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Why Alden From He's All That Looks So Familiar

Today marked the premiere of Netflix's much talked about "He's All That," a gender-swapped remake of the classic 1999 teen rom-com, "She's All That." Before you go asking why filmmakers can't just come up with new material instead of rebooting 80s and 90s classics, bear in mind that "She's All That" was itself a kind of a reboot — or, more accurately, a modern re-imagining — of 1964's "My Fair Lady," which was itself a re-interpretation of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, "Pygmalian." It seems audiences will never grow tired of seeing the supposedly ugly duckling (who's actually very apparently beautiful from the get-go) transform into a swan, and the makers of "He's All That" sensed it was time to bring the beloved trope back around. 

The film was written by R. Lee Fleming Jr. and directed by Mark Waters, and if you were one of the many who tuned in to see the proverbial nerd take off his glasses and turn into a prince (aka prom king), you may have noticed it stars quite a few familiar faces. Among them are Addison Rae of social media fame, as well as "Cobra Kai" actor Tanner Buchanan, Peyton Meyer of "Girl Meets World," and, of course, Rachel Leigh Cook, of the original "She's All That" phenomenon. 

In addition to these familiar up-and-comers (and one former teen idol), "He's All That" stars an all-grown-up version of an actor who's been entertaining audiences since the age of eight, and that's Madison Pettis, who plays Alden. 

Madison Pettis launched onto the big screen with The Rock

From 2005 to 2006, Madison Pettis starred in a number of "Barney and Friends" musical shorts and episodes as well as an episode of "Hannah Montanta," but it didn't take the young actor long to transition from daytime to primetime. Then, shortly after nabbing small parts in CBS' post-apocalyptic "Jericho" and USA's sci-fi mystery thriller "The 4400," Pettis quickly made the leap the big screen, starring alongside Hollywood heavy-hitter Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the role that would introduce her to her widest audience yet — this occurred in 2007, when she portrayed Johnson's daughter in the family-friendly comedy, "The Game Plan." 

In the film, Johnson plays a professional American football player struggling to choose between maintaining his career and lifestyle and welcoming a formerly unknown child into his life. She loves ballet, he loves football, cats and dogs living together and learning from one another, et cetera. Although (according to Rotten Tomatoes' stats, at least) critics didn't share audiences' affinity for the light-hearted "long-lost daughter shows up on the doorstep" story, the film helped launched Pettis' career. 

Madison Pettis starred in a ground-breaking family drama

Although "He's All That" star Madison Pettis enjoyed longer arcs on both "Life with Boys" and Disney XD's "Lab Rats: Bionic Island," her biggest television break came with a six-episode arc in the highly-acclaimed Freeform family drama,"The Fosters." The show centered around the blended, adopted, biological, and shared family of couple Stef Foster (Teri Polo) and Lena Adams (Sherri Saum), and received high praise for embracing representation and storylines that gave LGBTQ+ characters both depth and nuance. The show broke new ground for family-friendly TV on several occasions, and was the first series to show a trans teen in a relationship with one of the leads and protagonists (via Variety). 

The series was nominated for a number of awards over its run from 2013 to 2018, and took home both The Vanguard Award and the award for Outstanding Drama Series at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards. Pettis' participation in the series helped cement her reputation as a teen actor to watch, and it became clear that Pettis was ready to tackle more lead character roles in the future.  

Pettis made the streaming leap from Facebook Watch to Netflix

From 2018 to 2019, Madison Pettis starred as Natasha "Tosh" Bennett in Adam Giaudrone and Thomas Carter's Facebook Watch series, "Five Points." The teen drama followed a major event in the lives of students at a South Side, Chicago high school, exploring the event itself from five different points of view (hence the title.) The two-season series also starred "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "CSI: Cyber" actor, dancer, and musician Hayley Kiyoko, whom Pettis had starred alongside in "The Fosters" (via imdb.com).

Following "Five Points," Pettis returned to film in 2020 in "American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules," the most recent straight-to-video movie in the "American Pie" franchise. Now, with both "He's All That" and "Girls' Rules" available to stream on Netflix, the former child star appears perfectly positioned to officially announce her permanent transition from Disney Channel darling to streaming superstar. And with "Mean Girls" and "Just Like Heaven" director Mark Waters attached to the modern-day adaptation, one can't help but wonder if Pettis could soon be returning to her silver screen roots in the wake of "He's All That."