Where Are They Now? The Cast of ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’

Universal/Everett Collection
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, Sean Penn, 1982. (c) Universal/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

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)

Stacy Hamilton

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, 1982

Universal/Everett Collection

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 FemaleBackdraft, and Short Cuts and voicing characters in the Hercules and Superman animated series.

Best line:

“Linda, that girl looks just like Pat Benatar.”
SHARP STICK, Jennifer Jason Leigh, 2022

Utopia/Everett Collection

She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight in 2015. She most recently appeared in the shows Atypical, Lisey’s Story, Hunters, and Fargo.

Sean Penn (62)

Jeff Spicoli


Universal/Everett Collection

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.

Best Line:

“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”
FLAG DAY, director Sean Penn, on set, 2021

Allen Fraser/MGM/Everett Collection

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)

Linda Barrett


Everett Collection

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.

Best Line:

“Hi Brad, you know how cute I always thought you were.”
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Actress Phoebe Cates attends the 71st Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City

Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images

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)

Brad Hamilton


Everett Collection

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.

Best Line:

“Hey, you guys had shirts on when you came in here.”
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Actor Judge Reinhold attends the 19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 1, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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)

Mike Damone


Universal/Everett Collection

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.

Best Line:

“No. I don’t have any Blue Oyster Cult. I ate 34 pairs last time around. Where were you?”
CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 04: Actor Robert Romanus arrives at Spike TV's 5th annual 2011 "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on June 4, 2011 in Culver City, California

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, Brian Backer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, 1982

Universal/Everett Collection

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.

Best Line:

“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?'”
NEW YORK - JUNE 10: Actor Brian Backer poses at The Tony Awards Honor Presenters And Nominees at the Waldorf Astoria on June 10, 2006 in New York.

Ian Smile/Getty Images

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 fast times at ridgemont high

Universal Pictures

Amanda Wyss played Lisa, Brad’s girlfriend.

Best Line:

“I don’t want to have to use sex as a tool, Brad.”
HUNTERS MOON, from left: Emmalee Parker, Amanda Wyss, India Ennenga, 2020

Lionsgate Home Entertainment/Everett Collection

She went on to work somewhat regularly in movies and television shows including A Nightmare on Elm Street, Better Off Dead, Cheers, Murder in the First, and most recently Badland.

Scott Thomson (65)


scott thomson fast times at ridgemont high

Universal Pictures

Scott Thomson played Brad’s friend Arnold and went on to appear in movies and shows including the Police Academy franchise, Clueless, Twister, and Jack Frost.

Best Line:

“Are you the guy with the Van Halen tickets?”
scott thomson

Wikimedia Commons

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)

Charles Jefferson

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, Robert Romanus, Forest Whitaker, 1982

Universal/Everett Collection

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.

Best Line:

“When are those Earth, Wind and Fire tickets comin’ in?”
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 11: Actor Forest Whitaker arrives at the Élysée Palace for the inaugural dinner of the Paris Peach Forum as World Leaders and dignitaries arrive in Paris for the first day on November 11, 2021 in Paris, France. The forum, which includes 30 heads of state and government, will examine global health, post-COVID recovery and ways to ensure equitable access to coronavirus tests, treatment and vaccines for all nations

Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

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)

Brads friend

nicolas cage fast times at ridgemont high

Universal Pictures

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.

Best Line:

“Brad, your sister’s turning into a fox!”
DUESSELDORF, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 25: Nicolas Cage attends the German Sustainability Award 2016 (Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis) at Maritim Hotel on November 25, 2016 in Duesseldorf, Germany.

Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images

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)

Stoner Bud

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, Eric Stoltz, Sean Penn, Anthony Edwards, 1982,

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

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.

Best Line:

“No dice! Ohhhh.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 29: Eric Stoltz speaks onstage at the 56th New York Film Festival - "Her Smell" premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on September 29, 2018 in New York City.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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)


Fast Times At Ridgemont High Kelli Maroney

Universal Studios/MovieStillsDB

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.

Best Line:

“You know, it takes a lot of guts to stand there and do something that you know people will make fun of.”

Quiver Distribution/Everett Collection

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

Ray Walston

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.

Vincent Schiavelli

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?

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