Aughts crushes: See them then and now

We don’t remember the high school football players at our school looking like Taylor Kitsch! The actor played Tim Riggins on the NBC series “Friday Night Lights” from 2006 to 2011, becoming a heartthrob of the ’00s in the process. In honor of the hunk’s 40th birthday on April 8, 2021, is checking up on Taylor and other crushes of the aughts to see where they ended up and what they look like today…

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Though “Friday Night Lights” remains his most famous project, Taylor Kitsch has continues to act after hanging up his helmet. During his time on the NBC show, he appeared in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and his first post-“Friday Night Lights” role was as the titular hero in the 2012 film “John Carter” — which sadly went on to become one of the biggest box office busts in history. He scored a hit with a starring role in 2015’s season 2 of HBO’s “True Detective,” and followed that up with the miniseries “Waco” in 2018. More recently, he appeared on the miniseries “Shadowplay” and will be seen in the 2021 film “Demonic.” Good news for those who still count Taylor as one of their celebrity crushes — he’s single!

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Josh Hartnett kicked off the year 2000 in the romantic flick “Here on Earth,” following it up with the 2001 action film “Black Hawk Down.” As one of the hottest young movie stars of the era, he continued to score roles in projects like 2001’s “Pearl Harbor,” 2002’s, “40 Days and 40 Nights” and 2006’s “The Black Dahlia.”

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Josh Hartnett continues to act, on both TV and in films. He most recently appeared in 2020’s “Most Wanted” and starred on the Spectrum TV series “Paradise Lost” the same year. Before that, his most notable role of late was on “Penny Dreadful,” which ran from 2014 to 2016. Unfortunately for those hoping he’s still available, this ’00s hottie has been in a relationship with actress Tamsin Egerton — with whom he shares three children — since 2012. 

From his role as Lucas Scott on “One Tree Hill” from 2003 to 2009 to his stint on “Gilmore Girls” as Tristan to his starring role as Austin in 2004’s “Cinderella Story,” Chad Michael Murray was one of the go-to hunks of the ’00s. Let’s see him now…

Chad Michael Murray has yet to duplicate his crazy success from the ’00s, when he was seemingly everywhere, but he has recently become a staple in Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies. He most recently appeared in 2020’s “Too Close for Christmas” and “Love in Winterland.” He also returned to his teen drama roots in 2019 with a recurring role on “Riverdale.” The hunky blond is off the market in real life — he married “Chosen” co-star Sarah Roemer in 2015 and now has two children with her. 

At the beginning of the 21st century, Freddie Prinze Jr. was the “it” guy on the big screen. Fresh off of 1999’s “She’s All That,” he starred in romances like “Down to You” and “Boys and Girls” in 2000 and followed those up with “Head Over Heels” and “Summer Catch” in 2001. He really was the go-to male romance lead in the early ’00s. 

Since his days as an ’00s big-screen heartthrob, Freddie Prinze Jr. has mainly appeared on the small screen with notable roles on “Witches of East End,” “Bones” and “Stars Wars Rebels” from 2014 to 2018. More recently, he landed a role on the 2021 Peacock “Punky Brewster” reboot. He’s also one-half of one of the cutest couples in Hollywood: He’s been married to his “I Know What You Did Last Summer” co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar since 2002. The couple have two children.

Between his role as Dean on “Gilmore Girls” starting in 2000 and Sam on “Supernatural” beginning in 2005, Jared Padalecki was constantly on our television sets in the ’00s. What’s he doing now?

Jared Padalecki has a brand new role on The CW — he’s starring on “Walker,” a reboot of the Chuck Norris hit “Walker, Texas Ranger.” It debuted in January 2021 right after he wrapped up his role as Sam Winchester on “Supernatural” in 2020 after an impressive 15 seasons. He found love on that set: He married co-star Genevieve Cortese in 2010. The couple now share three children.  

Who wasn’t in love with Hayden Christensen in the ’00s?! The gorgeous Canadian actor charmed (and frightened!) us all as Anakin Skywalker in the “Star Wars” prequels.

After the ’00s, Hayden Christensen had roles in handful of films like 2014’s “American Heist,” 2018’s “Little Italy” and 2019’s “The Last Man.” He also lent his voice to the 2019 film “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and the television show “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” in 2020. In 2021, it was announced that he’s reprising his role as Anakin Skywalker in Disney+’s buzzy upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series. As for his personal life, Hayden dated fellow ’00s star Rachel Bilson in the late aughts. They welcomed daughter Briar Rose before splitting in 2017.

Mekhi Phifer kicked off the ’00s coming straight off a role in the popular “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” film in 1998, then co-starred alongside the one and only Beyonce in 2001’s “Carmen: A Hip Hopera.” He also appeared in “O” opposite Julia Stiles that same year, and in 2002 landed one of his biggest roles co-starring alongside another music superstar — Eminem — in “8 Mile.”

After the ’00s, when he also did a six year stint on “ER,” Mekhi Phifer starred on the series “Lie to Me” until 2011 before following that up with roles on other popular TV shows like “Psych,” “White Collar,” and “Chicago P.D.” He landed the role of Max in the “Divergent” series starting in 2014, appearing in the sequels “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” and “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” in 2015 and 2016, respectively. More recently, he had a role on the Hulu series “Love, Victor” in 2020. Mekhi is off the market these days: He’s been married to Reshelet Barnes since 2013. 

When “Gossip Girl” debuted in 2007, the entire young cast was stunning, but one heartthrob stood out from the rest — Chace Crawford, who brought hunky, wealthy Nate Archibald to life. He was often at the center of the drama as Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester)’s dutiful boyfriend who had a history with her best friend, Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively). Despite playing a high school student, Chace was almost 30, but his beautiful baby face made his casting believable. What’s he up to today?

Chace Crawford most recently made a splash on the Amazon series “The Boys” starting in 2019. But post-“Gossip Girl,” his most notable roles on the big screen were in 2008’s “The Haunting of Molly Hartley,” 2012’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and 2017’s “Eloise.” After “Gossip Girl” ended in 2012, he also appeared on an episode of “Glee” and starred on the short-lived ABC series “Blood & Oil” in 2015. For those still harboring a crush on the hunky Upper East Sider, note that Chase is still single. 

In the ’00s, Orlando Bloom starred in not one but two major franchises — the “Lord of the Rings” films as Legolas and “Pirates of the Caribbean” as Will Turner. The movies catapulted him to the A-list and made him a major crush. 

Orlando Bloom continued to dominate the big screen after the ’00s wound down, appearing in the “Hobbit” films in 2013 and 2014 and one final Disney franchise flick, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” in 2017. He more recently starred in “The Outpost” in 2020. He was attached to fellow ’00s star Kate Bosworth from 2003 until 2006 and later married Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr in 2010 and welcomed a son, Flynn, with her in 2011, before they divorced in 2013. These days, he’s engaged to music star Katy Perry, with whom he welcomed a daughter, Daisy, in 2020. 

The “High School Musical” trilogy made a household name of Zac Efron in the late ’00s. The young actor played Troy Bolton in the Disney Channel films and earned a lot of fans in the process.

After the final “High School Musical” film in 2008, “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” Zac Efron’s next big role was starring in the 2009 movie “17 Again.” He followed that up with 2010’s “Charlie St. Cloud” and a role in the ensemble flick “New Year’s Eve” in 2011. He showed off his comedic side in 2014’s “Neighbors” and 2016’s “Dirty Grandpa” and starred in the box office bomb “Baywatch” in 2017. More recently, he appeared in the 2019 Netflix film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” as serial killer Ted Bundy and starred on the Netflix travel series “Down to Earth with Zac Efron” in 2020. As for his personal life? Zac’s been dating Australian Vanessa Valladares since the summer of 2020. 

Teens across the country fell in love with this star of a Southern California-based drama in 2003 — Adam Brody on “The O.C.” Though fans also swooned over the show’s hunky bad boy played by Ben McKenzie, it was Adam’s lovable nerd Seth Cohen who stole hearts as a comic book geek harboring a crush for glamorous cool girl Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson). So what’s Adam up to today?

Adam Brody transitioned to the big screen during his time on “The O.C.,” most notably landing a role in the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie flick “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” in 2005 and “Thank You for Smoking” with Katie Holmes, Rob Lowe and William H. Macy that same year. Once “The O.C.” ended in 2007, Adam continued to appear in flicks like “In the Land of Women” in 2007 and “Jennifer’s Body” in 2009. He later fell for his “The Oranges” co-star Leighton Meester of “Gossip Girl” fame and married her in 2014. The former teen TV royalty welcomed their first child, a daughter, in 2015 and added a son to their brood in 2020. Adam has continued to act including on “New Girl,” five episodes of wife Leighton’s show “Single Parents” and an episode of 2020’s “Mrs. America.” He more recently had a role in the critically acclaimed 2020 film “Promising Young Woman.” 

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