Shar Jackson in “My So-Called Life”
Pretend, for a moment, that it’s 2005, and that you just picked up an issue of Us Weekly. Chances are, it’s full of news about Britney and K-Fed, and how he ditched fiancée Shar Jackson to get hitched to the pop starlet. Which brings us to this clip from “My So-Called Life.” Sure, everyone knows Claire Danes and Jared Leto headlined this critics’ darling, but a teenage Shar Jackson popped up as cheerleader Crystal in back-to-back episodes in 1994, two years before she got famous on “Moesha” — and five years before Britney made it big with “…Baby One More Time.”—Rebecca Harper
Matthew Perry in “Charles in Charge”
I’m going to need you to follow my directions for the next few seconds. Try to glance over the fact that Chandler Bing shows up as a 12-year-old with doughy cheeks and a Cosby sweater in the video I’m about to send you. It’s hard to forget that, but trust me. Tuck it away in the repressed memory part of your brain for a few minutes. Then do the following:
1) Mute your computer.
2) Press play below.
That’s all. This is what you see, in order:
– A 12-year-old Matthew Perry walks in.
– Some other boy walks in, who appears to be chewing gum professionally.
– Pro gum-chewer attempts to steal a painting for no real reason.
– He decides not to steal the painting because he has lost interest.
– He instead decides to dance away like a fully grown woman.
– Someone takes a picture of this.
– A separate boy in another room has decided to snort water from the tap.
…And that’s it. Oh, right, Matthew Perry’s in there. There’s your takeaway. You can unmute your computer now.—Ben Collins
Christina Applegate in “21 Jump Street”
Way before she was Up All Night, or even Sue Ellen Crandell in the criminally under-rated Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, a 17 year old Christina Applegate guest starred on an episode of 21 Jump Street alongside future professional pirate Johnny Depp. On “I’m OK. You Need Work,” Christina played Tina, a troubled teen living in an alcohol and drug abuse treatment center. Armed with a bottle of peroxide, a coy smile, and a bad attitude, Tina flirts with the boys and gets them into trouble, a role not too far from the one she would play on Married…with Children. Check out the clip below, or watch the entire episode here.—Andrea Marker
Christian Bale in “Newsies”
Sometimes I wonder if the reason Christian Bale’s Batman voice is so gruff is because of all those years he spent as a teen carrying The Banner, wistfully dreaming of a better life in Santa Fe. Newsies was a slumber party staple in the ‘90s for good reason, and while Christian Bale may have moved onto more serious, Oscar-winning fare, he’ll always be Jack “Cowboy” Kelly to me.—Andrea Marker
Ryan Reynolds in “Fifteen”
Of course, we all love Ryan Reynolds. From his smartass Van Wilder through his superhero turn in Green Lantern, Reynolds has captivated us with his charm, boy-next-door good looks and witty sense of humor, but so much is forgotten about his early dramatic roots that propelled him into superstardom: his role as Billy Simpson on the Canadian Nickelodeon soap opera Fifteen, in which he competed for the attention of a young Laura Harris, with whom he was in no way a young Ross and Rachel of the Great White North. He may not have been the best child actor, but his work here serves as a great reminder that even movie stars were awkward in high school.—Martin Moakler
Joan Cusack in “Sixteen Candles”
Joan Cusack has a spectacularly awkward cameo in the beloved ’80s classic “Sixteen Candles,” as “Geek Girl #1.” Nerdily resplendent in a back brace and Cinderella sweater, she steals scenes by comically battling with her scoliosis – dancing, drinking from a water fountain, and sipping beer are all wackily difficult tasks. Re-watching this movie in the new millennium will make you remember there were days when congenital disease and date rape were considered hilarious plot lines.
Fans of the Cusack siblings will also remember John’s supporting role as Bryce, one of The Geek’s dorky wingmen. His “Say Anything” heartthrob status would be a few years in the making.—Naivasha Dean