In the 1990s, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was ubiquitous and seemingly basking in the public spotlight. The young star of hit TV comedy Home Improvement, JTT looked set to be a fixture in television as well as a regular on the red carpet. But now he’s rarely seen in public, and although he did turn up in another Tim Allen vehicle, he’s not often on our screens either.
JTT first came to prominence as a child actor in TV show The Bradys, a reboot of ’70s favorite The Brady Bunch, but his break really came as the voice of young Simba in hit movie The Lion King. But he didn’t just have an attractive voice, as he proved playing Randy Taylor in Home Improvement. His looks captured tween hearts, catapulting him to a level of fame few taste.
However, by the end of his teens, fame held less attraction for JTT than his academic career. He studied at three universities, starting at Harvard and moving on to St. Andrews in Scotland, although he wouldn’t graduate from Columbia University until 2010. In the meantime, he could be seen here and there on TV and in small film parts, although he was often present only in voice. He resurfaced for Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, where he guest-starred and also directed several episodes.
This last pursuit has in fact been JTT’s focus: directing. He has put his energy into a project alongside Zachary Ty Bryan, his Home Improvement co-star, and Macaulkay Culkin, another child star who’s still in the business. And JTT hasn’t turned his back on the world of acting: in 2017 he gained a place on the board of the TV actors’ union.
But JTT explained to People magazine in 2013 that he’d never really loved the limelight. He said, “I’d been going nonstop since I was eight years old. I never took the fame too seriously. It was a great period in my life, but it doesn’t define me. When I think back on the time, I look at it with a wink. I focus on the good moments I had, not that I was on a lot of magazine covers.”