Jonathan Taylor Thomas, one of the ultimate '90s teen heartthrobs, was photographed in public for the first time in nearly 8 years on Wednesday. The Home Improvement actor was seen in Hollywood walking his two dogs and vaping while wearing a mask and a hoodie. Thomas, 39, made the conscientious decision to step away from Hollywood after leaving Home Improvement in 1998 after an extremely successful career as a child actor. He did guest appearances on shows like Veronica Mars, Ally McBeal, and Smallville, and was most recently seen in four episodes of Tim Allen's latest sitcom Last Man Standing.
The Wild America actor left his career behind to focus on his education, graduating from Chaminade College Preparatory School before attended Harvard University and Columbia University. After leaving Home Improvement, Thomas noted "had I stayed at the show and tried to do academically what I'm doing now, I would've, you know, put myself in an early grave."
Thomas made his desire to leave Hollywood behind apparent, talking to Premiere magazine in 1996 about his discomfort with fame. "You can't be trapped in this bubble called the acting industry," Thomas said. "The industry is neurotic and weird, and so when I go home and I play basketball with my friends, I'm not Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I'm just Jonathan. I don't like hanging out with other actors and actresses."
Thomas began acting at the age of 7 in 1987, but the Tom & Huck star managed to keep a level head through the whole ordeal. "You should be focused on doing a good job, but every job has an end," he said to Premiere in 1994. "You can't base your life around one thing. So that's why I focus on school, I play sports, I learn the technical side of [filmmaking]. Because sometime it'll change, and I'll have my education to fall back on." Thomas went on to direct three episodes of Last Man Standing.
After years of gracing the covers of magazines like Tiger Beat, Thomas now keeps to himself. However, his former co-star Devon Sawa revealed to Us Weekly in 2019 that he "spoke to Jonathan a month ago for the first time in a long time." The Nikita actor reflected on their time working on Wild America together, pointing out the mania that surrounded them. "There was a point where Jonathan [Taylor Thomas] and I were in London [for the press tour], and we shared a limo," Sawa explained. "It was, like, [we were] The Beatles! They were chasing our car and smacking the windows, and that's when I finally realized that, 'Holy s—, this is this is this is getting crazy.'"