Being a celebrity fetches attention not only at this moment, but also for years to come. This is especially the case for those stars who have been brought up in the public eye. Many times the exposure is what shapes their attitudes in life. This is true whether it's a celebrity that gets into offscreen antics, or one who keeps their private life private.
Oftentimes, the media does affect the personal lives of these celebrities. This can happen so much that some might even take a step back from their career. In some cases, they'll reemerge from the shadows years later, unrecognizable.
Those who do recognize these stars are the generation who have spent lots of time fawning over these beautiful people. The most recent decade that went by was the 2000s, though they're still many, many years ago. In those years, there were plenty of celebrities who not only caught our eye, but lots of other people's, as well. Growing teenage boys and girls tend to place these stars on their crush list, and the following represent those who had been most relevant in the 2000s. Though people had different tastes from each other, there are still some celebrities who repeatedly show up on people's "favorite" lists.
Let's see what our most attractive candidates have been up to since then. Some might have changed for the good, some for the worse, but all of them shaped us in some way when we were younger.
25 What's A Gabriella Without Her Troy?
Vanessa Hudgens is the girl responsible for many boys collectively sighing every time her face appeared on Disney Channel shows and adverts. Millennial boys still have a bit of a twinkle in their eye when you mention her name. The actress burst onto the scene with the hugely successful High School Musical series which not only made the Disney musical popular again, but also caught the attention of the press thanks in part to her relationship with Zac Efron. The pair were in the news for years until their split in 2010.
Hudgens made full use of her gorgeous looks, with roles in films like Spring Breakers and glamour modelling for magazines like Maxim. Hudgens has been in a long-term relationship with actor Austin Butler since 2011, and recently starred in sitcom Powerless.
24 Back In The Public Eye
The type of girl you couldn’t help but let out a whistle at whenever she appeared on screen, Hayden Panettiere won hearts of many at a very young age due to her roles in films Remember the Titans and Joe Somebody. Boys her age no doubt caught her for the first time in the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.
Panettiere always was a source of attraction for men thanks to various modelling gigs. Her biggest role was on the show Heroes where she appropriately played a beautiful cheerleader. Although she never quite captured a leading status, she did stay on TV screens with the show Nashville. Panettiere has also been in the public eye recently because of her struggles with post-partum depression, after giving birth to a daughter with long-time partner Wladimir Klitschko.
23 From Beauty To... Beauty
The ultimate crush of boys around the world since appearing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Emma Watson never really left the public eye. Her performance as bookworm Hermione Granger defied the source material’s take on the character. Her radiantly beautiful looks made her anything but a geek in the eyes of her admirers.
As the Harry Potter series took about a decade to wrap up, Watson’s progression over the years was well documented. However, despite a few modelling assignments in between, she chose to put education first and graduated with top honours in school. In recent times, her star has shined brighter with the leading role in 2017’s highest-grossing film Beauty and the Beast. Watson has had a number of romances over the years but is intensely private over the matter.
22 From East High To Hollywood
There was a time you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing some teenager humming along lyrics from High School Musical. Many would definitely recall the girls who would browse the internet for pictures of the latest hunk on the market.
Zac Efron had all the charm in the world, and coupled with his boyish good looks and beautiful voice, the actor surged onto the scene. His voice also helped him bag the lead role in the critically acclaimed Hairspray. His romance with Vanessa Hudgens ensured the tabloids remained interested.
Eventually, the actor grew out of these stereotypical roles and experimented in movies such as Neighbors and The Lucky One. This effort brought him much acclaim and he has achieved continued success.
21 We'd Still Sail The Seas For Her
Now here’s an actress who grew up a bit too soon! It’s hard to believe Knightley was a mere eighteen years old when the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean came out. She certainly caught the eyes of many, and it was this attention that catapulted her career to higher reaches. Knightley followed this up with blockbuster films such as Love Actually and the Pirates sequels, and got an Oscar nomination for her role in Pride & Prejudice, making her the third-youngest nominee ever.
As she entered her twenties, she was regularly featured in lists of most beautiful women around the world by outlets such as Maxim and FHM. Presently she seems to have slowed her career down in favour of raising a child with husband James Righton. But there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more of this beauty for years to come.
20 Her Star Continued To Grow Into The 2000s
Although one might argue she may have been more relevant in the 90s than in more contemporary times, Tiffani Thiessen remained a crush for many men years after the popular show Saved by the Bell had concluded. It wasn’t easy to forget her character, cheerleader Kelly Kapowski, and Thiessen capitalized on this popularity by starring in Beverly Hills, 90210. Her popularity has never severely diminished with long-time fans tuning in to watch her in White Collar as well, and even millennial star Justin Bieber is a fan decades after her role on Saved by the Bell.
Thiessen is married to husband Brady Smith and is mother to two children. Her romances beforehand were much publicized, but she seems to have moved on to married life quite well.
19 Chad Michael Murray
In a time when teen shows had begun to shift from science fiction to drama, Chad Michael Murray was one of the pioneers we all knew and loved. His good looks were first noticed during his bad boy outing on Gilmore Girls, an appearance that proved to be catalyst to a leading role in the hit series One Tree Hill. Murray’s brooding take on the character earned him many swooning fans, and allowed him to branch out further with roles in films such as House of Wax.
In the coming years, Murray hasn’t fully realized the potential he promised early on, yet still remains relevant thanks to his still remaining movie star good looks. He also enjoys a happy personal life, being father to two children with model Sarah Roemer.
18 From Child Star To Your TV Screens
The recipient of an Oscar at the tender age of eleven, Paquin has surprisingly managed to transition the childish charm she was initially perceived for into more adult material. In the early 2000s, the actor captured one of the leading roles in X-Men franchise as the lovable character of Rogue. The white streak in the character’s hair became a popular look, and the actress continued displaying great range by starring in the long-running vampire drama True Blood, a show that has cemented Paquin as one of the hottest actresses out there.
Her personal life has remained a happy feature as well, as she has been married to True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer since 2010.
17 Black Is The New Orange, Apparently
Rightfully regarded as the head-turner of the group during her stint in the widely popular That 70s Show, Laura Prepon was a ratings pull for the network as boys tuned in to watch the then-fiery redhead on their TV screens. Prepon received her big break from That 70s Show, which also featured a number of soon to be rising stars. During the show’s eight year tenure, Prepon’s character was instrumental in laying an example that beauty can also couple with smarts.
After the show’s conclusion, she floated around a few shows such as Are You There, Chelsea? Before landing a main gig in the critically acclaimed Orange Is the New Black. In her personal life, Prepon is now mother to a baby girl with partner Ben Foster.
16 Found His Way Out Of The Middle
Malcolm in the Middle was smash success, earning multiple Emmy nominations for its cast and show itself. This was largely thanks to star Frankie Muniz. Muniz played the geeky role of Malcolm, the middle child in a dysfunctional family. It was the youngster’s goofy charm that enabled the show to be as successful as it was, and this charm was met with many female fans of his age. Muniz could even be credited as bringing dorky back with his main role as Agent Cody Banks.
Over the years, the actor was vocal in his aim to branch away from acting and delve into other opportunities. He achieved prominence as a race car driver, and was able to pursue this dream of his. More recently, he has been featured on Dancing with the Stars.
15 Liv Tyler
First gaining mainstream exposure through her steamy scenes with Ben Affleck in the juggernaut Armageddon, she then did one even better and captured a role in the blockbuster The Lord of the Rings series. Her take on the character of Arwen was generally well received, and her unique look garnered many admiring fans.
Another reason for her popularity was the revelation of her true parentage, as it became public that she was Steven Tyler’s biological daughter. Tyler was the lead in the horror movie The Strangers and one of the first to star in the Marvel Cinematic Universe through The Incredible Hulk. Lately she has slowed her career down in favour of motherhood, and has three kids.
14 I Don't See Dead People Anymore
The little boy from The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment will forever be known for this role. The youngster was a child sensation in the early 2000s due to his star making turn in M. Night Shyamalan’s hit film, following up with a lead role in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. – Artificial Intelligence. Osment’s most striking feature were his round, innocent eyes that garnered him much attention from young fans.
However, this didn’t turn out to be such a benefit for him, as over the years the actor has never managed to shake off the little boy image. It doesn’t help that he still has a sweet innocent face that doesn’t match his age. Osment has also gained a bit of weight since then, and received bad press for risky driving charges and years’ worth of probation.
13 A Buffy Beauty
One of the pioneers for making not only making teen science fiction shows relevant but also bringing LGBT issues into the public eye, Alyson Hannigan was instrumental in catapulting the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show that lasted well into the early 2000s. Her character Willow is still seen as a gay icon, and her role in the series brought much attention to the fiery-haired beauty. Hannigan also turned heads thanks to her role in the American Pie movies.
She continued her success with the immensely popular How I Met Your Mother that lasted for nine seasons. Recently, however, Hannigan has settled into motherhood and raising her two daughters with husband Alexis Denisof.
12 I Spy...
Those born in the late eighties or early nineties won't need to search their memories to recall Alexa Vega. The Star of the surprise hit Spy Kids was on the majority of young boys' crush list of that age range. Vega starred in the Spy Kids franchise during the original trilogy, before moving on to a few other roles. Although she was never quite able to shake off the Spy Kids franchise from her identity, she did showcase her acting range in films such as Odd Girl Out.
Vega returned to her star-making role in the fourth Spy Kids movie and was in Machete Kills. In her personal life, Vega has since undergone a divorce but found love again in the arms of Carlos Pena Jr., with whom she shares a son.
11 Get Your Head In The Game
Another dreamy catch from the High School Musical franchise, Corbin Bleu had all things going for him: movie star good looks, endorsement from Disney Channel, and serious acting potential. This much earned him the hearts of girls worldwide, and his melodious voice surely helped matters on that front.
However, since growing out of his Disney days, Bleu has scarcely been seen in the public eye. While he is by no means a recluse, the actor has only appeared in multiple guest appearances across networks. His film credits have dried up. Yet, Bleu has remained ever smiling and his personal life has taken a happy turn due in part to his wedding to sweetheart Sasha Clements. This is one happy high school alumni.
10 We'd Love To Live Next Door
A long-lasting beauty, Elisha Cuthbert played the role of Kim Bauer for 9 years in the acclaimed series 24. Having been on TV for so long, her popularity soared in no small part due to her good looks. She dabbled along the way with a few movie roles such as House of Wax, but nothing concrete came of this other than stealing hearts of many young men in the teen comedy The Girl Next Door.
Cuthbert was a mainstay on 24, which kept her afloat for a long time until the show’s conclusion in 2010. Since then, she’s jumped around a few times on shows like Happy Endings, and has since found a role in the Netflix sitcom The Ranch.
Since 2013, she has been married to Dion Phaneuf and they are currently expecting their first child together.
9 XOXO, Gossip Girl
The object of affection to a slew of girls, Chace Crawford was the ultimate hottie of network TV during his years on the show Gossip Girl. Not only did he ensure the show maintained its ratings, but also remained in the public eye thanks to his cover shoots for multiple magazines.
Crawford did hit a few snags along the way, namely being apprehended for substance use which required him to complete community service. But the hunk was too much of a draw to be let go from Gossip Girl, and was with the show till its conclusion.
Since then, Crawford has starred in several supporting roles in films such as Rules Don’t Apply and I Do... Until I Don’t. His 2015 TV series Blood & Oil was cancelled after a solitary season, but his young age ensures there’s more to follow.
8 This Explains It All...
If you were a teenager during the late 90s or early 2000s, there’s no chance you don’t recall Melissa Joan Hart. The blonde was the talk of the town during her years as witch Sabrina in the immensely popular Sabrina The Teenage Witch TV series. It was even harder to remove her from our minds thanks to numerous appearances as the character in other popular shows such as Clueless and Boy Meets World. Hart was definitely one of the rising stars of the early 2000s.
Yet she was not interested in tabloid headlines, and married musician Mark Wilkerson at the young age of 27, a marriage that has lasted to this day. Hart reignited her success with the hit TV series Melissa and Joey.
7 Slaying Vampires... And Our Hearts
You can’t have a 2000s crush list and not have Sarah Michelle Gellar included in some capacity. The titular Buffy in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show was a role model for young women. Her character kicked butt while remaining awesome. Gellar enjoyed a great run as the character. She went on to star in teen slashers such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2 which attracted a lot of fans. Gellar also managed to capture the sultriness of Daphne Blake in the Scooby-Doo series, while also keeping it kid friendly.
While she hasn’t maintained that success today, Gellar is more than happy in her marriage to long-time collaborator Freddie Prinze Jr., raising her children with her husband.
6 Before He Was Sam, He Was Dean
Gilmore Girls was a success due to a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest ones that comes to mind is the 6'4" hunk Jared Padalecki. The heartthrob broke millions of hearts during his time on Gilmore Girls, as girls around the world flocked over to watch his character Dean romance Rory.
Padalecki played more dream boy roles in the future in films such as New York Minute and Friday the 13th. He has remained busy–and still effortlessly handsome–for the past 13 years on the runaway success Supernatural, which shows no signs of stopping. Padalecki was lucky enough to meet his wife on the show, and is now blissfully settled with three kids and a slew of female fans.
5 Sing To Me, Paolo
A multi-talented star who was once the prized possession of Disney, Hilary Duff won hearts with her leading performance in the show Lizzie McGuire. Always a beautiful young girl with her signature fringed locks, Duff was a natural crush for many teenagers at the time. She capitalized on this by branching out into music and releasing multiple albums and hit songs.
Over the years, Duff has by choice taken a step back in her career due to the publicity her earlier success had garnered, an unwanted spotlight by her own admission. Although her marriage did not last long, she is a determined mother and continues work through a role in the TV show Younger.
4 Bet You Forgot About Him...
One of the more controversial contestants in the long-running American Idol talent competition, Sanjaya Malakar defied all expectations to finish in the top ten. Malakar has been viewed as among the weakest members of the competition to progress to the finals, thanks largely in part due to his huge fan following.
His signature hairstyle was largely bashed as ridiculous by the show’s judges, but proved popular among teenage girls, who were responsible for saving his axing from the show. Who could forget the ‘Crying Girl’ who was seen in hysterics at one of Malakar’s performances?
Since his Idol days, Malakar admitted he didn’t think about his finances and spent off most of earnings for leisure. As of 2012, he had been working as a bartender, yet recently he has been planning a return to singing with his band.
3 Oh, Amanda...
Oh, Amanda! Why would you do this to yourself? Amanda Bynes was queen for a while. The bubbly young girl mixed charming with attractiveness so well. She was the leading lady in a number of hits such as She’s the Man, Hairspray, and Sydney White. There didn’t seem to be an end in sight.
However, Bynes credited a lack of passion in acting as her decision to retire from it. During that time she was seen in steamy pictorials for magazines that at least kept her fans interested. But it was still not to be, and after disappearing for a few years, she resurfaced as a shell of her former self. By this point, many news outlets reported her to be suffering from bipolar disorder and her frequent court appearances didn’t help matters. It was recently reported she has been doing better, but a return is out of the question for the time being.
2 Team Jacob For Life
Go back to 2009 and you'll notice a collective swoon from a cluster of girls at the mere mention of Taylor Lautner. His transformation into a hunk was well recognized, and he was seen as a legitimate contender for one of the most lucrative careers in Hollywood. Lautner’s gorgeous looks nabbed him multiple awards for a number of years, and his devoted fangirls wouldn’t let anyone inch ahead.
Yet this success interrupted Lautner’s career choices, and the actor began demanding huge payouts for his acceptance of roles. Following the end of the Twilight Saga, he was seen in action films in the likes of Abduction and Tracers, none of which dented the box office. He attempted a shift to comedy, but that only hurt his appeal. More recently, he has starred in the British sitcom Cuckoo.
1 Backstreet's Back, All Right!
The Backstreet Boys were instant successes upon their introduction to the world back in the 90s. This success continued well into the 2000s as well, partially thanks to the appeal of youngest member Nick Carter, who even a quarter of a century since the Backstreet Boys’ formation remains handsome as ever.
Carter tasted success at an extremely young age, selling out millions of album copies along with his band. He's enjoyed solo success as well with three albums of his own. Sadly, his family life has been a struggle due to the death of his younger sister and his falling out with troubled brother Aaron Carter. In 2014, he tied the knot with wife Lauren Kitt and welcomed a son with her. The couple also starred in their own reality TV series.