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Early Roles The That '90s Show Cast Might Not Want You To Know About

The Netflix series "That '90s Show" reunites cast members from "That '70s Show" with a whole new line-up of young players and moves the action to Point Place, Wisconsin during the George H.W. Bush/Bill Clinton years. For the OG "Show" cast, it's a chance to revisit beloved characters and bask in the series' evergreen popularity. For the new "Show" kids, the Netflix series offers a big career break on an IP with a built-in and devoted fanbase.

In both cases, "That '90s Show" is a high-profile credit for its cast, many of whom have paid their dues in lesser projects in order to get to this point in their careers. Some of those early projects were run-of-the-mill material — lesser sitcoms, indie features no one saw — and some were misfires or oddities that hopefully left few scorch marks on their resumes. If you're curious to check out the skeletons that lurk in the acting closets of the cast of "That '90s Show," read on to discover the early roles that these talented players might want you to avoid.

Ashley Aufderheide survived the High School Lover ickfest

Ensuring that Leia's summer in Point Place isn't entirely lame is neighbor Gwen Runck, who has front-of-the-line access to all the fun available to teenagers in that small town. The role of Gwen is a great showcase for Ashley Aufderheide, who TV viewers might have caught her as Allison Tolman's daughter on "Emergence" in 2019 or appearances on "Preacher." And then there's "High School Lover."

A supremely icky Lifetime movie from 2017 made weirder by the presence of James Franco as star and executive producer, "High School Lover" asks: If a guy is an obsessive stalker but also a cute and super-famous movie star, it's still okay to date him, isn't it? Well, if you're starstruck teenager Paulina Singer, that's an unequivocal heck-yeah, even if the star (Francois Arnaud) is so obviously deranged that he should be dressed in Caution Orange. For Singer's mustachioed cinematographer dad (Franco), the answer is no, of course, and delivered with plenty of furrowed brows.

One can account for Franco's presence as part of his bad-TV-as-performance-art schtick (though the double paycheck as star/producer probably didn't hurt). But the plot logic is inexplicable: How does someone as allegedly famous as Arnaud sneak onto Singer's school campus in order to beat up her friends? Aufderheide's primary role as Singer's sister is to remind stepmom Julia Jones that she is, in fact, not her mother. She also does dismay quite well when Arnaud crashes her beach birthday party and later invades her house on a murderous rampage.

Mace Coronel almost ruined Christmas in Santa Hunters

Mace Coronel plays Jay Kelso, son of Ashton Kutcher's Michael Kelso and Mila Kunis' Jackie Burkhart, on "That '90s Show." Coronel is probably best known as Dicky Harper on the Nickelodeon series "Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn," though he's also appeared on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and Ava DuVernay's "Colin in Black and White." Before all of those projects, Coronel also played a martial arts-loving kid who wanted to capture Santa Claus in the 2014 Nickelodeon movie "Santa Hunters."

A comic vehicle for actor/singer Benjamin "Lil' P-Nut" Flores,Jr., "Santa Hunters" spoofs paranormal reality shows about amateurs hunting cryptids and ghosts. Here, the "hunters" are curious siblings Flores and Breanna Yde and their cousins, who are determined to capture evidence of Santa's existence. Unfortunately for them, the jolly old elf loses some Christmas magic every time he's seen, so the quartet must destroy their footage in order to rescue the holiday.

If that plotline seems confused and ultimately self-defeating, that's because it is. "Santa Hunters" asks you to root for the four hyperactive leads' efforts to film Santa and then hope they ruin their own plan. If that's frustrating to consider, fear not: Your spirits will be lifted by the seemingly endless bathroom jokes. Christmas is saved!

Maxwell Acee Donovan popped up in the An American Girl film series

Nate Runck, Leia Forman's neighbor and friend and Gwen's half-brother, is played by Maxwell Acee Donovan. "That '90s Show" is probably Donovan's most high-profile project to date, though he also starred in the Disney series "Gabby Duran and the Unsittables" as well as a handful of shorts and indie features. He also took a trip back in time to play a kid with a nearly unpronounceable name — Davy Fenstermacher — in a 2016 entry in the "American Girl" film series.

The movie in question — "An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas" — is also a mouthful, but its wordy title is the least of its problems. "Maryellen" is so overstuffed with good intentions and kind-heartedness that it feels like being smothered with a heart-shaped pillow. Alyvia Alyn Lind almost emits sparkles as the title character, whose drive to make a new friend with polio feel accepted borders on monomania. Again, her intentions are pure (Maryellen herself suffered from the condition), but her zeal at helping others becomes overwhelming and unrealistic by the film's conclusion.

It's no wonder that Donovan's Davy gets fed up with her crusade by the midpoint of the movie (don't worry, they patch things up). Oh, and for the absurd lengths undertaken by Maryellen, she receives in kind a box of snow. And she's delighted by it. It's a weird movie and one that Donovan probably wants us all to forget.

Callie Haverda is upstaged by a dog in The Adventures of Pepper and Paula

Callie Haverda stars on "That '90s Show" as Red and Kitty's granddaughter Leia, who spends the summer of 1995 with her extended family in Wisconsin. Haverda is a relative newcomer to acting, with just a handful of credits that include the short-lived series "Shut Eye." However, her earliest screen appearance, the 2015 feature "The Adventures of Pepper and Paula," merits mention here for its curious subject matter and sticky-sweet tone.

Mindy Raymond stars as Paula, a champion trick-shot artist who battles her way back from a debilitating car accident with the help of an adorable Border Collie stray named Pepper. Once back on her feet, Paula — or Pistol Packin' Paula, as she prefers to be billed — finds that her return to stardom is blocked by rival Alexandria DeBerry, a mean-girl type who uses her wiles to win favor with the show's boss. Thankfully, Paula has a little girl (Haverda) to cheer her on.

Based on the real-life experiences of champion gun spinner Paula Salentik, "The Adventures of Pepper and Paula" is harmless family fare. It's technically capable but drips with syrupy sentiments. Haverda is saddled with lots of big-eyed reactions to Paula's abilities, and while she certainly fulfills the sweet little girl role, she, along with everyone else on screen, is upstaged in the cute department by the dog playing Pepper.

Andrea Anders did her bro a favor in Never Been Thawed

Residing next door to Red and Kitty Forman is Sherri Runck, a hard-drinking and occasionally kleptomaniacal divorcee raising half-siblings Gwen and Nate in the Pinciotti's old house. Sherri, who eventually takes up with Wilmer Valderrama's Fez, is played to the hilt by comic actor Andrea Anders. A TV vet who appeared in the cult favorite "Better Off Ted" as well as the short-lived "Joey" and "Mr. Sunshine," Anders is also a regular in films written and/or directed by her brother Sean Anders, including Apple's 2022 Christmas comedy "Spirited." Their earliest collaboration, "Never Been Thawed," is one that they might consider excluding from both of their bios.

An ultra-low-budget mockumentary released in 2005, "Never Been Thawed" examines a group of eccentrics who collect frozen foods. Anders himself plays the primary collector, who's locked in a struggle to control the Mesa, Arizona chapter of "frozen entrée collectors" with a vicious corporate trainer. The characters share the same preoccupation with sex as the characters in Anders' other scripts, such as "Hot Tub Time Machine," and that fuels much of the film's humor.

Case in point: Anders' band, a former punk act with an unprintable name who became a Christian rock group in the belief that they might have a better chance at landing a record deal. The band's followers include Andrea Anders in a cameo as "Christian Band Slut." That's the level of humor you're dealing with in "Never Been Thawed."

Kurtwood Smith joined an aerobics cult in Going Berserk

Kurtwood Smith's career as a character actor has anchored around flinty authority types like Red Forman, who he played on "That '70s Show" and again on "That '90s Show." The most memorable of these are probably the rigid Mr. Perry in "Dead Poets Society" and the malevolent Clarence Boddicker in "RoboCop," but Smith has also played everything from the Federation president in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" to future Commissioner James Gordon in the animated series "Beware the Batman." Like many actors, Smith paid his dues at the beginning of his career, which included two atrocious '80s features: "Saturday Night Fever" sequel "Staying Alive," and "Going Berserk," both from 1983.

Smith's role in "Staying Alive" was cut down to a glorified cameo, and his role in "Going Berserk" isn't much bigger, but he's at least visible on-screen in this misguided vehicle for John Candy. Smith is a member of an aerobics cult (you read that right) that hypnotizes the dimwitted Candy and has him murder his politician father-in-law. Smith is mostly on hand to look imposing during the murder set piece — which naturally goes awry — but is quickly forgotten amid the film's disjointed mix of story and sketch-like gags, all mishandled by comic turned director David Steinberg (who later found his groove helming episodes of "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm").

Wilmer Valderrama fouled out in Summer Catch

Wilmer Valderrama, who plays Fez in both "That '70s Show" and "That '90s Show," made his movie debut in 2001's "Summer Catch," a limp comedy-drama about amateur baseball and the horndogs who play it. Valderrama is just one of several pin-up-worthy actors who populate the film's cast, including Freddie Prinze Jr. as the nominal lead, Jessica Biel as the rich girl he loves. The guys spend a great deal of their time boosting Prinze's spirits when they're not chasing local girls. Valderrama, as second baseman Mickey Dominguez, earns laughs because he's the one being chased by an uncredited Beverly D'Angelo.

A number of very good actors play the adults in the room, including the late Brian Dennehy and Fred Ward, but they too are stuck fretting about Freddie's baseball future. Sporting greats Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Carlton Fisk are also on hand to remind you that this movie is about baseball; director Mike Tollin made some great sports documentaries ("The Last Dance," about Michael Jordan) and some terrible teen movies like "Radio," "Varsity Blues," and "Good Burger." Guess which category "Summer Catch" belongs to.

Debra Jo Rupp was a hotel worker in Odd Couple: Together Again

Prior to stealing scenes as Kitty Forman on both "That '70s Show" and "That '90s Show," Debra Jo Rupp was a staple of theater and episodic television. Her credits in the latter medium include Phoebe's teacher-turned-sister-in-law on "Friends" and recurring turns on "Seinfeld," "Hearts Afire," and "Empty Nest." Rupp's small screen credits are almost entirely unimpeachable; it's hard to find a project that she might want fans to avoid seeing. However, "The Odd Couple: Together Again" fits the bill.

This 1993 TV movie reunited Tony Randall and Jack Klugman (who starred in the "Odd Couple" series from 1970 to 1975) as divorcees turned mismatched roommates. The actors are notably older here, and, sadly, Klugman's voice is reduced to a gravely whisper due to surgery for throat cancer in 1988 that required the removal of a vocal chord. Klugman's health condition is actually a pivotal element in the movie. Randall's Felix, having been bounced from his house again (this time to allow wife Barbara Barrie to prepare for their daughter's wedding), spends much of his screen time consoling Klugman's Oscar over the loss of his voice. The plot point is well-intentioned, but it's also handled mawkishly by writer/director Robert Klane, and occasionally feels more exploitative than supportive.

Rupp has a small role in "Odd Couple: Together Again" as the assistant manager of the Park Plaza Hotel in New York, where Felix's daughter is getting married. Even with limited screen time, she generates a few laughs, especially when revoking Felix's reservation over his endless requests for rehearsal time and special dispensations.

Laura Prepon was trapped in the unfunny Slackers

In addition returning as Donna Pinciotti in "That '90s Show," Laura Prepon has been busy in recent years as an actor ("The Girl on the Train"), director ("Orange is the New Black" and several episodes of "That '90s Show"), best-selling author, and entrepreneur. Back in 2002, Prepon made her second feature film appearance in "Slackers," a raunchy comedy that hoped to piggyback on the popularity of the "American Pie" franchise. Devon Sawa, Jason Segal, and Michael Maronna star as a trio of goons cheating their way through college. vindictive nerd Jason Schwartzman catches wind of their schemes and blackmails them into setting him up with fellow student Jaime King. Matters become complicated when head goon Sawa also falls for King, which requires the boys to act even more appallingly.

As the AV Club noted, "Slackers" is filled with likable actors. Jim Rash of "Community" (who played Fenton in "That '70s Show" and returned for "That '90s Show," now the Runcks' landlord) is in it, as is Retta ("Good Girls") and the "SCTV" great Joe Flaherty. But the script by "American Pie" franchise scribe David H. Steinberg gives them nothing but reprehensible things to do. Prepon's dry comic delivery is totally wasted here: She spends most of her screen time cursing, wearing bondage gear, and encouraging King to act as gross as the boys.

Don Stark got his just desserts in Evilspeak

Don Stark returns as the follicly challenged Bob Pinciotti in the episode "The Birthday Girl," where he vies with Red to deliver the most memorable gift to their granddaughter Leia on her fifteenth birthday. Though perhaps best known as Bob to TV audiences, Stark has been exceptionally busy in the years since "That '70s Show," with guest roles on "American Horror Story," "The Good Wife," and "NCIS," as well as in films like "Green Book." Long before any of these credits, Stark played a character light years away from the good-natured Bob in the 1981 video nasty "Evilspeak."

Stark plays Bubba, a cadet at a private military school who singles out orphan outcast Clint Howard (Ron Howard's brother) for round-the-clock abuse. Tormented at every turn by Stark, his pals, the school's headmaster, and virtually every person that crosses his path, Howard gets his revenge by uploading the diary of a Satanist priest into his school's computer, which unleashes the powers of darkness.

Demonic pigs, fiery swords, a crucifix nail in the head of a priest — "Evilspeak" plays like the album cover of a second-string death metal band come to life. It's relentlessly gory and mean-spirited to boot, especially when Stark seals his fate by murdering Howard's cute little puppy. That earns him death at the hands of the zombified school janitor, who tears out his heart. It serves him right, but one moment of karma can't save this trainwreck.

Tommy Chong emerged unscathed from Yellowbeard

Tommy Chong was a comedy superstar decades before playing the addled ex-Foto Hut owner Leo Chingwake in "That '70s Show" and "That '90s Show." As one half of the counterculture comedy team Cheech and Chong with Cheech Marin, Chong rose from comedy clubs and albums to movie stardom thanks to films like "Up in Smoke" and "Things Are Tough All Over." The Cheech and Chong machine ran out of gas in the 1980s, but not before the pair joined a small army of fellow comics in 1983's "Yellowbeard."

This anarchic comedy stars Monty Python vet Graham Chapman (who also co-wrote with fellow British comedy icon Peter Cook) as a fearsome 17th century pirate who emerges from prison to retrieve a treasure stolen from him by his second-in-command (Peter Boyle). Aiding or opposing him in this endeavor are Boyle's "Young Frankenstein" co-stars Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman (who died during production), as well as fellow Pythons John Cleese and Eric Idle. And, briefly, David Bowie as a man in a shark costume. It's that kind of film.

Cheech and Chong play deluded conquistadors who have established themselves as feudal lords on a remote island with Yellowbeard's loot. They have some amusing dialogue, much of which sounds improvised, but like nearly every actor in the film, they seem unsure of the plot and their roles in it. A long-gestating production that at one point was to star Keith Moon of the Who, "Yellowbeard" looks expensive but feels unfinished. Jokes fail to land, characters disappear, and, for a movie loaded with genuinely talented comedians, there's far too much reliance on pratfalls, crude jokes, and bathroom gags.

Ashton Kutcher made a forgettable film debut in Coming Soon

Shortly after making his TV debut as Michael Kelso on "That '70s Show" — a role he reprises on "That '90s Show" — Ashton Kutcher took a small part in "Coming Soon," a 1999 comedy which focuses on a trio of private school girls who pursue (with varying degrees of success) fulfilling sex lives. The physical part is easy, but it's the satisfaction that proves elusive, especially when the choices come down to James Spader-like bad guys (James Roday Rodriguez from "Psych") or moody good guys (Ryan Reynolds in an absurd goatee). A constellation of self-obsessed, out-to-lunch adults (Mia Farrow, Ryan O'Neal, Peter Bogdanovich) orbit the trio.

Directed and co-written by Colette Burson, who created "Hung" for HBO, "Coming Soon" is a fitfully amusing take on the teen sex comedy from a girl's perspective, and it boasts an impressive cast headed by Bonnie Root, Gaby Hoffmann, and Tricia Vessey as the curious trio. Unfortunately, the cast is stranded with one-dimensional and frequently grating characters. Reynolds strains credulity as an edgy rebel, Root is aggravatingly naïve, and nearly every adult in the film is someone you'd cross a street in order to avoid. Kutcher is essentially handsome wallpaper in "Coming Soon," giving no indication of his comedic talent at all.

Mila Kunis tag-teamed with Hulk Hogan in Santa With Muscles

What's the weirdest thing about the 1996 comedy "Santa with Muscles?" Well, it's not Hulk Hogan as a wealthy jerk who loses his memory after hitting his head while fleeing the police (led by Clint Howard) for playing a game of paintball. And it's not that he comes to believe he's Santa Claus after a mall elf (played by Don Stark) mistakes him as Kris Kringle. It's definitely not that the Hulkster has short hair, or that a pre-teen Mila Kunis lays a constant guilt trip on him about the other needy orphans at the orphanage where she lives. And it's not Ed Begley Jr. appearing as another wealthy jerk who wants to destroy said orphanage because it's built over a cache of special crystals.

It's not fellow wrestler Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake as a lab assistant dressed like a sumo wrestler, or Don Lake in bunny pajamas, or that Hulk Hogan sings a snippet of "Santa Baby." And it's definitely not the fact that the movie is directed and edited with the sort of care and technique afforded to employee training videos. So, what is the weirdest thing about "Santa with Muscles?" It's that Jordan Belfort, as in the Wolf of Wall Street himself, produced the film. Actually, scratch that — the weirdest thing is the fact that "Santa with Muscles" is the second Hulk Hogan movie produced by Belfort, after "The Secret Agent Club."

Brian Austin Green took a hit in Kickboxer 2: The Road Back

In the "That '90s Show" episode "The Birthday Girl," Leia binge-watches episodes of "Beverly Hills, 90210" as a means of stuffing down her feelings for Jay Kelso, especially after he starts going out with Serena. There's an amusing fantasy sequence in which Leia sees herself as both Brenda and Kelly on the show, which leads to a faithful take on its opening credits and the appearance of Brian Austin Green, who gamely reprises David Silver for the Point Place crew.

Green has remained fairly active on television since "90210" with series regular work on "Wedding Band" and "Anger Management," as well as guest roles on "Smallville," among other shows. His feature film work, which has been more sporadic, began in earnest with a minor role in 2004's "Kickboxer 2: The Road Back." A sequel to the Jean-Claude Van Damme flick "Kickboxer," it stars a charisma-free Sasha Mitchell as the younger brother of JCVD, who is killed off-screen at the beginning of the picture.

Mitchell mopes for most of the movie, pausing only to goof around with a neighborhood kid (Green) until it's revenge time. He (and the audience) have to first slog through a beatdown by metal-haired Mattias Hues and a training sequence with returning Muay Thai master Dennis Chan. Mitchell eventually gets around to giving bad guy Michel Qissi's face a proper kneading, but by that point someone will need to kick your chair to wake you up. And if you're wondering who wrote lines like, "David, I see no fat lady singing," it's none other than David S. Goyer of DC fame.