Back in 1996, Independence Day became the ultimate summer disaster action flick. The epic thriller about an alien invasion grossed over $800 million at the box office and earned an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. It also gave big screen audiences the chance to appreciate the sexy swagger of a certain Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
This summer, producers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin revisit this universe with a long-awaited sequel. On June 24, Independence Day: Resurgence descends upon theaters sans Will Smith, but with many of the same actors from the original.
It’s been 20 years since President Whitmore and Captain Hiller helped defeat the aliens to celebrate Independence Day with the world. In honor of the impending continuation of this story, Screen Rant takes a look at where the cast is today.
15. HARVEY FIERSTEIN
“Oh, crap.” Those were Marty Gilbert’s famous last words before Harvey Fierstein’s raspy-voiced character met his untimely demise. Marty was the boss at Compact Cable but he sure wasn’t the guy with the answers. That distinction belonged to his much smarter employee, Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson. Poor Marty.
Fierstein’s post-Independence Day work includes the films Playing Mona Lisa and Death to Smoochy. Plus, you can hear the actor/playwright’s voice in Farce of the Penguins, Mulan, Mulan II and the upcoming animated movie, Animal Crackers. Now that NBC has announced its next live production is Hairspray, some diehard fans are hoping he’ll reprise his Tony-winning role as Edna Turnblad. Fierstein recently tweeted his approval.
14. ROBERT LOGGIA
Robert Loggia starred as the tough but fair General William Grey, a United States Marine and a trusted advisor to the president. When President Whitmore refused to go into hiding in the face of this alien attack on humankind, General Grey made the decision to stay right by his side.
The veteran character actor known for his roles in Scarface, Big and Jagged Edge continued to work steadily in movies and television after ID4. He was in David Lynch’s Lost Highway as well as Smilla’s Sense of Snow and Return to Me. On TV, he guest starred on Malcolm in the Middle, played Ray Romano’s dad in TNT’s Men of a Certain Age and was gangster “Feech” La Manna in a few episodes of HBO’s The Sopranos. Unfortunately, Loggia passed away late last year. He was 85. Three of his projects have yet to be released.
13. MARGARET COLIN
Margaret Colin played Constance Spano, the White House’s Communications Director, and David’s ex-wife. She reunites with her former husband when it turns out he has invaluable information that could solve the alien issue. The reunion is a bit tense since, once upon a time, David punched Whitmore because he thought he was having an affair with Connie. They weren’t.
Colin graduated from daytime soaps and has managed to have a lasting career in movies and TV. In 1999’s Now and Again, she played a grieving widow whose husband’s brain was implanted in a genetically engineered body. Gossip Girl fans will remember her as Blair’s often cruel mother, Eleanor Waldorf. Most recently, she guest-starred on The Good Wife, Gotham, and Madam Secretary. She has a couple more projects on the way this year.
12. BRENT SPINER
Brent Spiner had already finished his time as Data on the iconic series Star Trek: The Next Generation when he took on the role of Dr. Brackish Okun. Unfortunately, the eccentric, long-haired head scientist of Area 51 didn’t last long. His death by alien mind meld was the creepiest moment of the film.
Spiner went on to reprise the role of Data in the Star Trek films First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis. He also did a short small screen stint on Enterprise. He’s appeared in episodes of Frasier, Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Ray Donovan. He had a recurring role on Syfy’s Warehouse 13. He’s done voice work on Young Justice, The Simpsons, and Star Wars Rebels. Most recently, he reunited with Patrick Stewart on Blunt Talk and shot a pilot for Robert Kirkman’s upcoming Cinemax series, Outcast.
11. VIVICA A. FOX
Vivica A. Fox’s single mother character was sweet, sexy and strong. She was also a stripper. But Jasmine Dubrow didn’t care because she knew she had to provide for her son. She was in love with Captain Steven Heller and by the end of the movie, the two survived all obstacles to become husband and wife.
1996 was big for Fox, with the one-two punch of Independence Day and Set it Off. She also starred in Booty Call, Soul Food and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2. On TV, her Lifetime series Missing aired for three seasons, she played one of Larry David’s girlfriends on Curb Your Enthusiasm and was a celebrity contestant on Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars. The last couple of years, she appeared in Sharknado 2 and played one of Cookie Lyon’s sisters on the hit Fox series Empire.
10. JAMES REBHORN
James Rebhorn was Albert Nimzicki, the douche-tastic Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director. He was the one advising the president to drop nuclear weapons on the alien invaders and couldn’t be bothered to listen to David’s theories.
After the movie became what was then the second highest-grossing film of all time (it’s now the 51st), the character actor starred in The Game, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Meet the Parents. That was Rebhorn as D.A. Hoyt in the controversial yet highly rated Seinfeld finale. Yes, he was the one to make a strong enough case for the jury to throw the book at Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer. He also had roles in Third Watch, the original Law and Order, Enlightened and White Collar.
9. RANDY QUAID
One of the movie’s most memorable characters was Randy Quaid’s Russell Casse, the crop dustin’ drunk and Vietnam Vet who claimed he was a victim of an alien kidnapping. Nobody in his town took him seriously. In the end, he got his hero moment and a bit of revenge, when he sacrificed himself in order to save the world.
Quaid continued to star in movies like Vegas Vacation and Brokeback Mountain, all the way up until 2009, the year of his last acting credit. These days, there’s no time for hero moments. His real life legal issues have kept him and his wife busy. In 2010, they were arrested for squatting in and vandalizing a guest house they no longer owned. After “vacationing” in Canada, they were – once again – arrested. This time, for trying to re-enter the U.S. The fugitive charges for fleeing to Canada were recently dismissed but they still face felony charges in California.
8. HARRY CONNICK, JR.
Harry Connick Jr. was Captain Jimmy Wilder, Heller’s goofy – and some might say obnoxious – fighter pilot best friend, who died fairly quickly in the line of duty.
At the time, Connick was known more as a singer, although he did have a handful of acting credits to his name. Over the years, he’s made both worlds his priorities. He’s handled roles in the films Excess Baggage, Hope Floats, P.S. I Love You and the Dolphin Tale movies. But he’s achieved more success on TV. As Leo Markus, he’s the guy who married Grace on NBC’s late great sitcom, Will & Grace. He guest starred in several episodes of Law & Order: SVU. But what really puts him over the top is his job as an American Idol judge along with Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban. Idol is currently in its farewell season.
7. ADAM BALDWIN
Adam Baldwin played Major Mitchell, the commanding officer at Area 51.
Baldwin followed up ID4 with various roles in films as well as TV shows that didn’t last long. He provided a voice in an animated series based on Will Smith’s Men in Black movies. He also had a recurring role on The X-Files.
But what’s really important here is the fact he starred as the surly but awesome Jayne Cobb in a brilliant but quickly canceled Joss Whedon series called Firefly. It only lasted one season but it became the stuff of cult legend. Fans are still hoping for a reboot. Whedon hired him for the final season of Angel, but Baldwin struck gold when he joined the cast of Chuck, which ran on NBC for five seasons. When he doesn’t reunite on Castle with his fellow Firefly colleague, Nathan Fillion, he stars as XO Mike Slattery on TNT’s The Last Ship.
6. MARY MCDONNELL
Mary McDonnell’s Marilyn Whitmore was the First Lady of the United States and mom to Patricia. The helicopter she was in crashed before she could return to her husband. She later died with Thomas by her side.
By the time McDonnell popped up in Independence Day, she had already been nominated for two Oscars. But it’s her ability to find fierce roles on TV that would serve her well. She did several episodes of ER, where she played Dr. Carter’s (Noah Wyle) mother. In 2003, it was her turn to play the president in a miniseries reimagining of a campy ‘70s show called Battlestar Galactica. BSG would become the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel’s most critically acclaimed series of all time.
5. JUDD HIRSCH
While David had to deal with the country’s skeptical power players, one man stood by his side: his proud yet annoyingly nagging father, Julius. The good thing about Julius was that he could see things weren’t over for his son and his ex-wife. He even quoted John Lennon’s “All You Need is Love” to prove his point.
Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Judd Hirsch was already well known to audiences for his roles in Ordinary People, Taxi, and Dear John. In 2001, he was in A Beautiful Mind, but, lately, his main focus has been on television. He co-starred as the father to Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz in the CBS procedural, Numb3rs. He played an old mentor to Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes on Damages. And on Forever, he was Abe Morgan, Henry’s adopted son.
4. MAE WHITMAN
Mae Whitman was practically a fetus when she played the First Daughter, Patricia Whitmore. She was seriously adorable and it’s amazing to see what she’s done since. She’s played daughters to George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. She’s done a massive amount of voice work including Avatar: The Last Airbender, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Family Guy, Young Justice and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Anybody would be happy if those credits made up their entire career. But then you get to the heavyweights: Ann Veal on Arrested Development. Amber Whitman on Parenthood. Two TV roles that couldn’t be more different from each other. Add Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Duff into the mix and it becomes clear the girl can do no wrong.
Which makes her absence in the upcoming Independence Day sequel that much more perplexing and disappointing. Maika Monroe, who starred in last year’s hit horror film It Follows, was hired to play the role that Whitman originated.
3. JEFF GOLDBLUM
Jeff Goldblum has a knack for playing sexy, quirky characters. David Levinson was one of them. He was the brainy, unambitious MIT grad who ended up playing a vital role in the fight against this sudden global threat. He and Captain Hiller had to infiltrate the alien mothership, where he was able to transmit a computer virus that disabled the enemy’s shields. An unlikely hero was born.
In the years since ID4, Goldblum reprised his Jurassic Park role in a 1997 sequel and scored big with appearances in the Wes Anderson films The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Grand Budapest Hotel and an untitled project currently in pre-production. He’s collected a surprising amount of small screen credits, including roles in Will & Grace, Glee, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Portlandia. Plus, he’s a jazz musician who frequently performs in Los Angeles.
2. BILL PULLMAN
“We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
For the record, President Whitmore’s inspirational speech still holds up 20 years later. He may have lost his wife but he did everything he could to destroy the alien attack, even dust off his fighter pilot skills.
Bill Pullman was so likable in his term as POTUS in ID4, you’d think his next step would have been superstardom. While he’s worked steadily, he never managed to climb to the top of Hollywood’s A-List. No matter. He was in Brokedown Palace, Igby Goes Down and Scary Movie 4. He played against type as a convicted murder and pedophile in the Miracle Day season of Torchwood. In 2012, he once again became the leader of the free world in a short-lived comedy called 1600 Penn.
1. WILL SMITH
Independence Day put Will Smith on the direct path to becoming Mr. July the 4th. For a while, he owned that particular holiday at the box office. As Captain Steven Hiller, he got the girl, he dragged an alien across the desert and he became an American hero.
What’s he been up to since this breakthrough performance? A few things. Some of the highlights: Men in Black, Bad Boys II, Ali, I Robot, Pursuit of Happyness, and most recently, Concussion. Some of the lowlights: Wild, Wild West, and After Earth.
Smith has reached a rarified air for celebrities, the one where his films have grossed billions and billions of dollars. He’s experienced success in television, movies, and music. He’s proved a superpower behind the scenes as well. He’s such a juggernaut even his kids frequently make headlines for their own creative pursuits.
Right now, he and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are tackling the issue of diversity and the Oscars – or the lack of diversity. While the former Fresh Prince has been nominated for two Academy Awards, he didn’t receive one for Concussion. Smith said he won’t be attending this year’s show.
Major Spoiler Alert: And he won’t be showing up in the new Independence Day either. So where is Captain Steven Hiller now? According to a promotional website for the film, his character died while test piloting a fighter plane. We guess ID4 fans will have to make due with Smith’s upcoming appearances in Suicide Squad and a couple of Bad Boys sequels.
Independence Day featured more familiar faces that didn’t make this list – the fathers from Wonder Years and Life Goes On and Chris Pine’s real life dad, Robert Pine, to name a few. While Ross Bagley originally played Jasmine’s son, Dylan, he’s not the actor they cast in the upcoming continuation. That honor belongs to Jessie Usher, who’s best known for his role on Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse.