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What The Cast Of Ferris Bueller's Day Off Looks Like Today

The 1980s were a fertile time for teen comedies in general, but even among the other films in the subgenre, the movies of John Hughes rose above the pack. In a series of films beginning with "Sixteen Candles" in 1984, Hughes charted the teen experience in ways that both critics and audiences came to adore, creating a string of memorable stories that fans still love today.

In 1986, Hughes added to his already impressive teen comedy resume with "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," the story of a kid (Matthew Broderick) who's sick of school and decides to use his intelligence, ingenuity, and determination not to study, but to have the best fake sick day of all time. The film helped make Broderick into a massive star but was written so well that even the actors in supporting roles got a boost to instant icon status. Decades after it was released, the actors in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" are instantly recognizable to fans of the film. Here's what they're all up to now.

Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller)

Though "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" remains the defining film of his career, Matthew Broderick's breakout role actually arrived three years earlier, when he played computer hacker David in the cyber-drama "WarGames." A part in "Ladyhawke" soon followed, and in 1986 he became everyone's favorite enterprising teen when he appeared in John Hughes' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" as the titular character.  

After "Ferris" was a hit, Broderick kept working steadily in film and television. The decade following that film brought leading roles in "Glory," "The Freshman," and "The Cable Guy," not to mention the voice of the adult Simba in the iconic Disney classic "The Lion King." Other memorable movies for Broderick include 1998's "Godzilla," "Election," and Disney's "Inspector Gadget." But Broderick was also an accomplished stage actor and used that experience when he nabbed the starring role in the 2001 stage adaptation of Mel Brooks' "The Producers" and then its 2005 film. Twenty years later, he still divides his work between stage and screen, and in 2023 he had a supporting role in the adult comedy "No Hard Feelings" as well as a lead role in the Netflix miniseries "Painkiller." A black comedy about the rise of the opioid epidemic, "Painkiller" sees Broderick play real-life pharmaceutical magnate Richard Sackler.

It may be decades since he became America's sweetheart slacker, but Broderick remains as recognizable as ever. Greyer, and perhaps more stately than the rebellious Bueller was in '86, the actor has never lost his effortless boyish charm thanks to his lighthearted attitude and distinctive smile.

Alan Ruck (Cameron Frye)

A bit less recognizable with a full beard these days, Alan Ruck's career also started to take off in the early 1980s. After early roles in films like "Class" and "Bad Boys," he landed the part of Ferris' best friend Cameron Frye in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Ruck had the task of playing everything Broderick's Ferris is not, and he did it so well that he steals just about every scene in the movie with his anxious comedy.

Ruck continued to work regularly through the rest of the 1980s, but the 1990s was where he really got prolific with his work on the big and small screens. If you only know him as Cameron, you might be surprised to realize that he was also gunslinger Hendry French in "Young Guns II," and played Captain Harriman — the man to take over for Captain Kirk himself — in "Star Trek: Generations." He landed on television not long after, starring alongside Michael J. Fox in the network hit "Spin City" as Chief of Staff Stuart Bondeck. 

More than a decade later he joined the main cast of the short-lived TV remake of "The Exorcist" as Henry Rance, and beginning in 2018 was part of the ensemble of HBO's award-winning drama "Succession." He's never left the movies, though, appearing in "War Machine" in 2017, 2023's "The Burial," and the sequel to "Wind River."

Mia Sara (Sloane Peterson)

Still arguably most famous for her role in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Mia Sara is also remembered for her standout performance as Princess Lili in the Ridley Scott-directed fantasy epic "Legend" opposite Tom Cruise. She followed that up the very next year when she took on the part of Ferris' aloof but charming girlfriend Sloane Peterson, and became a childhood crush for many teens in the '80s. As Sloane, Sara added a level of cool to the often goofy antics of her co-stars while still being in on the joke the entire time.

Of course, Hollywood took notice of this opening one-two punch, and Sara spent the next two decades working regularly in film and television. Unfortunately, she struggled to find the same level of success as she did in the mid-'80s. While she did appear in some popular films, including "Timecop" as the wife of Jean-Claude Van Damme's character, her later career never matched her mid-'80s hits. That said, she is notable for being the first actress to play Harley Quinn in live-action, nabbing the role in the short-lived "Birds of Prey" series in 2002.

Sara stepped away from acting in the early 2010s, and one of her final roles was as Princess Langwidere in the film "Dorothy and the Witches of Oz" and its miniseries. After leaving Hollywood, Sara embarked on a career as a poet and devoted time to her family. She has two children, a son with Jason Connery (son of Sean) and a daughter with Brian Henson (son of Jim).

Jennifer Grey (Jeanie Bueller)

Jennifer Grey's screen acting credits began in 1984, and though she only performed in fewer than a dozen roles over the course of the decade, several of them proved to be classics. In 1984 she co-starred in "Red Dawn" with Patrick Swayze and had a small role in "The Cotton Club" from director Francis Ford Coppola. Then she played Jeanie, the smarmy, vindictive sister of Matthew Broderick's Ferris in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." While that part garnered some attention for her, it was her role as Baby in 1987's "Dirty Dancing" that made her a star.

Off-screen, however, Grey was quietly dating her "Bueller" co-star and on-screen brother Broderick, and the pair were involved in a devastating head-on car collision just before the release of "Dirty Dancing." In the crash, Broderick killed a woman and her adult daughter, and the tragedy haunted them for many years, physically and emotionally.

Over the next decade, Grey continued to work but failed to regain her star status, appearing in lesser-known films like "Wind" and "Red Meat." She took a break from acting after the birth of her daughter in the early 2000s and appeared mostly on TV after her return, which also included a memorable appearance on Season 11 of "Dancing with the Stars." More recently, Grey showed up in recurring roles on "Grey's Anatomy" and the "Roseanne" reboot "The Conners."

Jeffrey Jones (Ed Rooney)

Jeffrey Jones' screen acting career took off in the mid '70s thanks to roles in projects like the miniseries "The Adams Chronicles," and by the 1980s he was an in-demand character actor. After landing roles in "Easy Money," "Amadeus," and other projects, he was cast as Ed Rooney in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Jones' work as the pompous, relentless dean of students quickly made him one of teen cinema's most popular villains we love to hate.

Jones continued to pick up major roles after his "Bueller" success, starring in the short-lived, Wes Craven-produced, off-the-wall forgotten sitcom "The People Next Door." Surrounding the failure of that show, he found safe harbor in Tim Burton films like "Beetlejuice," "Ed Wood," and "Sleepy Hollow." Other major roles included being a conduit for the Dark Overlord in "Howard the Duck," "The Hunt for Red October," "The Crucible," "The Devil's Advocate," and a role as newspaper publisher A.W. Merrick in the acclaimed HBO series "Deadwood."

In 2003, Jones pleaded no contest to a charge of employing a teenage boy to pose for nude photos, and in 2010 he was sentenced to community service for failing to update his sex offender status. These legal issues led to fewer screen appearances in the 2010s, but he did re-emerge in 2019 to reprise the role of Merrick in "Deadwood: The Movie."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Lyman Ward (Tom Bueller)

Lyman Ward's screen acting career stretches all the way back to the 1970s, when he began appearing in guest roles on TV show classics like "Bonanza," "Battlestar Galactica," "One Day at a Time," and the very first episode of "Laverne & Shirley." He continued to work regularly throughout that decade, and by the 1980s he was appearing in films like "Protocol," "Moscow on the Hudson," and "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge." As Ferris Bueller's father in "Day Off," he brings a sense of likable cluelessness to the comedy, particularly in the scene when he dances to the parade music in his office window, unaware that his son is leading the celebration in the street below.

After "Ferris Bueller," Ward stayed working, with credits including "Murder, She Wrote," "Family Ties," "JAG," "Monk," and many more. In the 2010s his acting work began to slow down, though he had a major role in an episode of "Transparent" in 2015. Hollywood wasn't his only career, though.

Turning to writing in the 2010s, Ward published his first novel, "Fortune's Tide." It's a work of historical fiction, set in Ward's own hometown of Saint John, New Brunswick. A "love note" to the city, it tells the story of two boys who go on a search for a centuries-old puzzle.

Cindy Pickett (Katie Bueller)

Cindy Pickett's breakthrough as a screen actor came in 1977 when she was cast on the long-running soap opera "Guiding Light," where she appeared in 22 episodes. By the 1980s, more TV and film roles were flowing in, including appearances on some major hits like "Magnum, P.I." 

It was in 1986 that she played the role of Ferris Bueller's mother Katie, who plays opposite star Matthew Broderick in some of the film's funniest early moments as the teen uses her to convince the world that he's homesick. It's Katie who has to do the brunt of the parenting on her son's day off while her husband hangs out in the city, taking lunches and dancing in his office. Oddly enough, her on-screen husband Lyman Ward later became her real-life husband, though they divorced in 1992.

After "Bueller," Pickett showed up in the 1987 TV miniseries "Amerika" and the "Abyss" knock-off "DeepStar Six." In the 2000s, she was as active as ever, making single-episode stints in shows like "Burn Notice," "Saving Grace," "The Client List," and "The Mentalist." Outside of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," of course, Pickett is best known for her role as Dr. Carol Novino in the award-winning medical drama "St. Elsewhere."

Edie McClurg (Grace)

One of the most recognizable character actors of her generation, Edie McClurg became beloved to audiences of the '80s thanks in no small part to her role as Principal Rooney's eccentric secretary, Grace, in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." She was no newcomer to Hollywood, though, and in the mid-1970s she had been a regular on "The Richard Pryor Show" and "Tony Orlando and Dawn" before she hit her stride the following decade on "Harper Valley PTA" and "The Dukes." 

At the movies, outside of her role as Grace in "Bueller," McClurg was a recurring presence in Cheech & Chong projects like "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie" and "The Corsican Brothers." She also had cameos in "Mr. Mom" and "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" before her appearance as Chastity Pariah in "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark." The '90s saw her in a number of fan-favorite films like "Flubber" and "Natural Born Killers" as well as a flurry of major network hits.

McClurg's voice is one of the things that made her distinctive, too, and she's lent it to animation many times, from "The Rugrats Movie" to "Zootopia." Sadly, in 2019, McClurg's health began to decline, and her family appointed a conservator to manage her affairs, as she was no longer able to live unassisted. In 2022, she was tragically the victim of elder abuse and alleged sexual assault, and her family successfully got an order of protection against a longtime friend who was alleged to have attempted to defraud her.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Jonathan Schmock (Maitre D')

There are a few examples in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" of actors who come in for just one scene but leave a lasting impression as they get roped into Ferris' shenanigans and schemes. Jonathan Schmock is arguably the most memorable of these actors as the maitre d' at Chez Quis who refuses to believe Ferris is the "Sausage King of Chicago."

Schmock had already been working for a few years by the time he was hired for "Ferris Bueller," most notably on the TV series "Double Trouble," and has continued to make regular appearances in film and TV. His more recent work includes guest spots on "The Goldbergs," "Flaked," "Transparent," "2 Broke Girls," and more, but he's not just a busy actor — Schmock is also an accomplished and prolific screenwriter, particularly in the realm of TV comedies. His credits include co-developing "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," co-creating "Brotherly Love," and scripting for shows like "Blossom," "Dharma & Greg," "Real Time with Bill Maher," and "Young and Hungry."

Charlie Sheen (Boy in police station)

Charlie Sheen has made a career as Hollywood's bad boy. That image is perfectly apropos considering his part in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" as a punk teenager who romances Jennifer Grey's character. He took the role when he was on the cusp of superstardom. The son of famed actor Martin Sheen, Charlie had already appeared alongside Grey in "Red Dawn," and after "Bueller" the actor had a spectacular run that includes classics like "Wall Street," "Platoon," and "Major League."

Sheen parlayed those '80s hits into modest '90s success: After a pair of "Hot Shots" parody movies, he tried his hand at becoming an action star with "The Chase," "Terminal Velocity," and the sci-fi thriller "The Arrival." That never really panned out, but in 2000 he took over from Michael J. Fox as the lead in "Spin City." In 2003, Sheen was cast as Charlie Harper in the hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men." He remained on the show until 2011, when clashes with Chuck Lorre led to his departure. This time, Sheen was the one replaced when Ashton Kutcher stepped into the series in his stead.

A series of very public issues including drug abuse and messy divorces plagued Sheen in the 2010s, but in 2019, he revealed that he'd been sober for more than a year and was in therapy. In 2023, he and Lorre buried the hatchet, and the actor was handed a recurring role in the producer's Max comedy "How to Be a Bookie."

Ben Stein (Economics Teacher)

In a movie filled with quotable lines, the most famous may come from Ferris Bueller's monotone economics teacher. Actor Ben Stein appears in only two scenes, but he so perfectly embodies the archetype of the tedious, droning high school teacher that he carved out a niche as Hollywood's go-to guy for playing erudite bores, stuffed shirts, and meek bureaucrats. Most memorably, he portrayed teacher Mr. Cantwell in "The Wonder Years," an airport customer service rep in "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," and Rabbi Goldberg on "Family Guy," not counting numerous cameos as himself or in a long-running eyedrops campaign.

Off-screen, Stein was a speechwriter for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and has written extensively on economics and legal issues for the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and The New York Times. He starred on two shows for Comedy Central: the talker "Turn Ben Stein On" and the game show "Win Ben Stein's Money," where contestants who demonstrated more knowledge than the well-educated, well-read Stein won a portion of his salary.

In recent years, Stein has mostly stayed away from Hollywood and focused more on being a spokesperson for the Republican Party. He frequently appears on outlets like Fox News and Newsmax, where he spouts his off-the-cuff hot takes on issues of the day, harping on about the evils of political correctness and so-called "woke culture." In 2023 he came under fire for racist comments made about Aunt Jemima pancake syrup.

Kristy Swanson (Simone Adamley)

Many of the cast members of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" can consider their roles in the film iconic ones, even if they achieved greater fame later in their careers like Charlie Sheen. The same can't be said for Kristy Swanson, though, whose part as Ferris' classmate Simone Adamley wasn't quite a standout. Still, audiences know her, because less than a decade on, Swanson originated the role of Buffy in the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" franchise, starring with Luke Perry in the Joss Whedon-penned film. She also played the titular role in "Mannequin Two: On the Move," taking over for Kim Cattrall from the 1987 cult classic.

Swanson's career in the 1990s was hit-and-miss, but she did have an important role in the well-received but ultimately doomed series "Early Edition." She also appeared in a variety of popular films including the critically acclaimed John Singleton drama "Higher Learning" and the Joe Pesci crime comedy "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag." Into the 2000s it was mostly TV where Swanson made a name for herself, with a recurring role in "Psych" — where she played Marlowe Viccellio — and episodes of "CSI: Miami" and "Just Shoot Me!" Though she's mostly acted in cable channel TV movies in the last decade, she did appear in a trio of episodes of "SEAL Team" in 2019.

Outside of her career as an actor, Swanson has appeared on "Skating with Celebrities" and was a spokesperson for the Medifast Diet.

Richard Edson (Garage Attendant)

Several actors in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" can say that the film helped jumpstart their journeys in Hollywood, including Kristy Swanson, whose role as Simone was just the second in her career. Actor Richard Edson is in the same boat — he plays the garage attendant who sneaks off with Cameron's car and goes for a joyride. It was just his fourth acting role, and he barely got any lines, but he appeared in a host of major movies in the ensuing years. Beginning with "Howard the Duck" and "Platoon" the same year, Edson went on to show up as Pvt. Abersold in "Good Morning, Vietnam" and as Vito in "Do the Right Thing."

Edson's unique look allowed him to stand out, too, and that has perhaps been the reason that he's never been without work, even if he never did become a big star. The '90s saw him showing up all over film and TV, whether it was "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" or the much-maligned "Super Mario Bros." movie, in which he played Spike Koopa. We could go on forever with all of the projects that Edson has worked on, but no doubt you've seen him around, as he's kept himself busy year after year, with one of his more recent projects being the indie film "Seeing Red" in 2022.

Louie Anderson (Flower Deliveryman)

When it comes to actors who appeared in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" before they were big stars, it's probably Louie Anderson who takes the top prize. Not just because the movie was one of his first acting experiences, but because even his comedy career was just getting started then. His role in the film had him playing a flower deliveryman and gave him no lines at all. The movie came to theaters just two years before his first starring role, in 1988's "The Wrong Guys," which was based on a story by John Hughes. 

By the early '90s, Anderson was a huge comedy star, and in 1994 he got his own animated kid's show, "Life with Louie," which ran for three seasons, then "The Louie Show." Though Anderson continued with standup and could be seen regularly on television — guest starring on everything from "Touched by an Angel" to "Ally McBeal" — he became best known for game shows. In the early 2000s, he succeeded Richard Dawson as host of the rebooted "Family Feud" and made many appearances on "The New Hollywood Squares" and "Hollywood Squares." He returned to the circuit in 2017 as a frequent guest star on "Funny You Should Ask."

In some of his final acting roles, Anderson appeared on "Young Sheldon" in 2020 and had roles in "Search Party" that same year and "No Activity" a year later. Sadly, Anderson passed away in 2022 from complications caused by cancer, at the age of 68.

Max Perlich (Anderson)

From Louie Anderson to Anderson: Actor Max Perlich played Ferris' snot-nosed classmate who was "here" when Ben Stein called out his name during roll call. Perlich may have had little to say in the film, but his career is an interesting one, starting with the fact that he dropped out of high school to pursue acting, with his first major role being in the John Hughes film. Despite having very little to say, Perlich was able to turn his part as Anderson into more movie and TV appearances, with his next projects including "Can't Buy Me Love" and an episode of "21 Jump Street."

Though he's rarely had what would be considered meaty roles, Perlich managed to carve a niche for himself in the industry, and some of his better-known films include Mel Gibson's "Maverick" in 1994 and "Feeling Minnesota." Like many character actors, he has shown up on tons of TV shows over the years, from "Nash Bridges" and "Gilmore Girls" to "The Shield" and "Crossing Jordan." He appears as Hank in "Twin Peaks: The Return" as well. But his biggest TV part was on the FX series "Justified," where he played the sniveling mob boss's son Sammy Tonin in four episodes of the critically acclaimed crime drama. And his constant work in the industry hasn't been entirely thankless — Perlich won an Independent Spirit Award for his supporting performance in "Drugstore Cowboy" in 1990.