We can’t help but feel nostalgic when thinking back to our favorite television shows from years past. Back when it wasn’t possible to frantically type into Google “what’s next for…” the minute the show was canceled and you’re heavy with the knowledge that these deeply beloved television actors won’t grace the small screen every week.
Now, the gratification is instant – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and constant internet media keep us informed of the plans (successful or no) of our favourite TV stars – there’s even a certain amount of agency in our hands to dictate the fates of our favourite shows after they’ve been canceled. New media is amazing – but it’s new, so many television actors from years past have been forced/allowed to live relative obscurity.
As a 2000s classic, Malcolm in the Middle ended in 2006, and many of the show’s most popular actors haven’t graced the T.V. Guide headlines since – with obvious exceptions, of course. We’ve dug up the dirt on the cast from this popular sitcom and found out what they’re getting up to today.
This is Where Are They Now? The Cast Of Malcolm In The Middle
15. Bryan Cranston (Hal Wilkerson)
We’d be hard pressed to find a Malcolm in the Middle fan unaware of the enormous success achieved by Bryan Cranston after the show wrapped. Cranston – who played the affable and slightly ridiculous Hal Wilkerson – appeared in all 151 episodes of Malcolm in the Middle. After the series finale in 2006, Cranston guest starred in shows such as Family Guy, How I Met Your Mother and Fallen, as well as scoring some minor roles in Little Miss Sunshine, The Lincoln Lawyer, and Drive.
It was 2008 when the whole world snapped to attention, avidly watching the brutish and mercurial transformation of protagonist Walter White in what has now been lauded as one of the greatest television show’s of all time, AMC’s Breaking Bad. The part earned Cranston four Primetime Emmy Awards.
Post-Breaking Bad, Cranston has gone on to star in Trumbo, a film about a blacklisting screenwriter in the 1940s, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination. He continues to work in television, where he has recently played roles in the crime drama Sneaky Pete and the animated comedy SuperMansion.
14. Cloris Leachman (Ida Kenzel-Welker)
Cloris Leachman has been featured in so many movie and television shows, that Wikipedia lists her filmography as a separate entry. Among the long list of stellar performances, she’s noted for her roles in The Beverly Hillbillies, High Anxiety, and The Last Picture Show (for which she scored an Academy Award). Leachman has credits in 275 films and television shows over a whopping seventy year career.
During her tenure on Malcolm in the Middle, she played Grandma Ida, mother to Lois. She’s a despicable, prejudiced woman who stops at nothing to make the people around her miserable, particularly Lois. She shows only the mildest inkling of affection for Reese, Malcolm’s second oldest brother.
After Malcolm wrapped, Leachman went on to feature in a multitude of other projects. Leachman portrayed Maw Maw in the sitcom Raising Hope, from 2010-2014 and she was the oldest contestant ever in Dancing With The Stars (she was 82 at the time). She also had roles in films such as The Women and New York, I Love You.
At 91, she doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon – she currently has a recurring role in the Starz series American Gods.
13. Kenneth Mars (Otto Mannkusser)
Kenneth Mars had an extensive and prolific television and film career before his role as Otto Mankusser on Malcolm in the Middle. Mars – who died in 2011 of pancreatic cancer – worked as an actor on two Mel Brooks films, as Franz Liebkind in 1968’s The Producers and as the Police Inspector in 1974’s Young Frankenstein.
Mars was also a talented voice actor – some acute viewers may have picked up the fact that Mars voiced King Triton, father of Ariel, in the Disney classic The Little Mermaid.
In Malcolm in the Middle, Mars portrayed the loveable ranch owner Otto Mannkusser, who both Francis and his wife, Piama, work for. Mars portrayed the character – complete with a thick German accent – for seasons four and five. He did little television work after, lending his voice out to the Kingdom Hearts video game installments 1 & 2, as well as guest starring on an episode of Hannah Montana.
12. Eric Nenninger (Cadet Eric Hanson)
Eric Hanson is the military school companion of Malcolm’s brother Francis. Though more hesitant to engage in mischief than Francis, Eric is frequently complicit. He ends up quitting the academy at eighteen to work at a lodge in Alaska – spurring Francis to emancipate from his parents and join him there. Nenninger had a recurring role as Eric Hanson for 28 episodes, and though he is still a working actor, it’s his biggest television break to date.
Since Malcolm ended, he’s appeared in shows such as NCIS, Criminal Minds, Bones, and had a recurring role as Warner in Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. He also lent his voice and likeness to the video game adaptation of L.A. Noire – Nenninger co-starred in the project as Matthew Ryan.
11. Daniel von Bargen (Commandant Edwin Spangler)
Daniel von Bargen was a much-loved character actor, whose zany antics showed up across the board in a variety of television shows and films – from Mr. Kruger in Seinfeld to Chief Grady in Super Troopers. He spent a memorable fifteen episodes on Malcolm in the Middle as Commandant Edwin Spangler, the tough-as-nails head of the military school Francis and Eric attended. Though Spangler is hard on Francis, he reveals in later seasons a certain affection for him – Francis’s exceptionally rebellious nature gave Spangler a purpose at the academy. Von Bargen departs the show after the third season, but his portrayal is fondly remembered by fans.
Von Bargen struggled with illness later in life; he was a diabetic whose condition proved difficult to manage, eventually losing a leg and several toes to the disease. In 2012, overcome with the stresses of the illness, Von Bargen unsuccessfully tried to take his own life. Though he survived, he passed away three years later in 2015. His last onscreen appearance was in 2009 as Maury in London Betty, which garnered high praise from critics.
10. Gary Anthony Williams (Abraham Kenarban)
Not particularly known for his brawn or bravery, Abraham Kenarban was father to Stevie, Malcolm’s best friend. Played with comic aplomb by Williams, Abe Kenarban featured in over 15 episodes, and had a few prominent subplots – including a storyline where he was dating Polly (Jamie’s babysitter) in tandem with Craig, Lois’s star-crossed co-worker.
Williams has worked consistently in film and television since Malcolm in the Middle finished, with parts in shows such as Boston Legal and the sketch comedy program Mad. Williams is also a prolific voice actor, and has been featured in animated series like The Boondocks, Rick and Morty, American Dad, and China, IL. He also had a recurring role on the FOX series Raising Hope as Dave Davidson, along with fellow Malcolm alum Cloris Leachman.
9. Catherine Lloyd Burns (Caroline Miller)
Caroline Miller was featured predominately in the first two seasons as Malcolm’s caring but overly earnest and excitable school teacher. She is one of the few characters who really acknowledges and appreciates Malcolm’s above average intelligence, and is keen to develop and nurture it, sometimes to the chagrin and embarrassment of Malcolm himself.
Miller has been working in film and television since 1991: her first film role was in The Night We Never Met, and she’s guest-starred in shows such as ER and Party of Five. Her filmography is somewhat limited after Malcolm in the Middle.
In 2012, she featured in the limited release comedy Adult World, with Emma Roberts, Evan Peters and John Cusack – as well as Malcolm co-star, Cloris Leachman (it’s hard to find something Cloris Leachman isn’t in). Miller is also a writer, and her 2007 memoir It Hit Me Like A Ton of Bricks explores family relationships through memoirs. She also is the author of a children’s book, The Good, The Bad & The Beagle.
8. David Anthony Higgins (Craig Feldspar)
David Anthony Higgins is no stranger to supporting roles primetime comedies; Higgins has been featured in a variety of successful shows, such as Mike & Molly (as Harry), Big Time Rush (as Reginald Bitters), and Ellen (as Joe).
Higgins played Lois’ overbearing co-worker as Lucky Aid, Craig Feldspar. His character was featured in all seven seasons, and had a variety of storylines, not least of being the consistent and the none too subtle hints that he was in love with Lois.
As well as finding success on Mike & Molly and Big Time Rush after Malcolm in the Middle finished, Higgins also guest starred on an episode in the first season of the popular FX show American Horror Story. He’s also appeared in an episode of Mom, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and is at the helm of the parody comedy show, International Ghost Investigators, where “experts” attempt to suss out the paranormal reasonings behind celebrity ghost problems.
7. Craig Lamar Traylor (Stevie Kenarban)
Playing Malcolm’s asthmatic, wheelchair-bound best friend on the show, Craig Lamar Traylor appeared in a total of fifty six episodes. Prior to Malcolm in the Middle, Traylor had a small role in Matilda and guest-starred on an episode of ER in 1996.
Since Malcolm wrapped, Traylor filmography has been somewhat limited; he appeared in the direct-to-DVD film Dance Fu as Lil’ Ryat, as well as small roles in the films This Bitter Earth and Fred & Vinnie. Traylor used to keep a fairly active Twitter account, in which he described himself as a “wire artist, actor, spiritualist.” It appears Traylor is actively keeping up with his wire-art – he posts photos and videos extensively on his Instagram account (Deity_Designs), showing off a variety of jewelry and knick-knacks that the former child actor has crafted.
6. Emy Coligado (Piama Tananahaakna)
Emy Coligado’s two longest-running television gigs have been concurrent. Firstly, her performance as Francis’ wife Piama Tananahaakna in Malcolm, in which she appeared in twenty eight episodes from 2002 to 2006. Secondly, her role in Crossing Jordan as Emmy, the medical office assistant – in this, she appeared in 30 episodes, which ran from 2001 to 2007.
After the Malcolm finale, Coligado has worked sporadically in television, appearing in guest roles on shows such as Chuck, Men in Trees, Shameless and recently, she appeared in the FOX comedy series Fresh Off the Boat as Norma in the 2017 episode “The Masters”.
Coligado played Ling in the financially successful re-imagining of The Three Stooges, starring Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso. She also appeared in Miss Saigon on Broadway during its initial run at the Broadway Theatre. In 2009, Coligado starred alongside Arrested Development actor Tony Hale in the NBC web series CTRL, which was the very first standalone project of its kind produced by a big network.
5. Christopher Masterson (Francis Wilkerson)
Masterson obviously had a lot of experience being one sibling of many – he is brother to Danny Masterson (Hyde of That ’70s Show fame), Jordan Masterson (Ryan Vogelson in Last Man Standing) and Alanna Masterson (Tara Chambler in The Walking Dead) – all of whom, Christopher included, follow the teachings of the Church of Scientology.
Masterson has certainly earned his place amongst his famous siblings for his role as Francis – the eldest brother – in Malcolm in the Middle. After taking a hiatus from television work from 2006 to 2011, Masterson has recently been featured in shows such as White Collar, Men at Work, and Haven; he’s also appeared in two episodes of College Humours Originals as the wannabe superhero “The Whizzer.”
Until 2008, Masterson was living with Laura Prepon (who played Donna in That ’70s Show alongside Masterson’s older brother Danny) in a house in Los Feliz. Recently, Masterson has transitioned into deejaying using the handle DJ Chris Kennedy.
4. Erik Per Sullivan (Dewey Wilkerson)
Erik Per Sullivan was only nine years old when he took on the role of Dewey Wilkerson, the youngest (at the time) brother of Malcolm. During the run of Malcolm in the Middle, Per Sullivan had roles in a variety of films, like Joe Dirt, Unfaithful, Christmas With The Kranks, and Finding Nemo. He was a recipient on the James Joyce Award for his work as an actor in 2007. However, his filmography has been pretty scant since Malcolm finished, and his last credit is in 2010 from the movie Twelve, directed by Joel Schumacher, in which he played Timmy.
Per Sullivan’s talents extend far beyond acting – he can play both the piano and the alto saxophone, he can speak Swedish, and he has a black belt in taekwondo. Per Sullivan is notoriously quite on social media – a rare feat – but there a few great pictures of the child star all grown up on the Instagram account erikpsul. Per Sullivan continued his formal education, attending the University of Southern California is Los Angeles.
3. Justin Berfield (Reese Wilkerson)
Justin Berfield portrayed Reese, the slightly older and routinely mischievous brother of Malcolm. Reese was notorious for getting into trouble, clashing especially with Lois, as well as creating tension between himself and relative do-gooder Malcolm. Prior to jumping into the role of Reese, Berfield found success in the television show Unhappily Ever After, where he played the lead role of Ross Malloy from 1995 to 1999.
After Malcolm finished, Berfield has stayed out of the limelight for the most; his only acting credit after 2006 is in one episode of TV series Sons of Tuscon as Barry. Berfield has shifted his focus to producing and writer: in 2010, Berfield took on the role of Chief Creative Officer of Virgin Producer. The company is a subset of the Virgin Company and works to develop and produce film and television. Berfield has been very active in philanthropy and working with non-profit organizations as well.
2. Jane Kaczmarek (Lois Wilkerson)
Jane Kaczmarek had an extensive television career before rising to fame for her performance as Lois, the matriarch of the Wilkerson brood. Kaczmarek was nominated for seven Emmy awards during her tenure on Malcolm in the Middle, as well as a Golden Globe. She’s continued to find success in television after Malcolm concluded.
Kaczmarek has been featured in over 15 television shows since 2006, including a starring role as Judge Trudy Kessler in the TNT drama Raising the Bar, and a cameo (as Lois) in an alternate ending to the “Felina” episode of Breaking Bad. She’s performed in films as well, one of which – 6 Balloons – is currently in post-production and due out this year.
Kaczmarek was nominated for an Ovation Award for her performance in the Geffen Playhouse produced rendition of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire. She has also appeared as herself in Jeopardy! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational and in the revived HBO show The Comeback, starring Lisa Kudrow.
1. Frankie Muniz (Malcolm Wilkerson)
Frankie Muniz rose to major fame during his tenure as the titular Malcolm on Malcolm in the Middle. At almost fifteen years old, Muniz had a few minor roles before Malcolm, such as a guest appearance on Spin City and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. During the run of Malcolm in the Middle, Muniz became a highly in-demand young actor, starring in movies like Agent Cody Banks and Big Fat Liar.
After the show wrapped, Muniz continued to work in film and television on and off, scoring roles in Criminal Minds, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and Don’t Trust the B**** In Apartment 23.
Muniz has put a lot of focus into his career in motorsports: he has raced in Champ Car Atlantic Series and won the Jovy Marcelo award for sportsman, as well as finishing 4th in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in 2011. Muniz has had some health problems – experiencing two mini-strokes a year apart from each other – but is currently living happily and healthily; he keeps an active Twitter account that can be found here.
Do you think any of the stars of Malcolm in the Middle should’ve had bigger careers? Let us know in the comments!
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