See the Cast of ‘Independence Day’ Then and Now
‘After Earth‘ hits theaters this week, but it’s not the first time Will Smith has had to face off with aliens. ‘Independence Day’ was the film that made Smith a big summer blockbuster star, so we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the cast of that film and see where they are now.
Will Smith, Captain Steven Hiller
Then: Director Roland Emmerich specifically wanted former ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ star Will Smith for the lead role based on his dramatic turn in ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’
Now: ‘Independence Day’ made Will Smith a summer blockbuster superstar, a tradition he’s hoping to continue with this week’s release of ‘After Earth,’ in which he stars alongside his son, Jaden.
Bill Pullman, President Thomas J. Whitmore
Then: Bill Pullman played the president in ‘Independence Day,’ and to prepare for the role he read Bob Woodward’s ‘Commanders’ and watched the documentary ‘The War Room.’
Now: Pullman recently played another president — this time on the short-lived NBC sitcom ’1600 Penn.’
Jeff Goldblum, David Levinson
Then: Known for his eccentric roles, Jeff Goldblum was cast as David Levinson, the brains of the mission to save Earth from the alien invasion in the film. The majority of his scenes with Will Smith and Judd Hirsch were heavily improvised.
Now: Goldblum has gotten even more subversive in recent years, with guest roles on the FX comedy ‘The League,’ ‘Portlandia’ and a part in the upcoming Wes Anderson flick ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’
Mary McDonnell, First Lady Marilyn Whitmore
Then: Mary McDonnell played First Lady Marilyn Whitmore, wife of Bill Pullman’s character.
Now: You probably know McDonnell best for her work in another huge sci-fi staple — as President Laura Roslin on all five seasons of ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ Currently she stars on the drama series ‘Major Crimes.’
Judd Hirsch, Julian Levinson
Then: Veteran actor and former ‘Taxi’ star Judd Hirsch was cast as Julian Levinson, father of Jeff Goldblum’s character. Julian is based off of one of producer Dean Devlin’s uncles.
Now: In 2011, Hirsch played himself in ‘The Muppets’ and starred in 14 episodes of the acclaimed TV drama ‘Damages.’ He currently plays comedian Marc Maron’s dad on IFC’s ‘Maron.’
Randy Quaid, Russell Casse
Then: One of America’s most beloved character actors, Randy Quaid played the pivotal role of Russell Casse, a widowed cropduster and alcoholic who claims to have been previously abducted by aliens.
Now: Quaid’s gone a bit off the deep end in recent years, as infamously profiled in Vanity Fair. His last role was in a 2009 movie called ‘Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach.’
Vivica A. Fox, Jasmine Dubrow
Then: Vivica A. Fox played the role of Jasmine, an exotic dancer and girlfriend of Will Smith’s character. In real life, the two were a couple for some time, and in a funny bit of coincidence, the role almost went to Smith’s future wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Now: Fox had a small but awesome role in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1,’ and had a recurring part on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ She currently has roles in six films in various stages of production.
Harvey Fierstein, Marty Gilbert
Then: Tony award-winning playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein was known for his gravelly voice and for being one of the first openly gay actors at a time when few others were out. Fierstein played Marty Gilbert, David’s boss, who provides a little bit of comic relief in the film.
Now: Fierstein continues to pen plays, and recently wrote the stage musical version of ‘Kinky Boots,’ with music and lyrics by ’80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper. The play garnered 13 Tony award nominations in 2013.
Adam Baldwin, Major Mitchell
Then: Adam Baldwin has long been known for playing military roles in films, including turns in ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and ‘Predator 2′ before landing the role of Major Mitchell, commanding officer of Area 51 in ‘Independence Day.’
Now: Baldwin has made a name for himself on geek-friendly television shows like Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ and ‘Chuck.’ He reunited with his ‘Firefly’ co-star Nathan Fillion for an episode of the show ‘Castle’ in 2012.
Mae Whitman, Patricia Whitmore
Then: It’s hard to believe, but the role of Patricia Whitmore in ‘Independence Day’ was actually Mae Whitman’s seventh role, at the young age of just eight years old.
Now: You know Mae Whitman best as Ann Veal (“Her?”) on ‘Arrested Development’ — the long-awaited fourth season just premiered on Netflix this week. She also recently starred in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’
Harry Connick Jr., Captain Jimmy Wilder
Then: Singer and actor Harry Connick Jr. played Will Smith’s BFF Captain Jimmy Wilder, though the role originally was intended for ‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry.
Now: Harry Connick Jr. has used his musical talents and knowledge as a guest judge on ‘American Idol’ twice now. He still acts, too: he recently starred in an indie movie called ‘When Angels Sing,’ which premiered at the 2013 SXSW film festival.