Least Regrettable ’90s Crushes. Or as I explained to my dear writer and sometimes friend Seth, “People who 20 years ago you wanted to bone down on, then things got a little rough and you weren’t sure if boning would be a great idea, but then they grew a beard and now they’re back to prime bonage.” Who can you proudly say you were into before it was cool?
Pitter-patter goes the Tiger Beat of my heart from this guy. Upon learning that we share the same birthday when I was 9, I took that as destiny and that we were meant to be and married. And as luck would have it, we also share the same affinity for pizza! Whether he bleached his hair with Sun-In or he’s covered in olive oil for a shoot that makes little to no sense, I’m still holding out for this guy if Ryan Reynolds still won’t take my calls. - Bekka
If you dismissed the stunningly attractive boy-toy from the poorly named How Stella Got Her Groove Back, you wouldn’t have necessarily been wrong. It’s not that there seemed to be anything wrong with Taye Diggs; more that no one should be both that good looking and talented. But much like the titular Stella, we were wrong to underestimate a man as “just a pretty face.” Diggs has proven himself over the last 20 years to be a powerful singer, dancer, actor and producer. Who’s still stunningly attractive. Oh, and one other thing?
Yep. - Grainger
Larter’s whip-cream bikini in Varsity Blues (Obligatory: “I. Don’t. Want. Your. Life.”) was a formative experience for a lot of dudes back in 1998. It’s been 18 years since, and sadly, Ron Lester (Billy Bob) has since passed, and Larter has bounced around the Resident Evil franchise and other B-movies. She’s back again in Pitch, where she continues to have that potent combination of sexual confidence and a little touch of that Jersey evil. - Dustin
As a young girl, I had a crush on Ensign Wesley Crusher. I will not be ashamed. Partly because I was a 12-year-old girl watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and there’s only so much shame to go around (also age appropriate nerdy crushes in the early ’90s were hard to come by. We didn’t have your Ezra Miller’s and your Tom Holland’s. We had Scott Bakula, and he was way too old for me). But largely due to the fact that Wil Wheaton grew up to be a stone cold, nerdy fox. Goofy, funny, smart, willing to take on a fight for the cause when he needs to. Wil Wheaton is everything you hoped the cute bookworm in your sixth grade class would turn into. Also I’m sure that Wheaton would respond to all of your lovely Ensign Crusher jokes, but he’s too busy being looked at fondly and embraced warmly by Captain Fucking Picard.
So, yeah, [insert Klingon insult here]. - Emily
Many may not remember it, and others may want to repress it, but our collective crush on Carla Gugino began in 1993 with a Pauly Shore movie called Son In Law, where she played a farm girl and Pauly Shore ruined an already terrible song, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” DON’T DENY YOUR LOVE FOR IT. Gugino has since been a steady presence in our lives, from Spin City to the short-lived Karen Sisco. She’s often the best thing about terrible shows and movies (Political Animals, Roadies, Sucker Punch). - Dustin
I spent a summer in the ’90s almost exclusively watching Xena: Warrior Princess mainly because I was renting a room that had a TV that could only get the WB channel. But that turned out to be ok, because Xena was the perfect kitchy, campy, garbage summer TV show. Plus, I fell in love with Lucy Lawless. She was beautiful and strong. After that summer, it felt like an embarrassing fling, my love for this chick on this show who ran around making funny noises and the like. And that was that. Until the 2005, when there she was on Battlestar Galactica, a good show. And then Parks & Rec and now Ash vs. Evil Dead and she’s still beautiful, and she’s funny and strong and there is something hiding in the back of her eyes that I want to drown in. LOVE. - Seth
Keanu Reeves’ output varied widely in the ’90s, ranging from comedies like the Bill & Ted movies, actioners like Speed and Johnny Mnemonic, the occasional dramatic turn in movies like My Own Private Idaho, and… whatever the fuck Point Break is. It defines categorization. When Reeves was good, he was good, but when he was bad he was Jonathan Harker with a janky English accent in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Bless him. An effort was made.
Across the entire Keanu Reeves spectrum, even in his action roles, what shone through was a sort of himbo-cute surfer boy sweetness. He may not be the best actor and he may not come across as the brightest bulb in the box, but God dammit, he’s here and he wants to help. There’s an innocence to it that worked in the ’90s, back when every hero didn’t need the anti- prefix and 9/11 hadn’t happened and Donald Trump was just a jagoff and not a jagoff who is also the President Elect. As a culture, we hadn’t reached the level of sarcastic assholery that we (the writers of this site included) have all happily ascended to by now.
That’s why the Keanu krush, far from becoming obsolete, is now stronger than ever. Because we’re so sensitive to bullshit nowadays—because everyone, Dwayne Johnson excepted, is kind of an asshole, and snark is celebrated—it’s nice that Keanu’s still out there, being… nice. (And a vampire.)
Keanu giving away millions of dollars out of his Matrix paycheck may be an urban legend, but he’s still widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s kindest, most humble celebrities. Even when he’s killing dozens of people in John Wick, there’s a purity to the experience—he’s a throwback to a simpler, less irony-obsessed time. That’s why the sad Keanu meme worked so well: Keanu hasn’t changed, but the world around him has, so it kind of feels like we need to wrap him in a blanket and protect him.
Keanu Reeves may not be the hero we deserve, but he’s the hero we need right now. - Rebecca
Amy Jo Johnson
The Pink Ranger, motherfuckers. I was born in ‘88, so — filtered as they were through the lens of adolescence — 90’s crushes were potent for me. Maybe none more so than Amy Jo Johnson. Far be it from me to fall back on cliche, but… I’ll be in my bunk.
(When pitching my choice for this entry I piped up with the qualifier that Johnson hasn’t been in anything since being a Power Ranger. Apparently, something called ‘Felicity’ exists, but I don’t know what that is, and neither do I care.) - Petr
Oh, you thought #WhoIsStacyDash was the first time Gabrielle Union owned every room that’s ever been built? Then you haven’t seen the end all, be all of power walks from Bring It On, and you need to remedy that immediately. Also, you guys, there is a shocking lack of Bring It On gifs to be found. What is wrong with the world?
More recently you’ll have found Union being the best thing about the Birth of a Nation press tour, speaking out about her own sexual assault, giving a new meaning to the phrase non-stop, and generally being awesome. And also so, so pretty. - Emily
If you jumped on the Josh Charles bandwagon way back in his Dead Poets Society and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead days, you were richly rewarded for that crush. Sure, there was a slow period between 1991 and 1998’s Sports Night, and another gap between 2000 and The Good Wife in 2009, but holy shit, Josh Charles aged like a fine wine that you take to bone town instead of sipping. — Grainger