Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were some of the most famous teen stars of the nineties and noughties. From magazines to fashion lines, the twins had their names on everything. And yet most kids fell in love with them thanks to their numerous films, which depicted the girls’ adorable antics. While the pair may now be done with acting, their movies granted some fledgling actors valuable exposure. In fact, you may be familiar with a few of these now-famous faces.
20. Megan Fox
Today, people the world over knows Megan Fox for her role in the Transformers series. However, few would have recognized the star in her debut appearance as Ashley Olsen’s love rival in 2001’s Holiday in the Sun. And weirdly enough, the then-15-year-old developed a similar degree of enmity to the twin as her on-screen counterpart.
During her 2018 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, the actress was asked which of the twins she preferred. Fox told host Andy Cohen, “I mean, I think I like Mary-Kate better. I felt like maybe she was a little more open with me at that time.”
19. Eric McCormack
Before he was Will and Grace’s Will Truman, Eric McCormack briefly depicted the twins’ dad. Alongside Kelli Fox, the star played the girls’ parent in 1993’s Halloween-themed Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, giving the actor some helpful exposure.
Nearly 20 years later, the Perception star often talks about the twins’ development as if he’s still playing their father. Most notably while appearing on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight in 2012, he jested about being shocked by Mary-Kate’s relationship with the much older Olivier Sarkozy. McCormack raved, “He’s easily 50. More power to him, but honestly she does not look happy…”
18. Elizabeth Olsen
Of course, no article about the Mary-Kate and Ashley’s co-stars could be complete without mentioning their younger sister Elizabeth. Since her breakthrough in 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, the sibling has become a huge actress in Hollywood. And it all started with a little scene in the 1994 movie How the West Was Fun.
Nonetheless, Olsen would be less than pleased if we said she owed her success to Mary-Kate and Ashley. She asserted to The Guardian in 2012, “I never got any job because of my sisters. I could have pulled a few strings through them, but I never needed to.”
17. Rhea Perlman
Sure, we love Rhea Perlman for her long-running stint as Carla on Cheers. But she also played a very different role, that of the twins’ overworked mother Rhonda in the 1992 movie To Grandmother’s House We Go. And Perlman is truly a treasure in this Christmas-oriented TV film.
Meanwhile, four years later, Perlman would go on to make a bigger splash with younger fans as Mara Wilson’s neglectful mother in Matilda. We wonder if To Grandmother’s House We Go was her stepping stone to this beloved classic?
16. Jesse Spencer
Australians love their soap operas and – for many Antipodean actors – these shows can be a springboard to international success. However, every budding Aussie star needs their first experience on some kind of Hollywood production. And for the Melbourne-born Jesse Spencer, the star got his break via the Olsen film Winning London.
Prior to playing Mary-Kate’s aristocratic boyfriend in the 2001 flick, Spencer had only a handful of films to his name. But within three years, the former Neighbours actor would land the role of a lifetime as Robert Chase in House. While we can’t say definitively if Winning London was directly responsible for Spencer’s success, we wouldn’t rule it out either.
15. Kirstie Alley
The 1998 hit The Parent Trap, starring Lindsay Lohan, is a film about identical twins swapping places and is fondly remembered. And yet, the Olsens beat her to it three years beforehand with It Takes Two. But while it may have lacked LiLo, the film packed a cast whose names everybody was bound to know.
Fresh off a six-year stint with Cheers, Kirstie Alley made the bold move of playing social worker Diane in the 1995 caper. And she wasn’t the only star in the mix, either. Indeed, Three Men and a Baby’s Steve Guttenberg even made an appearance as Alley’s love interest too.
14. Jane Sibbett
You may remember Jane Sibbett as Ross Geller’s first wife Carol in Friends. But what you may not know is that the actress had a prominent role in It Takes Two not long after the former sitcom’s premiere. Cast as a scheming socialite, her character here was a little different to the one she played on the Friends.
Following It Takes Two, Sibbett would continue to portray Carol in Friends until 2001. Since then, the star has made a few turns in film and TV. However, she has mainly stuck to co-producing and directing documentaries and theater shows. She would return to acting in 2016 in Jessica Darling’s It List after a nearly ten-year absence from the big screen.
In 2004’s New York Minute – Mary Kate’s final film starring alongside her sister Ashley – the former had her first big-screen kiss. And the actress did so with the hunky newcomer Jared Padalecki, whose height turned the scene into a challenge. She told Entertainment Tonight in 2003, “The only hard part was he was so tall, I had to stand on apple boxes [to kiss him].”
Flash forward to today and Padalecki has come a long way from Mary-Kate’s love interest. Following his turn in New York Minute, the actor joined the cast of Supernatural as the lead character Sam Winchester. More than a decade later, Padalecki continues to play the role, for which he’s received numerous Teen Choice and Constellation Awards.
12. Jack Osbourne
Coming from a musical family that includes rock icon Ozzy and manager Sharon, Jack Osbourne knows a bit about the business. So naturally it made total sense that he played a music manager in 2004’s New York Minute. Mary-Kate gushed to AOL, “… Jack is a manager and he came along and it was really fun.”
Prior to this acting gig, the media personality was best known for starring alongside his family in MTV’s The Osbournes. However, besides a small role in Dawson Creek, Osbourne has since given acting up. These days, the star makes his name hosting TV shows about sports and the environment.
11. Jason Clarke
Jason Clarke is one of those actors you see everywhere these days. From journeying to the past in Terminator Genisys to exploring the outer reaches in First Man, this actor’s roles transcend time and space. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the star even appeared in an Olsen film too.
Back in 2000 Clarke appeared alongside the Olsens in the globe-trotting feature Our Lips Our Sealed. Shot in the actor’s native Australia, the film cast the versatile thespian as an assassin called Mac who is searching to snuff the twins out.
10. Simple Plan
If you went to high school in the early noughties then it’s safe to assume that emo may have been your jam. And chances are that you had some Simple Plan records. If so, then you have something in common with the Olsens, who were also fans and asked the group to perform in New York Minute.
Hot off the success of their 2002 debut album, the band used the 2004 film to engage with a new audience. Drummer Chuck Comeau explained to Chart the following year, “… For us it was a chance to play live concert in a movie. We don’t really discriminate who we play in front of…”
9. Andy Richter
While many stars have benefited from working with the Olsens, naturally, others haven’t been so lucky. Take Andy Richter, for instance, who starred as Bennie Bang in New York Minute. Indeed, the 2004 comedy provided the Conan sidekick with some of the worst reviews of his career.
Using an inexplicable Chinese accent throughout the film, the actor gained little goodwill for his performance. Among some of the kinder notices, Roger Ebert called his character “pointless” while Today’s Christy Lemiere opined that Richter “humiliates himself.” Still, the film did little to dampen the star’s talk show credibility at least.
8. Bob Saget
Perhaps few other stars have as close a link to the Olsen twins as Bob Saget. In the late 1980s and onwards, the actor appeared alongside the girls in their first taste of fame on the sitcom Full House. And years later, he’d support the twins again by making an appearance in 2004’s New York Minute.
To the dismay of many fans, the Olsens declined to appear in the 2016 sequel Fuller House. However, Saget stood by the pair’s decision. The actor told Entertainment Tonight in 2017, “I love them very, very much, Ashley and Mary-Kate, and they love what they do and acting is not what they want to do.”
7. Troian Bellisario
As a young girl, Troian Bellisario actually grew up in the same neighborhood as the Olsens. And weirdly, the actress had no idea how famous the twins would become until she filmed scenes for the pair’s 1998 film Billboard Dad. The star told BuzzFeed in 2012, “… They came out of their trailer and it was just like, ‘What are you doing here!?’”
Unlike her childhood friends, though, Bellisario would hold onto the acting bug. Over a decade after her appearance alongside the Olsens, the actress scored a major part in Pretty Little Liars. And the star went on to gain two Teen Choice awards as a result.
6. Riley Smith
Thanks to his role as bike messenger Jim in New York Minute, Riley Smith received his first eye-opening insight into fame. He recalled to Celebuzz in 2014, “It was nuts. We had security and we were in Us Weekly and People Magazine every week… [Those were] crazy times.”
These days, Smith has gotten used to being recognized due in part to starring in shows like True Blood. But even now, the heart-throb still gets clocked by fans for those early performances. The actor added, “Every day I get recognized for them. I used to rebel against that, but now I just embrace it and enjoy it.”
5. Austin Nichols
It’s not unusual for college kids to support themselves financially with a job on the side. But rather than work part-time in a pizza place, Austin Nichols chose a different side gig. During his studies at the University of Southern California, the actor appeared in a few movies, including the Olsen twins’ 2001 film Holiday in the Sun as the hunky Griffen Grayson.
Perhaps inspired by his time on the set, Nichols wisely chose acting as a full-time job. After graduating in 2002, the star appeared in Six Feet Under before gaining further fame as Julian Baker in One Tree Hill. Today, many fans will recognize him for his role in The Walking Dead.
4. Willie Garson
For countless TV fans, Willie Garson will always be known as Carrie’s BFF Stanford Blatch in Sex and the City. And yet, there remains an another entry in the actor’s CV. Namely, 2000’s Our Lips Are Sealed, starring, you guessed it, the Olsen twins.
Cast as an exasperated witness protection agent, Garson does a great job bearing the brunt of the Olsens on-screen antics. Since then, the actor has appeared in many TV shows you may know. Besides Sex and the City, Garson has popped up in Scandal and Hawaii Five-O.
3. Drew Pinsky
It may seem strange that a TV personality known for hosting a show named Sex… with Mom and Dad could appear in a children’s movie. Believe it or not, though, Drew Pinsky, also known as Dr. Drew, actually starred in one of the Olsen films. Specifically, it was 2004’s New York Minute, which saw the him play the twins’ dad.
Made while the celebrity doctor was still best known for MTV’s Loveline, New York Minute was Drew’s film debut. Nevertheless, it didn’t exactly spawn a fruitful acting career. Meanwhile, since his involvement in the film, the TV host has only made two more appearances on the big screen.
2. Theo Rossi
Having gained fame through shows like Sons of Anarchy and Luke Cage, some might be surprised that Theo Rossi was a child-friendly actor. That being said, however, the star actually gained some initial exposure in one of the Olsen twins’ movies. In 2003 he played the culinary-obsessed Anthony in the girl’s last direct-to-video film The Challenge.
Amazingly, this small yet important part still gets Rossi recognition to this day. Indeed, the actor even shared on Twitter of having run into some Mary-Kate and Ashley fans during a Chicago Black Hawks game in 2014. He wrote, “These fellow hockey fans shouted out my old classic The Challenge.”
1. Michael Cera
If you thought that Arrested Development gave Michael Cera his acting break then prepare to have your world blown. Before getting the role of George Michael Bluth, the then-11-year-old actor had a small scene in 1999 Olsen flick Switching Goals. And despite his limited screen time, the star killed it as a snarky brat buying shoes.
Of course, Cera has gone on to have a career that most child stars could only envy. After three seasons of Arrested Development, the actor burst into the film world with Superbad and Juno, both from 2007. Moreover, he’s also dabbled with music on the side and released the self-recorded album True That in 2014.