Childhood celebrity crushes who would have made awful boyfriends

Some survive junior high by avoiding eye contact or barricading themselves in bathroom stalls. I got through those lonely, love-deprived years by daydreaming about dating celebrities.

As an less-than-graceful cheerleader with a K-Mart rolling backpack and strawberry blond mane, my only shot at love as a pre-teen was through fantasies, where I could attend school dances with “Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz, share an air kiss with “Even Stevens” heartthrob Shia LaBeouf, ghost hunt with “The Sixth Sense” actor Haley Joel Osment, drive to the beach alongside James Franco, and read fiction beneath an oak tree with Milo Ventimiglia of “Gilmore Girls.”

Of course, many of these guys have been mediocre boyfriends to their significant others. They get into bar fights, operate vehicles intoxicated, allegedly abuse girlfriends, and have short fuses. In other words, I’ve been lucky not to date these actors, but my starry-eyed 12-year-old self held out for them for years, especially whenever male classmates approached me before pep rallies and said, “I thought cheerleaders were supposed to be hot.” Wounded, I vowed never to give up on the famous men below. Luckily, I broke that promise to myself. Here are some common 90s/early 2000s celebrity crushes who would have made awful boyfriends.


Frankie Muniz: Throughout sixth and seventh grade, I carried a crumpled Tiger Beat magazine cut-out of New Jersey native Frankie Muniz everywhere with me. During pre-Algebra class, I thought about accidentally bumping into Frankie in my home state of California. It was entirely possible, I told myself in between glances at the wrinkled, faded photo of my favorite “Malcolm in the Middle” cast member. Never mind that he worked and lived ten hours south of my house. Maybe Frankie would travel to my podunk hometown Scotts Valley to partake in the millionth “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake, spot me at Safeway, and instantly know I was the skinny redhead he’d been looking for his whole life. Call me a naive commoner, but Frankie once proposed to a random southern belle while filming a movie in New Orleans. Could’ve been me.

Muniz and girlfriend

Why he’d make a bad boyfriend: My inner 11-year-old cried earlier this year when TMZ reported that Frankie’s rage issues pushed him to his breaking point. After an explosive fight with girlfriend Elycia Turnbow, Frankie allegedly punched his sweetheart and placed a loaded gun on his head. Though Frankie and Elycia’s rep denied the assault and possible suicide threat, Frankie still isn’t in a good place. Last month, the new Arizona resident tweeted, “I just walked 4.3 miles in the AZ heat to get my motorcycle out of a lot that closed at 9. I need to make friends.” If I was still a University of Arizona student, I’d befriend loner Frankie, but first obtain a concealed carry license and master kickboxing.

James Franco: I first began jonesing for James in seventh grade, when family members said my Frankie Muniz obsession had gone from sweet to “Fatal Attraction” status creepy. Naturally, I sought the next best option in Hollywood crushes: James Franco from teen rom-com “Whatever It Takes.” In this movie, James portrayed the brotastic high school popular guy and introduced pre-teen viewers to the meaning of sexy. Two years later, he wore his versatility hat by portraying a moody, vengeful outcast in “Spider-Man.” As we’ve learned this year, there’s plenty more to James than his studly appearance. The “Sexiest Man Living 2009” earned degrees from Columbia University and UCLA and currently teaches at New York University. He was also nominated for the 2011 Best Actor Oscar. James’s resume is almost as pretty as his face.

Why he’d make a bad boyfriend: A few months after catatonically hosting the disastrous 2011 Academy Awards ceremony, James and girlfriend of five years, Ahna O’Reilly split. Considering his aloof, humorless, possibly drugged-out, and poorly received performance as Oscars presenter, the break up came as no surprise. While many anihilated James for putting on an embarrassing, apathetic act, he’s the victim of over-extension to some degree. James spread himself thin as a student at multiple prestigious institutions of higher education, working actor, instructor, and boy toy. Though undoubtedly swamped with numerous tasks, James has no excuse for falling asleep in class. Until he can manage his time, minimize his responsibilities, and show apprecaition for his opportunities, James is in no position to be anyone’s boo.

Shia LaBeouf: Finally a celebrity crush my mom liked. Towards the end of seventh grade, I regularly tuned in for Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens.” Upon watching an episode with me, my east coast-bred Jewish mother said, “Are you infatuated with another big time actor? At least this Shia boy is Jew. I approve.” The following summer, I visited a family friend who claimed to have Shia LaBeouf and Hilary Duff’s phone numbers. She refused to share their contact information with me, and as much as I wanted to respect her decision, I couldn’t pass up the chance to reach out to curly-haired Shia. The following morning, I rose at six, snatched my buddy’s cell phone from the kitchen, and jotted down the digits myself. Hilary’s number had been discontinued, but  the number for Shia definitely belonged to the actor himself. I was forwarded to his voicemail and, for a split second, considered leaving a message. Nervous about facing a harassment lawsuit, I hung up and wondered if he’d call back upon seeing the number on his missed call log. He didn’t.

Why he’d be a bad boyfriend: For starters, Shia doesn’t return missed calls. All jokes aside, he joins Frankie in allegedly having anger problems. Earlier his year, he was reportedly involved in a highly publicized bar brawl. This isn’t totally surprisingly though, as he’s been known to swear excessively and publicly belittle, pick fights with, and menace celebrities in his age group. In 2003, he slammed fellow Disney star Hilary Duff for landing a television special for her sixteenth birthday party, stating, “Seriously, somebody needs to do an intervention on that Hilary.” If you ask me, the then-17-year-old was blatantly demonstrating signs of resentment and jealousy towards an ass-kicking powerful young lady. Naturally, he continued to make unwarranted nasty comments about peers overtime. Last year, Shia said his films were so good, they’d top box office charts even with a mediocre leading man like Frankie Muniz. “[Y]ou could have put Frankie Muniz into any of the movies I’ve been in and those movies still would’ve still been No. 1,” LaBeouf said, adding that he wasn’t fearful his comments would lead to a Muniz confrontation at a party because, “I don’t go to many parties…and I really don’t hang out in Frankie Muniz-type zones.” Not only is he a drunk fighter, but sober bully. Seriously, Shia, get with the times.

Milo Ventimiglia: If you’ve ever been a faithful “Gilmore Girls” fan, you have a preference among the three love interests of Rory Gilmore (played by Alexis Bledel). Her first boyfriend Dean is a loyal, low-maintenance small-town boy but ultimately too country bumpkin for the Harvard-bound brunette. Her college flame Logan has money and stability yet lacks edge and empathy. Jess, portrayed by Milo Ventimiglia, is Stars Hollow’s resident bad boy who gets into fights, commits petty theft, misses school, and breaks Rory’s heart. In spite of his reputation, they have incredible chemistry and share a hunger for reading. They devour books and have creative goals, so it’s heart-warming that their off-screen counter-parts developed a steady relationship. It seems like a dream come true: The tall, dark, and handsome Italian knows how to make a girl feel special on and off camera.

Why he’d be a bad boyfriend: Before ending things with Alexis, Milo reportedly called her the “c” word. Enough said.

Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis in 1999 movie, "The Sixth Sense"

Haley Joel Osment: If you have half a heart, you longed to hug his disturbed, innocent character in “The Sixth Sense.” Playing a pre-teen who communicates with spirits is no simple task, and he could have easily needed therapy after portraying such a tormented little boy. Since childhood, Haley has possessed chilling acting talent, a memorable voice, and a boyishly cute face. Even at eleven, I knew he’d grow into a dapper young man.

Why he’d be a bad boyfriend: Shocker of the century: I had zero insight into men in sixth grade. In the early 2000s, Haley beefed up his look and acquired sex appeal, but soon found himself in the middle of trouble. In 2006, the then-18-year-old was arrested for a DUI and marijuana possession. The actor reportedly drove into a mailbox, flipped his car, and broke a rib. At the time of the accident, his blood alcohol-content was more than double the legal limit. I don’t disparage partying, but expected more from Haley. Though he went on to study at New York University, the whole “troubled, alcohol-chugging former child star” path is trite and beneath this Academy Award nominated actor. Haley should have known better. Also, celebrities seriously need to get the hell out of NYU. Know your place – Hollywood – and stay put.


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