Entertainment Weekly turns 30: Laverne Cox, Sam Heughan, and more remember their first time in the magazine

By EW Staff
August 31, 2020 at 12:15 PM EDT

They were at very different stages of their career. One was coming off becoming the first transgender actor ever nominated for an Emmy Award. Another was overseeing one of the greatest sitcom empires TV had ever seen. Still others were enjoying a "moment" after decades in the business. But for all these Hollywood talents, a collection of award-winning talent in front of and behind the camera, their first major appearances in Entertainment Weekly marked notable moments in pop-culture history, too, over the past 30 years. To celebrate our birthday, we caught up with a half-dozen regulars in our pages, going back to the first time they got the EW treatment. —David Canfield

Laverne Cox

Issue #1386 (June 19, 2015)

Alexei Hay for EW

“I was on the cover of EW dressed as the Statue of Liberty, which was kind of iconic,” Cox says of the 2015 Pride Issue. “Almost every Fourth of July I post that picture. It’s up on my wall in my home. It’s just genuinely beautiful.” Featuring a transgender woman on a magazine cover in this way was meaningful for LGBTQ representation, but it also gave Cox, 48, personal satisfaction. “I was the black sheep of the family. My aunts, uncles, and cousins said horrible things about me.” When the cover came out, that all changed. “[One of those] same relatives reached out to me on Facebook: ‘You’re so beautiful!’ Wanting something. Sorry, nope. You said all those things about me, I feel no guilt about ghosting.” She laughs. “That’s the least magnanimous answer I’ve given in an interview — ever.” — Sydney Bucksbaum

Holland Taylor

Issue #124/125 (June 26, 1992)

EW

“It was like being made a saint,” Taylor says of being selected as EW’s “Cool TV Actress” in a 1992 “What Is Cool?” feature. The actress was given the moniker for her portrayal of Margaret Powers, the haughty wife of a racist senator on the short-lived Norman Lear NBC comedy The Powers That Be. She fondly remembers the accompanying shoot she did with photographer Jeffery Newbury at the Hotel Bel-Air bar, which was her favorite hangout spot at the time. “It was very dramatic and glamorous, and unlike the way I would normally be photographed,” says Taylor, 77. “It was a 1930s look. He took classic shots of me: the chin in the hand and holding a cigarette. I have some of them still, and I gifted people some of them because they were so striking.” —Maureen Lee Lenker

Chuck Lorre

Issue #911 (Dec. 15, 2006)

EW

“At the time, I was embarrassed,” the Two and a Half Men creator, 67, admits of our 2006 feature. The story examined Lorre’s sitcom empire; EW called him “the angriest man in television” on account of, among other things, his anger toward this very publication for not reviewing his shows particularly favorably. “I’m not saying it wasn’t true. I have character flaws, which I think most of us do,” he says. “You don’t want to necessarily see them in the headlines. That being said, I probably had it coming. Anger is a mask for fear. I was trying to the best of my ability to do something that was worthwhile in comedy. When I felt that goal was being threatened, I probably didn’t handle it well. There is a learning curve in being a human being. I had to go through that period. What doesn’t kill us makes us bitter.” —Lynette Rice

Sam Heughan

Issue #1434 (Oct. 7, 2016)

Aimee Spinks/Starz

“The excitement of knowing we had a cover for EW was definitely something we always looked forward to,” the Outlander star, 40, says of the Starz show’s 11 covers so far. “EW has been with us throughout this whole journey. All the covers reflect the content of the seasons.” (And before any of them, he got a Breaking Big feature in 2014.) Heughan’s favorite? Has to be his first-ever solo: “The second [Outlander] one, which was ‘Great Scot’ from the Culloden battlefield. It’s different from the others, which were a lot more lush. EW also supplies some of the best, cheesiest headlines to go with the covers, though I don’t know how many times you can make a pun on kilt.” —L.R.

Leslie Odom Jr.

Issue #1465 (May 12, 2017)

Jordon Nuttall/Fox

Before he taught us all to wait for it as Aaron Burr (sir), Odom lived by the mantra that TV success would open the door to his Broadway dreams. “As a young entertainer, it was a real marker of success,” he says of EW’s role in his career goals. “You bang the drum for what’s happening, so I would know I made it if I was a part of [that].” That moment, surely, arrived when he found himself in the magazine. In 2017, within the span of a few months, he appeared in EW as part of a feature on what Hamilton’s breakout stars were up to next, and on his first EW cover alongside the cast of Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. “When I was 21 and looking at covers of Entertainment Weekly and dreaming about what the project might be that would get me there, I really didn’t imagine that it would be something so meaningful,” Odom, now 39, says of Hamilton’s impact on his career. “I thought I was going to make shows on The WB or UPN. I had no idea that something that started Off Broadway in New York could get me there. Do the project that keeps you up at night, because you never know where it might lead you. It could lead you all the way to the cover of EW.” —M.L.L.

Regina King

Issue #718 (June 11, 2003)

EW

Her Emmy-nominated performance as Angela Abar/Sister Night on HBO’s stunning Watchmen finally landed the actress-director the cover earlier this year. (“That photo shoot was just so much fun,” she reflects. “You know some people will frame their covers or put them on the coffee table? I don’t really do that, but that EW cover is on my little table when you first walk into my foyer.”) Back in 2003, while promoting Legally Blonde 2, King predicted that in five years she’d be “in Spain speaking Spanish.” Alas, she has yet to roll her r’s in Barcelona. “It totally brought me back to the moment and where I was at that time,” she says of seeing the magazine piece again. “It’s just funny that that was 17 years ago, and a little disappointing that I have not made it to Spain.” Given that she’s been busy winning an Oscar and three Emmys, we think King, now 49, should cut herself some slack. “It was just a wonderful reminder that I have to go back and look at my bucket list, and when we are on the other side of this, I must be in Seville. I pray it’s not another 17 years before that happens.” —Sarah Rodman

For more celebrations of EW's 30th anniversary, order the September issue of Entertainment Weekly now. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.