Whatever Happened To .... The Cast of Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
Thirty years after the fact, I still can’t believe that my parents let me watch Fast Times of Ridgemont High as a kid. Perhaps this grevous act of parenting is at least partially responsible for why I have terrible taste (for a critic, at least) in movies. This post goes out to Forest Whitaker in recognition of his upcoming film, A Dark Truth, which co-stars Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, so it will probably be pretty awful. Now let’s take a cursory look at what Forest and the rest of the Fast Times have been doing since, well, 1982.
Sean Penn (as Jeff Spicoli): Penn has enjoyed a three-decades long career in Hollywood, won two Oscars, and lectured us all about how we’ve abandoned Haiti while he’s stayed in luxury hotels during his visits to the earthquake-ravaged country.
His Next Move: He’ll continue to regret appearing in Fast Times, which will cause me to to wonder “Hey bud, what’s your problem?”
Jennifer Jason Leigh (as Stacy Hamilton): Of late, she’s been wallowing (relatively speaking) in television land with “Revenge” and “Weeds,” but otherwise, she’s worked very steadily in movies for the entirety of her career. Debatable career highlight? Rush.
Her Next Move: Reminding people that she’s not the same person as Elisabeth Shue.
Judge Reinhold (as Brad Hamilton): Other than playing the “Honorable Judge Reinhold” on an episode of “Arrested Development,” this guy has been largely relegated to voicing children’s movies and television episodes.
His Next Move: Starring within Beverly Hills Cop IV, if it happens.
Robert Romanus (as Mike Damone): Sadly, Fast Times functioned as Romanus’ career high point; that is, unless one considers the role of Kristen Stewart’s “Guitar Teacher” in The Runaways.
His Next Move: This dude won’t be getting into Debbie Harry’s pants anytime soon.
Brian Backer (as Mark Ratner): This guy tried really, really hard to forget an acting career, but it just didn’t happen. He appeared in sporadic roles and then finally gave up in 2000, and his most prominent part was the role of “Director” in a “Meet the Seavers” episode of “Growing Pains.”
His Next Move: Hopefully, he’ll finally get to second base with someone. Anyone.
Forest Whitaker (as Charles Jefferson): Who doesn’t love this guy? He’s the constant fixture of a thousand cheesy movies plus many episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and “ER.” Also, I kind of loved Repo Men as a twist on the classic buddy-cop story.
His Next Move: Realizing that he’s no Denzel Washington and that it doesn’t even matter.
Phoebe Cates (as Linda Barrett): She was the toast of the 1980s with movies like Bright Lights, Big City and Gremlins, but (for whatever reason) she dropped off the radar in the early 90s. Her latest appearance? 2001’s very charming Anniversary Party with Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Her Next Move: Please don’t let there ever be a Gremlins 3 because Cates will totally be in it.
Vincent Schiavelli (as Mr. Vargas): Everyone knows this guy’s face even if they don’t know his name. Shiavelli enjoyed a ragingly successful career as a character actor.
His Next Move: Starring in your nightmares. (Update: Yes, he’s dead. And starring in your nightmares.)
Amanda Wyss (as Lisa): Chances are that you’ve seen her in a one-off episode of one of your favorite (or not-so-favorite) shows (“NYPD Blue,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “ER,” “Charmed,” “Dexter”) over the years.
Her Next Move: This chick is strictly meant for Lifetime territory in the future.
Kelli Maroney (as Cindy, the hot cheerleader): She could have been scream queen of the B-movies, but sadly, most of her horror work doesn’t even meet that threshold.
His Next Move: It’s too late for a soft-core pr0n career, right? Damn.
Ray Walston (as Mr. Hand): He starred within 80 episodes of “Picket Fences” and played Glen Bateman in the miniseries version of The Stand. Somehow, I feel like he deserved better than this fate.
His Next Move: Dancing on a beach in Maui while wearing a hula skirt and unironically shouting, “Aloha!”
So who’s the winner of the Fast Times gang? This one’s not exactly a toss-up.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.
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