See the Cast of ‘Donnie Darko’ Then and Now
When it comes to cult classics, the 2001 film ‘Donnie Darko’ just might sit at the very top. Writer/director Richard Kelly mixed teen angst, sci-fi and an amazing ’80s soundtrack to create a spellbinding movie that still has fans debating the ending today. But what holds together the labyrinthine plot is a stellar cast made up of up-and-coming young actors, seasoned vets and ’80s favorites playing against type.
Let’s take a look at the cast of ‘Donnie Darko’ then and now. We swear, it’ll be much easier to understand than the movie.
Then: Jake Gyllenhaal has been acting since he was a child — appearing in ‘City Slickers,’ ‘Homegrown’ and ‘October Sky’ — but it is his role as Donnie Darko that made him a talent to watch.
Now: Gyllenhaal recently starred in and produced the acclaimed crime film ‘End of Watch.’ He’s set to appear in ‘Nailed,’ the next film from writer/director David O. Russell.
Then: Much like her brother, Maggie Gyllenhaal began acting as a child. Her credits included ‘A Dangerous Woman,’ ‘Homegrown’ and ‘Cecil B. DeMented’ before her memorable turn as Donnie’s sister.
Now: Gyllenhaal was seen in the blockbuster hit ‘The Dark Knight,’ the much talked-about ‘Crazy Heart’ and the more recent ‘Won’t Back Down.’ She is married to actor Peter Sarsgaard.
Then: Yep, Seth Rogen appeared as one of the ‘Donnie Darko’ bullies. The film was his first movie role. Before this, we saw him as Ken Miller in the Judd Apatow/Paul Feig series ‘Freaks and Geeks.’
Now: ’50/50,’ ‘Knocked Up,’ ‘Pineapple Express,’ ‘Funny People’ and the upcoming ‘This Is the End.’ Need we say anything else?
Then: Daveigh Chase was just 11-years-old when she played little Samantha Darko. Before the film, she turned up on ‘Charmed,’ ‘The Practice’ and ‘ER.’
Now: Chase found immense success playing Rhonda Volmer in HBO’s ‘Big Love.’ She also played an iconically terrifying role in ‘The Ring’ and was the only ‘Darko’ cast member to return for the direct-to-DVD sequel ‘S. Darko.’
Then: Mary McDonnell was known for roles in ‘Dances with Wolves,’ ‘Blue Chips’ and ‘Independence Day’ before playing Donnie’s mother.
Now: McDonnell went on to earn recurring roles in ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ ‘The Closer’ and the more recent ‘Major Crimes.’
Then: James Duval played perhaps the most remembered character in ‘Donnie Darko’ — the creepy rabbit Frank. He also appeared in ‘Independence Day,’ ‘SLC Punk’ and ‘Gone in Sixty Seconds.’
Now: Duval continues to pop up in indie flicks like ‘All Together Now’ and ‘Sushi Girl.’
Then: The star of Dirty Dancing,’ ‘Ghost,’ and of course, ‘Point Break’ played against type as sleazy motivational guru Jim Cunningham.
Now: Swayze’s last film credit was in 2009 for ‘Powder Blue.’ He passed away in September 2009 of pancreatic cancer.
Then: Playing Seth Rogen’s fellow bully, actor/musician Alex Greenwald’s appearance in ‘Donnie Darko’ was his second film role. Before that he worked on ‘No Dessert, Dad, Till You Mow the Lawn.’
Now: Greenwald is now known as the lead singer of Phantom Planet, who are supposedly on an indefinite hiatus.
Then: Drew Barrymore already earned her Hollywood fame with roles in ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ ‘Never Been Kissed,’ ‘Home Fries,’ and ‘The Wedding Singer.’ The actress produced ‘Donnie Darko’ in addition to playing the role of teacher Karen Pomeroy.
Now: Barrymore was recently seen in ‘Big Miracle’ and heard in ‘Family Guy‘ as the voice of Jillian Russell.
Then: Jolene Purdy’s only film role was as Cherita Chen in ‘Donnie Darko.’ She held one of the film’s most famous lines (“Chut up!”).
Now: Purdy has had success in an array of television shows, including ‘Do Not Disturb’ and ‘Glee.’ She will appear as Dodee in the Stephen King novel-turned-TV series, ‘Under the Dome,’ coming in June 2013.
Then: Noah Wyle’s career took off during the ’90s thanks to his role as Dr. John Carter on ‘ER.’
Now: Wyle plays Tom Mason on the TNT series ‘Falling Skies,’ which will begin its third season in June. He also serves as one of the show’s producers.
Then: Before ‘Donnie Darko,’ Jena Malone built up her resume with ‘Contact’ and ‘For Love of the Game’ as well as appearances in shows like ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ and ‘Touched by an Angel.’
Now: Malone recently played Andie in ‘In Our Nature’ and Nancy McCoy in 2012’s ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ alongside Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.
— Written by Kyle Dowling