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12 actresses we SO wanted to be in the 1990s

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In case you hadn’t noticed there’s some sort of ‘90s revival going on. Teenagers are wearing slip dresses and grungy shirts, TFI Friday is back on TV, Danny Boyle has announced that a Trainspotting sequel may be out next year. Even Liam and Noel are feuding in the tabloids again.

Oh, it takes us back - back to a great decade for young female actresses. Here, Stylist contributor Katharine Busby reminds us just how much we wished we could live the lives of these 12 actresses who just were the ‘90s.

From the roles they landed to the men they kissed, we were green with envy at it all.

  • 1. Winona Ryder

    The achingly cool beauty
    Incredibly stunning with bags of acting talent, and dubbed “the face of Generation X”, Winona was the ultimate ‘90s girl. Not least because the ultimate ‘90s boy, Johnny Depp, had “Winona Forever” tattooed on his arm. Swoon.
    Defining role: Kim Boggs, Edward Scissorhands (1990)
    Other big hits: Heathers (1988), Mermaids (1990), Dracula (1992), Reality Bites (1994), Girl, Interrupted (1999)
    On-screen romance: Christian Slater, Ethan Hawke, Johnny Depp
    Off-screen romance: Johnny Depp
    And now? Winona’s star certainly faded after her successful decade; she split from Depp and in 2002 was famously convicted of shoplifting, which led to a break from work. But in recent years her acting career has picked up a little and it has been announced that she will reprise her role as Lydia in the upcoming Beetlejuice 2. Big cheers all round.

  • 2. Claire Danes

    The perfect girl next door
    Oh, how we wanted to be Claire Danes. She’d been angsty and brilliant in indie TV show My So-Called Life and then – pow! – suddenly she was THE girl to envy when she played Juliet to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo.
    Defining role: Juliet, Romeo + Juliet (1996)
    Other big hits: Little Women (1995) My So-Called Life (TV, 1994-5)
    On-screen romance: Leonardo Di Caprio, Jared Leto
    Off-screen romance: Australian singer Ben Lee
    And now? Still angsty 20 years on as Homeland’s Carrie Mathison, Claire is still rocking our screens. And she married English actor Hugh Dancy, leaving Leo free to date us (providing we’re Victoria’s Secret models, that is).

  • 3. Julia Roberts

    The definitive Hollywood smile
    Imagine being as talented as Julia Roberts. Oh, and as beautiful. We envied everything about her – especially those teeth.
    Defining role: Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman (1990)
    Other big hits: Flatliners (1990), Sleeping With The Enemy (1991), Notting Hill (1999)
    On-screen romance: Richard Gere, Keifer Sutherland, Hugh Grant
    Off-screen romance: Keifer Sutherland, Lyle Lovett
    And now? Anyone who could make being a prostitute look like a not-awful career option was clearly destined for major acting triumphs – and in 2001 she won the Best Actress Oscar for Erin Brokovich. She hasn’t really stopped since. Still talented, still beautiful, we still want to be her.

  • 4. Neve Campbell

    Teen Scream Queen
    As Party Of Five’s Julia, Neve nailed the emotional teenager thing, while getting to kiss the hot Jeremy London, and she had us hooked. When she then became the star of Scream, we were simply in awe.
    Defining role: Sidney Prescott, Scream (1996)
    Other big hits: Wild Things (1998), Party Of Five (TV, 1995 – 2000)
    On-screen romance: Jeremy London, Jerry O’Connell, Denise Richardson, Matt Dillon
    Off-screen romance: Neve was married to Canadian actor Jeff Colt from 1995 to 1998.
    And now? While never since reaching the dizzying heights of her ‘90s heyday, Neve hasn’t been short of work, and will be starring in the next series of Kevin Spacey-led Netflix drama House Of Cards.

  • 5. Sarah Michelle Gellar

    The tough pretty girl
    Kick-ass Buffy was sharp, witty and fearless – every girl wanted to be in her shoes and that’s exactly where Sarah Michelle Gellar was standing. All the men we knew fancied her too.
    Defining role: Buffy Summers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV, 1996 – 2003)
    Other big hits: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) Cruel Intentions (1999)
    On-screen romance: Freddie Prinze Jr
    Off-screen romance: SMG didn’t trouble the dating scene in the ‘90s. In 1997, she met future husband Freddie Prinze Jr but they didn’t start dating until 2000.
    And now? Still married to Freddie and with two children, SMG is proof that Hollywood love can last. Having dabbled in films throughout the first decade of this millennium, since 2010 she’s been appearing in endless US TV series.

  • 6. Cameron Diaz

    The goofy beauty
    Oh, look at me, I’m Cameron Diaz, all limbs and silly and daft and – what’s that? – yes, I am also completely gorgeous, have amazing comic timing and have a hint of ‘90s ladette about me. In short: the total ‘90s package.
    Defining role: Mary Jensen, There’s Something About Mary
    Other big hits: The Mask (1994), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
    On-screen romance: Dermot Mulroney, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller
    Off-screen romance: Matt Dillon, Jared Leto
    And now? Cameron has stuck to what she does best – comedy. After the 1990s, she moved swiftly on to the incredibly successful Charlie’s Angels franchise and voiced the brilliant Princess Fiona in the Shrek films, as well as appearing in numerous ‘chick flicks’. Not short of a penny, we imagine.

  • 7. Alicia Silverstone

    The not-so-innocent schoolgirl
    Alicia had a Lolita-esque appeal at the start of the ‘90s. Then suddenly she proved what a fantastic funny girl she was in the best teen film of the decade, Clueless, winning her hordes of female fans who still love her today – despite her never leading a hit film again.
    Defining role: Cher Horowitz, Clueless (1995)
    Other big hits: The Crush (1993), Aerosmith’s Cryin’ (pop video, 1993)
    On-screen romance: Paul Rudd
    Off-screen romance: Stephen Dorff, Adam Sandler
    And now? While Alicia is always working, we’re disappointed that no one gave her another role as fabulous as Cher. We might start petitioning for a sequel.

  • 8. Stacey Dash

    The greatest best friend
    While Clueless’ Cher was unforgettable, her best friend Dionne became almost as iconic a character, thanks to Stacey Dash. Funny, ridiculously attractive and somewhat age-defying (she was 29 when she played the 16-year-old school girl), Stacey became a ‘90s star overnight.
    Defining role: Dionne Davenport, Clueless (1995)
    Other big hits: The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (1990 - 96), Clueless (TV, 1996 – 99), The Strip (TV, 1999-2000), Mo Money (1992)
    On-screen romance: Donald Faison
    Off-screen romance: Brian Lovell (married in 1999, but later divorced)
    And now? Stacey carried on as Dionne through the ‘90s, thanks to the successful Clueless spin-off TV series, and has worked consistently since, in both TV and film. She’s also became a contributor to Fox News and has aired strong political views in favour of the Republican party. Like we said, Clueless 2 now please.

  • 9. Karyn Parsons

    The original Cher
    Way before Cher and Dionne maxed out the plastic, Karyn Parsons was paving the way for over-the-knee socks, beyond-fabulous hats and deadpan delivery of lines such as “I'm going shoe shopping. I need a wagon” as Hilary Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The airhead with killer one-liners we all wanted to be, her career sadly fizzled after the stellar comedy series.
    Defining role: Hilary Banks, Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996)
    Other big hits: She peaked with Hilary
    On-screen romance: Jeffrey A. Townes as the besotted Jazz. His crush on Hil got him thrown out of the Banks mansion almost every episode.
    Off-screen romance: She married and divorced Randy Brooks (The Young and the Restless, Resorvoir Dogs) in the 90s and is now married to director Alexandre Rockwell
    And now? She's moved out of TV and into production with Sweet Blackberry, a nonprofit producing a line of animated films about lesser-known black heroes.

  • 10. Christina Ricci

    The indie kid
    Starting the decade as a little kid, ending it with alternative hipster roles, Ricci had the kind of teenage cool we all spent time trying to perfect. No amount of dying our hair black worked though.
    Defining role: Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family (1991)
    Other big hits: Mermaids (1990), The Opposite Of Sex (1998), Buffalo ’66 (1998)
    On-screen romance: William Lee Scott, Ivan Sergei
    Off-screen romance: Aged 10 at the start of the decade, her love life was, er, quiet.
    And now? Christina now mainly works in TV, appearing in numerous series. She’s married and had a baby in 2014. She appears to have found the bronzing powder since 1995 and isn’t quite so pale anymore.

  • 11. Gwyneth Paltrow

    The American-English rose
    Back in the ‘90s, Gwynnie had roles we (and, um, some English actresses probably) wanted and so much more – including an Oscar and a super-fanciable boyfriend (Brad Pitt) with a matching haircut to hers. Awesome.
    Defining role: Hellen Quilley, Sliding Doors (1998)
    Other big hits: Seven (1995), Shakespeare In Love (1998)
    On-screen romance: Brad Pitt, Joseph Fiennes
    Off-screen romance: Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck
    And now? Still uber-talented (she was ace in Glee), Gwyneth Paltrow has expanded her repertoire into lifestyle journalism with clean-living website Goop, as well as enduring a rather high-profile “conscious uncoupling” from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, with whom she has two kids.

  • 12. Jennifer Aniston

    The Rachel
    America’s sweetheart with that haircut, Jennifer Aniston was possibly the funniest TV actress of the decade. She also had a marriage that was occasionally talked about.
    Defining role: Rachel Green, Friends (TV, 1994 – 2004)
    Other big hits: Oh, come ON, she was busy being Rachel Green, okay?
    On-screen romance: David Schwimmer, Bruce Willis, Eddie Cahill
    Off-screen romance: Tate Donavan, Paul Rudd, Brad Pitt
    And now? Has anyone mentioned she married and divorced Brad Pitt? It went mostly unnoticed by the tabloids. Now all settled down with husband number 2, Justin Theroux, Rachel – sorry, Jennifer is still one of the most photographed and analysed actresses in Hollywood. She’s made films but some people just can’t see past Rachel Green. Obviously we would have liked her to marry David Schwimmer, but at least she’s still best pals with Courteney Cox.

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