Veronica Mars featured many future famous faces, including star Kristen Bell, who would go on to become a bona fide rom-com lead, and season two regular Tessa Thompson, who was recently cast as the female lead in Thor: Ragnarok. The show also featured some cast members who were already stars in their own right before it began, including Galaxy Quest‘s Enrico Colantoni and Napoleon Dynamite‘s Tina Majorino.
However, the show is also well known for its many guest stars who have become hugely famous actors. Amanda Seyfried, who played Veronica’s ill-fated best friend Lilly Kane, would go on to appear in films like Mean Girls and Mamma Mia!, while Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Charisma Carpenter had an arc in the second and third season. Sexiest Man Alive Harry Hamlin as well as his wife Lisa Rinna have also made appearances on the show.
There are many more future stars who have appeared in one or two episodes of the series. Here are the top 20 Veronica Mars guest stars that you may have forgotten about.
20. Jessica Chastain
Two-time Academy Award nominee and Julliard grad Jessica Chastain stopped by the UPN before heading out to pick up her dozens of awards, playing Veronica’s pregnant neighbor in a season one episode. Chastain’s played Veronica’s neighbor who has a bond with the teen, as shown in a cute scene they share at the beginning of the episode. However, she, like everyone in Neptune, has her problems, and it turns out that she is the victim of abuse from her stepdad, who Keith ends up shooting.
Chastain bounced back from the dramatic part, though, going on to appear on a few episodes of Law & Order: Trial By Jury and other TV shows before landing her breakout role in Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter. She has also had memorable turns in The Tree of Life, Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, and The Martian, as well as The Help and Zero Dark Thirty, both of which earned her Oscar nominations.
19. Krysten Ritter
Jessica Jones herself, Krysten Ritter, got her start at Neptune High, playing Gia Goodman. Gia was the rich, quirky daughter of Woody Goodman, Mayor of Neptune and secret child predator. She had a rough time in high school and after dealing with her dad’s crimes, but it was her own sordid past that would end up leading to her death in the Veronica Mars movie.
After her role on Veronica Mars (pre-movie), Ritter moved into her rom-com sidekick phase, with appearances in films like 27 Dresses, What Happens in Vegas and Confessions of a Shopaholic, before joining her very brief Veronica Mars co-star Aaron Paul as his ill-fated love interest in Breaking Bad. She then landed her starring role in the ABC comedy Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, a show that only aired for two seasons but will live on forever in our hearts.
Of course, the actress is probably best known for her breakout role as the titular character in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, where she showed off her tough side and earned herself nominations for a Critics’ Choice Award, a Dorian Award and a Saturn Award, as well as a win at the Webby Awards.
18. Theo Rossi
Future Sons of Anarchy star Theo Rossi appeared as a troubled teen at Neptune High (although what teen at Neptune High isn’t troubled?) who is framed by an ATF agent for trying to plant a bomb in the school. His appearance in the episode was memorable, but the episode will probably always be remembered more for the first time that Veronica and Logan kissed.
Rossi, meanwhile, graduated from Neptune and moved on to a starring role on the FX series, starring for seven seasons before (spoiler alert) his character’s untimely end in the penultimate episode. Rossi has also appeared in Cloverfield, Low Riders, Without A Trace, Lost, Bones, Jericho, and more. He is set to appear in a series regular role as the villain Shades in the upcoming Marvel series Luke Cage on Netflix, a role which could potentially reunite him with Veronica Mars guest star Krysten Ritter, who plays Cage’s love interest and fellow superhero Jessica Jones.
17. Jonathan Bennett
Aaron freakin’ Samuels stopped by Neptune High before stopping the hearts of high schoolers everywhere in Mean Girls, and yes, he did look sexy with his hair pushed back. He played Casey, a student at Veronica’s high school who accidentally joined a cult (whoops!). Luckily, our favorite blonde was there to save him (and use him for a favor in later episodes, because Veronica’s help doesn’t come for free), and Bennett was able to continue on in a very successful acting career.
Outside of his famous appearance in Tina Fey’s 2004 film, a role which earned him two Teen Choice Award nominations, the actor has also appeared in films like Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Memorial Day, Lovewrecked, Van Wilder: Freshman Year, and Deadly Retreat, as well as TV shows like Smallville, The Glades and Awkward. He was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2014 and is currently hosting Cake Wars on the Food Network.
16. Max Greenfield
Greenfield made hearts swoon in his role as Leo D’Amato on Veronica Mars, somehow making a 20-something cop dating a high school senior not seem as horribly creepy as it should. Unfortunately, he and Veronica were not meant to be, but Greenfield landed on his feet. The star was just getting started in his career and, after a memorable appearance as a young Sandy Cohen for about five seconds in that fourth season flashback episode of The O.C., he started to land some pretty big TV roles.
First, it was a multiple episode arc as assistant Nick Pepper on Ugly Betty; then, an appearance as Calvin’s boyfriend Michael on Greek; then, a series of one-off guest starring episodes on shows like Raising the Bar, Melrose Place, Castle, Lie to Me, and No Ordinary Family. The actor finally landed his breakout role in 2011 on FOX’s New Girl, playing the type-A Schmidt, a role which earned him an Emmy nomination. The actor has also recently appeared on multiple episodes of The Mindy Project and American Horror Story: Hotel, as well as the 2014 Veronica Mars movie and the Oscar-winning film The Big Short.
15. Michael Cera
Cera played a tour guide at Hearst College during Veronica’s first visit, and, you guessed it, he was pretty freaking awkward. Cera has used that awkward persona to pretty much define his career, appearing as the awkward guy in comedies, dramas and everything in between. He broke onto the scene with his role as George Michael Bluth in the critically acclaimed comedy Arrested Development, appearing on Veronica Mars while the show was in production along with co-star Alia Shawkat.
He then went on to have memorable starring roles in films like Superbad, Juno, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Youth in Revolt, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and more, including an appearance as an exaggerated party animal version of himself in James Franco and Seth Rogen’s This Is The End. More recently, Cera can be heard in Sausage Party and will be featured in the upcoming The Lego Batman Movie, How to Be a Latin Lover, Blazing Samurai, the Twin Peaks reboot and more.
14. Alyson Hannigan
Hannigan took a very dramatic turn for Veronica Mars, playing Logan’s histrionic older sister. The actress has shown in numerous parts that, despite being mostly known for her comedy, she can pull off an intense scene, making audiences cry many a time in her role of Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Outside of that role, she is well known for her role as band camp lover Michelle in the American Pie films, including the recent 2012 American Reunion, as well as her starring part of Lily Aldrin on the long-running CBS series How I Met Your Mother, for which she won a People’s Choice Award. Since the series ended in 2014, she has been fairly quiet, appearing on episodes of Hollywood Game Night and The McCarthys, as well as the upcoming drama Do You Take This Man with fellow Veronica Mars guest stars Alona Tal and Jonathan Bennett. You can also see her in the upcoming The First Wives Club remake on TV Land.
13. Leighton Meester
Carrie Bishop was known as the gossip queen of Neptune High, so it only makes sense that she would be played by Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester. Meester made a few appearances on the show while Veronica was in high school before disappearing in the college years. Although her character Carrie came back from the movie, with Veronica investigating her murder, Meester unfortunately did not make an appearance. To be fair, though, she was quite busy. The actress starred as fan favorite Blair Waldorf for all six seasons of The CW’s Gossip Girl (narrated by Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell), as well as appearing in horror film The Roommate and comedies like Monte Carlo and The Oranges. She also has a budding music career, releasing an EP in 2014 and a number of singles. Meester also got married to The O.C. star Adam Brody in 2014 and had her first child, a daughter named Arlo Day, in August of 2015.
12. Matt Czuchry
Czuchry played one of the many characters contributing to Logan Echolls’ family drama, starring in a third season episode in which Logan tries to find his illegitimate half-brother. Czuchry’s character pretends to be the missing Charlie Stone, but it turns out that he’s actually a journalist just trying to find some scoop on Logan for a story, which the young Echolls is not very happy about. Luckily, Logan eventually finds his real half-brother (played by 90210 and The Blacklist‘s Ryan Eggold), and Czuchry was able to escape and go on to do bigger and better things.
After a recurring role on Friday Night Lights in 2008, he landed the role of Cary Agos on CBS drama The Good Wife. Although he became very popular with fans on the show, he is still best known for his pre-Veronica Mars role as Rory’s love interest Logan Huntzberger in Gilmore Girls, which he is set to reprise in the upcoming Netflix revival.
11. Adam Scott
Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation has quite the sordid past besides just his stint as a failed teen mayor. Adam Scott appeared on Veronica Mars in the show’s first season, playing a teacher at Neptune High who Carrie Bishop (Leighton Meester) accuses of getting her pregnant. Although Veronica at first thinks that he’s not guilty due to Carrie’s fishy evidence, she eventually realizes that he truly was the culprit, just with a different girl— Carrie’s friend, who she was trying to protect by going public with her story. Although Scott turned out to be guilty on Veronica Mars, in real life, things have worked out pretty well for the actor.
Aside from his starring role on Amy Poehler’s NBC sitcom, he has also appeared in films like Knocked Up, Step Brothers, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Sleeping With Other People, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, and Krampus, as well as TV shows like Party Down, Burning Love, and Angie Tribeca. He is set to appear in the upcoming HBO series Big Little Lies.
10. Alia Shawkat
Alia Shawkat took a big departure from her comedic roots in her appearance on Veronica Mars, playing one of the first victims of the serial rapist at Hearst College. She is better known for playing characters without such a tragic back story, with Shawkat’s most memorable role being Maebe Funke in Arrested Development. She played the role for all four seasons, winning a Young Artist Award for her portrayal in 2005 and earning three Screen Actors Guild nominations for best ensemble with her co-stars. Her Veronica Mars appearance also happens to fall in the same episode as co-star Michael Cera’s, although the two didn’t appear in any scenes together.
Shawkat has also appeared in films like Deck the Halls, Prom Wars, Whip It, Ruby Sparks, The To Do List, The Finals Girls, and Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, as well as TV shows like Drunk History, Robot Chicken, Getting On, Portlandia, and Broad City.
9. Joss Whedon
Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and future The Avengers director Joss Whedon was a huge fan of Veronica Mars while the series was airing, which makes sense, considering Veronica’s spirited personality makes her basically a teen PI version of Buffy Summers. This resulted in Whedon making a cameo on the series as a worker at a car rental store (in the same episode, fun fact, that America’s Next Top Model contestant Kim Stolz got to cameo in after winning a contest on the Tyra Banks-hosted show).
Whedon, who created the popular 1997 cult hit Buffy and its spin-off Angel, is also known in television for the short-lived but well loved Firefly, as well as creating Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In film, he has written Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Cabin in the Woods, and co-wrote Pixar’s Toy Story, which earned him an Oscar nomination. More recently, he is known for his film collaborations with Marvel, writing and directing 2012’s The Avengers and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
8. Jamie Chung
Jamie Chung’s appearance on Veronica Mars, her first ever credited acting role, was very, very brief, but is still important considering how successful the actress has become. The Real World: San Diego alum made an appearance on the show’s third season as a Hearst partygoer who interacted with Veronica for a hot second before disappearing forever. The series marks Chung’s first acting credit after appearing on the Real World and spin off Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II.
She then moved on to having a brief appearance in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry before truly launching her career as an actress by appearing in films like Sorority Row, Grown Ups, Sucker Punch, and The Hangover Part II, as well as TV shows like Greek, Castle and Grey’s Anatomy. Some of her notable recent roles include appearing as Mulan on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, starring in the short-lived Alfonso Cuaron NBC series Believe, and voicing a character in Big Hero 6. She is currently appearing in the Hulu series Resident Advisors, which released its first season in April of 2015, and is set to star in the upcoming Office Christmas Party.
7. Rider Strong
The Boy Meets World star played a different kind of character on Veronica Mars, guest starring as Rafe, a slightly sadistic student who takes a prisoner/guard role-playing game a bit too far with his extreme bullying of a fellow student (played by Freaks and Geeks‘ Samm Levine). Strong is best known, though, for his role as Cory’s best friend on the long-running ABC sitcom and its Disney Channel spin-off Girl Meets World.
He was a very popular actor in his youth, appearing on shows like Home Improvement, Party of Five, Kim Possible, Law & Order Criminal Intent and more. He also appeared in films like the cult classic Cabin Fever and its sequel, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, as well as Borderland and Pulse 3: Invasion.
More recently, he has appeared on episodes of Bones and Castle and starred in 2013’s Too Late with Teen Wolf‘s Crystal Reed and Dollhouse‘s Dichen Lachman (plus brief Veronica Mars star Sydney Tamiia Poitier, who appeared as Veronica’s journalism teacher in the show’s first season).
6. Lucy Lawless
Lucy Lawless played a FBI agent working to hunt down Duncan when he flees with he and Meg’s daughter at the end of the second season. Unfortunately, despite her badass status, she wasn’t a match for Veronica and Duncan ended up escaping into the ether forever. Lawless is best known for playing the title role on cult classic Xena: Warrior Princess, a series which in many ways could be considered a spiritual precursor to Veronica Mars. Lawless has also appeared in multiple episodes of Battlestar Galactica, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Spartacus: Vengeance, Parks and Recreation and more, in addition to guest appearances on Burn Notice, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Flight of the Conchords. More recently she can be seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Salem and Ash vs. Evil Dead. Despite the actress’ long career in television, the actress has also appeared in some films, including Spider-Man, EuroTrip, Bedtime Stories and Justice League: The New Frontier, where she voiced Wonder Woman.
5. Kevin Smith
Famed actor, producer, director and writer Kevin Smith was a huge fan of Veronica Mars while it was on the air, calling it “the best show on television right now, and proof that TV can be far better than cinema.” It makes sense, then, that he made a guest starring appearance on the show, in a small role as a gas station attendant in the season two premiere.
Smith is well known for writing, directing and starring in 1994’s Clerks, as well as the Jay and Silent Bob movies. He has also written Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Dogma, Chasing Amy, and Mallrats, and has directed episodes of The Flash and Reaper. Smith is also known for making cameos on TV series, appearing on The Mindy Project, The Big Bang Theory, Degrassi: The Next Generation, and more. In non-Silent Bob-related film acting roles, he has appeared in Southland Tales, Live Free or Die Hard, and Yoga Hosers.
4. Aaron Paul
Before he landed his famous role as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul was just another young actor making the Hollywood guest star rounds. He made appearances on shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, The X-Files, Guiding Light, Criminal Minds, Bones,and many, many more, including a stop by Rob Thomas’ famous UPN drama. He played a very creepy potential murderer who liked to hide in his very messy apartment and watch porn all day, which did not sit well with the Mars family. Luckily, Paul made it out of the series intact, and went on to become a huge star.
His role as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad was incredibly popular with fans; so popular, in fact, that creator Vince Gilligan (luckily) scrapped plans to kill him off after the first season. Paul was widely praised for his performance, earning three Emmy awards, as well as a number of other nominations and wins. Since the show ended, he has voiced Todd Chavez on BoJack Horseman and starred in Hulu’s The Path, as well as appeared in films like Need for Speed, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and Central Intelligence.
3. Armie Hammer
Armie Hammer appeared as a football player who had to ask for the titular teen PI’s help after his playbook went missing in Veronica Mars’ third season. Of course, as with all Veronica Mars cases, there was more to it than just what you see on the surface. Veronica Mars was one of a handful of TV shows that Hammer guest starred on before he landed his breakout role in The Social Network, with the actor also appearing on Arrested Development, Desperate Housewives, Reaper and Gossip Girl.
After playing the Winklevoss twins in the Facebook film, Hammer starred as Clyde Tolson in J. Edgar and Prince Andrew Alcott in Mirror Mirror. He then appeared in notorious Johnny Depp flop The Lone Ranger, and had a cameo as himself in the Entourage movie. He then moved onto more dramatic fare, appearing in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Birth of a Nation. He is set to appear in the upcoming films Call Me By Your Name and Hotel Mumbai.
2. Paris Hilton
Veronica Mars is known for some of its odder cameos, specifically the strange partnership with America’s Next Top Model that resulted in numerous contestants from The CW series appearing on the noir drama. However, perhaps the weirdest and most random cameo was that of socialite Paris Hilton, who starred as an 09-er Caitlin Ford in the series’ second ever episode. Unfortunately for Caitlin, things quickly took a turn towards the un-fabulous in her life after her secret relationship with Weevil’s cousin was exposed, resulting in a blow-out fight between him and her boyfriend Logan and her alienation from her friends. Caitlin subsequently disappeared from Neptune High, but Hilton didn’t disappear from the spotlight.
Hilton has appeared in a number of reality series, including The Simple Life, Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, and many, many more, as well as acted in TV shows and movies like Repo! The Genetic Opera, The O.C., and Supernatural. She also has a career in music and as a model.
1. Paul Rudd
Paul Rudd played an aging rockstar coping with his decline in popularity on Veronica Mars, embodying a problem that Rudd has never had to deal with in his decades-long career. The actor began appearing in films in the 90’s, quickly landing the role of nerdy-but-cute Josh in the classic Clueless. He also had early roles in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, The Cider House Rules and Wet Hot American Summer before landing his famous role as Brian Fantana in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which he reprised in the 2013 sequel.
After that, he became a rom-com staple, appearing in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, This is 40, and more. More recently, he lent his voice to The Little Prince and Sausage Party and appeared in Netflix’s The Fundamentals of Caring with Selena Gomez, all while playing the superhero Scott Lang, also known as Ant-Man, in the titular Ant-Man and 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. With an Ant-Man sequel coming and Rudd still consistently booking roles in indies and comedies, it’s unlikely that the actor will be going anywhere anytime soon.