'00s Icons You Forgot About (But Shouldn't Have)

Where are they now? Often, thriving!

00s stars mischa barton
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The '00s were the era of obsessive fandoms. One catchy song, a season or two of a hit TV show about werewolves or vampires, and bam—little-known figures would be catapulted to superstardom, the kind that makes you go, "Oh, them!" all these years later.

After their big break, some of those '00s stars went on to long careers; others took a break or saw their popularity wane. But in recent years, as with forgotten '90s stars, a lot of the celebrities on this list experienced a resurgence as Y2K found its way back into popular culture. Frankly, I want even more for my '00s stars—put them all back on my TV screen immediately, please and thanks.

Bridget Fonda

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Granted, a lot of Bridget Fonda's greatest hits were in the '90s (the second Godfather, Single White Female, Jackie Brown, to name a few), she worked into the early 2000s, including on films like After Amy and Kiss of the Dragon, before retiring from acting.

Willa Ford

00s stars willa ford

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After the success of her debut album Willa Was Here in 2001, Willa Ford continued making music into the 2010s; She was also a Playboy and Maxim model as well as actor (Friday the 13th) and TV personality (Dancing With the Stars in 2006).

Cris Judd

00s stars Cris Judd

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The former Mr. Jennifer Lopez is probably known for being just that, but the backup dancer is also a choreographer and an actor to boot (as the former, he appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians and The Real Housewives of New Jersey, apparently!).

Patrick Fugit

00s stars Patrick Fugit

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Patrick Fugit's most notable works both were released in the '00s (that would be Almost Famous in 2000 and Saved! in 2004). But, if you're wondering to yourself, Wait, I thought I saw him recently! he's had more recent supporting roles in Gone Girl, Love & Death, and Babylon. We love a resurgence!

Ruben Studdard

00s stars Ruben Studdard

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The winner of the second season of American Idol, Ruben Studdard has released several studio albums. He's also worked as an actor and reality star, including on a season of The Biggest Loser. Also, I just really enjoy this: In 2018, he costarred in Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show. Lol!!

Christina Milian

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I won't lie, "AM to PM," one of Christina Milian's biggest hits, is still a favorite of mine. In case you missed it, the singer and actor (who's also an entrepreneur, no biggie) also has starred in some incredibly named recent Netflix romcoms: Resort to Love and Falling Inn Love (oh my god!!).

Vitamin C

00s stars Vitamin C

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"As our lives change, come whatever / We will still be friends foreverrrrrrr!" Don't pretend you don't know the words of Graduation (Friends Forever), Vitamin C's most popular hit. Technically that song was released in 1999, but it took over our lives in the '00s. Fun fact: Vitamin C is a music exec as of 2012!

Macy Gray

00s stars Macy Gray

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This list is just going to be full of songs with catchy tunes, to be honest. Technically, Macy Gray's "I Try" was released in 1999, but it was incredibly popular for years. Gray continued to make music; She was featured on Ariana Grande's "Leave Me Lonely" and was also on The Masked Singer.

Ashlee Simpson

00s stars ashlee simpson

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Ashlee Simpson's song "Pieces of Me" was released in 2004 (we're all old!), which was a big decade for the singer. She also starred in The Ashlee Simpson Show and 7th Heaven before playing the lead in the musical Chicago. Simpson married singer Evan Ross in 2014 and goes by Ashlee Simpson Ross—and they've worked together!

Michelle Trachtenberg

00s stars Michelle Trachtenberg

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The erstwhile Harriet the Spy in the '90s is probably either known to you as her role as Buffy's sister in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or as socialite Georgina in Gossip Girl. That latter role she reprised in the rebooted show, and she's continued to work regularly.

Jonathan Bennett

00s stars Jonathan Bennett

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Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls has really embraced the fact that everyone thought he was a hunk when that movie came out. (Speaking of coming out, he's happily out of the closet and starred in the first LGBTQ+ Hallmark movie!) He's continued to work, including on Broadway with Spamalot. FYI, his social media is an absolute treat and worth the follow.


00s stars Eve

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Eve's debut album was released in 1999, but the 2000s were huge for her (she went double platinum!!). She has acted in small roles, but your most recent glimpse of the rapper and singer was probably on The Talk on CBS, which she co-hosted until 2020. She's also continued to work as a musical artist.

Julia Stiles

00s stars Julia Stiles

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Julia Stiles' adorable eyeroll was the best part of 10 Things I Hate About YouDown to You, and Save the Last Dance. After her initial teen stardom, Stiles went on to have a recurring role in the Bourne movies and did TV work with Dexter. If you want some campy horror fun, check her out in Orphan: First Kill.


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I really, really can't think about Dido's music at all, lest I have her music stuck in my head for days. (Too late, it's already happening!). If you're wondering, she released her fifth studio album in 2019 (Still on My Mind), she's collaborated with brother Rollo, and re-recorded her vocals for Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike's "Thank You (Not So Bad)" in 2023.

Justin Guarini

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Runner-up to Kelly Clarkson on American Idol, Justin Guarini has released several albums. Since debuting on Broadway in 2010, Guarini has acted in various productions, including in Rent, Chicago, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Jesse Metcalfe

00s stars Jesse Metcalfe

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Also known as the guy from John Tucker Must Die, the heartthrob in Desperate Housewives, and Christopher Ewing in Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe was the '00s man of our collective dreams. He's acted in Hallmark TV shows as well as Dancing With the Stars.

Chad Michael Murray

00s stars chad Michael murray

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Chad Michael Murray was on most people's walls in the '00s. The former model could not have been more popular as Lucas on One Tree Hill. (He was also on Gilmore Girls and Dawson's Creek. I haven't forgotten!) He's continued to work, including on Hallmark and in Riverdale and in a small role in the MCU (Agent Carter).

Sophia Bush

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Michael Murray's ex (and former costar on One Tree Hill), Sophia Bush has gone on to star in Chicago P.D. Going back to her roots, she started as co-host of One Tree Hill rewatch podcast Drama Queens in 2021. She also appeared on Celebrity Family Feud!

Aly & AJ

00s stars Aly & AJ

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Pop rock duo Aly & AJ were everywhere in the '00s. ("This is the / potential breakup song!" Sorry.) The two have actually continued to release new music—including their first studio album in 14 years, 2021's A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into the Sun.


00s stars kelis

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The "Milkshake" singer (the song was certified gold and remains her biggest hit) has continued to perform and release music, including "Milkshake 20" in 2023. Did you know that she trained at Le Cordon Bleu and has done several cooking-related projects, including Cooked with Cannabis?

Alicia Silverstone

00s stars alicia silverstone

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Clueless is technically a '90s movie, but Alicia Silverstone was active into the '00s (and beyond, obviously). She was in the '00s show Miss Match and released her first (vegan) cookbook in 2009. Lately, she starred in the rebooted Baby-Sitters Club as well as roles in movies including Book Club.


00s stars jojo

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"Get out! Right now!" (Sorry, lol.) JoJo was only 13 when she became the youngest solo artist to top the Billboard Top 40 chart. She released her fourth studio album in 2020 and, if you're wondering where you saw her recently, it's in a Lifetime movie and in Broadway's Moulin Rouge.

Hayden Christensen

00s stars Hayden Christensen

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Darth Vader from the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Hayden Christensen has continued to work; Starting in 2019, he returned to the Star Wars expanded universe with voice work as Anakin Skywalker and (much-lauded) parts in Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka.

Matthew Lillard

00s stars Matthew Lillard

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Fresh off playing Stu in the first Scream (spoiler alert: one of the killers and an over-the-top performance for the ages), Matthew Lillard spent the '00s playing Shaggy in the live-action Scooby Doo movies (and he continued to do voice work in that role). More recently, he's been in He's All That and Five Nights at Freddy's!

Tom Welling

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Clark Kent/Superman in Smallville was, more recently, a regular on the show Lucifer. Tom Welling also had parts in Judging Amy, the Cheaper by the Dozen movie and its sequel, and started co-hosting the Smallville rewatch podcast Talkville with former costar Michael Rosenbaum.

Michael Vartan

00s stars Michael Vartan

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It's hard to overstate how popular Michael Vartan, star of Alias and the now fairly dated romantic comedy Never Been Kissed, was. To be clear, Vartan has continued to act, including in the series The Arrangement. Did you know he has co-hosted weekly live sports program Advanced Shouting?

Devon Sawa

00s stars Devon Sawa

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Devon Sawa, heartthrob for an entire generation, technically started his rise to superstardom in the '90s with Casper and Now and Then. But his role in 2000's Final Destination was the '00s Devon Sawa movie (technically he started starring in the Nikita TV show in 2010). He still acts in movies!

Macaulay Culkin

00s stars Macaulay Culkin

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If you're unfamiliar, Macaulay Culkin took a break from acting in the '90s but did return for a recurring role in Will & Grace in the '00s. (This was also the decade he wrote a memoir.) Lately, he starred in a season of American Horror Story and launched a podcast in 2018.

Rachel Bilson

00s stars Rachel Bilson

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Bawww, remember Summer from The O.C.? Rachel Bilson would go on to have a major role in Hart of Dixie. In 2021 she began co-hosting Welcome to the OC, Bitches! with former costar Melinda Clarke and, in 2022, launched the Broad Ideas with Rachel Bilson podcast.

Seann William Scott

00s stars Seann William Scott

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"Hi Stifler!" (How often do you think he gets that shouted at him? I'm guessing three times a day.) The American Pie, Dude Where's My Car?, and Final Destination actor also starred as hockey player Doug in the Goon movies and the TV show Lethal Weapon, among others.

Mischa Barton

00s stars Mischa Barton

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Marissa from The O.C. (and, fun fact, the creepy dead girl in The Six Sense before that!), Mischa Barton started performing onstage in the early 2010s. She was a part of the first season of The Hills: New Beginnings, and has had small roles, including in the movie Spree.

Taylor Lautner

00s stars Taylor Lautner

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People really loved Jacob (and his abs! Don't forget!) in the Twilight movies. The role made Taylor Lautner famous, as did the fact that he dated Taylor Swift (he's appeared in a music video and the song "Back to December" is apparently based on him!). He has continued to act, including in Scream Queens.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.