See the Cast of ‘Reality Bites’ Then and Now
Released in 1994, ‘Reality Bites’ follows a quartet of Generation X friends as they struggle through the ups and downs of love, work and life in their 20s. At the heart of the film is the love triangle between Winona Ryder’s Lelaina and two men who represent opposing ideals, and the choice between following your dreams or following your paycheck. Almost 20 years later, we take a look back at the cast of the film and see what they’re doing now.
Winona Ryder, Lelaina Pierce
Then: Screenwriter Helen Childress wrote ‘Reality Bites’ based on the lives of her and her friends, and had Winona Ryder in mind for the lead role. Ryder had previously starred in ‘Beetlejuice’ and ‘Heathers.’
Now: Ryder recently reunited with her ‘Beetlejuice’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands’ director Tim Burton for ‘Frankenweenie.’ She also starred in ‘The Iceman’ with Michael Shannon.
Ethan Hawke, Troy Dyer
Then: Director Ben Stiller approached Ethan Hawke for the role of Troy, the grungy, procrastinating, aimless love interest who alternately amuses and annoys Lelaina.
Now: Hawke is currently experiencing a career resurgence, with roles in films like ‘The Purge’ and ‘Before Midnight,’ the latest film in Richard Linklater’s ‘Before’ trilogy. He has two children from a previous marriage to actress Uma Thurman.
Janeane Garofalo, Vickie Miner
Then: Stand-up comic Janeane Garofalo won the part of Vickie Miner over Parker Posey, Anne Heche and Gwyneth Paltrow because Winona Ryder really connected with her during the audition process. And though Garofalo had worked with Stiller on ‘The Ben Stiller Show,’ that didn’t keep her friend from temporarily firing her from ‘Reality Bites’ when he didn’t like her attitude at rehearsals.
Now: Still active in stand-up, Garofalo appears on political talk shows and podcasts, and lent her voice talents to the Pixar film ‘Ratatouille.’ She recently starred in the film ‘General Education.’
Steve Zahn, Sammy Gray
Then: Steve Zahn was cast as Lelaina’s closeted gay friend Sammy. Hawke and Zahn were performing in a stage play together, and Hawke introduced the actor to Stiller, who was immediately drawn to Zahn’s comedic instincts.
Now: Zahn has starred in all three ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ movies, and appears next in the film ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ with Matthew McConaughey. He’s married to actress Robyn Peterman.
Ben Stiller, Michael Grates
Then: Ben Stiller was offered the job of directing ‘Reality Bites’ based on his short-lived sketch show ‘The Ben Stiller Show’ on Fox.
Now: Stiller now produces films like ’30 Minutes or Less’ and ‘Submarine,’ and was behind the web series ‘Burning Love’ for Yahoo! He can be seen next in the film ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’ which he also directed, and is working on a sequel to ‘Zoolander.’
Swoosie Kurtz, Charlaine McGregor
Then: Star of ‘The World According to Garp’ and ‘Dangerous Liaisons,’ Swoosie Kurtz played Charlaine, Lelaina’s hard-nosed mom.
Now: Kurtz has a long resume, which includes roles in ‘Cruel Intentions’ and ‘The Rules of Attraction.’ She reunited with her ‘Reality Bites’ director and co-star Ben Stiller on the dark comedy ‘Duplex’ and currently stars on the TV series ‘Mike and Molly.’
Renee Zellweger, Tami
Then: Renee Zellweger made her big-screen debut in ‘Reality Bites’ as Tami, one of Troy’s many hook-ups. Though it was her first “real” role, Zellweger had previously made tiny, uncredited appearances in ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘My Boyfriend’s Back.’
Now: In 1996, Zellweger became a household name with her role in ‘Jerry Maguire.’ Today she’s also known from the two ‘Bridget Jones’ films, and may appear in a third. Her most recent acting credit is 2010’s ‘My Own Love Song.’
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Cheryl Goode
Then: In ‘Reality Bites,’ Michael works for In Your Face TV, a satirical riff on MTV. Jeanne Tripplehorn had a small, uncredited part as Cheryl Goode, the host of In Your Face’s fashion show. At the time, Tripplehorn was engaged to Stiller.
Now: Tripplehorn is known for her acclaimed performance on the HBO series ‘Big Love,’ and currently stars on the series ‘Criminal Minds.’
David Spade, Hot Dog Manager
Then: ‘SNL’ alum David Spade also had an uncredited role in the film — he played the manager of the hot dog joint where Lelaina begrudgingly tries to get a job. The restaurant’s catchphrase is “Have a ‘tude, wiener dude!”
Now: Spade recently starred in ‘Grown Ups 2′ with fellow ‘SNL’ alums Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. He’s one of Sandler’s frequent collaborators, having also appeared in ‘Hotel Transylvania’ and ‘Jack and Jill.’