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See the Cast of ‘Donnie Darko’ Then and Now

Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

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.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

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.

Jake Gyllenhaal
Jason Kempin, Getty Images

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.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

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.

Maggie Gyllenhaal
Ben Gabbe, Getty Images

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.’

Seth Rogen, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

Now: ’50/50,’ ‘Knocked Up,’ ‘Pineapple Express,’ ‘Funny People’ and the upcoming ‘This Is the End.’ Need we say anything else?

Seth Rogen
Valerie Macon, Getty Images

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.’

Daveigh Chase
Pandora Cinema

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.’

Daveigh Chase
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Then: Mary McDonnell was known for roles in ‘Dances with Wolves,’ ‘Blue Chips’ and ‘Independence Day’ before playing Donnie’s mother.

Mary Mcdonnell, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

Now: McDonnell went on to earn recurring roles in ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ ‘The Closer’ and the more recent ‘Major Crimes.’

Mary McDonnell
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

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.’

James Duval, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

Now: Duval continues to pop up in indie flicks like ‘All Together Now’ and ‘Sushi Girl.’

James Duval
Tibrina Hobson, Getty Images

Then: The star of Dirty Dancing,’ ‘Ghost,’ and of course, ‘Point Break’ played against type as sleazy motivational guru Jim Cunningham.

Patrick Swayze, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

Now: Swayze’s last film credit was in 2009 for ‘Powder Blue.’ He passed away in September 2009 of pancreatic cancer.

Patrick Swayze
Barry Brecheisen, Getty Images

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.’

Alex Greenwald, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

Now: Greenwald is now known as the lead singer of Phantom Planet, who are supposedly on an indefinite hiatus.

Alex Greenwad
Matthew Eisman, Getty Images

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.

Drew Barrymore, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

Now: Barrymore was recently seen in ‘Big Miracle’ and heard in ‘Family Guy‘ as the voice of Jillian Russell.

Drew Barrymore
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

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!”).

Jolene Purdy, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

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.

Jolene Purdy
David Livingston, Getty Images

Then: Noah Wyle’s career took off during the ’90s thanks to his role as Dr. John Carter on ‘ER.’

Noah Wyle, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

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.

Noah Wyle
Valerie Macon, Getty Images

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.’

Jena Malone, Donnie Darko
Pandora Cinema

Now: Malone recently played Andie in ‘In Our Nature’ and Nancy McCoy in 2012’s ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ alongside Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.

Jena Malone
Mike Coppola, Getty Images

— Written by Kyle Dowling

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