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What Happened To The Cast Of Saw?

In the grand tradition of Saw — a franchise that has now been with us for over 15 years! — an ominous voice recording has just informed us that it fears we may not have sufficiently appreciated the considerable skills of the original film's actors. Now the name of our game is "What happened to the cast of Saw?" If we want to get out of this alive, we have to tell you about where their lives and careers went after they first encountered Jigsaw back in 2004.

Luckily for us, even glancing at the film's featured players is enough to remind us that it really does have an exceptional cast, one complete with genuine movie stars, outstanding character actors, and all-around interesting people. And their post-Saw work has a lot to offer, so let's work together to disarm this trap by looking at some of the coolest horror alumni around.

Note: This article will contain spoilers for the Saw series.

Cary Elwes as Lawrence Gordon

Cary Elwes is probably best remembered for his dashing and deadpan performance in The Princess Bride, but he's also played a lot of jerkish, self-centered foils (Twister) and creepy antagonists (Kiss the Girls). Saw split the difference, casting him as the selfish, jaded Dr. Gordon, who has to spend the film growing into someone viewers will root for.

Lawrence gets put through the wringer — not literally, something it's always worth specifying in a Saw movie — and his suffering and character growth gives Elwes the chance to deliver a juicy and intense performance. You can call it over the top — and plenty of critics did — but Elwes sells it.

So what's he been doing since then? For starters, he returned to the franchise in Saw 3D, another Jigsaw victim who converted to the killer's philosophy. Outside of that he's worked steadily, usually releasing a handful of films each year. With appearances in 2019's Black Christmas remake and the acclaimed Ghost Light, he seems to have found a new home in horror, which tends to be loyal to its favorite stars. Best of all, he also landed a role in Mission: Impossible 7, bringing him into one of the most solidly entertaining franchises around.

Leigh Whannell as Adam Stanheight

Leigh Whannell's big role in Saw stems from the film's shoestring budget — as he explains in an interview with The A.V. Club, he and James Wan needed to do as much of the movie on their own as possible. Whannell's acerbic, vulnerable Adam is a key part of what makes the film work, but he's arguably even more important as the screenwriter.

While Whannell's acting career has stayed small, mostly limited to fun supporting roles in the Insidious franchise and horror films like The Bye-Bye Man, he's become a horror staple as a writer and director. He stayed on with Saw for a while, writing/co-writing the scripts for the second and third movies, and then moved on to the clever supernatural thrills of the Insidious movies. His directorial debut on Insidious: Chapter 3 got an uneven reception, but with 2018's sci-fi/action film Upgrade, he started knocking it out of the park.

With the release of 2020's widely acclaimed The Invisible Man, the sophisticated and pulse-pounding film starring Elisabeth Moss, Whannell officially became one of the most exciting horror directors to watch.

Danny Glover as David Tapp

Danny Glover needs no introduction. With the Lethal Weapon series and Predator 2 under his belt — plus roles in prestigious films like The Color Purple, Silverado, and The Royal Tenenbaums — he's a household name. With Saw's low budget, it's impressive the film snagged him at all. He plays Tapp, a former detective who becomes obsessed with proving that Dr. Lawrence Gordon is the Jigsaw Killer. His involvement in the case gives viewers context for Jigsaw's terrifying string of murders, and his investigation further amps up the tension.

Glover's life and career have been as busy as ever. He's stayed deeply involved in activism, passionately advocating on issues ranging from labor unions to international affairs and civil rights. His filmography since Saw's release has continued to be an impressive blend of critical and commercial successes, artistic risks, and guaranteed crowd-pleasers: Lars von Trier's avant-garde Manderlay, the fantastically engaging Dreamgirls, the offbeat comedy Be Kind Rewind, action-thriller Gridlocked, indie hit Sorry to Bother You, and the delightful Jumanji: The Next Level.

Basically, Danny Glover can do anything, and he's proved it by doing everything, in some jam-packed and incredibly successful years.

Ken Leung as Detective Steven Sing

Ken Leung's doomed Detective Steven Sing might meet a bad — but undeniably memorable — fate in Saw, but Ken Leung has luckily done much, much better in life. He was a little bit of a name before Saw, especially given his villainous turn in Rush Hour, but he found some of his most notable career successes after Detective Sing died in a shotgun trap. In particular, he attracted a lot of attention for a memorable guest-starring spot on The Sopranos that the Washington Post pegs as being one of the turning points in his career. He went on to play series regular Miles on Lost, and Esquire's retrospective on the show not only wishes he could have had more screen time, but also longs for a Miles and Sawyer spinoff.

Leung also had recurring roles on The Blacklist and Zero Hour and was a series lead on medical drama The Night Shift. His film work hasn't been quite as high-profile, but it's still been impressive, with roles in The Force Awakens, Spike Lee's underrated heist thriller Inside Man, and Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale (which Leung mentions in The Washington Post as one of his favorites).

Dina Meyer as Detective Allison Kerry

Dina Meyer has been a familiar face to genre fans for years, appearing in everything from the satiric Starship Troopers to Star Trek: Nemesis; she was even a series lead in 2002's Birds of Prey. Playing a hard-bitten detective in Saw probably seemed like a natural move for her career.

The film wound up doing a lot for her. For one thing, she would go on to become a major part of the franchise, appearing in Saw II and III and staying a continuing part of the series' lore in IV, V, and Jigsaw. The Q&A section of Meyer's website is peppered with people asking about her work on the Saw films, praising her performance as Allison Kerry and bemoaning her character's death. Since horror fans loved her, she also wound up transitioning more from science fiction to horror.

Aside from the Saw series, most of Meyer's major work has been on TV. Over the years, she's guest-starred on almost every show you could think of: NCIS: Los Angeles, The Magicians, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Criminal Minds, Castle, CSI, Nip/Tuck, and more. We're always happy to see her.

Mike Butters as Paul

In the first Saw film, Mike Butters plays Paul, the suicidal man who died in Jigsaw's razor wire trap. Even as a virtually non-speaking part, it was enough of an appearance to have a big impact on his career. Next to macabre death traps, there's nothing the Saw franchise likes more than bringing back minor characters: Butters got to benefit from both. Paul might meet his grisly fate in the first movie, but Butters still gets flashback appearances in Saw IV and V. He's also had other small parts in both horror and non-horror films, but his biggest role has come from an unusual direction: the stylized, reenactment-filled true crime documentary series The Wonderland Murders, where he plays Detective Smith.

One of the most notable things about Butters' post-Saw career is what it could have been if Butters had made a different call: As he told Vulture, "Originally, the role I was offered was Jigsaw. Which, as you know, in the first script, really did not have a whole lot to do, so I kind of said no, which was probably a mistake!" It's intriguing to play "what if" and wonder what Butters could have done with the part — and what the part could have done for him.

Paul Gutrecht as Mark

Paul Gutrecht gets one of the worst, hardest-to-avoid deaths in Saw, having to walk on broken glass while smeared in flammable jelly (with only a candle for light) to get the combination to unlock the antidote for a slow-acting poison coursing through his veins. That's a very rigged game, and it's not surprising Mark loses.

Gutrecht could be one of the first people to explain the psychological torture of that particular setup: since appearing in Saw, he's gone on to become a licensed therapist, specializing in — among other things — the very Saw-relevant troubles of depression, anger, and trauma. Saw was Gutrecht's final movie appearance, but while he was in the process of setting up his therapy career, he did have several guest-starring roles on TV. In particular, he was a favorite of showrunner Matt Nix, who used him in Burn Notice, The Good Guys, and Complications.

Michael Emerson as Zep Hindle

Michael Emerson, who plays fake-out villain and reluctant Jigsaw accomplice Zep Hindle, wound up having one of the most interesting post-Saw careers of the whole cast. While he appeared in a few more movies, Emerson's strongest work has been on TV, where he's found several awesome, intriguing roles that really showcase his talent.

Even before Saw, Emerson had an Emmy Award-winning guest star run on the legal drama The Practice, but it was only after Saw that his career really took off. He was cast as Ben Linus on Lost, and the part catapulted him to national recognition. His work as Ben won him another Emmy, this time for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and, more importantly, it made his character iconic. Ben remains a compelling fan favorite villain in TV history, with multiple pieces written to praise the bad guy we couldn't stop watching.

Emerson undeniably made the most of his Lost success, going on to star in the thought-provoking sci-fi thriller series Person of Interest, the historical miniseries The Name of the Rose, and the supernatural horror drama Evil. Truly a geek icon.

Benito Martinez as Brett

Benito Martinez's Brett has one of the safest roles in Saw: He plays Lawrence Gordon's lawyer, and he gets in and out without attracting any of Jigsaw's ire. He even gives solid legal advice.

And once Brett escaped, Martinez continued an impressive career that's made him one of TV's low-key MVPs. He was already starring on The Shield, where he played the calculatingly ambitious David Aceveda, and he continued in that role until the show ended in 2008. Drawing off his great work there, he's become a kind of sleeper hit on cable shows and some of the darker network dramas, with prominent roles on Sons of Anarchy, House of Cards, American Crime, The Blacklist, How to Get Away with Murder, and 13 Reasons Why. He hasn't worked on as many movies, but he's still been a part of some great projects, including Queen & Slim, Beyond the Lights, and Million Dollar Baby.

Martinez has a spectacular presence that makes him automatically memorable, and he can hold his own against some of our strongest performers. We're rooting for him to continue to have an impressive and varied body of work, and wherever he turns up, we're always happy to see him.

Shawnee Smith as Amanda Young

Shawnee Smith's Amanda is one of the most memorable characters in Saw, even with very limited screen time: Her desperation is vivid, and she's absolutely mesmerizing as someone who has fallen under Jigsaw's spell. The series knew that her character had promise — and that Smith, who had an established acting career, especially on TV, was a good bet. She became a huge part of the franchise, with major roles in Saw II and III.

Her future Saw appearances, especially with her significantly expanded part, helped make Smith into a little bit of a horror name: It led to her hosting the reality show Scream Queens in 2008, where she took young actresses through a competition to win a role in Saw VI. But unlike a lot of Saw actors, she didn't completely redirect her career to horror. With previous work on shows like Becker, she still had one foot in comedy, and her most significant post-Saw work has come on the FX sitcom Anger Management.

Makenzie Vega as Diana Gordon

As the menaced and terrified daughter in Saw, Makenzie Vega doesn't necessarily have much to do... but to be fair, she was around ten when the movie was filmed. In the wake of the film, she went on to grow up and develop as an actor, eventually demonstrating some pretty strong dramatic chops. She really made a splash on the hit CBS show The Good Wife, where she played series regular Grace, the opinionated and independent daughter of lead Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguiles). The show gave her a lot of great material, including a religious conversion and some social awkwardness, both of which concern her mother, and Vega excels at making her character feel real.

Monica Potter as Alison Gordon

Monica Potter imbues Alison Gordon with a sense of steely poise even though she spends most of the movie fearing for her and her daughter's lives. A few years after Saw, she would play another memorable horror wife and mother, this time in the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left, where she really gets to strike back.

Most of Potter's career, however, has been in television, as it was before Saw (the movie overlapped with her time as a series regular on Boston Legal, where she played lawyer Lori Colson). After a few years hopping around between intermittent projects, including a regular role on TNT's short-lived Trust Me, she found spectacular success with NBC's Parenthood, which gave her a chance to really shine. Her nuanced performance as Kristina Braverman won her a Critics Choice Award in 2013.

Since the show wrapped, she's continued to work in TV, including a lead role on Wisdom of the Crowd.

Ned Bellamy as Jeff Ridenhour

Poor Jeff Ridenhour narrowly misses one of the most ignominious deaths in the franchise. Jigsaw uses him as a test subject for a trap — it's not even about him! — and the detectives who discover him decide to hang back and see what Jigsaw will do with him before they step in. In the immortal words of Fargo, "I'm not sure that I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work there." At least a well-placed bullet does save him in the end.

And Ned Bellamy, the actor who played him, has gotten better treatment. Bellamy's skills and striking appearance have made him the kind of character actor viewers are pleased to recognize whenever he takes on a new role. As a guest star, he feels like a seamless part of the ensemble on everything from Scrubs to Justified to Treme, and he's had a pleasantly varied movie career with roles in Django Unchained and Twilight.

Alexandra Bokyun Chun as Carla

Alexandra Bokyun Chun plays Carla, the medical student Lawrence has an ill-advised affair with. After Saw, she went on to have a strong career that's only getting better over time. Her biggest movie role so far has been as the lead in 2013's Innocent Blood, a well-regarded indie thriller. And she's done a lot of TV guest star work, appearing on beloved shows like House, The Event, The Magicians, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Recently, she's gotten more substantial recurring roles on both Twitch's semi-interactive Artificial and the Netflix ballet drama Tiny Pretty Things.

Avner Garbi as The Father

Avner Garbi's family man and top-notch neighbor is one of the most quietly upstanding characters in the series: just a good guy who takes in a scared woman and her daughter and tries to get them some help. Much of his career was always reserved for theater, which he participated in internationally as an actor and director. On TV, he mostly appeared as a minor guest star, making small appearances on such shows as How I Met Your Mother and Southland. His last role in a feature-length film was in the 2011 comedy Take Me Home.

Garbi passed away in 2013, leaving behind an impressive body of work and a lasting legacy in Israeli and American theater.

Tobin Bell as John Kramer

Even before Saw, Tobin Bell had built an impressive body of work: He was someone you could spot in everything from Tootsie to Goodfellas. He had good taste in which films he worked on — in part because, as he told Movieline, he appreciated any chance to get on set: "I viewed it as an opportunity to make $150 a day doing something that I cared a great deal about, where I could learn." But most of his roles were comparatively minor.

Saw changed all that, splitting his career into "before" and "after" stages. Speaking with the Orlando Sentinel, he called the movie "a great blessing," and he starred in multiple Saw sequels, appearing in every installment until 2021's Spiral. Understandably, he's now best known as a horror actor, so he's also appeared in other horror projects like 12 Feet Deep, Belzebuth, and Shudder's Creepshow. But he still occasionally gets to stretch himself, including with voice work on CW's The Flash.

With his role in the franchise wrapping up, he's eager to see if his increased star power can translate to different kinds of roles, ones very far from John Kramer. "I am so ready to play a gay nightclub owner, a man who dances and has this great joie de vivre," he told the Orlando Sentinel. We hope he'll never leave horror behind completely, but after years of masterfully orchestrating terror for audiences everywhere, he certainly deserves a change of pace.