network's holiday films, with some of his other seasonal fare including "Love in Winterland" and "Road to Christmas." In a 2022 appearance at Christmas Con, he told the audience (via Heavy), "We all love the holiday season. We all love these films. I'm going to do them for as long as I can."

Before Bruce Willis' family announced his retirement in 2022, Murray got the opportunity to work with the action star. They appeared together in a number of films, the last of which, "Fortress: Sniper's Eye," was released a month after news of Willis' aphasia diagnosis broke. "To truly create a relationship and get to know each other a little bit and talk and swap old war stories and joke around, goof, laugh and have those moments on set — those are moments that I don't take lightly, that I'm so utterly grateful for," Murray told Fox News.

James Maslow became a rom-com star

James Maslow was a beneficiary of a 2000s trend that Disney and Nickelodeon both participated in: packaging young entertainers as pop groups and acting ensembles. From 2009 to 2013, Maslow, Kendall Schmidt, Carlos PenaVega, and Logan Henderson portrayed a boy band on the Nick series "Big Time Rush." Like many similar music ensembles, the group eventually split up, deciding to go their separate ways in 2014. 

After releasing his debut solo album "How I Like It" in 2017, Maslow continued to act, playing a bartender in a 2018 episode of "The Big Bang Theory" and getting in touch with his dark side in the Lifetime thriller "Room for Murder." It was only a matter of time before he got cast as a romantic lead — he was dubbed "the handsome one" in BTR, after all. He found the perfect fit in the 2021 rom-com "Stars Fell on Alabama." Maslow was cast as a Hollywood agent who asks an actor client to pretend to be his girlfriend when he returns to Alabama for a high school reunion. And guess who falls in love? 

Maslow recalled to "LRM Online," "I read the script, and I went, 'I don't have anything like this. I don't have any projects that I've been doing or have coming up that are just endearing and sweet.'" Trying something new paid off; the movie was popular enough to merit a 2023 sequel, "Stars Fell Again." By that time, BTR was also touring together again.

Willa Ford worked with Scott Disick

Willa Ford emerged in the heyday of the bubblegum pop princess with her ode to misbehaving, "I Wanna Be Bad." The tune's 2001 release sandwiched it between two songs with somewhat similar themes — Britney Spears' 2000 hit "Oops!... I Did It Again" and Christina Aguilera's 2002 track "Dirrty." Ford didn't achieve the same pop icon status as her contemporaries, but she did open for the Backstreet Boys and date Nick Carter for three years.

For Ford, promoting her debut album "Willa Was Here" became a nightmare when her second single "Did Ya' Understand That" dropped on the day of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Ford's music career hit the skids soon afterward, and she decided that she was ready to move on. She shifted her focus to acting but eventually found a creative outlet that didn't involve being in front of a camera or behind a microphone: interior design. "I was acting, but there's so much dead time. I just needed another outlet. I started doing it for friends and everyone was loving what I was doing," she recalled to Billboard in 2017.

Ford got so good at her craft that Scott Disick asked her to help him renovate houses on his reality series "Flip It Like Disick" in 2019. That same year, the WFord Interiors founder told W magazine that she had no interest in parlaying that notoriety into a musical comeback, saying, "I think I would be doing a disservice to my clients and my employees."

Jesse McCartney wrote new music about his bride

Jesse McCartney found solo success after leaving the boy band Dream Street and releasing his dreamy debut album "Beautiful Soul" in 2004. He continued churning out hits throughout the aughts while also finding time to act. He starred in the series "Summerland" and landed voice-acting roles in the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" films and "Kingdom Hearts" video game series. In 2016, he also popped up in a somewhat unexpected place; in "Fear the Walking Dead," he played a villainous pirate who gets zombified.

But by 2020, McCartney was looking for a way to remind his fans that he was still singing, and he found it in "The Masked Singer." After finishing second, he told People, "This was an opportunity for me to pick back up." His stint on the show coincided with the release of "Yours," a reflective, personal single that explored his relationship with his fiancée at the time, actor Katie Pearson. "It sort of sums up my life ... ultimately coming to the conclusion that my new favorite role is to be somebody's very special person," McCartney told Billboard.

The couple tied the knot the following year after nearly a decade together, and McCartney told Us Weekly that fans would be hearing a lot more about Pearson in "New Stage," the record he released in 2021. "She's certainly a big muse for this album and you can hear it lyrically," he said. "It's too specific not to be about a certain person."

David Henrie is a director dad

In 2022, we learned that "Wizards of Waverly Place" star David Henrie was once the celebrity crush of Omar Apollo. While speaking to Variety about being excited to meet Selena Gomez, the "Evergreen" singer revealed that it was mostly her "Wizards" brother that made the series must-see TV for him.

Eight years after Apollo presumably watched the show's finale, Gomez and Henrie reunited for the 2020 rom-com "This Is the Year." But their roles were different; Gomez was executive producing the film, and Henrie was sitting in the director's chair for the first time. He told Entertainment Weekly that Gomez had become like a real sister to him by then. "She's now best friends with my wife and Auntie Selena to my daughter," he said.

Henrie wed former Miss Delaware Maria Cahill in 2017, and they welcomed their first child, Pia, in 2019. Their son, James, was born the following year. In an emotional post on his Instagram Story, Henrie revealed that Cahill suffered four miscarriages before getting pregnant with James. She had another miscarriage after he was born. "I'm proud of her because she did what needed to be done to heal," Henrie wrote. Cahill got pregnant again, and the couple celebrated the birth of their daughter, Gemma Clare, in 2021. "Maria is currently enjoying the most deserved nap ever haha," Henrie wrote in part on Instagram. "She stuck to her plan and had a drug-free birth and I couldn't be more in awe of her!"