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What the Wet Hot American Summer cast looks like today

Years before its cast became Hollywood mainstays, a small independent comedy called Wet Hot American Summer was released to little acclaim in just 27 cities throughout North America. Set in 1981, the film unfolds on the last day of the summer at Camp Firewood, and parodies the teen-centric sex comedies that populated the multiplexes a few decades ago — Bill Murray's 1979 film Meatballs comes to mind. Armed with a budget of under $2 million, the production team filled most of the cast out with unknown and up-and-coming actors to keep costs down. Paul Rudd, who played Andy in the film, has said that he isn't even sure he got paid at all for his appearance.

Since that low-profile debut, Wet Hot American Summer has developed a serious cult following, inspired both a prequel and sequel series, and been the subject of a Netflix documentary. In addition to the film's reappraisal as an essential 2000s comedy, many members of the cast have gone on to become high-profile A-listers, which has boosted the popularity of the film to new heights. But what exactly has each member of the principal cast been up to since 2001? Here's what the stars of Wet Hot American Summer look like (and are up to) today.

Janeane Garofalo - Beth

Since breaking out as a stand-up comedian in the early 1990s, Janeane Garofalo has worked steadily in Hollywood. Prior to the release of Wet Hot American Summer, Garofalo was best known for being in popular comedy series like The Ben Stiller Show, The Larry Sanders Show, and Saturday Night Live, but she also had roles in films like Reality Bites and Mystery Men. In the years following her appearance as camp director Beth, Garofalo has continued starring in numerous projects, the most notable of which came on the small screen.

Garofalo appeared on massive television shows like The West Wing (as campaign adviser Louise Thornton) and 24 (as tech-savvy FBI analyst Janis Gold). She also was a cast member of short-lived spinoff TV series Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and played an entertainment lawyer on Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce. In addition to acting, Garofalo has been quite vocal in political circles, even co-hosting a radio show, The Majority Report, for Air America in the mid-2000s. Garofalo is never afraid to voice her political opinions, even criticizing 24 while working on the show: "I don't enjoy any of the right-wing elements of the show and I'm not proud of the torture on the show," she admitted. "In fact, I find it disgusting."

David Hyde PIerce - Professor Henry Newman

David Hyde Pierce is undoubtedly most famous for his 11-year run on outrageously popular Cheers spinoff Frasier. In the role that earned him four Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, Pierce played neurotic psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane from 1993-2004. In the years since Wet Hot American Summer's theatrical release, Pierce has mostly stayed away from the Hollywood limelight outside of a few television and film appearances. Instead of toiling away as a character actor, the Yale-trained thespian returned to the stage and has found nothing but plaudits since.

In 2005, Pierce was a part of the original Broadway cast of Monty Python's Spamalot, which would go on to be nominated for 14 Tony awards, winning Best Musical. Never one to rest on his laurels, Pierce would flex his considerable comedy muscles again in 2007's Broadway hit Curtains as a musical theatre-obsessed Boston detective. This role earned Pierce a deserved Tony for Best Actor in a Musical and he continued to act on stage for the next few years before moving into the director's chair in 2015 for It Shoulda Been You and Ripcord. More recently, Pierce returned to Broadway for the 2017 revival of Hello, Dolly! garnering another Best Actor Tony nomination in the process. 

Molly Shannon - Gail von Kleinenstein

By the time Molly Shannon appeared in Wet Hot American Summer, she was a full-fledged star player on Saturday Night Live. Interestingly enough, Shannon was a mid-season replacement for fellow summer camp member Janeane Garofalo after she left SNL in 1995. In her years since starring as Gail von Kleinenstein, Shannon has gotten married, raised two children, and starred in so many film and television projects that it's hard to even keep count — seriously, she has over 200 credits listed on IMDb. 

Shannon has been absolutely all over the place, from Hollywood films like Evan Almighty and the Hotel Transylvania series to television shows like Will & Grace and HBO's Divorce. In 2011, Shannon published a children's book, Tilly the Trickster, and became the official spokesperson for Expedia in 2012. As if all this wasn't varied enough, Shannon continued to diversify her portfolio by appearing in the music video for Katy Perry/Nicki Minaj 2017 single "Swish Swish" and partnering with Will Ferrell to create a satirical take on local television personalities for Amazon and HBO. Staying so consistently busy has obviously worked out for Shannon and her family. Speaking with EW in 2019, she said, "I feel just so happy that I created a career for myself and I'm happy I have children and I have a great partner, so I just feel more peace and happiness."

Paul Rudd - Andy

Yes, those two photos of Paul Rudd were taken almost 20 years apart — the fact that he seemingly never ages is one of the internet's favorite ongoing jokes — and in the years since playing doofus bad boy Andy in Wet Hot American Summer, Rudd has evolved from the kid who got his start in a totally rad Nintendo commercial into a major Hollywood star. Rudd's big break came when he was cast in a recurring role on Friends, giving him mainstream notoriety leading to roles in major mid-2000s comedy films like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The 40-Year-Old VirginSpending the next decade in numerous pictures, Rudd hit the A-list in 2015 when he became Ant-Man for Marvel Studios. 

Rudd has done more than just act, though — he co-created the short-lived but much beloved comedy Party Down for Starz in 2009. Outside of the entertainment realm, Rudd co-owns Samuel's Sweet Shop, a candy store in the town of Rhinebeck, New York, with fellow actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The duo saved the store from being closed after the previous owner, a friend of theirs, died suddenly in 2014. Rudd is also involved in non-profit work as an avid supporter of the Stuttering Association for the Young — he hosted their 6th Annual All-Star Bowling Benefit in 2018 — and as a founder of The Big Slick charity in Kansas City.

Christopher Meloni - Gene

It can bit a little jarring for audiences to see Christopher Meloni play a role as ludicrous as Gene in Wet Hot American Summer. For a man who became famous for his roles in somber dramas like Oz and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Meloni is not afraid to get weird as the Vietnam War veteran who talks to a can of vegetables and "fondles" his sweaters. Meloni has carved out a special kind of career in Hollywood that lets him ping-pong between comedic and serious roles with no problem at all. How many actors have enough range to be nominated for the Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series one minute, and star in not just one, but two Harold & Kumar stoner comedies the next? 

This trend has continued throughout his acting career, starring in projects like They Came Together (reuniting with Wet Hot American Summer director David Wain) and Comedy Central's Drunk History as well as more straightforward fare like the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 and Hulu's award-winning adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale

Marguerite Moreau - Katie Finnerty

A former child star who appeared in the Mighty Ducks trilogy and television shows like Boy Meets World and The Secret World of Alex Mack, Marguerite Moreau earned her first major role after graduating from Vassar with a BA in political science in 1999 when she signed on for Wet Hot American Summer. While Moreau has not had the same amount of stardom or cult fandom enjoyed by many of her summer camp cohorts, she has appeared in dozens upon dozens of projects in the years after the film's release. As far as film goes, Moreau's most successful years in Hollywood came immediately after her summer at Camp Firewood, when she had roles in major films like 2002's Queen of the Damned and 2003's Runaway Jury

Moreau's steadiest work has come on the small screen, as a series regular on ABC's teen drama Life as We Know It and through recurring roles on shows like What About Brian and Shameless. With more than 90 credits on her IMDb page, it's safe to assume Moreau's acting career will continue for years to come.

Ken Marino - Victor Pulak

Ken Marino is one of those "Hey, it's that guy!" actors — he's appeared in so many television shows since his debut in the early 1990s, you're bound to have seen his face in one or two or ten places since he played horny virgin Victor Pulak in Wet Hot American Summer. Seriously, Marino's laundry list of television credits reads like a history lesson of some of the industry's biggest hits. He's appeared in everything from Dawson's Creek to Will & Grace, from Grey's Anatomy to CSI: Miami, from Veronica Mars to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Eagle-eyed Disney theme park fans might even recognize Marino's face from the pre-ride film that plays before the Aerosmith-starring Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (he has a voiceless role as the group's sound engineer). 

Marino does always seem to have an endless stream of projects lined up. The man must be a pleasure to work with. During a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, Marino said, "You just try to do what you believe in and what you think is funny and you stay true to that and you hope the stars line up." It's a philosophy that's clearly paying off.

Michael Ian Black - McKinley

Though he's continued to have a solid acting career in the years since Wet Hot American Summer, Michael Ian Black has done more than just appear in sitcoms and films. Indeed, he's appeared in movies like This is 40 and Wanderlust and has acted in shows like Ed and The Jim Gaffigan Show, but acting is just one facet of what Michael Ian Black does with his time. 

A popular comedian, Black has released three stand-up albums in addition to being a prolific commentator in many versions of VH1's beloved pop culture series I Love the… Black has also created and hosted numerous podcasts, from the sublimely weird (Mike and Tom Eat Snacks) to the straightforward and informative (How to Be Amazing). Black has also written several books for adults and children, the two most notable being America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom (which he co-wrote with John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain) and A Child's First Book of TrumpNo matter the outlet, Black's talent and verve for the creative process seem to shine through.

Amy Poehler - Susie

When Amy Poehler was working on the set of Wet Hot American Summer, she was mainly known for her work with popular Chicago improv group The Upright Citizens Brigade. In the years that followed, Poehler would become a major player in the entertainment industry through her work on Saturday Night Live, her star turn on NBC's critical darling Parks & Recreation, and her numerous voice roles in projects like Pixar's Inside Out. Poehler has been nominated for numerous awards and was even included among Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011.

In the past few years, Poehler has turned her focus behind the camera, serving as executive producer on a plethora of television shows like Broad City, Difficult People, and Russian Doll. Poehler also somehow managed to find time and sit down to write her autobiography Yes Please, which was published in 2014. The audio version, which Poehler performed, earned a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album.

Bradley Cooper - Ben

Wet Hot American Summer provided Bradley Cooper with his first professional film role and, after a few years of struggling following the film's release, he hasn't looked back. In the nearly two decades since his debut, Cooper has been nominated for seven Academy Awards, appeared in the Forbes Celebrity 100 on three separate occasions as well as Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015. Cooper's films have grossed $11 billion worldwide, making him one of the most successful actors on the planet… but this wasn't always a sure thing.

Cooper has described his debilitating use of drugs and alcohol during his early career in great detail, attributing his current good fortune to his decision to kick the habit. During a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Cooper spoke on his former substance abuse, "I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head. I realized I wasn't going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, 'Wow, I'm actually gonna ruin my life; I'm really gonna ruin it.'" Thankfully, he gave up the drugs, and the rest has been history.

Elizabeth Banks - Lindsay

In the years since she was cast in Wet Hot American Summer, Elizabeth Banks has acted in major Hollywood productions like Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games series, and The Lego Movie. Banks has also appeared in many popular sitcoms like Scrubs, 30 Rock, and Modern Family. More interesting than her continued work as a gifted actor has been her recent transition into the world of directing. 

Highlighting the fact that she was getting tired of the acting roles she was being offered, Banks decided to focus the majority of her creative talent on directing. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, Banks said, "If you want to fight being bored in this business as a woman, especially as a woman who has been around for a minute, you have to figure it out on your own." In 2015, Banks made her directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to the surprise smash of 2012. Banks next helmed (and co-produced) the 2019 Charlie's Angels, from a screenplay she wrote herself.

Joe Lo Truglio - Neil

Unlike the majority of his Wet Hot American Summer co-stars who've branched out into different artistic mediums or different genres of television and film, Joe Lo Truglio is a comedic actor through and through. Lo Truglio's most notable film roles have all come in major 2000s comedies like Superbad, Role Models, and I Love You, Man. However, it's Lo Truglio's role as weird klutz Charles Boyle on popular long-running sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine that's been most notable. 

Playing oddball Boyle lets Lo Truglio's comedic timing and penchant for playing lovable eccentrics shine. Lo Truglio's genuine joy for the mere fact that he gets to bring Boyle to life is evident in his performance. When speaking with Who in 2019, Lo Truglio said he likes the way "Boyle bounces back from nearly anything. He never stays down very long, and when he is depressed, he commits to it and is out of it a day later." Hopefully, Lo Truglio and the rest of the Nine-Nine gang will continue to have fun on our television sets for years to come.