Wherefore Art Thou, Jonathan Taylor Thomas?

Once upon a time I fancied myself in genuine, once-in-a-lifetime, preteen lurv with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The “once-in-a-lifetime” tag applies especially, because I’ve never been one for celebrity crushes. Other than a brief, mental dalliance with suit-wearing Joseph Gordon-Levitt circa Inception (you can keep your mopey, plaid-shirt-wearing JGL circa 500 Days of Summer), I haven’t experienced a major crush since JTT (please pardon my use of acronyms; they just feel right).

I hadn’t thought about JTT in years, not since 2000 when my cousin kindly informed me he was gay. That didn’t discourage me in the slightest, but then, after Home Improvement and a string of mediocre teeny-bopper movies, he seemingly dropped off the face of the planet.

JTT acting all sneaky on Veronica Mars, Season 1

I gradually forgot all about him, and  never would have reconnected with  my long-lost crush had I not been watching Season 1 of Veronica Mars this November. The theme song was just wrapping up on Episode 18, when who should show up in a bit part as a troubled, camo-wearing teen (I can’t spoil more than that, but let’s just say I’m dying to read Luci’s recap), but my long-lost Jonathan?

My first thought was, “Woah, he did not age well.” Yeah, yeah, that’s judgey and shameful, but I’m employing the semi-two-faced “Women celebrities get subjected to just as much, if not more, physical criticism” argument to excuse myself. After watching the rest of the episode I decided he was still cute, just in a more grown-up way, which is probably why my inner 12-year-old was disappointed.

From Amanda Dobbins' incredible "Tiger Beat Heartthrobs Then & Now" post at Buzzfeed

On that day, however, I was too engrossed in figuring out who killed Lilly Kane to give JTT a second thought.

Last week I was putzing around the guest room at my in-laws’ when the spectre of JTT happened to rise in my thoughts again. And for reasons I can’t quite explain to anyone (the holidays addle everyone’s brain, right?), I decided to figure out where the Man of [My] House had gone, once and for all.

One of the first hits for “Jonathan Taylor Thomas where is he now” led me to a blog creatively titled “le blog,” where I read this entry, “Where in the world is Jonathan Taylor Thomas?”:

A couple nights ago, I woke up around 3 a.m., asking myself the question. Odd, I know. But for the last couple of days I have been doing some extensive research to answer the question. And honestly, all the information I am finding is circa 2001. He was going to Harvard, he did a semester abroad at St. Andrew’s University, did a couple limited showcase films, played a gay swimmer on the Showtime show “Common Ground.”  But this is all around 2001-2002,

So my research has told me,

He’s gone.

And that he’s not gay.

Take that, cousin of mine! He is NOT gay!!

Returning to the dramatic blog post–there are 125 comments on that sucker, including this one that is fairly representative of their overall dreamy, mythos-imposing tone:

So that was my first clue: Vancouver. Googling “Jonathan Taylor Thomas Vancouver” landed me on a 2008 EW Popwatch post titled “Happy Birthday, Jonathan Taylor Thomas!” which was nothing more than another fangirl’s paean to my love.

I did learn his birthday is September 8, but without access to a driver’s license database, that tidbit would only wet the whistle of the most devoted, bubble-gum-shrine-building fan.

Scrolling down through the comments yielded juicier tidbits, including some emoticon-abusing snark:

LOL. Fuck you, Brody.

Another commenter called “Vic” wrote, “I heard he went back to his birth name (Jonathan Weiss) and is a movie producer in Vancouver.” (Emphasis mine).

Thanks, Vic!

Of course, I had already trolled IMDB (I’m no n00b when it comes to digging up Internet dirt), but I’d made the mistake of only looking at JTT’s actor page, which shows his last credit as voicing Prince Ragis in the 2005 animated insta-classic Through the Moebius Strip.

Unfortunately, when I searched for producer credits I found nothing. On top of that, his latest credit of any kind is as the director of a 2006 short film titled The Extra, the cover art of which features a man who looks disturbingly like Terry “Model-Molester” Richardson. Phooey.

It looked like the trail was drying up. I was about to quit when I stumbled across a 2007 IvyGate post titled, “Urgent Bulletin for All Tiger Beat Subscribers, Past and Present,” which broke the story that JTT was studying at Columbia under the name Jonathan Taylor Weiss and revealed his school email address (!!!).

I decided not to post the email addy, even though it’s likely fake, just because it made me feel squeamish and like I was invading someone’s personal space. Not too squeamish not to test it out and send him an email though!

DAMMIT! In my excitement I must have confused the Taylors with the Tanners from Full House! Now JTT will never grant me an interview. Oh well, too late to un-send the creepiness now.

I squeezed water from a rock just to get this measly info on JTT. But the journey was well worth it–what started as an Internet scavenger hunt for giggles wound up showing me a whole ‘nother side of the J-man.

For instance, I found a 2000 interview he did with The Advocate wherein he addresses the gay rumors that circulated about him, and does a remarkably good job of having a sense of humor about them and making it clear he doesn’t think “gay” is an insult. Good on you, JTT. Also, I wasn’t aware that he had a few really interesting, adult roles, including the Common Ground one mentioned above, wherein he played a gay high school student in ’70s America.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas Weiss, if you’re out there, somewhere, just know I’m still rooting for you. And looking for you. Heh heh heh.

So who were you guys’ childhood/teen crushes? I wanted to expand this to include some other fellas, but honestly, the JTT stalking took over my brain. Others I’d be interested in knowing what happened to: Rider Strong from Boy Meets World, David Faustino on Married with Children, and Devon Sawa from Wild America.

P.S. I just re-read this post, checking for typos and whatnot, and I legitimately scare myself. I’m glad I don’t have more celebrity crushes…

120 thoughts on “Wherefore Art Thou, Jonathan Taylor Thomas?”

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  5. I stumbled upon reruns of ‘Home Improvement’ and my huge crush on JTT had a relapse…and like you all I looked up information about what he is doing these days. I was luckier than most since he had just turned 30 last month and the cast of Home Improvement had a reunion, and I found dozens of articles on him and the show. If we were to believe Patricia Richardson then, I’ll be a happy camper if he resumes acting. He isn’t as cute as he was in his teens…but I still adore him…I was JTT’s age while watching Home Improvement, and so I was crushing on him big time….Thanks for the article….loved reading a fellow fan of JTT’s thoughts. Did you ever receive a reply to the mail you wrote though…and did you write an article on Teen idol’s of the 90’s …I would love to read it.

    http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/08/26/home-improvement-tribute/

     

  6. I LOVED reading this! I was watching old reruns of Home Improvement and I started wondering what in the hell happened to JTT, which is how I stumbled onto this article. To be honest, I had almost totally forgotten about him. He used to be plastered all over my bedroom walls when I was in middle school and high school. JTT is exactly 8 days older than me, so we’ll both be turning 30 next month…crazy! It seems like he has totally dropped off the face of the earth. I haven’t really heard anything about him at all since the year 2000 and after that, nothing. I’ve searched the internet thoroughly for any recent info on him, but everything that comes up is at least several years old or even older. It’s just so strange to me that someone who was such as HUGE star/teen idol in the 90s/very early 2000s has totally disappeared and no one knows anything about his whereabouts. Oh well. Maybe he wanted it to be that way so he could have the private life that he never really had as a kid. The last I ever heard about him back in 2000 was that he was going to Harvard, but that’s the last I ever heard. I’d love to know where he is and what he’s been up to for the past decade or more!

  7. THANK YOU for your article! It’s neat to know that someone else gets those random thoughts about the past. Yesterday I out of nowhere I started thinking about where JTT is now. I too, was obsessed with JTT when I was a kid. There have never been any other obsessions with famous people except…Zac Hanson. lol I was going to marry Zac, “Mrs. Zac Hanson” that was the plan. Anyway, thank you for doing all that research so I didn’t have to.

    1. I cannot wait either! What was so crazy about his guest appearance was that I recognized his voice before anything else–I’m not sure I would have realized who it was if his voice had changed significantly, because he looks so different.

      I feel you on lacking in celebrity crushes. Do you ever crush on completely fictional characters from books though? Because I do that–Peter Pan was my first fictional crush, I think.

    1. I just googled him–I had no idea he passed away. I feel like a lot of male child/teen stars from the 90s had a very hard time transitioning. Maybe because it was sort of a heyday for that trope (what with boy bands and Tiger Beat being so popular), and there was too much competition/not enough roles when they got older?

  8. Michael Schoefling from Sixteen Candles, Mermaids, Vision Quest (one of my favorites since I was a wrestling manager in high school) and that one movie about diving horses.
    He pretty much dropped out of the whole Hollywood thing, took his ex-model wife to Vermont or Maine or somesuch and became a high-end furniture maker, so the rumor goes.
    My earlier crush was on Doogie’s pal Vinnie. I absolutely loved Vinnie!

  9. I don’t remember Devon Sawa doing anything more recent than the Eminem video, but according to IMDB he’s apparently out there and acting still.
     
    I had a brief crush on JTT but no one could compare to my love for Andrew Keegan.  My room was pretty much wall papered with his pictures from Tiger Beat.

    1. Tom and Huck was a good one. I was jealous of the actress who played Becky in that movie. I also remember my uncle taking me to the video store to pick out a rental; I really wanted Man of the House but I was really sneaky and tried to get my uncle to say he wanted to get it so my brother wouldn’t tease me about JTT when we went home.

      1. I loved Tom and Huck, and I had trouble picking who was the cuter of the two. JTT or Brad Renfro. Long hair just gets to me I guess. I mean, the hair they had in those movies just didn’t make sense at all… it looked to soft. LOL

  10. Other than a brief, mental dalliance with suit-wearing Joseph Gordon-Levitt circa Inception (you can keep your mopey, plaid-shirt-wearing JGL circa 500 Days of Summer), I haven’t experienced a major crush since JTT (please pardon my use of acronyms; they just feel right).

    I feel very, very old as I cannot separate Joseph-Gordon Levitt from the character he played on 3rd Rock From the Sun when he was about twelve-years-old. I think the 90s may have been better for teen idols than the 80s. At least, I don’t remember having many. (George Michael maybe? Well, I know what he’s been up to since his Tiger Beat days.) 

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