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What The Cast Of Cry-Baby Is Doing Today

John Waters' masterclass in musical cinema, 1990's "Cry-Baby," is perhaps the least shocking and most accessible of the director's early movies. Focusing on many of the same themes as Waters' equally campy "Hairspray" two years prior, but this time through the eyes of "bad" kids, the film's central message of acceptance rings just as true today as it did decades ago. It all kicks off when hillbilly bad boy Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker (Johnny Depp) has the temerity to hit on the hottest goodie-goodie in a poodle skirt this side of "Grease."

Allison (Amy Locane) is totally into it, which drives the squares crazy. Because, you know, she belongs to them. In the "Cry-Baby"-verse, a woman making her own decision simply can't stand, so all musical hell breaks loose. Motorcycles are set ablaze, dances are crashed, and gallons of tears are drunk. The squares even drag Allison's grandmother in to fight the burgeoning relationship between two teenagers of differing classes. After a hate campaign sees Cry-Baby and his gang of drapes locked up, only a theme park caper can heal the deep-seated classist wounds.

Once released and fully accepted, Walker, Allison, and the gang live happily ever after, we assume. There's music, mullets, some decidedly era-appropriate comedy, a hilarious dig at James Dean, and one of Willem Dafoe's best-ever cameos. In short, "Cry-Baby" is an absolute classic that deserves far more love than it currently gets. But three decades is a long time, and Hollywood can be a cruel place. Here's what everyone's favorite drapes and squares are up to these days.

Johnny Depp - Wade 'Cry-Baby' Walker

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 30 years or so, you've probably already got some idea of what Johnny Depp is up to these days. English court cases notwithstanding, Depp has come a very long way in his entertainment career, and then some of the way back again, since appearing as Cry-Baby Walker. From humble on-screen beginnings as a high school narc and Freddy Krueger's liquid lunch of choice, John Waters transformed the almost-unknown Depp into a hillbilly god. Turning in an early classic performance, equal parts hilarious, tongue-in-cheek, and dramatic in ways only teenagers can be, Depp's talent for indie brilliance, not to mention lip-synching, shines incredibly bright here.

Following those glorious histrionics, Depp went on to make some classic indie flicks like "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and some not-so-classic studio pictures ("The Astronaut's Wife," anyone?), before something absolutely extraordinary occurred. No one was more surprised than us when Depp not only took a role in a Disney movie, but took a role in a Disney movie that was based on a theme park ride. Everyone thought he'd lost mind. But several "Pirates of the Caribbean" installments of varying quality later, Depp was the biggest star in the world. Sadly, it seems he's never been able to capture the magic of that role: Though his turn as Grindelwald in the "Fantastic Beasts" film series was a treat for "Harry Potter" fans, his legal controversies saw him asked to resign from that part as well, and we haven't seen much of him since.

Amy Locane - Allison Vernon-Williams

Amy Locane's Hollywood story is probably best filed under "cautionary tales." Despite her early success with movies including "Cry-Baby," Locane is most definitely not living that Hollywood life. The youngest member of the cast, and according to Waters, "the most innocent 17-year-old girl," Locane actually fainted the first time she had to kiss Johnny Depp in rehearsal. From those lofty heights, she moved to TV, starring in the glossy Spelling-fest "Melrose Place." Unfortunately, Locane developed something of a diva reputation during production, and was written out of the show thanks to her behavior.

She appeared alongside Brendan Fraser in "Airheads" and "School Ties" in the '90s, but the roles slowly dried up thanks to the battering her professional reputation took following her firing. Locane eventually gave up acting in 2006, but that wasn't the last we heard of her. In 2012, she was convicted of a very serious drunk driving offense. A messy tale of booze, multiple crashes, and loss of life, she was sentenced to three years in jail. Released in 2015, she was then recalled to prison in 2020 to serve a further five years of hard time. No happy endings here.

Ricki Lake - Pepper Walker

The divine Ms. Lake was once something of a muse for director John Waters. He cast her as the lead in the original — and best — version of "Hairspray" when she was just 19 years old, and she gave a joyous, confident, and badass performance as Tracy Turnblad, plus-size dance fanatic and future Governor's pardon candidate. Lake may not have been the lead in "Cry-Baby," but the badassery without doubt gets turned up to 11 when she's around. Let's just remind ourselves that Pepper gives birth in the back of a speeding car, sans any pain relief whatsoever. This is a woman you do not mess with.

Waters went on to cast her again in the black-as-coal comedy "Serial Mom," but the big screen soon lost her to its smaller sibling: Later in the '90s, Lake became the daytime chat show queen. The chant that went along with every episode of "Ricki Lake" is surely still burned into the brains of those who heard it. Running for over a decade, that daily dose of Ricki was part Jerry Springer, part Oprah, and 100% drama. Or, as much drama as you can get away with before 6 p.m. And people loved it.

These days, Lake does a bit of acting, but most notably has appeared in two of the biggest singing competition shows in recent years, "The X Factor: Celebrity" and "The Masked Singer." All together now: Go Ricki! Go Ricki!

Traci Lords - Wanda Woodward

There's nothing John Waters likes more than a couple of controversial casting decisions, and "Cry-Baby" has exactly a couple. The first, the force of nature that is Traci Lords, was controversial for a lot of reasons, including her history in the adult movie industry. We won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that Lords turned the industry on its head, particularly its treatment of women.

Her move into mainstream cinema, then, was always going to raise a few eyebrows. Her character Wanda's hard-as-nails attitude takes no prisoners, especially considering the terror that powerful women inspire in some parts of town. The contrast between her rebellious anger and her parents' willful ignorance of said rebellion make the role even funnier — or more dangerous, depending on how you look at it. Which, we assume, is exactly what Waters was after. And it works so well.

Lords continued to act after "Cry-Baby," including a stint on "Melrose Place," like co-star Amy Locane. She even met the original MacGyver. There are movie roles aplenty on her résumé as well, though mainly in the background, and she's lent her voice to several video games, like "Let It Die" and "Hitman." Lords has also turned her versatile talents to music, with several albums under her, we imagine, tres chic belt. Say whatever you like about John Waters, but he can spot a star from 350 paces.

Darren E. Burrows - Milton Hackett

Playing the bass-strumming Milton, the dumbest member of the drapes by a pretty wide margin, Darren E. Burrows was no stranger to movie sets in 1990. Having been in three movies and a couple of TV shows before John Waters came along, Burrows was basically a pro. His Milton is loyal to a fault and about as sweet as it's possible to be in a Waters movie, particularly in his scenes with Hatchet-Face, his paramour.

But whereas not every young actor finds Hollywood a welcoming place, Burrows had a little something extra in his favor. You wouldn't have known it to look at him back then, but it's so obvious when someone says it now: Burrows is the son of the late Billy Drago, star of "The Untouchables," "Vamp," and myriad other incredible flicks. So the young actor had, at the very least, seen the ups and downs of the biz we call show.

Whatever the reason, audiences took to Burrows, and he's worked pretty consistently ever since. But he's probably best remembered as the sweet and loyal-to-a-fault Ed Chigliak in the underrated Alaskan TV dramedy "Northern Exposure." Now, we're not saying the role of Milton had anything to do with Burrows getting that part, but we really hope it did. Burrows has also appeared in "The X-Files," "The Lone Gunmen," "NYPD Blue," and "CSI." These days, though, he's wearing a producer's hat as well as an actor's: In "Magpie Funeral," Burrows is almost unrecognizable as accident-prone Sy McMurphy in a dark tale that's currently in post-production.

Iggy Pop - Uncle Belvedere

For those of you who only recognize Iggy Pop as an insurance salesman, he actually used to be a legitimate punk god. Don't let the mullet in "Cry-Baby" fool you, because, yes, that is in fact Iggy Pop in the bathtub. Before he turned his hand to acting, Pop was frontman for The Stooges and an unstoppable punk force who insisted on as much nudity as he could possibly manage during a single performance. And as proven by his surprisingly good turn as Ramona Rickettes' husband Belvedere, constant nudity doesn't have to be a barrier to success. Where many musicians fail to transition to the screen, Pop just seemed get this part. Somehow, he completely inhabits the hillbilly biker with a penchant for outdoor bathing and theme park capers.

Since then, of course, Pop has continued to reign as the punk god he's always been, despite now being a septuagenarian. And he still very much sees at least partial nudity as an integral part of his being: He "just feels lost in a shirt," he says, having originally stopped wearing them when he realized the ancient Pharaohs were usually pictured topless, too. It's about as solid a reason as one can ask for. The shirtless sensation still occasionally acts, and you've probably heard his dulcet tones in a couple of the "Grand Theft Auto" games. And then there are those commercials – because even punk gods have to pay the bills.

Stephen Mailer - Baldwin

Was there ever a better send-up of 1950s goodie-goodies than Baldwin? The very definition of whiny entitlement, Stephen Mailer absolutely nailed Baldwin's slimy, climb-over-your-grandma-to-get-what-he-wants aesthetic. He's a vision of mediocrity in chinos and penny loafers that makes everyone watching want to be a drape. In fact, Mailer's might be the most underrated of all the performances in this flick: You don't question it for a second. Mailer is just that great of an actor. And it seems that casting directors have agreed with that statement pretty much since 1990.

Perhaps lesser actors would have been unable to shake off Baldwin's cloying narcissism, but Mailer doesn't seem to have had any problems. Although looking absolutely nothing like Baldwin as he aged might have helped. For real, that does not look like the same guy, right? And thanks to that chameleon-like visage, Mailer has worked fairly regularly, appearing in film and television across an extreme range of categories, including the likes of "SVU," "Gilmore Girls," Tina Fey's "Baby Mama," and Scorsese's most recent masterpiece, "The Irishman." Not too shabby for a square.

Patty Hearst - Mrs. Woodward

Now comes the second controversial decision John Waters made when casting "Cry-Baby." You wouldn't guess it to look at her, but Patty Hearst was once wanted by the FBI ... because she robbed a bank ... after she'd been kidnapped. It was a convoluted Stockholm syndrome extravaganza that left a lot of people unsure about Hearst's level of personal responsibility.

We should probably also mention that she's directly related to deceased publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Yes, "the dude "Citizen Kane" is allegedly based on. She's had one heck of a life is what we're saying. So when she made her acting debut in "Cry-Baby," no one knew quite what to expect. But we really needn't have worried.

Hearst's portrayal of Wanda's hopelessly naïve mother couldn't have been more directly opposed to the public's view of her — and she played it for all the laughs she could squeeze out of the hilarious script she was given. It's a great, if unsubtle performance that veers into artistry, and Waters cast her again in three more of his movies. These days, though, she's turned to writing, with multiple published works including a book detailing her side of the kidnapping and robbery that changed her life.

Willem Dafoe - Hateful Guard

The antagonistic prison guard might not have been the biggest role in the movie, but it is without doubt one of the best. A Southern stereotype writ large, Dafoe's exaggerated accent and generally high levels of creepy ensure that he basically owns the only scene he's in. And it's so good that everyone remembers it. Apparently, if you want hateful, you call Willem Dafoe. Confirming for Cry-Baby Walker that his beautiful hair would soon be gracing the barber shop floor, before leading some of the most sycophantic prayers ever committed to film, Dafoe's guard leaves behind a palpable presence long after he's exited the frame.

Dafoe was already an established talent by 1990, having appeared in "Platoon," "Mississippi Burning," and "Born of the Fourth of July." He went on to become one of Hollywood's go-to character actors. His ability to make a room shudder just by walking into it even passed into legend when "Family Guy" immortalized him as the smoking creep under Stewie's crib. Whether it's an action flick like "John Wick," an animated classic like "Finding Nemo," or a heady horror like "Shadow of the Vampire" or "The Lighthouse," Dafoe is never out of work. Long it may creepily continue.

Kim McGuire - Mona 'Hatchet-Face' Malnorowski

Perhaps the only downside to this kind of look-back is the knowledge that not every cast member will still be around decades later. But this one surprised us. Kim McGuire's characterful face was one of the most memorable features of "Cry-Baby." Confident, badass, and totally in love with Milton, Hatchet-Face gives physical form to the way all teenagers worry about their appearance at least once — then infuses it with refreshing self-confidence. Imbued with sensitivity during the day and a sassy sax player by night, McGuire's performance is joyful, ridiculous, and touching all at the same time. Believe it or not, "Cry-Baby" was her movie debut

Despite McGuire's clear talent, she'd given up Hollywood altogether by the mid-'90s and returned to her first love: the law. She was a qualified attorney before John Waters cast her in "Cry-Baby" and practiced family law after leaving Hollywood. But she didn't just spend her time in court. She also became an author, writing about her experiences during Hurricane Katrina, among other things. In September 2016, McGuire's partner announced that she had died following complications from pneumonia. She was 60 years old. And she did indeed have character.

Polly Bergen - Mrs. Vernon-Williams

Polly Bergen was without doubt the closest thing to an actual superstar on the set. An Emmy winner, published author, celebrated fashionista and theatre doyenne, she had seen, done, and been in it all. Casting her as the extra-conservative-but-secretly-a-drape Mrs. Vernon-Williams must have been something of a coup for Waters at the time, and she classes up the joint no end. From her enthusiastic love of finishing schools to her complete about-face at the end, the actress steals every scene she's in.

Bergen had been a singer and film star for decades: Her performance in "Cape Fear" is just one highlight of a stellar career — but Hollywood wasn't where the roles were. As such, she was one of the first actors to choose TV over movies during the '60s. And that's where Bergen stayed until the end of her career, including extended runs on "Commander in Chief" and "Desperate Housewives," for which she was Emmy-nominated. She also starred on Broadway during the noughties in a hugely successful revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Follies." After spending a whopping six decades in the entertainment business, she died in September 2014 at the age of 84.

Susan Tyrrell - Ramona Rickettes

San Francisco-born Tyrrell always had a penchant for bad-taste movies, something that definitely would have given her an affinity for John Waters. Veteran of "Big Top Pee Wee," "Rockula," and "Forbidden Zone," Tyrrell's own mother once called her life "a celebration of everything that is cheap and tawdry." For Tyrrell, though, that was a compliment: "I've always liked that," she commented, "and I've always tried to live up to it." In "Cry-Baby," she found the ultimate expression of all that cheap and tawdry work. Ramona Rickettes, the gun-toting, Queen Elizabeth-hating great-grandma to all hillbillies, is one of Waters' greatest creations. And Tyrrell wears the role like a badge of honor. 

Proving those tough but folksy credentials all over again, Tyrrell went on to star alongside Bob Dylan and Jessica Lange in "Masked and Anonymous," as well as appearing in "Tales from the Crypt" and "Extreme Ghostbusters." She even wrote and starred in an opera about herself in 1992 — if anyone has a copy of it, please let us know, because we have a feeling it's a camp classic in the making. At the turn of the millennium, Tyrrell lost both of her legs following an illness, but kept on working in the kitschy world she was so comfortable in. She died in her sleep in 2012.