Thanks to the massive success of Laguna Beach in the early 2000s, Lauren Conrad quickly achieved reality TV fame. So, it wasn’t terribly surprising when she returned to MTV on The Hills, a show centered around her life and relationships as she went off to fashion school. The spin-off ended up churning out a few other reality careers for its cast — Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, and Brody Jenner, to name a few — but the show’s main roster wasn’t the only place viewers could find celebrities. Quite a few pretty well-known stars actually ended up making cameos on The Hills, for one reason or another.
Some of the celebs who appeared on the show were already famous; others didn’t go on to become big names in Hollywood until years after they were on The Hills, and looking back, it’s wild to think they were on the show before their careers really took off.
Here are the biggest stars who popped up on The Hills over the series’ six-season run.
Marc Jacobs worked with Lauren Conrad
All of Lauren Conrad’s dreams came true when Teen Vogue sent her to New York to help with Fashion Week prep in Season 3, and while she was there, she happened to cross paths with Marc Jacobs. He popped in to say hi while she was at his offices, but given that she was a lowly intern — and did not yet have her own incredibly successful fashion line — it is no surprise that the moment was pretty quick. Even so, it was still a moment, and viewers got a chance to watch their brief but major interaction play out.
A year later, Conrad admitted in an interview with FabSugar (via The Cut) that she felt “starstruck” when she met Jacobs. “I got so nervous when I saw him that I didn’t really know what to do,” she admitted. “I was trying to act cool, but I didn’t even stand up to shake his hand. I actually came off a little bit too cold, like I didn’t really care and I felt kind of bad.” Hey, nerves get us all. Conrad should forgive herself, but she shouldn’t forget that moment.
Lady Gaga was on The Hills before she was mega famous
It’s hard to imagine Lady Gaga as anything but a superstar, but when she was on The Hills during its fourth season in 2008, a majority of people did not know who she was. In the episode, Gaga performed at an event at Area Nightclub with Interscope Records, and Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port were there with their boss from People’s Revolution, Kelly Cutrone. During the show, Gaga had a major issue with her zipper, and Conrad and Port stepped in to save the day with their fashion know-how. Gaga’s style has always been a significant part of her stage show, and this performance on The Hills was no different.
After her ensemble was rescued, Gaga went on to perform “Love Game” for the crowd, and Port and Conrad got to be the heroes of the evening. At the time, they did not know they were working with a future legend, but surely now they can appreciate just how huge that moment really was.
Ryan Cabrera made several appearances on the show
Many of the celebrity cameos on The Hills went by too fast; if you got up to grab a snack, you would probably miss them. However, that wasn’t the case for Ryan Cabrera. The “On the Way Down” singer had a pretty big role on the Laguna Beach spin-off. Cabrera was in an on-again, off-again relationship with The Hills star Audrina Patridge, he ended up appearing on several episodes of the reality show. He would later admit in an interview with Too Fab that he and Patridge didn’t share as much as MTV producers may have wanted.
“What happens in our real life stays in our real life,” he said. “I’m not a public person like that. Like, even that first season that we did, we let [cameras] be around, but like, you know, it’s stories. What really happened, no one will ever know and no one needs to know, you know? That’s our actual life.”
Cabrera was back on The Hills: New Beginnings in 2019, and he and Patridge seemed to get on swimmingly. That said, both have moved on from their past romance. Us Weekly reported in October 2020 that Patridge was linked to Rod Stewart’s son Sean Stewart, Cabrera shared on Instagram the following month that he proposed to WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss.
Kim Kardashian popped up in a deleted scene
Kim Kardashian is arguably one of the biggest stars to ever appear on The Hills. Her cameo happened right around the same time that Keeping Up With The Kardashians was just getting started on E!, but unfortunately, the moment ended up on the cutting room floor. Though Kardashian filmed The Hills scene in the mid-aughts, it did not actually air until it was included in 2016’s The Hills: That Was Then, This Is Now special. Looking back at just how famous she eventually became, we have to wonder if the editors regretted that omission!
In the scene, we see Kardashian at Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag’s house party with stepbrother Brody Jenner and reality TV magic ensued. Montag took the future breaker of the internet to look at their pet jellyfish, Jenner and Kardashian discussed their plans for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, and Montag asked Kardashian if she plans on going to the MTV Video Music Awards. Not groundbreaking stuff, but still pretty cool to see Kardashian on the Laguna Beach offshoot before she would go on to become one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
Vanderpump Rules heads for The Hills
Today, we know Tom Sandoval as a cocktail recipe author and star of Vanderpump Rules, but before he found a home on Bravo, he was actually spotted on The Hills. His cameo was super quick — and considering the fact that he was only in his early 20s at the time, some fans might not have recognized him at all. But Sandoval was there in a Season 1 episode, when he showed up to a Teen Vogue casting call that Lauren Conrad was working. This has easily become something that Vanderpump Rules fans love looking back on… and love bringing up to Sandoval. As he told The Daily Dish in 2015, “I get tweets about it all the time.”
No surprise there, as plenty of The Hills fans went on to be totally obsessed with Vanderpump Rules. And hey, it’s a pretty fun throwback to see Sandoval on the show in his earlier days as a model. But wait, there’s more! Fellow Pump Rules star Scheana Shay also showed up on The Hills. The “Good As Gold” singer is friends with Stacie Adams, who you may remember as “Stacie the bartender” on the MTV reality series. It’s all Hills-ppening.
Hilary Duff kept everyone waiting at a party
Not only did Hilary Duff sing the theme song for Laguna Beach (who else now has “Come Clean” stuck in their head?), but she went on to appear in an episode of the show’s spin-off, too. Duff’s big moment on The Hills came in the show’s third season, when Whitney Port and Lauren Conrad were working at Teen Vogue‘s Young Hollywood party. The ladies were in charge of making sure that the celebrities’ entrance into the event went smoothly, and Duff happened to be the last star they were waiting on before the Marc Jacobs fashion show could begin.
A lot has changed for Duff since 2007, and a Teen Vogue party may not exactly be her scene anymore. But back in the early ’00s, she ruled Young Hollywood, and getting her on the show was a really big deal. On top of that, Conrad and Port got to interact with her… and messing that up would have caused huge issues for them and their boss, Lisa Love.
Brandy and Audrina Patridge went to the studio together
After working at Epic Records as a receptionist in The Hills Season 4, Audrina Patridge was promoted to label rep, and she was eager to take on her new responsibilities, which included working directly with the label’s artists. That meant that she ended up doing some pretty awesome stuff — including working with real-deal icons like singer Brandy. As Billboard recalled, Patridge was in the studio as the “I Wanna Be Down” superstar recorded on her album Human. Patridge even got to help Brandy choose which cover art she went with for the record, which was released in 2008.
Of course, this studio session could not go off without a hitch; in classic The Hills style, some personal matters crashed the scene. At one point, Justin Bobby Brescia arrived at the studio without warning and Patridge had to go handle their relationship drama outside.
Brandy’s cameo also highlighted her recording the single “Long Distance,” Seems like appearing on The Hills was good for her and the show. Can’t turn down a little promo!
Audrina Patridge also worked with the White Tie Affair
Speaking of Audrina Patridge’s experiences at Epic Records… here’s another one that ended up being pretty significant during her time on The Hills. The pop-rock band the White Tie Affair hasn’t released an album since their 2008 debut, but when they were on the show, they were just getting started. Their single “Candle (Sick and Tired)” ended up being a pretty big deal, clocking in at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
As Seventeen reported, Patridge organized a showcase for the White Tie Affair for the label, and her friends Lauren Conrad, Lo Bosworth, and Stephanie Pratt all attended to show their support. Alas, Justin Bobby Brescia was not among those who showed up to cheer her on, and drama ensued. Patridge and Pratt also ended up hanging out with the guys from the band, but they made a quick exit when they found out that one of them had a girlfriend back home.
Sean Kingston's appearance was a fun one
Rounding out Audrina Patridge’s celebrity interactions while working at Epic Records, we can’t forget the time she teamed up with singer Sean Kingston. In the third season of The Hills, it was Patridge’s job to work with the singer while he was promoting his single “Beautiful Girls” — a song that ended up being popular for years after its 2007 release. She joined him on his press appearances, including a stop at Jimmy Kimmel Live!. At this point, Patridge had been living in the spotlight for awhile, so she was probably the perfect person to show him how it was done.
It seems like she did a great job: As the Phoenix New Times recalled, Kingston even sent Patridge flowers as a thank you for spending the day with him. And considering this was one of her first big responsibilities after being promoted from her job as a receptionist, Patridge ended up proving herself in a pretty big way.
Taylor Armstrong made a brief appearance
Reality TV worlds collide once again! A Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was spotted on The Hills in the show’s fourth season. At the time, Stephanie Pratt was hanging out with Doug Reinhardt when she ran into Brody Jenner’s mom, Linda Thompson, at a restaurant. Thompson happened to be out to dinner with Taylor Armstrong, and the group made small talk for just a couple of minutes before going their separate ways. It got a little awkward, and Armstrong did not really say anything during the encounter, so even some of the biggest Real Housewives fans might have missed her cameo.
It’s also important to note that this episode of The Hills aired two years before Armstrong made her Real Housewives debut, so she wasn’t nearly as famous as she is today — and that viral meme of her from the show wouldn’t exist until a decade later.
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