Where Are They Now? The Cast of ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’
Fast Times at Ridgemont High was the ultimate coming-of-age movie and the start for some very famous faces. Along with its killer soundtrack, this 1982 comedy focused on a group of high schoolers and their experiences growing up and getting their hearts broken. Based on a book of the same name by Cameron Crowe, the film was praised for being more accurate to the average high school experience of the time and is now included in the National Film Registry.
Phoebe Cates just celebrated her 60th birthday which led us to wonder what is Cates and the rest of the cast up to these days. Some of the stars including Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, and Forest Whitaker went on to become superstars while others faded into the background a bit. Let’s find out what happened to the cast of Fast Times At Ridgemont High!
Jennifer Jason Leigh (61)
Jennifer Jason Leigh played 15-year-old Stacy Hamilton, who worked at Perry’s Pizza. Perry’s Pizza was a real place and Leigh actually took a job there to prepare for the role. She worked steadily in Hollywood afterward, appearing in the ’90s films Single White Female, Backdraft, and Short Cuts and voicing characters in the Hercules and Superman animated series.
“Linda, that girl looks just like Pat Benatar.”
Sean Penn (62)
While Penn played a stoner in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, he has mostly turned to more serious and dramatic roles as his career went on. Some of his best work has been in Mystic River, Milk, Licorice Pizza, 21 Grams, and Dead Man Walking. He was most recently seen in the Starz miniseries Gaslit with Julia Roberts and the film Black Flies.
“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”
Penn is also known for his humanitarian work, for instance, in 2005 he traveled to help Hurricane Katrina victims personally and recently shot a documentary called Superpowers about the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Phoebe Cates (60)
Phoebe Cates just turned 60 on July 16, 2023, and played Linda, Stacy’s best friend at Perry’s Pizza who gives her lots of dating advice in Fast Times At Ridgemont High and of course that infamous daydream sequence of jumping into the pool. She is still perhaps best known for that role or her role as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. She retired from acting in the 1990s to start a family with her husband Kevin Kline.
“Hi Brad, you know how cute I always thought you were.”
They are still married and have two children. She returned in 2001’s The Anniversary Party, which was directed by her former co-star Leigh, but hasn’t been seen in anything since.
Judge Reinhold (66)
Judge Reinhold played Stacy’s older brother and boyfriend to Lisa. He also appeared in Gremlins with Cates as well as Beverly Hills Cop and the Santa Clause movies. His most recent films were Bad Grandmas and Four Christmases and a Wedding.
“Hey, you guys had shirts on when you came in here.”
Fun fact: his real name is Edward but he was nicknamed “Judge” as a baby because he looked so stern. He also reprised his role in the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley, rumored to be released on Netflix later this year.
Robert Romanus (67)
Robert Romanus played Mike Damone, who ended up being more insecure than he let on, something everyone can relate to. He went on to appear in The Facts of Life and has continued to work steadily over the years, although in smaller roles.
“No. I don’t have any Blue Oyster Cult. I ate 34 pairs last time around. Where were you?”
He guest-starred in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Code Black, and Cougar Town with his most recent role being in 2022’s Sacred Grounds: Forbidden. He has two movies in the works, so it seems he is continuing to find work.
Brian Backer (66)
Mark “Rat” Ratner
Brian Backer played Mark “Rat” Ratner, Damone’s nerdy best friend who works at the Ridgemont Mall movie theater. After Fast Times At Ridgemont High, he appeared on popular shows such as Santa Barbara, Charles in Charge, and Growing Pains.
“Well, what am I supposed to do? Go up to this strange girl in my Biology class and say, ‘Hello, I’d like you to take your clothes off and jump on me?'”
He has stayed mainly out of the spotlight but his most recent role was in 2012 in the horror comedy Vamps, also directed by Fast Times At Ridgemont High director Amy Heckerling.
Amanda Wyss (62)
Amanda Wyss played Lisa, Brad’s girlfriend.
“I don’t want to have to use sex as a tool, Brad.”
Scott Thomson (65)
“Are you the guy with the Van Halen tickets?”
He later appeared in HBO’s True Blood and joined Backer in Vamps. His most recent role was in 2015’s Greater.
Forest Whitaker (62)
Forest Whitaker played football player Charles Jefferson and this was one of his first roles. He also went on to become a huge star in films such as Good Morning, Vietnam, The Crying Game, Panic Room, Black Panther, The Last King of Scotland, and the Star Wars franchise.
“When are those Earth, Wind and Fire tickets comin’ in?”
His most recent role was in Big George Foreman (2023), a film about the boxer’s life, and the TV series, Godfather of Harlem.
Nicolas Cage (59)
This was his first big-screen role and he played an unnamed character and was credited under his real name, Nicolas Coppola. Of course, he went on to achieve superstardom with films such as Moonstruck, Gone in 60 Seconds, Ghost Rider, the National Treasure series, Leaving Las Vegas, and more.
“Brad, your sister’s turning into a fox!”
Cage has probably been the most active of the bunch. His most recent roles were in Renfield as Dracula and uncredited as his idol, Superman, in The Flash. He also has had a slew of B-movie roles over the past few years and according to IMDB, he has seven more coming up.
Eric Stoltz (61)
While he had some small roles in the late ’70s, this was his first major movie performance, although uncredited, as playing one of Spicoli’s stoner buds. By the mid-’80s, he started picking up steam in his acting career in roles such as Mask, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Pulp Fiction to name a few.
“No dice! Ohhhh.”
Like his co-star Sean Penn, he has taken up the part of behind the camera most recently as director and producer of the TV series Bull.
Kelli Maroney (57)
Playing a spirited cheer bunny trying to get the school psyched at prep rallies, she started her career in the soap opera Ryan’s Hope. After Fast Times at Ridgemont High, she starred in the cult classic Night of the Comet and Chopping Mall.
“You know, it takes a lot of guts to stand there and do something that you know people will make fun of.”
Today she still is an actor in B-movie horror flicks, appears in documentaries about the genre, owns a production company, and does appearances at fan cons.
Gone But Not Forgotten
He played the role of Mr. Hand and was convinced everyone was on dope. Before Fast Times, he started his acting career in the 1950s as a character actor and was in numerous TV shows and movies but was probably best known for his role in My Favorite Martian and Picket Fences, the latter he won two Emmy awards for. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 86 from Lupus.
A prolific character actor played the role of Mr. Vargass. He appeared in over 120 TV shows and films, best known in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He also was the author of 3 cookbooks and wrote numerous articles for food magazines. He died in Sicily at the age of 57 in 2005 from lung cancer.
Sidenote: Mrs. Vargas was played by yet another character actress and model, Lana Clarkson, who was sadly the homicide victim of record producer Phil Spector in 2003.
Who is your favorite character in Fast Times in Ridgemont High?