For anyone who grew up or came of age in the '90s, there is no doubt that the decade holds a special place in their hearts. After all, there certainly was a lot of quality entertainment made during those years, including loads of movies and TV shows that are now seen as beloved classics.
Unfortunately, a lot of Hollywood studios wrongly seem to think that when an actress hits a certain age they cease to be bankable. However, if you ask us that is a really big shame since many actresses from the '90s are as talented as ever and deserve roles worthy of their skills. With that in mind, it is time to look at this list of 20 actresses from the '90s that Hollywood needs to embrace yet again.
In order for an actor to be considered for this list, she first and foremost must have become famous during the '90s. That said, it is perfectly fine if she’d already attained some success in the previous decades, as long as she is best known for work she did in the '90s. Finally, the actress needs to have largely disappeared from the limelight since then and be so good at her job that it is a shame that she no longer receives the highest-quality roles.
20 Bridget Fonda
One member of a legendary acting family, Bridget Fonda followed in the footsteps of her other famous relatives Peter, Jane, and Henry. Best remembered for movies like The Godfather Part III, Single White Female, Singles, Point of No Return, It Could Happen to You and Jackie Brown, she proved time and time again that she could do it all.
Fonda was last seen acting on a major level in 2002, which is a real shame since she was so talented. That said, it seems like she chose to walk away from Hollywood which is why she is so low in the ranking, but if Hollywood reached out to her there is a decent chance she could be lured back.
19 Sarah Michelle Gellar
Hollywood can be a really weird place at times. After all, some actors spend their entire careers looking for a noteworthy role yet landing one can limit their career prospects going forward. For example, Sarah Michelle Gellar starred as the titular character from TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her association with that role is so strong that it seems like she has been typecast ever since.
Also known for her roles in The Grudge and the Scooby-Doo series, as well as the movies I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions, she starred in several hit movies but the high-profile gigs have since dried up. If only her former bosses in the studio system would remember how many fans love her work and give her the opportunities she deserves because of it.
18 Lindsay Price
Not only landing major roles in shows like All My Children, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Lipstick Jungle, Lindsay Price’s most notable credit is starring in 71 episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210. Currently a part of the show Splitting Up Together, until she landed that job it had been years since Price had had any roles more significant than a single episode guest appearance in a popular series.
Someone who is likable enough that she deserves a lot better than that, it would be wonderful to see Price be given the chance to play the lead character in a series of her own.
17 Tatyana Ali
When it comes to popular '90s TV shows, there weren’t many that were on the same level as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In fact, the show was so impactful in its time that an entire generation of people seems to know every word of its memorable theme song.
One of the actors who has been synonymous with that show ever since, Tatyana Ali grew up in front of the world while she starred in the series and she was a key to its success. Perhaps her strong association with Fresh Prince is the reason why the powers that be in Hollywood look past her obvious skills but she easily could entertain the world again if given the chance.
16 Jennifer Love Hewitt
From one entry about an actor who was made famous due to starring in a hit show to another, this time around we are looking at the career of Jennifer Love Hewitt. Introduced to the world when she starred in Party of Five for several years, she then went on to become a movie star due to her work in films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Can't Hardly Wait.
Unfortunately, since the early 2000s, Hewitt has appeared in a string of TV shows which have under performed through no fault of her own. Currently a part of the show 9-1-1, it is about time for Hewitt to land some more movie roles and be added to the cast of a hit show since audiences have clearly loved her over the years.
15 Melora Walters
Not exactly your run-of-the-mill movie star, Melora Walters has one big thing going for her that very few of her peers can claim to enjoy: she always seems like a real person. Chosen to star in two of Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies back to back, Walters managed to arguably give the best performance in the movie Magnolia even though she was surrounded by acclaimed actors.
Also memorable for her role in the 2000's show Big Love and the highly respected film Short Term 12, it has been far too long since Walters was part of a project that was worthy of her skills.
14 Lauren Ambrose
When it comes to any list of the best teen movies in history, they wouldn’t be complete if the 1998 film Can’t Hardly Wait was left out. As a major part of that film, Lauren Ambrose’s character was a lot more nuanced than you would expect for a movie that takes place almost entirely in a high school party, and that was mainly due to her acting skills.
Known for her role in the almost universally-acclaimed show Six Feet Under, Ambrose also appeared in the one-of-a-kind film Where the Wild Things Are. Still every bit as good as she ever was, as evidenced by her recent three-episode stint in the revival of The X-Files, the fact that Ambrose isn’t currently starring in a TV drama makes no sense at all.
13 Ali Larter
In a lot of ways a football movie that was unlike any other, Varsity Blues managed to be both melodramatic at times and outright goofy at others. Arguably the best thing to come out of that film, Ali Larter turned her supporting part in that movie into a star-making role. After all, she went on to star in movies like the Resident Evil series, Final Destination and Legally Blonde on top of starring in the hit series Heroes for several years.
However, since Larter’s last appearance in a Resident Evil film she has only managed to get a few minor roles even though she has been consistently entertaining in almost every project in which she's acted.
12 Peri Gilpin
A sitcom that has truly managed to pass the test of time, Frasier is widely considered to be one of the best shows of the '90s and 2000s. One of the show’s main stars, Peri Gilpin, portrayed Roz Doyle for 11 years and the fact that she has never received a role of that caliber since then says a lot about the problems with the acting industry.
After all, if there isn’t a role for someone with such a distinctive voice and comedy timing to make people laugh for more than a decade, we're really confused as to why.
11 Elizabeth Berkley
From one entry about the star of a classic '90s show to another, this time around we are going to look at the career of actor Elizabeth Berkley. One of the stars of the beloved teen show Saved by the Bell, for several years Berkley portrayed Jessie Spano, a teenager who was passionate about a wide range of deserving causes. Once that show came to an end, however, Berkley attempted to change her image into a more mature one when she starred in the movie Showgirls, which was not a success.
Due to the abject failure of the first film she starred in, Berkley’s career has never recovered which seems unfair given that she had previously entertained the masses for years.
10 Cree Summer
Unlike your typical hit sitcom, A Different World seemed to constantly cycle stars in and out like many modern medical dramas do these days. As one of the show’s few actors who showed real staying power, Cree Summer joined A Different World’s cast in its 2nd season and remained a part of it until the end. Very likable throughout that series’ run, even though her character could be very holier-than-thou, Summer became one of favorite '90s TV stars.
She is able to work virtually non-stop as a voice actor today, which is great but we need Hollywood to give Cree Summer the chance to star in live-action projects once again.
9 Helen Hunt
Initially made famous when she began starring in the sitcom Mad About You, many fans loved getting to see Helen Hunt on TV regularly at the time. However, even before that show ended Hunt had won an Oscar for her work in the movie As Good As it Gets and she went on to be nominated for another Academy Award due to her work in The Sessions.
Able to work consistently but mostly under the radar in recent years, it feels like most of us have been missing out ever since she stopped landing major roles. However, she is set to appear in an upcoming revival of her former sitcom Mad About You so hopefully that changes soon and she gets to be a part major movies again too.
8 Hilary Duff
It may be hard to believe it for anyone who is young enough to not have experienced it at the time but at the height of Hilary Duff’s career, she was a really huge deal. First made famous when she starred in the hit Disney Channel television series Lizzie McGuire, from there she starred in several major movies that did quite well with her audience.
In addition to her acting career, Duff has released several albums over the years and some of her singles went on to achieve massive sales. Despite all of that, these days Duff is much better known for the paparazzi coverage of her personal life and we’d like to see her land the kind of roles that would put the spotlight back on her career.
7 Lacey Chabert
Cast as Claudia Salinger in the highly respected TV teen drama Party of Five when she was still a kid, Lacey Chabert was so good in that role that she impressed lots of people. In addition to how stellar she was on TV, Chabert also starred in arguably the best teen movie ever made, Mean Girls.
No longer in the spotlight like she once was, Chabert has still proven how strong her work ethic is as she has starred in so many movies and TV shows in recent years that it is incredible. That said, a long resume is great but in Hollywood it means a lot less than starring in a true hit so it is about time that Chabert is given the chance to be a part of some higher budget projects again.
6 Rene Russo
If you look at the career of the veteran actor Rene Russo, it really is sad that she isn’t considered one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. The star of several movies that were successful at the box office including the Thor and Lethal Weapon franchises, Major League, In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, and Ransom, she certainly has proven to be a bankable actor. In addition to that, her performance in the 2014 movie Nightcrawler was so impressive that it was stunning that she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for it.
Despite being a proven movie star and acclaimed actor, since 2005 Russo has appeared in only eight movies!
5 Carrie-Anne Moss
The kind of actor who was thrust into international superstardom due to a single role, Carrie-Anne Moss took the acting world by storm when the world saw her in 1999’s The Matrix. Deservedly considered to be a groundbreaking action movie that was also a lot of fun to watch, coming out of The Matrix’s mammoth success it seemed hard to imagine Moss’s profile shrinking. However, after she starred in that movie’s less popular sequels and the indie movie Memento, the caliber of roles she was offered obviously began to go downhill.
Most recently able to make her mark when she had a role in the Netflix MCU TV shows, now that all of them are over Moss is free to take on a new challenge and Hollywood should have one ready for her.
4 Jasmine Guy
The second actor from A Different World to make this list, Jasmine Guy was cast in that show as a character that initially was portrayed as being pretty insufferable only to become a lot more relatable. To her eternal credit as an actor, Guy did a great job in the role both when her character was meant to be derided and liked. Despite all of the range she exhibited in that role, since then Guy has found herself mostly relegated to small roles in big projects or playing a major part in a little-seen film or show.
Considering she was able to make viewers love her often snobby and judgmental character from A Different World, Guy clearly has the acting chops to still be playing more meaningful roles.
3 Christina Ricci
Evidently born to bring the classic TV character Wednesday Addams to life on the big screen, Christina Ricci was so good in the Addams Family movies that we can’t imagine anyone else in that role now. On top of that accomplishment, Ricci would go on to be fantastic in a long list of other movies, including The Ice Storm, Buffalo '66, Sleepy Hollow, Monster and Black Snake Moan among others.
Unfortunately, since Ricci starred in the failed 2008 film Speed Racer it seems like the studio heads have lost faith in her. If only they could think back to the many times she proved to be a key factor in a film’s success and let that misstep go.
2 Geena Davis
Probably the person with the most fascinating career on this list, starring in unorthodox films like The Fly and Beetlejuice helped turn Geena Davis into a star. Able to take her career to the next level in the early '90s, she was great in films like Quick Change, Thelma & Louise, and A League of Their Own. Sadly, she then starred in Cutthroat Island, a movie that was such a huge failure that it was the last film Carolco Pictures ever put out.
Amazingly enough, starring in one film flop decimated Geena Davis's acting career to such a degree that she took up a new profession as an archer and almost made it to the Olympics. Even though we think it is awesome that Davis learned to be so amazing at firing a bow and arrow, it is really sad that she stopped getting plum roles because of starring in one flop.
1 Jennifer Connelly
After starring in the classic '80s film Labyrinth, it wasn’t until the '90s that Jennifer Connelly’s acting career really took off due to appearing in movies like The Rocketeer, Higher Learning, and Dark City. She was able to keep that momentum going in the early 2000s when she won an Oscar for her role in A Beautiful Mind.
Sadly, Connelly’s career has been sputtering ever since her 2006 film Blood Diamond. In fact, her most notable role of late was providing the voice of Karen, the AI voice Peter Parker hears from his suit in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Set to be a part of the anticipated 2020 sequel Top Gun: Maverick, hopefully that is a sign of big things to come for Connelly’s career.