The Biggest '90s Horror Icons, Then and Now

These scary movie stars helped make the '90s one of the greatest ever decades for horror.

circle

From award-winning classics like The Silence of the Lambs to the slasher resurgence brought on by Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, the '90s was one of the greatest ever decades for horror. Scary movies earned a new level of respect and mainstream attention, and with that came a new generation of stars—whether playing the Final Girls who always survive, or the masked killers who just won't die. Decades later, we're taking a look back at the horror stars who gained fame at the end of the millennium, and catching up with them today. These are the biggest '90s horror icons, then and now. And for another walk down memory lane, check out our Ranking of Every '90s Horror Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best.

Neve Campbell: Then

neve campbell in scream
Paramount Pictures

In 1996, Neve Campbell starred in The Craft and Scream, earning instant '90s horror icon status. But it was her return in 1997's Scream 2 that made her the ultimate Final Girl.

Neve Campbell: Now

neve campbell on the red carpet
Lev Radin / Shutterstock

Campbell has continued to work in film and television, and will make her long-awaited return to horror with the upcoming Scream 5, which begins filming soon. And for more recent standouts, This Is the Best Horror Film of 2020, According to Critics.

Jennifer Love Hewitt: Then

I know what you did last summer
Columbia Pictures

While 1997's I Know What You Did Last Summer wasn't as well reviewed as ScreamJennifer Love Hewitt made her mark as Julie James, a role she reprised in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer the following year.

Jennifer Love Hewitt: Now

Jennifer Love Hewitt
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Hewitt has not abandoned her thriller roots: She currently stars on the Fox series 9-1-1.

Sarah Michelle Gellar: Then

scream 2
Paramount Pictures

Sarah Michelle Gellar got memorable death scenes in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2, but her role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer made her a horror icon for the ages.

Sarah Michelle Gellar: Now

Sarah Michelle Gellar 2019
DFree / Shutterstock

Gellar brought her scream queen status into the 2000s with The Grudge and The Grudge 2, and has continued to make TV appearances. And for a look at other icons of the era, here are The Biggest '90s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.

Jada Pinkett Smith: Then

jada pinkett smith in scream 2
Paramount Pictures

While Jada Pinkett Smith didn't last long in Scream 2, no one can forget her heartbreaking movie theater death scene.

Jada Pinkett Smith: Now

jada pinkett smith on the red carpet
Tsuni-USA / Shutterstock

Pinkett Smith is still acting and will appear in the long-awaited The Matrix 4, but her most notable role might be as the host of the headline-making Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk.

Jodie Foster: Then

Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs
MGM

By the time she made The Silence of the Lambs in 1991, Jodie Foster had already been working for two decades, but playing Clarice Starling certainly earned her new fans, along with an Oscar.

Jodie Foster: Now

jodie foster on the red carpet
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Foster continues to act and has also earned acclaim as a director—she even helmed an episode of the spooky anthology series Black Mirror in 2017.

Drew Barrymore: Then

still from scream
Paramount Pictures

Like Janet Leigh in PsychoDrew Barrymore's early death in Scream was a shock to audiences who assumed she'd be sticking around past the first scene.

Drew Barrymore: Now

drew barrymore on the red carpet
DFree/Shutterstock

On the horror front, Barrymore played a flesh-eating zombie on Netflix's Santa Clarita Diet, but she's now skewing less scary with her daytime talk show, which premiered in September. And for a peek at her daytime debut, check out This Is What Drew Barrymore Really Thinks of the "SNL" Parody of Her Show.

Tony Todd: Then

still from candyman
TriStar Pictures

Tony Todd made several horror films in the '90s, but taking on the title role in 1992's Candyman is what made him a legend in the genre.

Tony Todd: Now

tony todd on the red carpet
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Todd has worked almost exclusively in horror over the past few decades, appearing in the Final Destination series, the Scream TV show, and an impressive number of standalone scary movies every year. And for more fun content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Jennifer Aniston: Then

still from leprechaun
Lionsgate

Like so many A-listers, Jennifer Aniston made her big-screen debut in a horror movie, starring in 1993's Leprechaun. And for other major stars who got their start in the genre, check out these Celebrities You Forgot Were in Horror Movies.

Jennifer Aniston: Now

jennifer aniston on the red carpet
Lev Radin / Shutterstock

Aniston became a household name as Rachel on Friends, and she's earned acclaim and awards for her more recent work, including on the hit Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. And for a look at this '90s icon's newest addition, Jennifer Aniston's Adorable New Rescue Puppy Has the Classiest Name.

Anthony Hopkins: Then

the silence of the lambs
MGM

Few horror movie villains have left the mark that Hannibal Lecter did, thanks to Anthony Hopkins' indelible (and Academy Award-winning) performance.

Anthony Hopkins: Now

anthony hopkins on the red carpet
DFree / Shutterstock

Hopkins played Hannibal again in two early 2000s sequels, and has worked steadily since then, though his horror output—like 2010's The Wolfman and 2011's The Rite—has been somewhat lacking. And for more great actors who have made not-so-great movies, these are The Worst Movies Starring Oscar-Winning Actors.

Rebecca Gayheart: Then

rebecca gayheart in urban legend
Sony Pictures Releasing

Though she had a small part in Scream 2Rebecca Gayheart made her real mark on '90s horror as the (spoiler alert) homicidal Brenda Bates in 1998's Urban Legend.

Rebecca Gayheart: Now

rebecca gayheart on the red carpet
DFree / Shutterstock

Gayheart has had a few notable TV and film appearances in recent years, including a part in Quentin Tarantino's 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Jamie Lee Curtis: Then

jamie lee curtis in halloween h20
Paramount Pictures

Jamie Lee Curtis' scream queen status dates back to her role in the original Halloween in 1978, and she brought Laurie Strode into the '90s with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later in 1998.

Jamie Lee Curtis: Now

jamie lee curtis on the red carpet
DFree / Shutterstock

Curtis is still very much the Final Girl to end all Final Girls: Not only did she star on the Fox series Scream Queens, but she also resurrected Laurie Strode again in 2018's Halloween, and will return for the sequel Halloween Kills, due out in 2021.

Josh Hartnett: Then

josh hartnett in halloween h20
Paramount Pictures

Beloved '90s heartthrob Josh Hartnett played Laurie Strode's son in Halloween H20, and that same year he also starred in the sci-fi horror film The Faculty.

Josh Hartnett: Now

josh hartnett on the red carpet
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Horror fans appreciated Hartnett's starring role on Showtime's Penny Dreadful, where he played a charming leading man who also happened to be a werewolf.

Devon Sawa: Then

still from idle hands
Sony Pictures Releasing

Devon Sawa played a friendly ghost in 1995's Casper, then aged things up with the more adult horror-comedy Idle Hands in 1999.

Devon Sawa: Now

devon sawa on the red carpet
DFree / Shutterstock

Sawa kept his scary streak going with Final Destination in 2000, and has made several horror films since then, including 2015's The Exorcism of Molly Hartley and 2019's The Fanatic.

Vanessa Williams: Then

vanessa williams in candyman
TriStar Pictures

In CandymanVanessa Williams played Anne-Marie McCoy, who knew enough to fear the titular killer.

Vanessa Williams: Now

vanessa williams on the red carpet
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Williams made a name for herself on series like Soul Food and, more recently, Days of Our Lives, and she'll be playing Anne-Marie again in 2021's Candyman.

Skeet Ulrich: Then

skeet ulrich in scream
Paramount Pictures

Like Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich became a horror icon in 1996, also appearing in The Craft and Scream.

Skeet Ulrich: Now

skeet ulrich on the red carpet
Lev Radin / Shutterstock

Ulrich has found a whole new generation of fans as Jughead's dad on Riverdale, a CW series that often dips its toes in the horror genre.

Fairuza Balk: Then

fairuza balk in the craft
Columbia Pictures

Fairuza Balk scared a generation of '90s kids—and became a goth fashion inspiration—with her twisted portrayal of Nancy Downs in The Craft.

Fairuza Balk: Now

fairuza balk on the red carpet
MediaPunch Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

You can catch a glimpse of Balk's Nancy in The Craft: Legacy, and she's made several film and TV appearances in recent years, including an arc on Showtime's Ray Donovan.

Rose McGowan: Then

rose mcgowan in scream
Paramount Pictures

While she could easily have just been one of Ghostface's victims in ScreamRose McGowan made Tatum Riley one of the franchise's most beloved characters.

Rose McGowan: Now

rose mcgowan on the red carpet
Cubankite / Shutterstock

McGowan followed up Scream with more genre faves, most notably starring as a witch on Charmed, but now she's probably best known for her role in taking down disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, as documented in McGowan's memoir Brave and the docuseries Citizen Rose.

Elijah Wood: Then

elijah wood in the faculty
Paramount Pictures

Child star Elijah Wood proved he could tackle scarier (and more grown-up fare) with The Faculty.

Elijah Wood: Now

elijah wood on the red carpet
Tsuni-USA / Shutterstock

Wood has become something of a horror aficionado over the past several years, starring in movies like 2012's Maniac and 2020's Come to Daddy, and producing indie horror hits like 2019's Mandy and 2020's Color Out of Space.

Jennifer Tilly: Then

jennifer tilly in bride of chucky
Universal Pictures

Chucky found his match with Tiffany Valentine, memorably played by Jennifer Tilly, whose distinctive voice served her well when Tiffany got transformed into a doll.

Jennifer Tilly: Now

jennifer tilly on the red carpet
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Tilly has continued playing Tiffany—as well as herself—in all the Chucky sequels, most recently Cult of Chucky in 2017.

Joshua Jackson: Then

joshua jackson in urban legend
Sony Pictures Releasing

When he wasn't breaking hearts on Dawson's Creek, Joshua Jackson was joining his fellow WB stars in late '90s slashers like Urban Legend and Scream 2.

Joshua Jackson: Now

Joshua Jackson 2019
Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro / Shutterstock

Jackson has enjoyed a recent career renaissance, earning rave reviews for roles on prestige series like The Affair and Little Fires Everywhere.

Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE