The One '00s Heartthrob No Millennial Properly Appreciated Back Then

1999: what a glorious year. Movie and TV screens were overflowing with heartthrobs, thanks to hunks like Ryan Phillippe staring in Cruel Intentions, Freddie Prinze, Jr. taking on She's All That, iand Heath Ledger breaking out with 10 Things I Hate About You. Clearly, the '90s were an epic time that provided some top-notch hotties. But when the 2000s rolled around, our collective attention was quickly (and understandably) diverted to much more important things like butterfly clips and Von Dutch hats, not sexy actors. Sadly, we were too busy to pay any attention to the total heartthrobs who emerged in the early '00s — like Jesse Bradford, a totally underrated star of the decade. Bradford may not have gotten the credit he deserved for making us swoon back then, but he's going to get it right here and now.

Today, the actor, 37, is working steadily in Hollywood (you may have caught him on shows like Guys With Kids), and keeping a low profile. But back in the '00s, he was a major heartthrob who was on the cusp of huge fame. Unfortunately, his talent and good looks weren't appreciated as much as they should've been, but it's time for millennials everywhere to give him the respect he deserves. After all, Bradford goes way back. He first won our hearts when audiences caught a glimpse of him as Balthasar in 1996's Romeo + Juliet. Leonardo DiCaprio may have distracted you from his -costar, but just look how adorable he was.

That was just a little preview of what was to come. A few years later, Bradford stole scenes as the guitar-bearing Cliff Pantone in 2000's Bring It On. He put Torrance's (Kirsten Dunst) boyfriend to shame by owning his stance as the punk rock-loving outcast of Rancho Carne High.

He stood up for himself (remember when he expertly rejected the loser sneeze?), was an extremely creative flirter (see the toothbrush scene below) and shamelessly shredded his guitar like a total goon (also displayed below).

Movieclips on YouTube

He also made Torrance a brilliant mixtape with a cute little voiceover introduction in the beginning. Ugh. Where has the romance gone? But that wasn't all Bradford did to make him a heartthrob — don't you dare forget about 2002. That's when Bradford shed his nerdy yet lovable persona on-screen for the psychological thriller Swimfan. In the movie he played Ben, a high school swim star who went to great lengths to deal with an obsessed girl, Madison (Erika Christensen). With Bradford's body, those muscles and all of that dripping water, how couldn't she be obsessed, though?

And this sex scene in the pool, I'll just leave right here.

Movieclips on YouTube

See? Bradford is a totally underrated hottie from the 2000s. You may have missed your chance to give him the love and attention he deserved back then, but luckily, it's not too late. He is still smokin', and that gorgeous grin hasn't gone anywhere. Check out Bradford's Instagram and let your love open the door to his royal cuteness ASAP.

You're welcome.

Images: 20th Century Fox (2); desperateyouthzine/Tumblr; franeurysm/Tumblr