Remembering My Teen Years: Celebrity Crushes
I tend to be a very nostalgic person – that’s probably why I started collecting vintage YA books a few years ago and why I return to my favourite books, movies, and television shows over and over again. I saw the trailer for Kid 90 (the documentary directed, produced, and starring Soleil Moon Frye – most well-known for her iconic role in Punky Brewster) and it got me thinking back to my time as a teenager in the 1990s (yep, I’m old). 😀
I spent a significant portion of my time watching movies during my teen years. It used to be you had to rent the latest releases from a video shop – it took at least a year for films to come out on home video (and about a year for them to move from cinema to rental for that matter). Owning my favourite films and getting to watch them over and over was a privilege. Having my own video rental card was a thing I treasured.
I was the hugest movie fan (as well as being an avid reader) and I adored a lot of the teen focussed movies that came out in the 1980s and 1990s (the golden age of the teen film IMHO). I had many (many!) posters on my walls of my favourite stars.
Most of my crushes were on actors though it was probably more accurate to say I crushed hard on the characters they portrayed. I’ve never really crushed on real-life people (maybe to a degree but I don’t know them so it feels a little odd to me). I would follow certain actors careers and watch the hell out of the movies they were in because I liked them as actors so I guess that’s kinda the same thing??
I very rarely crushed on musicians even though I loved (and still love actually) the music of that era and followed bands and singers and bought up every release they put out (remember the days when you got single CDs and tapes – takes me back!)
I thought it might be fun to list my top ten crushes that I had back in the day! These are listed in no particular order.
1. Corey Haim
Ah, Corey Haim. He was so cute and innocent back in the 1980s and early 1990s films he appeared in. Sadly, his real-life wasn’t so picturesque. It has been well-documented that Haim and his frequent co-star and friend Corey Feldman suffered abuse during their time in Hollywood. Perhaps as a result of this, Corey developed a drug problem that more or less ended his career and left him with massive debts. He tragically died in 2010 of pneumonia (though initially it was speculated to be prescription drug related).
I had an innocent crush on Corey Haim, probably more when I was a pre-teen into early teens. I had no idea at the time what kind of things he was going through in his life (and why would I? I never knew him personally). Later on in life, I often thought fondly of him and was shocked at his death at only 38 years old. It’s sad he never got to live out the rest of his life in peace.
2. Jonathan Brandis
It was actually thinking about Jonathan Brandis that inspired the idea for this post. Brandis was a talented young performer who first came to my attention in The Neverending Story II and IT: The Miniseries. It wasn’t until he appeared in Seaquest DSV that I really took notice and developed a bit of a crush. I watched nearly everything I could get my hands on that featured him!
When the series ended, I stopped seeing him in things (though he did continue to work and appear in more minor roles) and I gradually stopped thinking about this bright-eyed young actor. When I did hear about him again, it was a major shock: I found out that he had died by suicide in 2003. I didn’t actually discover this until a few months later and I was really saddened to think of the pain he must have been going through to do what he did. From what I can gather, he was depressed because his career had stalled. I still think about him from time to time and wish he had gotten more of a chance.
3. Michael J. Fox
I simply adored Michael J. Fox. Everything he appeared in (whether it be Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success) he always made me smile. He had talent and was as cute as a button – who wouldn’t have a crush on him? I enjoyed pretty much all of his films and was a fan of his stint as the lead on Spin City.
His early on-set Parkinson’s disease diagnosis was a such a blow. I remember thinking at the time that it did not seem fair that it could strike someone so young (though it’s a horrible thing to have to go through at any age). I always continued to think of him as an inspiration; that he continues to work where he can and hasn’t let it stop him from living his life (though I do believe he struggles immensely).
4. River Phoenix
River Phoenix was a star who shined brightly. Talented and immeasurably good-looking; from the first time I saw him (in Stand By Me) he mesmerized me. I was hooked, line and sinker. However, I didn’t get to hold onto my crush for very long. River Phoenix died of a drug overdose on 31st October 1993. He was the first celebrity death I remember being absolutely devastated about. I was gutted and I didn’t understand how this could have happened. How this bright light could be snuffed out so quickly and brutally.
I still continued to watch his movies and admire his talent but it seemed morbid to crush on someone after they passed. He still meant a lot to my teen self and I continue think about him often. What he could have been doing had he lived. Would he have continued to act or followed his dream of becoming a full-time musician? We’ll never know…
5. Christian Slater
Christian Slater and his crazy grin used to give me butterflies as a young teen – I’m not gonna lie! He had an air of danger and mystique to him in just about all of his roles. My personal favourites were him as J.D. in Heathers and Mark in Pump Up the Volume. He was talented and charismatic and just had an energy that was fun to watch.
His career took a downward turn during the mid-1990s and never fully recovered. A lot of personal issues probably had something to do with this decline but some of it was probably the fact that the roles which made him just weren’t there anymore. The kind of films that were his bread and butter were no longer as popular and sadly, as happens to most young adult actors, he was aging out of the few roles that he would have worked wonders with a few short years before. Still, I’m glad I got to enjoy him in my teen years in so many iconic roles!
6. Merritt Butrick
A lot of people probably have no idea who Merritt Butrick was, and that’s a crying shame. He first came to my attention as Captain Kirk’s son David in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and continued the role into the follow-up film The Search for Spock. The role that probably garnered him the most attention though was Johnny Slash in Square Pegs (a series I was way too young to have seen the original run but did enjoy it later when it came out on DVD).
I remember browsing the interwebs on a Star Trek forum (trekkie and proud of it!) probably sometime in the early 2000s when I came across a post about Kirk’s son and saw that Merritt Butrick had actually died many years before, of Aids in 1989. I think my heart broke a bit at that news. I’d had no idea though I had wondered why I hadn’t ever seen him in anything recent (the last thing I could remember seeing him in was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a guest role). I had nurtured a small crush on him in the early/mid 1990s never knowing that he had died a few years before.
7. Rory Cochrane
99.99% of my love for Rory Cochrane comes from his appearance in one of my favourite teen films of all time Empire Records! (though he was awesome in Dazed and Confused as well). I rented out Empire Records so many times I probably wore the darn VHS tape out haha! I eventually got my own copy and wore that out too!
I loved his character Lucas so much – he was cocky and damaged and pretty much everything my poor teenage heart lusted over!! I haven’t seen Cochrane in a lot of stuff since but I always enjoy when he pops up in things (hey, it’s that guy!!) When I met my partner I knew we were meant to be as he was the only other person I have ever met who owned the soundtrack for Empire Records (as well as the film, obviously) – a match made in heaven (and my partner’s birthday happens to fall on Rex Manning day, i.e. the day the film is set on April 8th, too – spooky coincidence or what?!)
8. Keanu Reeves
C’mon, everyone loves Keanu! I know I did (and still do, to be fair!) From Bill and Ted, to Parenthood, to Speed, to The Matrix, to John Wick, Reeves has had a varied career and I’ve been there for through most of it! My favourite films he has been in are a little-known sleeper called Permanent Record and The Replacements. I’ve always enjoyed him in films (I know he gets a lot of flack for his acting but I always found him to be just fine).
He definitely was a firm favourite of mine for many years and I will still watch just about anything he appears in. He seems to be an ageless vampire – he is aging but more like fine wine! 😉
9. Lou Diamond Phillips
The first thing I ever saw Lou Diamond Phillips in was La Bamba but my favourite films with him were Young Guns and Young Guns II (seriously love these films even though they are cheesy as heck and, despite being inspired by the real-life Billy the Kid, not really factually accurate). I was pretty much a smitten kitten back in the day!
Phillips career seems to have quieted but he still seems to work fairly steadily as a character actor so that’s something. I really crushed hard for a while there as a teen (so did one of my pals – we had similar tastes, I guess!)
10. Heath Ledger
With his smirky smile, cute dimples, and adorable Aussie accent, I first noticed Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You (one of my favoruite teen flicks). He was charming and just had a magnetism even back then. A Knights Tale really solidified him as a crush-worthy figure for me. I really enjoyed his acting a lot and knew he was a star in the making.
A film role of a lifetime – playing the Joker in The Dark Knight – was ultimately his undoing. Throwing himself into the role, as a consummate method actor, he developed problems sleeping. He accidently overdosed on prescription medication in 2008. I still remember seeing the news bulletin and watching in real-time as they rolled his body out by stretcher in a body bag. It was awful, gutting, and just seemed so darn senseless, even now looking back. He was only 28 years old.
Looking over this list, it makes me sad that half of these actors are sadly no longer with us. As I get older, that will probably happen more and more. Still, they leave behind a variety of films that ensures they will be remembered.
Hope I haven’t bored you all too much! Who did you crush on in your teen years? Feel free to comment below…