Just like gel pens, low-rise jeans, and flip phones, Disney Channel Original Movies were likely an essential part of of your tween years. These movies almost always involved a coming of age story with some light drama and a happy ending, and they also typically featured a fresh-faced young actor as the protagonist. Some of these kids would later quit acting or fall into obscurity, while others grew to be huge stars whose other credits overshadowed their made-for-TV roles. That being the case, there are actually a lot of famous actors who were in DCOMs that you probably totally forgot about.
Of course, there are some stars who are still associated with their DCOM roles to this day. For example, nobody has forgotten that Demi Lovato was in Camp Rock and that Raven-Symoné was in The Cheetah Girls . Other actors still are mostly associated with their Disney Channel stardom despite finding fame otherwise, like Kimberly J. Brown (the actor who was in Quints and all of the Halloweentown movies). But you would be surprised to realize how many current Hollywood figures actually have their roots in the Disney Channel movies you watched after school. To jog your memory, here are some surprising stars who had humble DCOM beginnings.
1. Emmy Rossum
Rossum played the love interest of a pre-adolescent physics whiz in the 1999 Disney Channel movie Genius.
2. Brie Larson
The Academy Award winner played one half of a sister drag racing duo in 2003's Right On Track. Beverley Mitchell, better known as Lucy from 7th Heaven, played Larson's sister.
3. Frankie Muniz
Although he's primarily known for Malcolm in the Middle, Muniz starred in the movie Miracle in Lane 2 in 2000. The film told the story of Justin Yoder, a boy who aspired the win the Soap Box Derby despited being confined to a wheelchair.
4. America Ferrera
The Ugly Betty star was one of the main characters in 2002's Gotta Kick It Up!, about a dance team who fought to rise to the top despite facing many obstacles.
5. Kaley Cuoco
Way before The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco was in a DCOM about a bowling team called Alley Cats Strike.
6. Kristen Stewart
A young Kristen Stewart appeared in an uncredited role in the DCOM The Thirteenth Year in 1999.
7. Jake Epstein
The Degrassi star turned- Broadway performer appeared in multiple Disney movies, including Quints and Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire.
8. Lindsay Lohan
Remember that time Lindsay Lohan was a wealthy NYC-based teenage sleuth in the 2002 DCOM Get A Clue? Yeah, that happened.
9. Diane Keaton
Keaton starred in the very first DCOM, Northern Lights, in 1999. Keaton also served as an executive producer (and so did Meg Ryan!).
10. Sara Paxton
Paxton played the role of Tracy in Hounded and replaced Kimberly J. Brown in Return to Halloweentown.
11. Alison Pill
Pill has had a ton of film and television roles, the most famous of which is probably her performance as Maggie Jordan in The Newsroom. But she also had a role in a DCOM: 2002's The Other Me.
12. Hayden Panettierre
Panettierre starred in the 2002 DCOM Tiger Cruise, for which she also recorded the song "My Hero Is You."
13. Shia LaBeouf
LaBeouf's eventful past few years often overshadow his earlier career, but in fact, it only seems natural that the star of Even Stevens would have appeared in a few other Disney Channel projects. He had major roles in both Tru Confessions and Hounded.
14. Kat Dennings
The 2 Broke Girls star appeared in the ghoulish 2002 DCOM The Scream Team, along with Eric Idle, Kathy Najimy, and Tommy Davidson.
Yes, you remember Raven from Cheetah Girls, but how about her role as Zenon's sidekick Nebula Wade in Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century?
16. Taran Killam
Before his Saturday Night Live days, Killam played a pop star (complete with frosted tips) in 2004's Stuck in the Suburbs.
17. Bryan Cranston
No, really, Bryan Cranston was in a DCOM. He played a troubled guy named Nick who eventually learned a lesson and saved the day— all while wearing a Santa Costume— in 'Twas the Night in 2001.
It's pretty crazy when you realize how many big stars have one or more Disney Channel Original Movies on their resumes. But it's also neat to see how these actors' careers have since blossomed, and watching a DCOM that features a now-famous actor is truly a nostalgic experience.