See the Cast of ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ Then and Now
When Cameron Crowe was a young writer at Rolling Stone magazine he went undercover for a year at a high school in San Diego, an experience that became a book called ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’ Crowe then adopted his tale into a screenplay, and thus was born the Amy Heckerling-directed movie ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’
The comedy was a modest hit in 1982, but it launched the careers of both Crowe and Heckerling. In the 30 years since, ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ has come to be recognized as teen classic, and some of the actors who played the students grew up to be pretty big stars.
Sean Penn, Jeff Spicoli
Then: In âFast Times at Ridgemont Highâ Penn played Jeff Spicoli, the stoner / slacker to whom all subsequent stoner/slacker characters have been compared. Penn’s first movie role was one year prior, when he appeared alongside Tom Cruise and Timothy Hutton in âTaps.â
Now: Penn has won Best Actor Oscars for his roles in âMystic Riverâ and âMilkâ and has been nominated for the award three other times. The 52-year-old is also known for his tabloid exploits and outspoken political views. He will star as Mickey Cohen in the upcoming crime drama âThe Gangster Squad.â
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stacy Hamilton
Then: Jennifer Jason Leigh was 20 when she starred as freshman Stacy Hamilton in âFast Times At Ridgemont High.â The daughter of actor Vic Morrow, she previously appeared on TV shows such as âTrapper John, M.D.â and had snagged her first lead movie role the year before in the thriller âWrong Is Right.â
Now: Over the years Leigh has had memorable roles in movies like âSingle White Femaleâ and âThe Hudsucker Proxy.â She currently plays recurring characters on both âWeedsâ and âRevenge.â In 2010, she co-wrote and had a supporting role in the dramedy âGreenberg.â
Judge Reinhold, Brad Hamilton
Then: In âFast Times at Ridgemont Highâ Reinhold was Brad Hamilton, a high school senior who endures his fair share of humiliation, job-related or otherwise. It was the biggest role to date for the Â 25-year-old, who had a very nice run during the eighties thanks to âRuthless Peopleâ and the âBeverly Hills Copâ franchise. And ‘Vice Versa.’ Never forget ‘Vice Versa.’
Now: Reihnold has had some high-profile TV guest star appearance over the years — most notably as a âclose talkerâ on Seinfeld and as âThe Honorable Judge Reinholdâ on âArrested Development.â He is slated to star in the upcoming golf comedy âComics Open.â
Robert Romanus as Mike Damone
Then: You probably remember Robert Romanus as smooth-talking ticket scalper Mike Damone in âFast Times at Ridgemont High.â Romanus had made his movie debut in another teen movie, 1980âs âFoxes,â and later appeared on âFameâ and âThe Facts of Life.â
Now: In addition to guest starring on shows such as âTouchâ and âCold Case,â Romanus is an acting teacher, and his rock band âPoppaâs Kitchenâ plays shows around the Los Angeles area. On the 56-year-oldâs website he humorously addresses (and debunks) rumors that he is homeless and/or works the late shift at a 7/11.
Brian Backer, Mark “Rat” Ratner
Then: Backer played Mark Ratner in âFast Times at Ridgemont High.â Shy and kind, âRatâ has trouble putting the moves on Stacy, even though she is interested in him. Backer came up in the theater, and won a Best Actor Tony in 1981 for his role in the Woody Allen play âThe Floating Lightbulb.â
Now: Backerâs last two film performances were cameos in Amy Heckling movies, 2000âs âLoserâ and 2012âs âVamps.â
Phoebe Cates, Linda Barrett
Then: In âFast Times at Ridgemont High,â Cates was Linda Barrett, who regales Stacy with tales of her experiences with her much older boyfriend. The sequence in which Linda emerges from the Hamilton family pool and removes her top is among the film’s most memorable, for obvious reasons. After âFast Times,â Cates popped up in movies like âGremlins,’ âBright Lights, Big City’ and, of course, ‘Drop Dead Fred.’
Now: Cates hasnât been in a movie since 2001âs âThe Graduation Party,â which was written and directed by her âFast Times at Ridgemont Highâ co-star and real-life BFF Jennifer Jason Leigh. Married to actor Kevin Kline since 1989, Cates owns and operates a high-end general store in New York City.
Forest Whitaker, Charles Jefferson
Then: In his movie debut, Whitaker played Charles Jefferson, a star football player at Ridgemont High who is tricked into thinking students from a rival high school destroyed his car. Whitaker actually started college on a football scholarship, but quit the team and took up acting instead.
Now: Whitaker won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 2006âs âLast King of Scotland.â He is also known for his work in âBirdâ and as the voice of Ira in âWhere the Wild Things Are.â He will appear alongside Nikki Reed and Ray Liotta in the upcoming thriller âPawn.â
Amanda Wyss, Lisa
Then: In âFast Times at Ridgemont High,â Wyss was Bradâs girlfriend and co-worker Lisa. Two years later Wyss had the honor of playing the first person ever killed in the âNightmare on Elm Streetâ franchise and also played ex-girlfriend Beth in âBetter Off Dead.’
Now: The 52-year-old continues to act, most recently as recurring character Tina Vincent on âCSI: Crime Scene Investigation.â