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What The Cast Of Rudy Looks Like Today

Fall. 1974. South Bend, Indiana. The University of Notre Dame accepts a transfer student from neighboring Holy Cross College. Little did the administration know they'd accepted more than just another eager academic. After all, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger grew up harboring a deep-rooted passion for Notre Dame football, and an even deeper drive to one day suit up for his beloved Fighting Irish. Unfortunately, his academic record was hindered by battles with dyslexia, and his 5'6," 165-pound frame didn't exactly scream "collegiate football star."

Grades and stature can be measured, but you simply cannot measure the power of the human spirit. By sheer will alone, Rudy worked his way into the Notre Dame student body. Then he bled his way on to the Fighting Irish's practice squad. In November of 1975, his story became the stuff of legend when Ruettiger found his way into an actual game, where he recorded a quarterback sack and became the first Notre Dame player to ever be carried off the field by his teammates.

Years later, Ruettiger's inspiring tale of perseverance, titled simply Rudy, found its way to big screens across the nation, instantly earning accolades as one of the greatest sports films ever made. It did so on the backs of a brilliant cast composed of low-key Hollywood legends, relative newcomers, and a handful of familiar faces to boot. There's no time like the present to see what those faces look like today.

Sean Astin - Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger

Of the "familiar" faces in Rudy, few were as recognizable as Sean Astin's. Prior to donning the blue and gold for his turn as "Rudy" Ruettiger, Astin had already established himself as young actor to watch. He'd given Hollywood one unforgettable performance as the lead outsider in The Goonies, and delivered memorable turns in more adult fare like Memphis Belle and Toy Soldiers. Astin's cherubic face and small stature helped imbue those early performances with youthful, earnest energy unmatched by most of his young contemporaries.

That aw-shucks energy proved pivotal in Astin's portrayal of the Notre Dame legend, ultimately ensuring the character would resonate deeply for any human being with a beating heart in their chest. That's exactly what happened, and Astin's turn as the perpetually hopeful "Rudy" remains one of the actor's most beloved. That's saying a lot when your résumé includes not just the likes of The Goonies, but Samwise Gamgee in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy and appearances on popular TV shows like 24, The Strain, and a turn as the lovable Bob "Superhero" Newby in season 2 of Stranger Things. Of course, if it's more "Rudy" you're after, Astin graciously "revisited" the role in these 2014 college football playoffs commercials. You're welcome.  

Jon Favreau - D-Bob

Since taking his talents behind the camera in the early 2000s with hits like Elf and a little MCU hit called Iron Man, Jon Favreau has become one of the go-to directors in Hollywood's blockbuster set. It's almost easy to forget that Favreau got his start in front of the camera with films like PCU, Swingers, and a memorable recurring role on TV's Friends. Still, Favreau's turn as "Rudy's" charmingly aloof Holy Cross pal D-Bob (just his second credited role) was Favreau's official introduction to most of the moviegoing public.

And what an introduction it was, with the actor bringing just enough anxious energy and cocky swagger to make a likable, three-dimensional character of the awkwardly energetic D-Bob, providing welcome comic relief to a film that often erred on the side of melodrama. That delicate balance of charm and nervy angst has served Favreau well in the years since, particularly as Tony Stark's esteemed driver/right-hand man Happy Hogan in all three Iron Man movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the Avengers franchise all the kids are talking about. While you certainly recognize Favreau's face, Star Wars fans will also recognize his voice as Pre Vizsla from the animated The Clone Wars Series, and as Rio Durant in the ill-fated Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is way better than most fans and critics are willing to give it credit for.

Charles S. Dutton - Fortune

The term "character actor" is tossed around a lot these days, mostly in regard to actors who've built strong careers almost exclusively in supporting roles. Quite often, that term tends to detract from the ineffable qualities an actor brings to their work. Charles S. Dutton is one of those actors. In the 30-plus years since since his debut in 1985's Cat's Eye, he's notched more than 100 acting credits; calling him a "character actor" completely undermines the dignified, calming presence Dutton has brought to every one of those roles (including captivating turns in David Fincher's Alien³ and a rare starring role in Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune — which remains a career highlight).

Still, Dutton's portrayal of Notre Dame groundskeeper Fortune is the role that comes to mind when many people think about the actor, and for good reason — he very nearly steals the movie from Astin in terms of raw, natural emotion. At the very least, Dutton's character essentially becomes the heart of the film in its second half, and that's no easy feat. In the years since, he's gone on to steal scenes in series and films like The Sopranos, House, Longmire, and Secret Window. Though he's slowed his roll of late (he hasn't appeared in anything since the 2016 short film Veneration), he's still looking sharp, and we can only hope he'll return to the screen in the very near future.

Lili Taylor - Sherry

For much of her career, Lili Taylor has proudly laid claim to being one of the true queens of indie cinema — and one of the few who've found their way into big-budget projects. The actor has appeared in such blockbuster fare as Born on the Fourth of July, The Conjuring, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials as well as indie gems like Short Cuts, I Shot Andy Warhol, and High Fidelity. All that while scoring small-screen roles in the likes of The X-Files, Six Feet Under, and Hemlock Grove — there really isn't much that Taylor can't play (and hasn't already played).

Her role as Rudy's commitment-anxious girlfriend Sherry is further proof. In what remains one of her most memorable supporting roles, Taylor brings nobility to the character that somehow garners equal parts sympathy and ire. That sort of complexity is what's helped make Taylor a three-time Emmy nominee in the years since Rudy premiered, and it's certain to earn more accolades as she continues to find roles that confound as much as they entertain.

Ned Beatty - Daniel Ruettiger Sr.

Of all the familiar and up-and-coming faces in Rudy, the great Ned Beatty is the only one that can lay claim to the title of living legend. Prior to taking on the role of Daniel Ruettiger Sr, he'd already appeared in Deliverance, Nashville, Network, Silver Streak, the first two Superman films, and a recurring role on the initial run of Roseanne. Throughout the '70s and '80s he was one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, making extensive use of his easygoing charm and uncanny ability to ground characters with a stark humanity — even when those characters were less than sympathetic.

As the head of the Ruettiger household, Beatty made marvelous use of that ability once again, crafting a character that teeters between an emotionless hardass and a loving father who just wants the best for his family. Of course, we finally do get to see the real heart of Daniel Reuttiger in the film's unabashedly heartfelt (and absolutely pitch perfect) final moments, and the unequivocal pride Beatty displays in those moments seems so real, you just can't help but give over to the feelings yourself. Though Beatty hasn't appeared onscreen since 2013, he kept himself busy post-Rudy, delivering winning performances in He Got Game, Cookie's Fortune (opposite Charles S. Dutton), Charlie Wilson's War, and The Killer Inside Me.

Vince Vaughn - Jamie O'Hara

Though Vince Vaughn has gone on to become one of the more well-known actors in Hollywood, that was hardly the case when he took the antagonistic role of Jamie O'Hara in Rudy. Still, Vaughn (credited here as Vincent) made the most of the occasion, bringing enough snark and entitlement to his role as Notre Dame's underachieving halfback that you relish the moment he's unceremoniously handed his hat, though Vaughn's hangdog face in the aftermath is almost enough to garner sympathy.

Vaughn's broke through opposite Jon Favreau in 1996's Swingers, going on to star in indie outings like A Cool Dry Place, Clay Pigeons, and The Cell, but it's far more likely you got to know him in big-budget comedies like Old School, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Wedding Crashers (not to mention a memorable cameo in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy). Either way, Vaughn looks to be keeping things serious for the foreseeable future with dramatic roles in Dragged Across Concrete, Against All Enemies, and Fighting With My Family (opposite Dwayne Johnson) lined up over the coming years.

John Beasley - Coach Warren

Odds are pretty high that you've never actually heard of the actor known as John Beasley, though you've most certainly seen his face a dozen times or so over the years — he's been a mainstay in supporting roles on screens big and small for the better part of the past three decades. You've seen it in everything from The Mighty Ducks and Everwood to The Purge: Anarchy and HBO's Treme, almost always flashing a big, soul-comforting grin.

We don't see that grin much from Beasley in Rudy. His no-nonsense Coach Warren hardly seems like the smiling type for much of the film. Still, there's a certain level of tenderness behind his harsh words and hard-nosed façade that would lead one to believe that he cares for the student athletes he punishes on a daily basis more than he'd ever let on, and we can't imagine that level of emotion would shine through in the hands of a lesser actor. That point is all the more obvious in the film's final moments when "Rudy" takes the field and Beasley finally flashes that smile. We can only imagine that smile will be back on display in Beasley's upcoming projects, which include the comedy The Turkey Bowl.

Ron Dean - Coach Yonto

Ron Dean is another one of those actors who's been in the game longer than many people realize: he made his big-screen debut way back in 1976 with a little-seen drama called The Last Affair. In the years since, he's made a fairly remarkable career for himself as a supporting player in dozens of films and TV shows — he played a father in The Breakfast Club, an uncle opposite Tom Cruise in Cocktail, a tough-as-nails detective in The Fugitive and NYPD Blue, a corpse on Six Feet Under, and a seriously dirty cop in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.

Yes, Dean's career has largely been spent playing tough guys to one degree or another, and that grit is fully on display during his turn as Coach Yonto in Rudy. This is also one of the few roles that sees Dean's softer side shining through, as his coach is the first on Notre Dame's staff to bestow real value on the spirit and tenacity young Ruettiger might bring to the team. He's also the coach that gives "Rudy" the good news in one of the film's more memorably understated moments — a moment played with the same unflinching integrity he's brought to every role before and since.  

Chelcie Ross - Coach Dan Devine

Odds are you know Chelcie Ross from his turn as wily veteran pitcher Eddie Harris in 1989's beloved baseball comedy Major League. If not, well, you've likely noted his face in the likes of Hoosiers, TV's Dallas, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan, The GiftDrag Me To Hell, or for his scene-stealing turn as Conrad "Connie" Hilton on Mad Men. Needless to say, Ross is one of those rare supporting players who's made a career of taking small roles and making them utterly memorable.   

Historically, Ross always seems to imbue in those characters a certain level of unsavory energy — they aren't usually outright scumbags, but they're never wholly likable either. That description fits Rudy's Coach Dan Devine to the T. As the main antagonist in the second half of the film, his Devine never quite has it in for "Rudy" and his quest to take the field in a Notre Dame jersey, but he certainly isn't eager to make it happen either. In the film, it takes a player revolt to make it happen (though in real life, Devine was a big supporter of Ruettiger's quest), and the weary grin the actor cracks as "Rudy" takes the field is a vintage Chelcie Ross moment. Hopefully we'll see more of that charm when Ross saddles up for the Coen brothers' upcoming Western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger - Fan in Stands

Though he was earnestly portrayed onscreen by Sean Astin, the filmmakers behind Rudy couldn't help but bring the man himself before the camera for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in the film's final moments. Though the real-life "Rudy" doesn't have a speaking part, he makes an appearance as a Notre Dame fan sitting in the stands just behind Ned Beatty's Daniel Sr. and the rest of the Ruettiger clan. While that may not be enough to qualify Ruettiger as an actual cast member, he does share a passionate moment with his onscreen dad, and that's pretty cool all the same. In real life, Daniel Ruettiger went on to become the first member of his family to graduate college, earning a degree in sociology. Over the years, he's become a sought-after motivational speaker, written several inspirational books, and established the Rudy Foundation, seeking to aid and recognize student athletes cut from a similar cloth as himself. He earned an honorary doctorate from Holy Cross College, but he'll always be remembered for making that quarterback sack in the final seconds of his first and final game in a Notre Dame jersey, becoming a legend in the process.

John Miller - Coach Ara Parseghian and Robert Prosky - Father Cavanaugh

Sadly, not all the members of Rudy's team are still with us today. Chief amongst the dearly departed two of "Rudy's" biggest supporters — Jason Miller as Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian and Robert Prosky, who played Ruettiger's Holy Cross spiritual guide Father Cavanaugh. Miller you should know from his Oscar-nominated turn as Father Karras in The Excorcist, and while his career never really reached the same heights it did with that role (which he'd reprise in the underrated Exorcist III), he definitely delivered memorable performances over the years, including his muted yet passionate work as Parseghian. A multi-faceted talent (he won the Pulitzer and a Tony for his 1973 play That Championship Season), Miller succumbed to a heart attack in 2001 at the age of 62.

Prosky, on the other hand, was one of the more adored character actors to ever grace the silver screen. From the nefarious Judge in The Natural to Grandpa Fred in Gremlins 2 to the lovable Nick in Last Action Hero and the affable Mr. Lundy in Mrs. Doubtfire, Prosky tackled a slew of memorable roles in his near 40-year career. Still, it's his impassioned, insightful turn as Father Cavanaugh in Rudy that tends to stick out in people's minds when they think of the actor, and it's all but impossible to argue that logic. Prosky passed away due to complications from heart surgery in 2008, at the age of 77.