‘Footloose’ Remake: Where Are the Original Stars Now?

This weekend, Footloose gets a 21st-century remake, starring newcomer Kenny Wormald as Ren, Dancing With the Stars’s Julianne Hough as Ariel, and Dennis Quaid as the dance-phobic Reverend Moore. Find out what the stars who originated the roles on the big screen have been doing since its 1984 release.

This weekend, Footloose gets a 21st-century remake, starring newcomer Kenny Wormald as Ren, Dancing With the Stars’s Julianne Hough as Ariel, and Dennis Quaid as the dance-phobic Reverend Moore. Find out what the stars who originated the roles on the big screen have been doing since its 1984 release.

Everett Collection; Jim Spellman, WireImage / Getty Images

Kevin Bacon (Ren McCormack)

After making his big-screen debut in Animal House in 1978 at 20 years old, Kevin Bacon solidified his position as a box-office asset in the 1984 smash hit Footloose. Bacon played the lead role of Ren McCormack, a Chicago-raised teenager forced to move with his mom to his aunt and uncle’s house in the podunk town of Bomont, Utah, where dancing, rock music, and, consequently, fun are forbidden. The original Footloose went on to earn more than 10 times its reported $8 million budget, but Bacon recently told Entertainment Weekly he has a few regrets about the way he handled the instant stardom. “In retrospect, I probably should've embraced it more,” he said. “But the movie became a teen phenomenon, and I was hell-bent on being a ‘serious actor.’ I wanted to be Robert De Niro, and I was ['70s teen idol] Bobby Sherman.” Nevertheless, Bacon hasn’t stopped working since: Oliver Stone's JFK, military courtroom drama A Few Good Men, his Golden Globe-nominated role in The River Wild opposite Meryl Streep, Sleepers, the fantasy-ridden Wild Things, and his critically acclaimed performance as an offending pedophile on parole in 2004’s The Woodsman. In 2010, Bacon won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for the HBO movie Taking Chance. His prolific career on screen has inspired the trivia game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, based on the idea that any Hollywood actor can be linked to Bacon by a half-dozen connections. He recently starred in X-Men: First Class and Crazy, Stupid, Love and will next be seen on screen in action-crime comedy R.I.P.D. Despite working on an average of two projects every year for the past three decades, Bacon found time to marry actress Kyra Sedgwick and have two children.

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Lori Singer (Ariel Moore)

A year after entering Hollywood’s consciousness as cellist Julie Miller on the Fame TV series, Juilliard-trained Lori Singer shot to superstardom as the reverend’s not-so-holy daughter Ariel Moore in Footloose—a role producers reportedly wanted to give to Madonna. “I am always tremendously honored by people’s appreciation of Ariel’s wild ways that I had the opportunity to portray with gusto,” Singer said in a 2010 interview. “I’m proud to be that rebel forever.” In the decade that followed, Singer continued acting, co-starring with Sean Penn in The Falcon and the Snowman, playing opposite Tom Hanks in The Man With One Red Shoe, and earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Trouble in Mind. Singer also played a depressed cellist in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, which won Best Ensemble at the Venice Film Festival and the Golden Globes. From 1980 to 1998, she was married to Richard Emery, with whom she has one child. After more than a decade away from the spotlight, Singer returned to television in May 2011 with a guest-starring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as a mother whose child was kidnapped. All these years later, Footloose still holds a special place in her heart. “When I first read the script, the words and feeling just jumped off the page,” Singer told Today in 2008. “It’s about freedom and it’s about fighting against even a little bit of oppression … It’s really about fighting the good fight in America, and joy, and just ... liberty.”

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Chris Penn (Willard Hewitt)

The late Chris Penn, Sean’s younger brother, had just started making a name for himself in Hollywood when he gained the part of Willard, Ren’s new nerdy best friend in Bomont, in Footloose. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Ren teaches a straw-hat-wearing Willard how to dance. The part didn’t typecast him, though—Penn went on to play villains and tough guys, like the ironically named Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs and Nicky Dimes in True Romance. In 1996, he was named Best Supporting Actor at the Venice Film Festival for The Funeral. Penn reunited with Lori Singer in Robert Altman’s 1993 film Short Cuts, playing a troubled swimming-pool cleaner who becomes disturbed when his phone-sex-operator wife works from home. Throughout the early 2000s, he had guest-starring roles on Will & Grace, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Entourage. In 2006, Penn, who long struggled with his weight and drug addiction, was found dead in his home at the age of 40 due to heart disease. Miles Teller, who plays Willard in the Footloose remake, knew he had big, yet awkward, shoes to fill. “I haven’t yet seen the original, but just knowing Chris Penn and seeing him in various movies in his career, I know that he’s a very talented actor,” Teller said in a recent interview. “I wasn’t so much daunted by the fact that we were doing a remake.”

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Sarah Jessica Parker (Rusty)

Before she became New York’s most glamorous fictional character and a fashion icon for women everywhere, Sarah Jessica Parker was a perpetual on-screen dork. In 1982, the Broadway child star became known as bespectacled social misfit Patty Greene on Square Pegs. A year after the show’s first (and final) season ended, she played Footloose’s Rusty, Willard’s equally awkward girlfriend. Times on the set may have been as awkward as her character, given Parker’s later comments about making the movie. “When you're thrown together [making the movie], you have the option of either not getting along or really making it work and, since this was my first film, I thought making it work meant that you were all going to be friends forever—and it can't be like that,” Parker said in a 2009 interview. “Really, you only have so much in common. You get to know people well enough that you get along, and that's great. But [afterward] everybody’s life goes back to what it was.” Parker’s life may have gone back to exactly what it was, but eventually, after playing a 1990s leading lady opposite Bruce Willis, Johnny Depp, and Nicolas Cage, Parker traded Bomont for the Big Apple as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. Despite a series of rom-com flops since the Sex and the City franchise came to an end, her reputation has been unflappable. Parker, who has long been married to actor Matthew Broderick and has three children, will next be seen in the ensemble romantic comedy New Year’s Eve.

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Jim Youngs (Chuck Cranston)

Born to an insurance salesman and a housewife in Old Bethpage, N.Y., Jim Youngs and his siblings—brother John Savage and radio-personality sisters Robin and Gail Youngs—were drawn to the entertainment industry. After a few TV roles in the early 1980s, he landed a part in Footloose as Chuck Cranston, the trailer trash Ariel is dating when Ren arrives in Bomont. The jealous Chuck would do anything to keep Ariel to himself (even challenging Ren to a tractor chicken race as “Holding Out for a Hero” plays in the background), becoming one of the most evil boyfriends in cinematic history. Unfortunately, it seems Youngs’s career peaked with Footloose—he hasn’t worked since 1995, when he had a guest-starring part on NYPD Blue.

Everett Collection; IMDB

John Laughlin (Woody)

As Chuck Cranston’s best friend and shadow in Footloose, John Laughlin played Woody, who barely said anything other than repeating what Chuck had already said. Ever since, the now silver-haired Laughlin has been playing bit parts on television in everything from Murder, She Wrote to Knots Landing to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman to Dharma & Greg to Californication to Criminal Minds.

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John Lithgow (Rev. Shaw Moore)

“Back in the day, the studio was excited about making Footloose, because it was a cheaper movie, [but] at the same time, they were worried about the young kids,” Craig Brewer, director of the new Footloose, told Moviefone. “So they beefed up the parents' side a lot. And that's why they have these great actors in John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest doing it.” Lithgow was already a Tony-winning Broadway actor and a two-time Academy Award nominee when he was cast as Rev. Shaw Moore, Ariel’s father and the man responsible for Bomont’s dancing ban. “People thought the premise was so farfetched, rock and roll and dancing being illegal,” Lithgow told Today in 2008. “But yet so many people over the years have come up to me and said, ‘You told our story.’” After Footloose, Lithgow became a villain in movies like Raising Cain and Cliffhanger, and turned to small-screen comedic work in Third Rock From the Sun. Always the versatile performer, he has done family-friendly projects like Harry and the Hendersons and voiced Lord Farquaad in the Shrek franchise, while also recording albums and writing books for children. Most recently, Lithgow won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the Trinity Killer in Dexter. The actor has been married twice (currently to Mary Yeager) and has two children. He will next be starring with Melissa McCarthy and Paul Rudd in This Is Forty. Amid Lithgow’s lengthy filmography, Footloose holds a special place in his heart. “It was just done with such verve and style,” he recalled to Today.

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Dianne Wiest (Vi Moore)

Veteran stage actress Dianne Wiest teamed up with John Lithgow for the second time—the two had co-starred in Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy on Broadway in 1981. But Footloose was her first big break on screen as the reverend’s sage and compassionate wife, Vi Moore. Wiest went on to gain  Woody Allen’s attention and appeared in many of his movies over the years, including Hannah and Her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway, both of which won her Academy Awards. The actress continued to play Footloose-esque soft-spoken, but strong, mother roles in Parenthood—which earned her another Oscar nomination—Edward Scissorhands, and The Birdcage. On the small screen, Wiest has won two Emmys—one for a guest-starring stint on Road to Avonlea in 1989 and the other in 2008 as a therapist on In Treatment. The actress was in a long-term relationship with talent agent Sam Cohn, who passed away in 2009, and she has two adopted daughters. This weekend her latest movie, The Big Year (which stars her Parenthood brother Steve Martin), will go up against the Footloose reboot at the box office for a battle of the original Vi and 2011’s Vi, played by Andie MacDowell.

Everett; IMDB

Frances Lee McCain (Ethel McCormack)

No lightweight actress, Frances Lee McCain appeared opposite Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway in a 1970s Los Angeles production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Her film career took off in 1984 when she played two mothers: Billy Peltzer’s mom in Gremlins and Ren McCormack’s mom in Footloose, who up and moves her teenage son from the big city to the conservative suburbs. In the following years, McCain went on to play Lea Thompson’s character’s mother in Back to the Future, Wil Wheaton’s character’s mother in Stand by Me, and Rose McGowan’s character's mother in Scream. She also appeared in Patch Adams and True Crime, while taking a break from the big screen to earn her master’s degree in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2000. Married to fellow actor Mark Wheeler, McCain still does theater in the San Francisco area, where she moved in the late 1980s.

Lynne Marta (Lulu Warnicker)

Lynne Marta made a name for herself before Footloose by dating Starsky and Hutch actor David Soul through the show’s 1970s run. A decade later, she returned to the spotlight as Ren’s Bomont-based aunt in Footloose, who lets the lead character and his mother move in. Though Marta continued to work in movies like Three Men and a Little Lady and last appeared in the 2005 psychological thriller Time of Fear, Footloose was certainly her career highlight.