Best future stars with one appearance on That ’70s Show
For all of its nostalgic value, That ’70s Show was also a factory for future entertainment talent.
Naturally, the actors portraying the teenage protagonists each launched careers of varied success in Point Place. Beyond that, though, a revolving door of their peers yielded a host of guest stars so voluminous it is hard to remember all of them.
The program premiered 20 years ago this Thursday with modest bids for attention. Characters beyond the main teens, their parents and a few filler roles did not start appearing until the fifth episode. That was when Donna’s younger sister, made her first and explicably only appearance.
Though Amanda Fuller, who played Tina Pinciotti, never returned to ’70s, she has gone on to a respectable career. She has had regular roles on Orange Is the New Black (opposite former onscreen sister Laura Prepon) and Last Man Standing.
By the middle of Season 1, other actors with far less experience behind than ahead came in for one appearance. Based on their achievements since, two have earned a spot on this list of one-time-only That ’70s Show guest stars. All filmography and award information is according to the Internet Movie Database.
10. Lindsay Lohan
As Danielle, Lohan portrayed one of Fez’s flames in Season 7. Her episode premiered six months after Mean Girls, which yielded her first Critics’ Choice nomination in 2005.
While her name recognition has remained stable, Lohan’s up-and-down life and career have not yielded much more. In 2018, seven appearances on Sick Note and a part in The Shadow Within broke a three-year hiatus from acting.
9. Rachel Bilson
Fox found ample work for Bilson when she appeared in the sixth season, which coincided with The O.C.’s first season. By the end of 2004, her regular role on the latter yielded her first of seven Teen Choice nominations.
Since The O.C., Bilson has spent four years starring on her own series, Hart of Dixie, which ended in 2015. She sandwiched that run with multiple spots on How I Met Your Mother and Nashville.
8. Justin Long
The profile give-and-take balance was ambiguous when Long showed up in the penultimate episode of the series. He was already a two-time Saturn nominee for performances by a younger actor and had been a regular on Ed.
Exactly three months after “Love of my Life” premiered, Accepted hit theaters. With that, the then 28-year-old had his first unequivocal top-billed film role.
His next movie, Live Free or Die Hard, spawned another Saturn nomination. More recently, out of another smattering of one-off TV spots, New Girl earned him Critics’ Choice consideration in 2012.
7. Reid Scott
For voicing the title character on the short-lived children’s cartoon, Turbo FAST, Scott garnered a 2016 Daytime Emmy nomination. When he was not in the booth, he was playing Dan Egan on Veep for five years.
Before those regular roles, Scott answered one-time calls from two versions of CSI plus Fox’s Bones and New Girl. But before those and several lower-profile gigs, he inked his first credit on the fifth-season episode, “Over the Hills and Far Away.”
6. Yvette Nicole Brown
Before becoming a staple for five years on Community, Brown appeared early in the ’70s farewell campaign. By the end of that 2005-06 season, she had also performed on two other primetime Fox shows, including House.
The next year, The Office and Entourage stood out among shows bringing Brown on for a single episode. Since rising to her first regular role, she has also garnered several BTVA nods for her voice-acting endeavors.
In 2017, Brown was singled out as a candidate for “Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role.” She has shared three nominations with her castmates on other projects.
5. Neil Flynn
The father of Lohan’s Mean Girls protagonist, Flynn preceded his future castmate on That ’70s Show by five years. Playing the bouncer in “The Velvet Rope,” he gave a glimpse of the coldness he would convey as Scrubs’ janitor.
For each of the last 17 TV seasons, Flynn has had a regular spot via Scrubs, followed by The Middle. Through the latter, he landed on a Critics Choice ballot in 2016.
And he is already guaranteed to keep going without a hitch. With The Middle ending, Flynn is moving on to a part on Abby’s. The NBC sitcom staring Natalie Morales will premiere 13 episodes in 2019.
4. Jenna Fischer
Like Flynn, Fischer appeared on ’70s as one of her last of many minor film and one-off TV roles before getting her big break. The 2005 episode “Don’t Lie To Me” premiered three months before the pilot of The Office.
For the next eight-plus years, she received a slew of silver-screen spots, but was mostly the ever-determined Pam Beesly.
Following The Office’s second full season, Fischer was on the Emmy ballot for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. The Gold Derbies considered her for the same title for the same part in 2010.
3. Dwayne Johnson
The wrestler-turned actor all but typified his transition by essentially playing a former-era alter-ego of himself. His part as Rocky Johnson on Season 1’s “That Wrestling Episode” was his first non-WWF credit.
A year later, he hosted Saturday Night Live, where he would rise to the Five-Timers’ Club. Early in the new century, he established his film foundation as The Scorpion King.
Though not as decorated with mainstream accolades as others, Johnson is in constant demand. San Andreas, Moana, Central Intelligence, Rampage and Skycraper mark but a handful of his major projects since 2015. And that’s not even mentioning the two most recent Furious films.
2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The title performer in Season 1’s “Eric’s Buddy” had been acting for the majority of his life by that point. He was in the middle of his regular role on 3rd Rock From the Sun.
Yet just like the show, Gordon-Levitt had his best years ahead. He garnered his first Golden Globe nomination in 2010 for 500 Days of Summer. The same guild considered him again in 2012 for 50/50.
The next year, Looper and The Dark Knight Rises both put Gordon-Levitt on the Saturns Ballot for the first time since Angels in the Outfield. While none of those nominations translated to victory, Gordon-Levitt did share a 2014 Emmy win for HitRECord on TV.
1. Amy Adams
After two minor movie roles, Adams made her first TV appearance as a party guest in Season 2’s “Burning Down the House.” That presaged a breakout calendar year 2000, featuring guest spots on Providence and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Two years later, Adams played Brenda Strong, Frank Abagnale’s love interest in Catch Me if You Can. That effectively marked her entry into her true calling in cinema. By decade’s end, she had been nominated for two Oscars and Golden Globes apiece.
As of 2018, Adams has been considered for five Academy Awards. Out of seven Golden Globe nominations, she has won two.
Overseas, the BAFTAs have given her six nods in nine years. The first three of those were for supporting acting, the last three for leading.