Monday, December 17, 2007

Fast Times At Ridgemont High: Where Are They Now?

From Moviefone.com

Hey bud ... let's party! It's 1982, and Sean Penn is a stoner, Judge Reinhold is a dork in a pirate's outfit, and Phoebe Cates launches a thousand teenage fantasies just by climbing out of a pool. (Well, not JUST that.) Celebrate the 25th anniversary of 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' with a look at what those crazy kids have been up to since high school.

Sean Penn

Then: Penn totally nailed the surfer-dude patois to play Jeff Spicoli, stoner extraordinaire. Want pizza in American history class? Spicoli's your guy. Don't think the classroom's an appropriate venue for your munchies delivery? Dude, that's just bogus.

Now: Who woulda thunk it? The actor who started out as Spicoli grew up to be Sean Penn, super-serious, Oscar-winning actor ('Mystic River'), controversy-courting political activist (he recently visited Venezuelan prez Hugo Chavez) and family man (he and wife Robin Wright Penn have two kids, Dylan and Hopper).

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Then: She was Stacy Hamilton, the smart but shy wallflower with low self-esteem (you know, the kind of girl who becomes a successful lawyer and shows everyone up at the reunion). She went "all the way" with her boyfriend's best friend Mike (Robert Romanus), with disastrous results.

Now: Like we imagine her 'Fast Times' character, Leigh grew up to be cool, excelling in indie ('Georgia') and mainstream film ('Single White Female'); but amazingly, Oscar has never looked her way. She's married to director Noah Baumbach ('Squid and the Whale') and stars in his next movie, 'Margot at the Wedding.'

Judge Reinhold

Then: In his first major film role, Reinhold played Stacy's brother Brad, a popular high school senior who took his job at the local burger joint just a little too seriously. In one of the film's most memorable scenes, he pleasured himself while fantasizing about a topless Phoebe Cates. Hey, we can't blame him.

Now: Most recently, he appeared in the 'Santa Clause' films, and he'll co-star in the 2008 Kevin Costner vehicle 'Swing Vote.' He also earned major cool points for his stint on 'Arrested Development,' in which he played the star of a TV show called 'Mock Trial With J. Reinhold.' Verdict: He's guilty ... of being awesome.

Phoebe Cates

Then: She became an instant sex symbol after starring as sexpot Linda Barrett in 'Fast Times.' This was thanks in no small part to a legendary fantasy sequence in which she climbed out of a pool dripping wet and removed her red bikini top in slow motion -- all to the sounds of The Cars' 'Moving in Stereo.'

Now: Though she's only been in one film since the early '90s, 2001's 'The Anniversary Party,' she's kept busy raising three kids with husband Kevin Kline. Their son Owen Kline's an actor, too, having earned raves in 'Squid and the Whale' after director Noah Baumbach's wife -- Cates' co-star Leigh -- suggested him for the role.

Ray Walston

Then: Walston wasn't shy about admitting regrets for starring in 'My Favorite Martian,' which made him a household name but typecast him as an alien. Good thing some of us are too young to remember, and know Walston best as Mr. Hand, a history teacher whose dislikes included truancy, marijuana and Jeff Spicoli.

Now: Though he'd never duplicate the commercial success of 'Martian,' Walston had a strong career through the '80s and '90s, mostly on television. He won two Emmys for his work on 'Picket Fences,' and also appeared on 'Night Court' and 'L.A. Law.' He passed away on New Year's Day 2001 at age 86.

Robert Romanus

Then: Ticket scalper Mike Damone knocked up his best friend's gal, then failed to give her money or even a ride. Jerk.

Now: In the '80s he was a regular on 'Fame' and 'Facts of Life,' but lately he's gotten mostly bit parts on sitcoms (e.g., pot dealer on 'Will & Grace'). Currently he's in the indie 'Mojave Phone Booth.'

Brian Backer

Then: Painfully shy freshman Mark "Rat" Ratner manned the ticket booth at the movie theater and mooned over Stacy. He got the girl, but only after his lame best friend Mike slept with her first. Before 'Fast Times,' Backer earned a 1981 Tony in Woody Allen's 'The Floating Light Bulb' as the requisite Woody-type character.

Now: Alas, 'Fast Times' would prove to be Backer's peak; after a string of guest roles on shows like 'Charles in Charge,' he largely disappeared, his last gig being a small role in 'Fast Times' director Amy Heckerling's 2000 film 'Loser.' (No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)

Vincent Schiavelli

Then: In between noteworthy roles in Milos Forman classics 'One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Amadeus,' the droopy-eyed character actor played Ridgemont High biology teacher Mr. Vargas, who showed Spicoli and friends just how gnarly ("remarkable") a human cadaver can be.

Now: Schiavelli would reprise his role in the 'Fast Times' TV series and ultimately become one of the most well-liked "That Guys" of recent time. His most renowned role came as a subway spirit who taught Patrick Swayze a thing or two about being dead in 'Ghost.' Schiavelli died from lung cancer 15 years later at 57.

Forest Whitaker

Then: He was Ridgemont High football hero Charles Jefferson; his Camaro was busted up by (shocker!) Spicoli, who took it out for a joy ride with Jefferson's little brother. Spicoli made it look like the car was smashed up by a rival football team, which goaded Charles to lead a stunning victory against said rivals.

Now: Whitaker first got some attention for 1992's gender-bending 'The Crying Game,' but he was mostly an acclaimed actor flying under the radar ... until last year, when he found a role that couldn't be ignored: Idi Amin, in 'The Last King of Scotland,' for which he picked up a well-earned Best Actor statuette.

Eric Stoltz

Then: He made his big-screen debut as one of Spicoli's stoner buddies in 'Fast Times,' then snagged a Golden Globe nod for his role as Cher's deformed son in 'Mask.' He was also originally cast as Marty McFly in 'Back to the Future' but was replaced by Michael J. Fox after shooting began.

Now: He continues to act, with guest spots on TV's 'Close to Home' and 'Medium' and a role in the '08 werewolf flick 'Howl.' He's also a competent director, having helmed the most-watched episode of 'Law & Order' ever, in which Jesse L. Martin gets shot. Next up, he's slated to direct the comedy 'Paddyville.'

Anthony Edwards

Then: Edwards was an unknown when pal Sean Penn got him and former college roommate Eric Stoltz tiny roles as Spicoli's trusted toking associates, aka "Stoner Buds." Finally, it paid to be a stoner -- career-making gigs in 'Revenge of the Nerds' and 'Top Gun' soon followed.

Now: Edwards won the role of a lifetime as Dr. Green on the hit TV series 'ER.' Whereas castmate George Clooney left the show to explore movie stardom, Edwards, $35 million richer, decided to "spend more time with [his] family" (hey, just like Karl Rove!). Edwards returned to the screen in this year's 'Zodiac.'

Nicolas Cage

Then: In his very first big-screen appearance, Cage (still going by his birth name, Nicolas Coppola) is really just a glorified extra: His character's credited name is "Brad's Bud." Well, at least he's done better than Brad's other bud, played by Michael Wyle. Who? Exactly.

Now: Cage has had a long, strange trip of a career, with highs (Best Actor Oscar for 'Leaving Las Vegas'), lows ('Wicker Man'), blockbusters ('National Treasure') and just plain busts ('The Weather Man'). Even with his most questionable film choices, you can bet that Cage will never again be relegated to "bud."

Cameron Crowe

Then: After giving up his gig as a journalist with Rolling Stone, the then-22-year-old Crowe moved in with his mother, posed as a high school student and proceeded to write 'Fast Times,' a 1981 novel about teen life which he then adapted into his debut screenplay.

Now: Crowe earned Oscar nominations for writing and directing 'Jerry Maguire' and won for the 'Almost Famous' screenplay, but his hand has gone a bit cold of late. 'Vanilla Sky' was met with lukewarm reviews, while 'Elizabethtown' was unceremoniously panned. He's currently at work on his next (top secret) screenplay.

Amy Heckerling

Then: If you think female directors are rare now, imagine the landscape 25 years ago when Heckerling debuted with 'Fast Times.' She may have had a tough time breaking into the biz, but the comedy's success landed her on Hollywood's honor roll, and the film even inspired a (short-lived) TV show.

Now: She went on to date a big TV star (Bronson Pinchot, aka Balki on 'Perfect Strangers') in the '90s ... and also became one of the most successful female filmmakers ever, helming hits like 'European Vacation,' 'Look Who's Talking' and 'Clueless.' Her first film in seven years, 'I Could Never Be Your Woman,' opens this fall.

I Visited The Brady Bunch House

I was in L.A. recently and fulfilled a lifelong dream: to find the house used for exterior shots of the Brady's house on The Brady Bunch. What, you thought I was kidding when I said TBB was my favorite show? Nope.

The pics aren't great -- bad time of day, for starters, with the sun behind the house -- but you can see that despite a lot of changes in 40 (!) years, it's the same house. They put up a fence in the 90s to keep out weirdos like me.

We also got up close and personal with the Hollywood sign. It was a gorgeous cool day and my friend Vaniqua took her top off.... the top of her convertible, that is. Get your minds out of the gutter!

Here's what the house looked like on the show:


And what it looks like now. Click the pics for a much larger view.

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