Where Is The 'Varsity Blues' Cast Now? This Football Drama Is Still A Classic
Back in 1999, jocks, geeks, theater kids, and the shy ones, all rallied around one football movie. Varsity Blues was produced by MTV Films and made of all the elements necessary for a sports movie for the TRL generation. With a proven Teen Beat coverboy lead in Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek; an appealing ensemble of virile guys and next-door girls; and a soundtrack that included late ‘90s staples like Collective Soul, Third Eye Blind, and Green Day, Varsity Blues made all its fans from around the world feel like they were breathing in the game night air of West Canaan, Texas. Whatever happened to those actors who brought that town and that team to life? Where is the cast of Varsity Blues today?
Now, this movie may be 17 years old, but I’ll never forget that “I don’t want your life” speech performed in Van Der Beek’s Johnny Moxon drawl. It was my first time ever seeing the freakishly handsome Paul Walker on screen. And the slow-motion play set to the Foo Fighters’ “Hero” still gives me chills. It’s one of those movies that sticks with you, even if you’ve never touched a football or attended a high school like this one. Whatever else they have done or will do with their careers, all of these actors will be West Canaan Coyotes forever. Read on to see what they’re up to today.
James Van Der Beek
James Van Der Beek came to the role of star West Canaan quarterback Johnny Moxon after having already joined the teen dream hall of fame as Dawson on the seminal high school soap Dawson's Creek. Van Der Beek has worked pretty consistently on film, TV, and the stage since the Creek was closed; some of his most memorable roles include a trouble co-ed in Rules Of Attraction and a distorted version of himself in the sitcom Don't Trust The B**** In Apt. 23. He's currently a part of the CSI: Cyber ensemble and, as you can see in his Instagram above, just wrapped something in London. E! Online reported the birth of his fourth child just last month. And on top of all of that, Van Der Beek is a feminist ally, tweeting in support of Equal Pay.
Caan played Charlie Tweeder in Varsity Blues, the requisite jock party boy. For six years, he's led the series reboot of Hawaii Five-O, and has brought his signature everyman toughness to roles in Entourage and the Ocean's 11 franchise.
Quarterback Lance Harbor is the golden boy of his football-worshipping town, until an injury sidelines him. Paul Walker was riding similarly high in Hollywood as one of the stars of the lucrative Fast And The Furious franchise. He was killed tragically in a car accident in 2013, leaving behind daughter Meadow and tight friendships with his co-stars. When Furious 7 won a People's Choice Award this year, Vin Diesel used the opportunity to pay another tribute to Walker, singing a bit of the mournful Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth song from the film in his memory.
Smart represented every sports-weary high schooler in Varsity Blues as Mox's neglected girlfriend Julie. Smart has had a busy career in television and film since then; Road Trip, Scrubs, and Just Friends are just a few examples of her projects. Smart is married to HGTV professional Carter Oosterhouse and her Instagram is full of #HomeAndGardenGoals. She's also an environmental activist, supporting clean water and sustainability initiatives.
Playing the West Canaan Coyotes' unrelenting coach, Jon Voight was far and away the most experienced actor on the film. At 77, the Academy Award winner is still keeping busy with a regular role in Showtime's Ray Donovan. You can also see Voight (Angelina Jolie's dad, if you didn't know) in the upcoming Harry Potter spin-off film, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them.
Besides her turn as Darcy Sears, Lance's girlfriend and she of the infamous whipped cream bikini scene, Ali Larter is probably best known for her double role as Niki Sanders and Tracy Strauss on Heroes. (Well, triple, if you count Niki's other personality, Jessica.) Larter and Varsity Blues co-star Amy Smart are longtime friends, and the former model has two kids with her husband Hayes MacArthur (Angie Tribeca). In 2013, she published a cookbook called Kitchen Revelry , with "festive" recipes for any occasion. Next, Larter will be geting her hands dirty in the 2017 Resident Evil sequel.
Don't fret if you don't recognize Ron Lester as the lovable Billy Bob from the 1999 film. In a 2014 profile on Grantland, the actor reflected on his gastric bypass and subsequent considerable weight loss. 509 pounds at his heaviest, Lester was weighing in at 198 pounds at the time the piece was published and had gone through "17 surgeries in all to remove excess skin." A drastic change in appearance can be detrimental to an actor's ability to find work; Lester confirmed to Grantland that that was true for him. In 2015, he wrote, directed, and starred in an independent, faith-based film about NASCAR called Racing Legacy, and his official website also advertises his acting classes. Of the football drama, Lester told Grantland, "It was a family, and it was kind of like a drug. Every project, every TV show, every movie I’ve done, I keep hoping to relive the camaraderie we had on Varsity Blues.”
While the rest of the ensembles were amateurs at best, Eliel Swinton could really show them how the game of football is played. Swinton played high school and college ball before starring in his first and last film as West Canaan's only black player, Wendell Brown. He was also on the field professionally for a time, though an injury ended his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. After working as a production assistant, a sales executive, and in other professions, Swinton now trains and mentors young players as the Vice President and Founder/CEO of CarPe Diem Sports Academy in Valley Village, California.
Paul Walker is missed, but the rest of these Varsity Blues stars are still playing with heart.
Image: Paramount Pictures