90s Celebs: Then, Now, and In Their Past Lives

From Tiger Beat to Emmy gold!

Some of the biggest names in Hollywood first got their start as 90s teen idols, and some of those 90s teen idols got their start as historical figures in a past life. See where these nine stars got their big breaks—and get to know the host bodies in which their souls spent their previous iterations on Earth.

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  1. Claire Danes

Then: Opposite Jared Leto, Danes headlined the critically acclaimed My So Called Life as the navel-gazing, angsty Angela Chase.

Now: Since moving onto the silver screen with films like Romeo & Juliet and Terminator 3, she has returned to TV as Carrie Mathison in Homeland.

Long Ago: As the prime minister of fascist Italy, Benito Mussolini (AKA Claire Danes) made a coalition to fight alongside Adolf Hitler against the Allied Powers. We can hardly believe the transformation!

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  1. Mark Wahlberg

Then: Quintessential Boston tough guy Marky Mark was famous for his Calvin Klein abs and his run-ins with the law.

Now: Who knew this hunky punk would end up as a franchise megastar, starring in Planet of the Apes, Transformers, and comedic blockbusters such as The Other Guys?

Long Ago: As the Norse god, Bragi, this future bruiser was respected in all of Asgard for his poetic wisdom and songs. Just for fun: trying saying “Norse Lord” five times fast with a Boston accent. What a thrill!

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  1. Neil Patrick Harris

Then: This cutie started out as the teen genius Dr. Doogie Howser on America’s TV sets from 1989 to 1993.

Now: NPH popped back into public consciousness with a cameo in 2004’s Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, followed by a starring role as the skirt-chasing Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother.

Long Ago: In his most recent past life, this future Emmys host was a simpleminded man named Gershon who performed the now-defunct job of “human alarm clock” in late-1800s Russia. Fascinating!

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  1. Brandy

Then: This Moesha star hit it big in 1998 when she and Monica released the megahit “The Boy Is Mine.”

Now: While she continues to make music, Brandy has focused her energies on her acting career, starring in Drop Dead Diva and CW’s The Game.

Long Ago: After WWI in Great Britain, before the radar was invented, people like Francis (as she was called back then) were enlisted to be “listeners for enemy aircrafts”. Brandy used “acoustic mirrors” to identify vibrations from planes across the channel—and maybe even jam out to to some dope R&B beats! Wow!

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  1. Tia and Tamera Mowry

Then: America became enamored with this Sister, Sister pair all the way back in 1994.

Now: These twins are basking in the reality limelight with shows like Tia & Tamera Take 2, The Real, and Instant Mom.

Long Ago: Tamera spent her past life as this incredibly cute rabbit. Aww! And can you guess where Tia is? She’s that carrot in the grass! These two are literally inseparable!

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  1. Ryan Gosling

Then: This Canadian cutie got his big break at 12 years old on The Mickey Mouse Club.

Now: He makes us laugh (Crazy Stupid Love), he makes us cry (The Notebook), and he makes us want to wear white leather jackets (Drive).

Long Ago: Hey girl. Ryan Gosling used to be a bunch of dried grass that was used to commit arson back in 1972. Talk about a hottie!

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  1. Mario Lopez

Then: With that sexy mullet and those wrestling tights, Lopez had us charmed as A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell.

Now: This after-school hottie is now best known for hosting Extra and America’s Best Dance Crew.

Long Ago: He must have known those irresistibly cute dimples would come in handy when he inhibited this world as Isabella Gilbert, inventor of the Dimple Stamper. Go figure!!

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  1. Michelle Williams

Then: Williams had audiences astir as the bad-girl-next-door on Dawson’s Creek.

Now: This Blue Valentine is a critical darling, earning three Academy Award nominations since her breakout role in Brokeback Mountain.

Long Ago: Happy birthday Mr. President! Marilyn Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the greatest sex symbols in history. Because she actually used to be Norma Jeane Baker, some discredit Williams’s Oscar nom for My Weekend with Marilyn because she wasn’t really acting so much as accessing past-life memories.

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  1. Will Smith

Then: Smith was a hip-hop superstar even before he signed up to be your childhood hero in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Now: Wow! This Bad Boy hasn’t aged a day. In fact…

Long Ago: Ever wonder why Will Smith basically looks the same as he did 20 years ago? Well, that’s because he never dies! Since the dawn of time, Smith has been eating mermaids, sipping Taoist immortality elixirs, and seeking that Holy ol’ Grail from which Jesus drank at The Last Supper. Today, this unnatural being swears by a potent combination of Scientology and green juice. (Above right is the earliest known photo of Smith, taken in 1888.) He really is Legend!