Inspiring a Generation: What the Actors From Your Favorite Childhood Movies Are up to Now

Wed Jul 27 2022

When you head down memory lane and look back on your childhood, you might think of Furbies and Tamagotchis, and low-rise jeans and crop tops. And while these memories probably hit you with a big dose of nostalgia, it’s fair to say that you’ll probably be knocked cold when you start thinking about the movies you used to watch. After all, the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s were the prime time for iconic childhood movies.

Movies like Save the Last Dance, The Addams Family, The Parent Trap, and Mean Girls shaped a generation, and so did the actors who starred in them. Back in the day, these actors were the crème de la crème of Hollywood – but have you ever wondered what they’ve been up to since their heydays? While some of them have continued to reign supreme in the acting world, others have left the bright lights behind in favor of a normal nine to five.

A Walk To Remember (2002): Shane West Has Become a Punk Rocker

In 2002, the world was blessed with a beautiful coming-of-age romantic drama that starred Shane West and Mandy Moore. And while film critics didn’t have too many nice things to say about it, A Walk to Remember was still a box office success; and one which thrust Shane West into the spotlight. His role as the heartbreaker Landon Carter took the world by storm, and good girls across the globe suddenly developed a thing for the ‘bad boy’. Incidentally, it seems as though Shane’s still rocking that stereotype.

Although Shane is still acting today and even landed a lead role in the popular supernatural horror show Salem, he’s turned his hands to other projects over the years. He’s dabbled in movie and TV production, and he’s followed his musical instincts. In fact, his former band contributed to the soundtrack for A Walk to Remember. Many of his original band members formed a new group in 2015, and the Twilight Creeps have been recording music ever since.

Bring It On (2000): Eliza Dushku Is Firmly Focused on Her Charity Work

While it was certainly strange to hear teenagers sing “I’m sexy, I’m cute! I’m popular to boot!” at the top of their lungs during the early 2000s, it was totally understandable. The cheer movie Bring It On seemed to catch everyone’s attention whether they were interested in cheerleading or not – and Eliza Dushku’s character Missy certainly wasn’t interested in that preppy way of life. Nevertheless, this movie shot the actress even further into stardom after her Buffy the Vampire Slayer days.

Since her cheerleading ventures, Eliza Dushku has continued her reign in Hollywood. She’s starred in TV shows like Dollhouse, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H, Tru Calling, and a wide range of movies that have all showcased her acting ability. However, more than anything, Eliza has been focused on her charity work. She not only serves on the board of directors for the THRIVE-Gulu organization (The Trauma Healing and Reflection Center in Gulu), but she has also become a leading figure in the #MeToo movement.

The Parent Trap (1998): Elaine Hendrix Is an Avid Animal Rights Advocate

While we’re all taught to treat people with kindness, we learned during the late 1990s that Meredith Blake obviously didn’t get that memo. Elaine Hendrix took on the role of the evil stepmother in the iconic movie The Parent Trap in 1998, and her legendary character stole the show. With her snide smile, her sneaky plans, and her rather impressive fashion sense, it’s no wonder that fans still remember Elaine for this role – but is she still acting?

Thankfully, Elaine is still going strong in Hollywood, and today you can see her as the main character in the drama show Dynasty. When she’s not filming, though, Elaine devotes her whole life to her animal rights activism. She’s been a vegan since 2006, and now she spends her free days traveling around North America teaching youngsters and organizations the importance of animal welfare.

Mean Girls (2004): Rajiv Surendra Has Become a Professional Calligrapher

When it comes to the most quotable movies of all time, Mean Girls has to be somewhere at the top of the list. This 2004 teen comedy changed the face of Hollywood, and Rajiv Surendra had the chance to be a part of it. He took on the hilarious role of Kevin Gnapoor – the mathlete/rap legend who took the Winter Talent Show by storm. While he’ll forever be remembered for his impressive skills in the movie, his career has changed drastically since this film’s release.

All in all, Rajiv only has five acting credits to his name – one of them being Mean Girls. While he had hoped to continue his acting exploits and even auditioned for the lead role in Life of Pi, he eventually decided that he needed to try something else. So, for many years now he has been the owner of his own bespoke calligraphy and graphic design service called Letters in Ink. As well as being a professional calligrapher, Rajiv has also spent more time in the gym – as you can probably tell.

She’s the Man (2006): Amanda Bynes Has Been Fighting Her Conservatorship Battle

In 2006, Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night was given a modern-day revamp and transformed into the teen sports movie, She’s the Man. Starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum at the helm, this film proved that a wig and a suit can go a long way – but it was Amanda Bynes who really shined. During this time, the teen actress was in the prime of her Hollywood life. Sadly, it didn’t last.

Although Amanda managed to score roles in big movies like Hairspray and Easy A after the success of She’s the Man, it soon became clear that she was struggling in the limelight. She began to battle substance abuse as well as legal issues surrounding her finances and her family. In the end, she decided to take a “hiatus” from acting in 2010 – and from 2013 until 2022 she was placed under a conservatorship. In March 2022, her conservatorship was officially terminated.

The Goonies (1985): Jeff Cohen Co-Founded His Own Law Firm

Steven Spielberg movies are almost always successful, and they almost always go down in history. This was certainly the case for his 1985 film, The Goonies. This movie saw kids go on an adventure to unearth long-lost treasure – and Chunk especially had a great time. This character was played by former child star Jeff Cohen, who made everyone laugh with his ‘truffle shuffle.’ But Jeff has certainly moved on since his shuffling days.

Although Jeff enjoyed his stint as a child star, he only managed another five years in the limelight after the success of The Goonies. It was then that he decided to further his education and study at the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with a B.S. degree in Business. Later, he went even further and bagged himself a J.D. degree from the UCLA School of Law. Today, he’s an entertainment lawyer for his own firm, Cohen & Gardner, LLP.

She’s All That (1999): Rachael Leigh Cook Has Become a Hallmark Channel Queen

You know a movie is good when it gets a remake over 20 years later, and that’s exactly what happened to She’s All That. This classic teen movie not only provided us with a storyline that made girls around the world swoon, but it also provided us with a stellar cast and a soundtrack that is still famous today. Much of the show’s success stemmed from lead actors Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook.

While she may not be the most A-list actress in Hollywood, there’s no doubt about the fact that Rachael has been continually busy since She’s All That. She’s starred in TV shows like Robot Chicken, Psych, and Perception, but she’s now largely known for her association with the Hallmart Channel. At the time of writing, Rachael has appeared in eight Hallmark television movies, and there are rumors that she’ll star in even more.

Peter Pan (2003): Jeremy Sumpter Is Still Acting on the Down-Low

In 2003, people around the world found someone to fall head over heels with; Jeremy Sumpter. For many kids growing up in this era, Peter Pan was their very first crush and one that they will never forget. But there’s no denying that the film itself was a huge hit. Peter Pan may have been a financial box office failure due to high filming costs, but it received rave reviews and has become a cult classic. What about Jeremy, though?

Well, the success of Peter Pan has been somewhat of a negative for Jeremy. To this day, he’s invited to fan and press events thanks to this role, and he’s only ever really remembered for playing the boy who never grew up. But he is trying to keep his feet on the acting ground, and in recent years Jeremy has been able to score roles in movies like Into the Storm, The Legend of 5 Mile Cave, and Stakeout.

My Girl (1991): Anna Chlumsky Regrets Leaving the Acting World Behind

When she was just 11 years old, Anna Chlumsky landed her first big acting role when she was cast as the adorably strange Vada Sultenfuss in My Girl. This movie makes fans laugh, cry, and everything in between – and it thrust the youngster into the spotlight. After the subsequent release of the movie’s sequel in 1994, many assumed that Anna would be the next big star in Hollywood… but then she decided to leave that world behind.

In 1994, Anna retired from acting to go to college. She studied International Studies at the University of Chicago, and eventually became an editorial assistant for Harper Collins upon her graduation. But after a while she realized that the publishing world wasn’t for her, and so she returned to her acting roots. Anna’s career has been on fire ever since, and she’s now best known for her roles in Veep, Halt and Catch Fire, and mostly recently Netflix’s hit show Inventing Anna.

The Addams Family (1991): Anjelica Huston Is Still an Icon in the Acting World

In 1991, a great darkness fell upon the world thanks to The Addams Family – and we couldn’t have been happier that it happened. This incredible supernatural black comedy was dark, brooding, and downright iconic, and we have Anjelica Huston to thank for a lot of that. The actress took on the matriarchal role of Morticia Addams back in the day, and she perfectly embodied the legendary character.

So, it should come as no surprise to learn that she’s still going strong today. Anjelica Huston is one of the most famous women in Hollywood – and while she’s not an A-lister who gets hounded by the paparazzi, her epic work speaks for itself. In recent years she’s starred in major blockbusters like John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Waiting for Anya, and The French Dispatch, and she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Stuart Little (1999): Jonathan Lipnicki Has Become an MMA Fighter

If you cast your mind back to 1999, you might remember a little film about an adorable young boy and a mischievous mouse. Stuart Little was an instant hit when it was released, and that was all thanks to the part-animation, part-live-action production that starred the wonderful Jonathan Lipnicki. He was just nine years old when he landed this role, and it’s fair to say that his life has changed dramatically afterward.

While you can still see Jonathan on your screens in the form of short films and reality shows like Celebs Go Dating, Worst Cooks in America, and Drop the Mic, he now spends a huge portion of his time in the gym. That’s because he’s a keen MMA fighter and has put years of hard work and dedication into his career in the ring. In fact, in 2020 he finally earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt after 14 years of training!

Clueless (1995): Alicia Silverstone Has Dedicated Her Life to Helping Animals

There are countless teen movies out there, but many fans would argue that none of them will ever come close to Clueless. This 1995 cult classic saw the likes of Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Dionne Davenport, and Brittany Murphy go back to high school and deal with everything from fashion emergencies to strange step-family relationships. It’s still one of the most famous films of all time, and it’s still Alicia’s most famous roles to date.

Of course, that’s not to say that Alicia hasn’t continued to act. After the release of Clueless, she starred in movies like Batman & Robin, Excess Baggage, King Cobra, and so much more – but her main passion revolves around animals. Alicia has been a vegan since 1998, and she’s spent decades advocating for animals around the globe. She’s even set up her own sanctuary for rescued pets in Los Angeles.

Spy Kids (2001): Daryl Sabara Is Focused on Being a Hollywood Husband and Father

Only a small portion of projects manage to become a whole franchise, and an even smaller portion manages to be successful the whole way through – but Spy Kids managed to break the mold. The first Spy Kids movie was released in 2001, the last installment came to us in 2011, and Daryl Sabara appeared in all of them. He was just nine years old when he landed the job, and he became an instant icon.

After the success of the series, Daryl managed to continue his acting career and has landed small roles in TV shows and movies – and today he’s best known for voicing Heatblast in the Ben 10 franchise, a role he’s maintained since 2016. However, more than anything, he’s known for being a Hollywood husband and father. He married famous singer Meghan Trainor in 2018, and they welcomed a son in 2021.

Bend It Like Beckham (2002): Parminder Nagra Is Still Working in the UK and the US

No matter whether or not you’re a fan of soccer, or even David Beckham, there’s no doubt about the fact that Bend It Like Beckham is a classic teen movie. Released in 2002, this film saw Parminder Nagra take on the role of Jess – a British Indian Sikh obsessed with soccer. She goes behind her family’s back to pursue her dream, but we all know that this decision wasn’t short of drama.

While this movie thrust Parminder into the international spotlight, it’s fair to say that her career has been all-over-the-place since its release – mostly in a geographical sense. While the British actress has been able to star in British dramas like DI Ray and Holby City, she’s also pretty famous across the pond. In recent years she’s starred in popular US shows like 13 Reasons Why, ER, The Blacklist, and more.

Casper (1995): Christina Ricci Has Decided To Focus Her Attention on Television

Turning a comic into a movie can be risky business, but it certainly paid off in 1995 when the world was graced with Casper. The idea of a friendly ghost seemed to hit it off with fans at home, and the franchise quickly became a popular addition to the supernatural dark fantasy comedy-drama category. Of course, that had a lot to do with actress Christina Ricci, who was just 15 when she was cast as Kat.

Christina had already appeared as Wednesday Addams when she was cast in Casper, and she quickly became known as the girl who played the dark and brooding characters. However, in recent years, Christina seems to have changed course. She’s focused all of her attention on television rather than movies, and she’s appeared in mega productions like Pan Am, Yellowjackets, and Z: The Beginning of Everything.

Matilda (1996): Mara Wilson Has Ventured Into the World of Web Series’

What do you get when you cross a book-loving child with a wild family, a torturous headmistress, epic superpowers, and a sweet-as-honey teacher? Well, that would be Matilda. To this day, the 1996 movie has become a cult classic, has been transformed into a Broadway musical, and will soon be brought to the big screen once again in a 2022 remake. This movie starred Mara Wilson at the helm, and she became an instant star.

Since this movie, though, Mara has only booked another three films to add to her resume and that’s because she claims that “Film acting is not very fun.” She’s since focused her attention on some TV shows, but now she can mostly be found appearing in web series’. Mara has appeared in 22 web series’ since 2012, including Gilmore Guys, The George Lucas Talk Show, Ollie & Scoops, and Welcome to Night Vale.

Home Alone (1990): Macaulay Culkin Has Proven That Nothing Can Keep Him Down

You probably don’t need us to tell you that Home Alone is one of the most famous movies of all time – or that Macaulay Culkin was one of the most popular child actors in history. These two went hand in hand, and that was all thanks to the 1990 release that changed everything. It changed Christmas, it changed the world’s perception of children, and it changed how we felt about jobs – after all, how could the McAllisters afford such a huge house?

The success of Home Alone threw Macaulay into the spotlight, but that same spotlight caused his subsequent downfall. In the early 2000s, Macaulay struggled with narcotics abuse and was even arrested, and many assumed that he had been struck by the child star curse. However, Macaulay has since redeemed himself and made his way back into the acting world. In 2021, he wowed everyone with his appearance in American Horror Story: Double Feature.

Spy Kids (2001): Alexa PenaVega Has Become a Popular YouTube Personality

Spy Kids was such a popular franchise that we just had to include the other main star, Alexa PenaVega. Not only did Alexa take on the role of Carmen Cortez in this series, but she also contributed to the soundtrack as a singer and performed most of her own stunts during filming. This franchise really set her up for a life in the limelight, as Alexa now has almost 50 movie credits to her name and even more TV credits.

As well as continuing her acting career, Alexa has also ventured into a new realm of entertainment. She’s now a married woman with a husband and three children, and Alexa and her husband have started their own YouTube channel to keep their fans updated on their life. In fact, their most recent YouTube video shows them buying their bucket list purchase… their very own catamaran boat!

A Cinderella Story (2004): Chad Michael Murray Has Become a Hallmark Channel Legend

By the time Chad Michael Murray took on the role of Austin Ames in A Cinderella Story, he had already appeared in the likes of One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, and Dawson’s Creek. So, we assumed that he would have been smart enough to realize that his on-screen crush was just Hilary Duff in a mask – but how Austin didn’t recognize Sam still remains a mystery to this day. But it’s this mystery that’s helped A Cinderella Story become a cult classic.

Thankfully, Chad’s inability to look beyond a mask hasn’t affected his acting career. He’s still one of the biggest names in acting and he has continued to score big role after big role. But he’s become particularly popular with fans of the Hallmark Channel. Since 2018 he’s starred in four Hallmark movies, including Road to Christmas, Love in Winterland, and Sand Dollar Cove.

The Princess Bride (1987): Cary Elwes Is Busier Than He’s Ever Been Before

While many movies from the 1980s have been forgotten in favor of more modern alternatives, The Princess Bride still remains one of the most famous films of all time. This cult classic has become more and more popular as the years have gone by, and that’s all thanks to the incredible script, as well as the all-star cast. After all, nobody could avoid falling in love with Cary Elwes’ luscious locks and charming demeanor.

The Princess Bride was the perfect jumping-off point for Cary to really start his acting career, and before too long he was cast in major roles in the likes of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Saw, Glory, and more. Since then, however, he’s got even busier. Today, Cary is one of the most booked-up men in Hollywood, and he currently has three major movies in post-production, including the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

Blue Crush (2002): Kate Bosworth Is Still a Huge Movie Star

In 2002, Kate Bosworth was a relatively unknown face in Hollywood. While she had been acting in small roles since 1998, it was Blue Crush that really allowed her to ride the wave of stardom. This surfing movie thrust her into the limelight and proved to everyone that she was not only a great surfer but also a great actor. But what’s so amazing about Kate is the fact that many people forget she was in this iconic teen movie because she’s since been so successful.

Yes, Kate is now one of the most recognizable faces that Tinseltown has to offer. Over the years she has put her name to major movies like Superman Returns, Before I Wake, The Devil Has a Name, and more. And while she’s starred in a few television shows, it seems as though she’s only now trying to properly break into this other industry. In 2019, she starred in the I-Land on Netflix, which she also produced.

Coyote Ugly (2000): Piper Perabo Has Become a Strong Political Activist

In 2000, we learned that we can’t fight the moonlight thanks to the musical comedy-drama Coyote Ugly. This movie served as Piper Perabo’s breakthrough role, and it’s fair to say that she stole the show as barwoman and aspiring singer Violet. This role landed her an MTV Award and world-renowned fame, but after this box-office hit, she decided to focus mainly on independent films, a move that certainly impacted her career.

Piper has continued to work as an actress, but she hasn’t reached the same levels of fame as some of her Coyote Ugly co-stars. While she has starred in movies like Cheaper by the Dozen, Looper, and Angel Has Fallen, she has continued to focus on more independent work. Plus, she spends a huge amount of time on her political activism. In fact, she has been arrested twice during her political protests.

John Tucker Must Die (2006): Jesse Metcalfe Tried To Show Off His Dancing Skills

What would you do if you found out that your ‘boyfriend’ was actually dating multiple other women at the same time? Well, you could learn a lot from John Tucker Must Die. This 2006 teen movie saw teen heartthrob Jesse Metcalfe take on the role of John Tucker himself, and this casting decision made the movie a huge success. After all, Jesse was in the midst of his Desperate Housewives career when he landed this role, and fans around the world loved him.

It seems as though Jesse’s good looks haven’t faded since his high school days, which is why he’s been pretty busy ever since. While he’s still landing big roles here and there, he’s perhaps best famous for his association with the Hallmark Channel – and he’s starred in both movies and television shows for the channel. Alongside this, he also decided to showcase his dancing skills in 2020 when he appeared on Dancing With the Stars.

Save the Last Dance (2001): Julia Stiles Has Become a Television Star

Looking back, Julia Stiles’ dance moves could have been improved in Save the Last Dance – but at the time of its release, they took the world by storm. While we don’t know if Julia’s character would have been accepted into Julliard today, the script and the cast were still enough to entice us. Today, it’s considered to be one of the best teen movies of all time, even though some have forgotten that Julia was even in this movie.

She has mega movies like The Bourne Identity, The Prince and Me, The Omen, Silver Linings Playbook, and Hustlers under her belt – but in recent years she seems to have made the transition into television. Julia has recently landed huge roles in TV shows like Riviera, DreamWorks Dragons: The Nine Realms, and The Lake. In all three, she bagged herself the main role.