After years on a hit TV series and having his face plastered on the walls of teenage girls everywhere, Jonathan Taylor Thomas made a conscious decision to walk away from fame.

"I'd been going nonstop since I was 8-years-old," the 31-year-old former "Home Improvement" star told People. "I wanted to go to school, to travel and have a bit of a break."

Thomas played Randy Taylor on the top-rated ABC series from 1991 to 1998, and enrolled in Harvard University in 2000, where he studied philosophy and history, and would eventually go on to finally complete his degree, graduating from Columbia University in 2010.

"To sit in a big library amongst books and students, that was pretty cool. It was a novel experience for me," he told People of his educational experience, saying that he has "no regrets" about taking time away from the spotlight.

"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," he said.

After leaving "Home Improvement," Thomas didn't completely walk away from acting, as he made time for various guest appearances on TV shows, including "Ally McBeal" and "Smallville." Until recently, his last credit was a 2005 guest spot on "Veronica Mars."

These days, Thomas says he's focused on directing and writing scripts. And he'll be reunited with his TV dad, Tim Allen, as he guest stars on the season finale of "Last Man Standing," airing March 22.

jonathan taylor thomas

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Andrew Keegan

    Andrew Keegan made his rounds guest starring at one point or another on every show in the TGIF lineup. But you probably best remember him from "Camp Nowhere," "10 Things I Hate About You," and from his recurring role as Wilson West on "7th Heaven."

  • Andrew Keegan

    Today, 32-year-old Keegan is still working in the entertainment industry -- perhaps you caught his appearance on "CSI: NY" in 2010.

  • Jonathan Jackson

    In the 1990s there were a lot of heartthrobs named Jonathan -- Brandis, Taylor Thomas and Jackson. Jackson played a clever teen who tricked his parents into sending him to a fake camp alongside Andrew Keegan and Christopher Lloyd in "Camp Nowhere." Fans of Jackson will know him from his long-time role on "General Hospital."

  • Jonathan Jackson

    Today Jackson, who is now 29, is still on "General Hospital." He's played the character of Lucky Spencer from 1993 to 1999, and from 2009 onward.

  • Daniel Johns

    Daniel Johns of Australian rock band Silverchair always made it into those teen magazines. At 14 he and his bandmates hit it big with their debut album "Frogstomp." As the teenage frontman who kinda looked like Kurt Cobain, it's no wonder he ended up in Tiger Beat.

  • Daniel Johns

    Today, 32-year-old Johns is divorced from one-hit wonder Natalie Imbruglia (in 2008) and working on multiple musical projects.

  • Luke Perry

    Luke Perry shot to fame playing bad boy Dylan McKay on "Beverley Hills: 90210," and starred in the '90s classic movie "Buffy The Vampire Slayer."

  • Luke Perry

    At the age of 44, Perry is still working various projects and maybe you spotted him on that episode of "Law and Order: SVU" or in that Killers video for "Happy Birthday Guadalupe!"

  • Macaulay Culkin

    Two words: "Home Alone." Macaulay Culkin was a child star turned pre-teen idol. With hits like the "Home Alone" series and "The Good Son," Culkin was the golden boy of the early '90s. His star burned out quickly, as his teen years were nothing but box office bombs -- "The Pagemaster," "Getting Even With Dad" and "Richie Rich." Culkin married actress Rachel Miner in 1998 and divorced her two years later.

  • Macaulay Culkin

    At 31 years old, Culkin's days as a child star are long behind him. After a nine year break from acting, Culkin began taking small roles in TV and movies. He currently is the voice of several characters on the cartoon show "Robot Chicken." And perhaps most notably, he ended a seven-year relationship with actress Mila Kunis in early 2011.

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas

    Who didn't have a crush on JTT in the '90s? As the smart-aleck Randy Taylor on "Home Improvement," teen and tween girls would tune in just to see him each week. When he left the show in 1998 to attend Columbia University, we stopped watching.

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas

    At <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/08/jonathan-taylor-thomas-bi_n_953913.html#s353765" target="_hplink">30 years old</a>, JTT hasn't appeared in anything since 2006, but Patricia Richardson, who played his mother on "Home Improvement," <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/prichardsonla/status/105342300481257473" target="_hplink">tweeted last month</a> that JTT currently wants to direct.

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt rose to considerable fame playing Tommy on the zany sitcom "3rd Rock From The Sun," but was bumped up to full-on teen star after he appeared in classic teen rom-com "10 Things I Hate About You."

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt

    He has been working since he was seven years old, and at the age of 30, JGL is just coming into his prime as an actor. In 2010 he held his own against another former teen heartthrob, Leonardo DiCaprio, in "Inception," and he stars with Seth Rogen in the upcoming movie "50/50."

  • Leonardo DiCaprio

    Leonardo DiCaprio was undoubtedly the biggest teen idol of the '90s. While "Leo-mania" didn't really hit until 1997 with his star-making role in "Titanic," teens went crazy enough for him that it won him the title for the decade.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio

    Today, at the age of 36, DiCaprio is an accomplished actor and producer. Currently he's filming an adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel "The Great Gatsby," playing the titular role.

  • Jaleel White

    As Steve Urkel on "Family Matters," Jaleel White was no teen idol, but as his alter ego, Stephan, he made ladies swoon.

  • Jaleel White

    Like many of peers, White also found it hard to shake his nerd rep as Steve Urkel, and floundered a bit after "Family Matters" was cancelled in 1998. At the age of 34, he has a couple of short-lived sitcoms under his belt, along with some guest apparences. His latest project is a web series he both writes and produces called "Fake It Till You Make It."

  • Hanson

    Hanson was the wholesome brother band before The Jonas Brothers were even on Disney's radar. In 1997 Isaac, 16, Taylor, 14 and Zac, 12, burst on to the bubblegum-pop scene with "MMMBop" and the Grammy-nominated album <em>Middle Of Nowhere</em>.

  • Hanson

    Today, all three brothers are married, have children and have said goodbye to the long hair they sported in their youth. At the ages of 30, 28 and 25, Isaac, Taylor and Zac, respectively, are still making music together and most recently made a cameo appearance in Katy Perry's video for "Last Friday Night: TGIF"

  • Joshua Jackson

    Even before the success of teen soap opera "Dawson's Creek," Joshua Jackson was known for his role in "The Mighty Ducks" franchise. Jackson stole hearts as snarky Pacey Witter on "Dawson's Creek" and parlayed his TV success into a decent film career, starring in movies like "The Skulls" and "Gossip."

  • Joshua Jackson

    Today Jackson is 33 years old and has continued to work steadily since "Dawson's Creek" ended in 2003. He currently stars as Peter Bishop on "Fringe."

  • James Van Der Beek

    James Van Der Beek will forever be Dawson Leery of "Dawson's Creek." He became the icon for sensitive (whiny) teens everywhere. He took on different, edgier characters in films like "The Rules of Attraction" and "Varsity Blues," but for the most part all anyone could see was Dawson Leery.

  • James Van Der Beek

    Unable to escape being seen as Dawson, James Van Der Beek has seen considerably less success than any of his co-stars. The 34-year-old will play a womanizing version of himself on the new show "Apartment 23" later this year.

  • Joey Lawrence

    WHOA! Joey Lawrence was everyone's favorite older brother on "Blossom." Taking on the role of the stupid-but-sweet Joey Russo, Lawrence appeared in nearly every teen magazine at the time -- usually shirtless, running his fingers through his wavy locks.

  • Joey Lawrence

    At the age of 35, Lawrence no longer has the hair that once made him famous, but he is staring with Melissa Joan Hart on the ABC Family sitcom "Melissa & Joey."

  • Mark Wahlberg

    Before he was an actor, Mark Wahlberg was best known as the younger brother of New Kids On The Block member Donnie Wahlberg and as the frontman for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. It took a long time for people to stop referring to him as Marky Mark, but Wahlberg proved his acting chops in movies like "The Basketball Diaries" and "Fear."

  • Mark Wahlberg

    Today Mark Wahlberg has left his rap roots far behind him and, at the age of 40, has earned himself a reputation as an accomplished actor and producer.

  • Justin Timberlake

    Despite often looking ridiculous, Justin Timberlake was the standout member of boy band NSYNC. Always the favorite, he was able to break free of the band and pursue a solo career and began to dabble in acting as well.

  • Justin Timberlake

    Justin Timberlake broke free of NSYNC, went on to record "FutureSex/LoveSounds" and has begun to focus on his acting career. He recently starred with Mila Kunis in the comedy "Friends With Benefits" and loves to make appearances on SNL.

  • Backstreet Boys

    The Backstreet Boys hailed from Orlando, Florida, but were huge in Europe and Canada before they hit it big in the U.S. in the late 1990s. Five members with very different personalities, throw in vocals and slick dance moves and you have manufactured pop stardom.

  • Backstreet Boys

    After BSB member Kevin Richardson left the band in 2006, the boys took some time off before they began recording again. With only four members, they have never regained the popularity they held in the '90s and early 2000s. The BSB just wrapped up a North American tour with fellow teen idols of the past The New Kids On The Block.

  • Rider Strong

    Rider Strong was best known for his role as lovable troublemaker Shawn Hunter on "Boy Meets World." Though he was never a big name in film, his seven-year run on "Boy Meets World" and his dreamy good looks meant his poster was on every girl's wall.

  • Rider Strong

    Today, Strong is 31 years old with a degree in English from Columbia University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College. He's been working steadily since "Boy Meets World" ended in 2000, most notably in the 2006 indie horror film "Cabin Fever," directed by Eli Roth.

  • Mark-Paul Gosselaar

    He played the smoothest guy at Bayside High, locking down the title of teen idol for years. On "Saved By The Bell" and its earlier incarnation "Good Morning Miss Bliss," he played the role of Zack Morris from 1988 to 1994, making everyone wish they were Kelly Kapowski.

  • Mark-Paul Gosselaar

    Like James Van Der Beek, Gosselaar had a hard time shedding the character of Zach Morris and starred in a series of made-for-TV movies, short-lived TV shows and a few box office bombs. He's currently starring as a lawyer on the TV show "Franklin & Bash."

  • Mario Lopez

    As macho jock A.C. Slater on "Saved By The Bell," Mario Lopez was everything his co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar was not. Like Joey Lawrence, you could always find his poster in a teen mag -- shirtless and flashing a dimpled smile.

  • Mario Lopez

    If you get your celebrity news from "Extra," you know that Lopez has been a co-host on the show since 2007. Now 37, Lopez continued to act after "Saved By The Bell" ended, most notably as a plastic surgeon on "Nip/Tuck" and on the daytime soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful."

  • Jared Leto

    "My So Called Life" only lasted one season, but that was enough to cement Jared Leto as a teen heartthrob for the rest of the decade. As the illiterate Jordan Catalano, we secretly pined for him along with Claire Dane's character Angela Chase, even though we knew he was bad news.

  • Jared Leto

    At the age of 39, Jared Leto is focusing more on his band 30 Seconds To Mars than his acting career. Following the cancellation of "My So Called Life," he gained recognition as an actor for his roles in films like "American Psycho," "Requiem For A Dream" and for his creepy but impressive transformation into John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, in "Chapter 27."