Aliens have been a pop cultural fixation for decades. From the midcentury scares of Invasion of the Body Snatchers to the tense paranoia of The X-Files, aliens have long represented our fascinations and our fears. While most depictions of aliens are firmly in the sci-fi category, in the ’90s, extraterrestrials became the subject of a sitcom. 3rd Rock From The Sun, which ran for six seasons from 1996 to 2001, centered on a cast of four bumbling aliens from a faraway galaxy posing as a human family in the fictional town of Rutherford, Ohio.
Hilarity ensued as the aliens immersed themselves into the daily lives of humans all while on a true mission to observe their behavior. Over 20 years after they said their last goodbyes, the show remains a cult favorite.
Wondering what those hilarious aliens have been up to lately? Here’s a look at the 3rd Rock From the Sun cast then and now.
John Lithgow as Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock From the Sun cast
Long before John Lithgow became Dick Solomon, 3rd Rock From the Sun‘s alien High Commander and expedition leader turned physics professor, he was already an accomplished star of stage and screen.
Born into a theatrical family, with an actress mother and play director father, Lithgow began acting in Broadway plays in the ’70s. He soon made the transition to acting in movies, appearing in films like Obsession, The Big Fix, Rich Kids and All That Jazz.
His profile rose considerably when he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1983 and 1984 for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. In 1984, he also appeared in the coming-of-age classic Footloose and the cult favorite sci-fi The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
In the ’90s, Lithgow acted in Ricochet, Raising Cain, Cliffhanger and The Pelican Brief before being cast in 3rd Rock From the Sun. The sitcom role, which earned him three Primetime Emmy Awards for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, was a welcome change of pace. Not only was it his first starring role in a TV show, it also allowed him to show a new side of himself as an actor. As he said in a 2022 interview, “When I took 3rd Rock From the Sun, I had just played too many villains… It was time to do something ridiculous.”
After 3rd Rock From the Sun, Lithgow appeared in movies like Dreamgirls, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Love Is Strange and Bombshell and had a 12-episode arc on Dexter. He also voiced the devious Lord Farquaad in Shrek, and has written a variety of children’s books.
Now 78, Lithgow has recently returned to TV, appearing as Winston Churchill in The Crown and starring in the thriller series The Old Man. He also appeared in the Perry Mason remake. Lithgow can currently be seen in a small role in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed historical drama Killers of the Flower Moon and has multiple film projects in the works.
Kristen Johnston as Sally Solomon, 3rd Rock From the Sun cast
Kristen Johnston played security officer Sally Solomon, who was a military expert in her native galaxy and often humorously defied feminine sitcom stereotypes. She won two Emmys for the role.
Johnston started out acting on the stage, and appeared in episodes of As the World Turns and Chicago Hope before being cast in her breakout role in 3rd Rock From the Sun. While on the show, she acted in comedy movies like Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.
Post-3rd Rock, Johnston made a memorable appearance in Sex and the City and appeared in ER and Ugly Betty. She also acted in movies like Bride Wars, Music and Lyrics and Vamps. Predominantly known as a TV actress, Johnson was also in the cast of the shows The Exes and Mom.
Now 56, Johnson has most recently made recurring appearances in Our Flag Means Death and The Righteous Gemstones. Off the screen, Johnston battled depression and addiction, and her struggles led her to write a memoir and establish SLAM, a charity dedicated to helping young women with similar struggles.
French Stewart as Harry Solomon, 3rd Rock From the Sun cast
French Stewart played Harry Solomon, a dimwitted alien who received communications from his home planet via a transmitter in his brain.
Born Milton French-Stewart, the comic actor started out in 1992, with a role in The New WKRP in Cincinnati. He then had a supporting role in the hit sci-fi movie Stargate. While in the cast of 3rd Rock From the Sun, he appeared in McHale’s Navy, Love Stinks and Dick and provided voices for the animated Hercules TV series.
In 2013, Stewart returned to the sitcom world with a recurring role in Mom (which also featured fellow 3rd Rock alum Kristen Johnston). He’s also been in a number of straight-to-video movies, including Inspector Gadget 2, in which he played the title character.
Now 59, Stewart remains a TV mainstay and has appeared in a variety of shows including Community, Psych, 2 Broke Girls, Secrets and Lies, The Middle, NCIS and more.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tommy Solomon
Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Tommy Solomon, who was the oldest alien but was hilariously stuck in the body of a teenager.
Gordon-Levitt began acting as a child and first appeared in commercials. Prior to his breakout role in 3rd Rock From the Sun, he appeared in episodes of Family Ties, Quantum Leap, L.A. Law and Roseanne and was in the cast of the short-lived Dark Shadows reboot and The Powers That Be. He also appeared in movies like A River Runs Through It and Angels in the Outfield, so he already had an impressive resume by the time he was a teen.
While in the 3rd Rock cast, Gordon-Levitt acted in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and 10 Things I Hate About You. After the show ended, Gordon-Levitt took a break to attend college, and when he returned to acting he began concentrating on more intense dramatic parts, starring in Manic, Mysterious Skin, Brick, Miracle at St. Anna and Killshot. In 2009, Gordon-Levitt had one of his signature roles in the beloved rom-com 500 Days of Summer.
Throughout the ’00s and ’10s, Gordon-Levitt consistently appeared in high-profile films, including Inception, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises and Lincoln. In 2013, he made his feature directorial debut with Don John, which he also starred in. In 2021, he created, directed and starred in the show Mr. Corman.
Now 42, Gordon-Levitt has long been known for his ability to balance roles in big-budget Hollywood films and smaller independent movies. Most recently, he appeared in an episode of the show Poker Face and starred in the miniseries Super Pumped. He has a number of projects in the works, including the much-anticipated fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie.
Jane Curtin as Mary Albright
Jane Curtin played Mary Albright, an anthropology professor and human foil (and love interest) to Dick.
Curtin found fame as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. She was part of the show from 1975 to 1980, and one of her signature roles was as a Conehead, an alien humorously navigating life on Earth. Sound familiar? The co-creator of 3rd Rock From The Sun, Bonnie Turner, co-wrote the Coneheads movie which Curtin starred in in 1993, so it made perfect sense for her to star in the show!
3rd Rock also wasn’t Curtin’s first sitcom: From 1984 to 1989, she starred in Kate & Allie as single mom Allie Lowell, and won two consecutive Emmy Awards. Post-3rd Rock Curtin acted in comedic films like The Shaggy Dog; I Love You, Man; I Don’t Know How She Does It; The Heat; The Spy Who Dumped Me and Can You Ever Forgive Me? She also joined the cast of another sitcom, Crumbs, which was unsuccessful, and had a part in the procedural Unforgettable from 2012 to 2014.
Now 76, Curtin remains a reliably deadpan presence, and most recently appeared in the movie Jules and episodes of The Good Fight, The Conners and Bupkis.
Find more of your favorite 90s TV stars below!