We met Mean Girls‘ Aaron Samuels back in 2004 when the iconic film hit movie screens everywhere. Yet and still, the actor who once portrayed Aaron, Jonathan Bennett, is unable to shed the recognition he earned for starring in the classic teen comedy. From the Starbucks baristas who write “Aaron Samuels” on his coffee cups to the people who shout quotes at him on the street, fans will forever think of Bennett as the Mean Girls heartthrob, the actor explained on the Today show in 2018.

Bennett always knew he wanted to be an actor, but he didn’t get his big break until he starred in Tina Fey’s Mean Girls. “I owe my life to Tina Fey,” Bennett said on AfterBuzz TV’s Spotlight On. “I owe every ounce of success I have to Tina Fey and Mark Walters and Lorne Michaels.”

Even after the movie was a massive hit, Bennett has stayed busy. Whatever happened to the actor who played Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls? He made more than try to make fetch happen; he made his dreams a reality.

Playing Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls changed Jonathan Bennett's life

When Jonathan Bennett booked the role of teen hunk Aaron Samuels, he had been out of high school for nearly five years and was playing a character who was pretty much his alter ego. “I grew up a theater nerd and a drama club nerd, and here I am getting to play, like, what I always wanted to be, which is like the cool jock guy,” he admitted on the Today show.

Not only was it his very first movie, but Bennett was starring alongside teen icon Lindsay Lohan and famed comedic writers Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels. It was a lot of pressure, naturally. “You’re just always nervous that you’re not good enough,” Bennett explained. Obviously, though, he was grool enough. The movie made his career.  

Bennett never dreamed that Mean Girls was going to be as successful as it was when it first hit theaters in 2004. “I remember my manager at the time saw a [preview] screening and said, ‘Just so you know, come opening weekend, your life’s gonna be different for the rest of your life,'” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. “I didn’t really believe him, but sure enough, he was right.”

After Mean Girls, Jonathan Bennett went on to star alongside his idols

After Mean Girls, Jonathan Bennett couldn’t help that he was so popular. In 2005, he scored a role in the the popular family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Bennett told AfterBuzz TV’s Spotlight On that “Chevy Chase and Steve Martin were [his] all-time favorites growing up.” When he showed up to set on day one, he saw his chair next to Martin’s and took a photo that he later hung up in his living room. “Literally that was just one of those moments where, like, ‘Okay, I can die now,'” he admitted.

Later, Bennett also went on to star in Van Wilder: Freshman Year. Weirdly enough, the day before he started shooting, he ran into Ryan Reynolds, who plays the original Van Wilder, at the gym. “[I] just said, ‘I want to apologize in advance for screwing up the role, because you were a legend …,'” Bennett explained.

Straying from comedy, Bennett began to take some serious roles too and revealed that there was one actress he hoped to one day star alongside: Piper Chapman from Orange is the New Black. “I’m obsessed with how good she is,” he revealed to AfterBuzz.

Jonathan Bennett taught spin classes in Los Angeles

When Jonathan Bennett isn’t appearing on our screens, he’s busy working out. In 2012, staying active became even more important to him. “After my mom died … I got into fitness really, really, really heavily, because group fitness was the only thing that made me able to deal with it,” the actor revealed on AfterBuzz TV’s Spotlight On.  

Not unlike many Los Angeles residents, Bennett decided to join a local spin class. It helped him to relieve his anger and get him through a particularly hard time. While it’s not unusual for an actor to take spin classes, it is unusual for an actor to become a spin instructor — but that’s just what Bennett did. Bennett got certified in 2013, about six months or so after starting classes himself. “I wanted to, you know, kind of give it back to try and inspire people,” he said of the same way that so many instructors at FlyWheel Sports had inspired him. “I felt like it was what I needed to do at the time.”

Jonathan Bennett went from Aaron Samuels on Mean Girls to his authentic self on Copycat

In 2014, actor Jonathan Bennett thought it was best to be himself and took on his first hosting gig for MTV. “We are bringing music back to the network,” he told The Cinema Source. He wasn’t the one singing, though that would have been totally fetch. Instead, he narrated Copycat, a television competition where singing superfans do their best to mimic their musical idols. Contestants battled it out against others for a $5,000 prize. “If you took American Idol, The Voice, and Jerry Springer and combined it into one show, you get Copycat,” Bennett explained.

This was the first time fans saw a drastically different “Aaron Samuels.” When Bennett played the popular teen that all the mean girls were crushing on, he had to get into character. As host, there seemed to be a bit less pressure. “What you do is right because you were hired to be you,” he told AfterBuzz TV’s Spotlight On. Unfortunately, though, the series lasted only one season.

Mean Girls' Jonathan Bennett competed on Dancing with the Stars

Jonathan Bennett took a stab at dancing in 2014, competing as a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Unfortunately, he was sent home in the sixth week of Season 19, according to ABC News. “I never considered myself a dancer,” Bennett explained to The Blade. “In fact, if you watch my plays in high school you can tell I would never consider myself a dancer.”

Nevertheless, he took the chance to be on the successful show for a special reason. Just a year after his mother passed away, Bennett tragically lost his father to brain cancer. While in hospice, though, Bennett’s father would watch the competitive dance series. “I know how badly he loved the show and how thrilled he would be that I’m on it,” Bennett admitted to the publication.

Many contestants have divulged how difficult and exhausting being on Dancing with the Stars truly is, but it’s apparent that Bennett put everything he had into it. Though he didn’t walk away with the mirrorball trophy, he did walk away 14 pounds lighter and with a new lease on life.

Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett became a Food Network host

“I love any opportunity to be my cheesy, nutty self,” Jonathan Bennett told TV Insider, and where else can you find those same ingredients other than the Food Network? In 2015, the actor picked up a hosting gig on Cake Wars, a baking competition featuring some of the best in the business. Bennett quite literally got to have his cake and eat it too. “When you’re at home watching, and you’re like, ‘I wonder if the cakes are good?’ Yes!” he confirmed to People.

The limit apparently does not exist when it comes to baking battles. The show quickly exploded on the Food Network and Bennett was also asked to host Cupcake Wars, Halloween Wars, and Holiday Wars. He, of course, stayed busy between the baking competitions and making movies, so when does he possibly have time to sleep? “The first hour, they don’t need me,” he told KTLA 5 of the Food Network series. “They’re mixing batter. They’re doing things like that.” It finally gives him some free time. “Truth be told, the first hour, I usually take a nap,” he admitted.

Jonathan Bennett wrote a Mean Girls-themed cookbook

Ever since 2018, fans can watch Mean Girls while enjoying some tasty drinks and meals courtesy of The Burn Cookbook. It all started while the Food Network host was enjoying guacamole with a friend, who decided to add apples and pomegranate seeds in to create a new concoction. According to Jonathan Bennett, his friend told him, “Try this. It’s not regular guac. It’s cool guac.”

Recognizing the iconic Mean Girls reference, Bennett got the idea to create a parody collection of recipes and the cleverly-titled cookbook was born. “I was like, ‘Fetch-uccine Alfredo. We have to make Fetch-uccine happen,'” he told People. The book contains recipes for everything from Just Stab Cesar Salad, Gretchen’s Weiners, and You Go, Glenn (Hot) Cocoa.  

Just like Aaron Samuels who only cares about school, his mom, and his friends, Bennett is no different. His cookbook includes a special tribute to his mother. “My mom passed away and she had all these recipes that were amazing,” Bennett told the Today show, adding, “I wanted to make sure those recipes didn’t just disappear. I wanted to make sure that they lived on forever.”

Jonathan Bennett reprised his role as Aaron Samuels in a music video

When Jonathan Bennett was asked to be a part of Ariana Grande’s music video in 2018, he thought it was a joke. “Because why would Ariana Grande want me in a music video?” he mused in an interview with Billboard. “I responded, ‘Shouldn’t you have a 21-year-old with abs?'”

Turns out, the pop star was planning to spoof Mean Girls for the video version of her song “Thank U, Next” and needed the actor who played Aaron Samuels to make it complete. Bennett was all in. “Who knew shooting Mean Girls years ago that, like, fifteen years later … It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” he told KTLA 5.

Though Grande isn’t an OG member of the Plastics, she’s still wildly popular. Her hit had the biggest music video debut in YouTube history with 55.4 million views within its first 24 hours online, according to Variety.

Jonathan Bennett competed on this show alongside his Mean Girls costar's mom

While Cady Heron and Regina George fought over Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls, it turns out that the actor who plays Aaron has some competitive spirit too. At the beginning of 2019, Jonathan Bennett appeared on Celebrity Big Brother Season 2 for the chance to win half a million bucks. Unfortunately, he was the very first house guest to be told “you can’t sit with us!”

The other contestants seemed to have formed an alliance against the actor, but what really made him the first to be eliminated was standing up for one of his housemates. Coincidentally enough, it was his Mean Girls costar’s mom, Dina Lohan. “It’s Lindsay [Lohan]’s mom, I grew up with her,” he told TV Insider. “You don’t throw your childhood friend’s mom under the boss on Celebrity Big Brother.”  

Though Bennett doesn’t regret his choice, he still thinks he deserves more time on television. “I would love to do another reality show,” he said. “Anyone reading this, send the offers my way because I love entertaining America.”

Jonathan Bennett changed up his Aaron Samuels hairdo

In April 2019, Mean Girls celebrated its 15th birthday — and yes, we feel old. Jonathan Bennett took to Instagram in a paid partnership with popular hair care brand Chi for the film’s anniversary. “I guess [Lindsay Lohan] was right, my hair does look sexy pushed back! [Fifteen] years later it still does, thanks to [Chi],” the actor captioned his video ad.

Bennett went on to explain in the post that fans quote the classic movie to him every day when he’s out and about, but the one reference he gets the most is the iconic sexy hair line. “Thanks! It’s Chi,” is his response. Of course, the promotional video would not be complete without him getting hit by a bus at the end.

The following April, Bennett decided to trade in his pushed back, dark hair and took to Instagram to debut the ‘do. As his video revealed, Bennett bleached his signature locks platinum blond, not unlike Aaron Samuels’ ex-girlfriend Regina George. Hmm

Jonathan Bennett released a Mean Girls-inspired clothing collection

In 2019, Jonathan Bennett partnered with Tipsy Elves to create his own Mean Girls-inspired clothing line. “I think if there’s any clothing company that encapsulates me as who I am as a person, it’s this brand because all their clothes are funny, a little obnoxious and really loud and bright,” Bennett told TooFab. His tanks play on iconic lines from the movie, such as “On Wednesdays we wear rainbows” and “Too gay to function.” Ten percent of all the sales also go to The Trevor Project, which helps LGBTQ youth.

Bennett publicly came out in 2017 and hopes his clothing inspires others to be themselves too. “I’m also proud of Mean Girls because it was — for this generation — one of the first movies to have a predominantly gay character that was one of the leads,” Bennett explained. “[Damian] was such an important part to a lot of high school kids for this generation.” As of this writing, Bennett’s collection remains available for purchase. Get in loser, we’re going shopping!

Mean Girls' Jonathan Bennett was a red carpet host at the 2020 Golden Globes

In January 2020, Jonathan Bennett was tasked with cohosting the Golden Globes’ Red Carpet Pre-Show. And, really, is there anyone better qualified to interview fabulously dressed celebrities than Bennett? Though he had already starred alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names in and since Mean Girls made its debut back in 2004, Bennett was psyched to see Brad Pitt and Dakota Fanning, among others, as they made their way onto the red carpet.

“Dakota Fanning is so grown up!” the actor revealed on Instagram Live (via YouTube). Just as it was hard for Bennett to believe Fanning had become an adult, many viewers everywhere were thinking how much Aaron Samuels had grown up since attending North Shore High School. Considering CBS asked Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host the 2021 Golden Globes, the network must love the cast of Mean Girls just as much as we do. Here’s to hoping we get to see Bennett at future pre-shows!

Jonathan Bennett remained close with some of his Mean Girls costars

Though Gretchen Weiners and Aaron Samuels never ended up together on screen (after all, she famously says, “Ex-boyfriends are just off-limits to friends. I mean, that’s just, like, the rules of feminism!”), the two actors spend a lot of time together in real life. “Lacey [Chabert] has been one of my spiritual rocks, [through] the ups and downs of the industry, the loss of both my parents, and everything in between,” Jonathan Bennett gushed in an Instagram post. Since wrapping on their iconic movie in 2004, Bennett has even joined actress Chabert in four additional movies.

Despite not hanging out with Damian on the grounds of North Shore High School, Bennett has also since become close with the Mean Girls actor, Daniel Franzese. “I think that’s what I love most about the movie, not only did it bring a lot of joy to people’s hearts … but it also had me meet two people who became two of my best friends,” he told LifeMinute TV. Bennett also revealed in the 2019 interview that he sees both Chabert and Franzese on a “weekly basis.” We think Gretchen’s father, the inventor of Toaster Strudel, would be pleased to hear about this.

Jonathan Bennett wants to be in a Mean Girls sequel

“I think it’s time, guys,” Jonathan Bennett said of a long-awaited Mean Girls sequel in an interview with Extra TV. Yes, there was technically a sequel released in 2011, but it didn’t star the original cast of Mean Girls.

Even though the Mean Girls stars are far beyond their high school days, Bennett thinks it would be perfect to see where the mean girls ended up. “How cool would it be if the cast has grown up, and they are the parents to a new group of Plastics entering high school,” Bennett mused to Hollywood Life. And what exactly would Aaron Samuels be up to? “I think that he would be a high school math teacher and I think that is the irony of the whole thing,” Bennett said.

Although not quite a sequel, a movie based on the Broadway musical Mean Girls is coming, Tina Fey confirmed to Variety in January 2020. Unfortunately, that probably means Bennett and the rest of the OG cast aren’t going to be a part of it, which is so not grool.

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