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‘Death Becomes Her’: See the Stars of the Cult Classic ’90s Comedy Then and Now

Plus, fun little-known facts about the stars!


When it comes to ’90s movies, there’s nothing quite like the 1992 fantasy-comedy Death Becomes Her and its all-star cast. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, a filmmaker known for his over-the-top visuals and innovative use of special effects. The film follows struggling actress Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) as she learns about an immortality treatment and decides to use it to finally beat her long-time rival (Goldie Hawn).

The film is filled with visual creativity (who can forget when Meryl gets her head spun all the way around, or Goldie gets a hole right through her stomach?) while also being a potent satire of the many unrealistic beauty standards women face as they age.

Over 30 years after Death Becomes Her was first released, it still feels fresh, thanks to its quirky humor and star-studded cast. Here’s a look back at the A-list actors who brought this weird and wonderful movie to life.

Haven’t seen Death Becomes Her, or want to give it a rewatch? The film is currently streaming for free on Tubi

Click through for more ’90s favorites!

Meryl Streep as Madeline Ashton 

Meryl Streep as Madeline Ashton 
Left: 1992; Right: 2024 Pictures; Universal Pictures; Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep, who played the egotistical fading actress Madeline Ashton, needs no introduction.

Streep began acting in 1977, and won her first Oscar in 1980 for her role as a mother navigating a tough divorce in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). Some of her notable early roles include The Deer Hunter (1978), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), Sophie’s Choice (1982) and Out of Africa (1985).

In the ’00s and ’10s, Streep appeared in films such as The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Mamma Mia! (2008), Into the Woods (2014), Little Women (2019) and Let Them All Talk (2020).

Now 74, Her most recent role is in the comedy series Only Murders in the Building. She will be returning for the show’s new season, which comes out later this year. 

Did you know? Over the course of her long career, Streep has been nominated for 21 Oscars (the most of any actor!) and won three.

Goldie Hawn as Helen Sharp: Death Becomes Her cast

Goldie Hawn as Helen Sharp: Death Becomes Her
Left: 1992; Right: 2022 Pictures; Steve Granitz/Getty

The always delightful Goldie Hawn played Madeline’s frenemy, Helen Sharp.

Hawn started her career as part of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in the ’60s. Soon enough, she broke out as an actress and won an Oscar for her role in Cactus Flower (1969). In the ’80s she starred in beloved comedies like Private Benjamin (1980) and Overboard (1987).

MUST-READ: Cast of the Original ‘Overboard’ Then and Now: See Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and More 

After starring in Death Becomes Her, Hawn starred in movies like The First Wives Club (1996) and The Banger Sisters (2002) before taking a long break from acting.

Now 78, she most recently starred opposite her partner, Kurt Russell, as Mrs. Claus in The Christmas Chronicles (2018) and its 2020 sequel.

Did you know? Contrary to popular belief, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are not actually married. They are the longest-unmarried couple in Hollywood and have been together for 41 years. 

MUST-READ: ‘Housesitter’: 8 Hilarious Facts About the Wacky Film Starring Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin

Bruce Willis as Dr. Ernest Menville: Death Becomes Her cast

Bruce Willis as Ernest Menville: Death Becomes Her
Left: 1992; Right: Pictures; ANGELA WEISS/Getty

Bruce Willis played against his usual tough guy type as Dr. Ernest Menville, a plastic surgeon and Helen’s fiancé.

Willis became famous with his role as a wisecracking detective in Moonlighting from 1985 to 1989. His role in the blockbuster Die Hard (1988) established him as an action star, and his ’90s roles in movies like The Last Boy Scout (1991), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Fifth Element (1997), and The Sixth Sense brought him further acclaim.

MUST-READ: ‘Moonlighting’ Cast: On-Set Memories and Fun Facts from the Screwball Detective Series

Since the ’00s, he’s acted in countless action movies, many of which are direct-to-video, and he has nearly 150 credits to his name.

Now 69, Willis sadly retired from acting in 2022 due to health issues, and has since been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. 

Did you know?  His voice and body moments can be found in the 1998 video game Apocalypse. He was the first actor to ever act in a video game. 

Isabella Rossellini as Lisle Von Rhuman 

Isabella Rossellini as Lisle Von Rhuman 
Left: 1992; Right: Pictures; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Isabella Rossellini played Lisle Von Rhuman, an enigmatic, wealthy socialite who claims to have a formula for rejuvenation.

As the daughter of actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini, Isabella was destined for stardom. One of her earliest and most iconic roles was in the 1986 film Blue Velvet, where she played a glamorous but abused lounge singer. She then appeared in Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1987), Cousins (1989) and Wild at Heart (1990).

After Death Becomes Her, she could be seen in movies like Fearless (1993), Big Night (1996), The Saddest Music in the World (2003), Two Lovers (2008) and Enemy (2013).

Now 71, the European actress can most recently be seen in the acclaimed 2023 film La Chimera and the 2024 sci-fi movie Spaceman.

Did you know? She went back to school in the ’00s to study animal behavior and wrote, directed and starred in a series of short films about the subject.

MUST-READ: Linda Fiorentino: From ‘The Last Seduction’ to ‘Men in Black’ a Look Back at the ’90s Femme Fatale

Ian Ogilvy as Chagall

Ian Ogilvy as Chagall
Left: 1991; Right: 2009Paul Harris/Getty; Jason LaVeris/Getty

Ian Ogilvy played Chagall, the owner of a salon that Madeline frequents and the person who connects her to Lisle.

While Ogilvy doesn’t have the household name status of the other Death Becomes Her stars, the British actor had a long career that started in the ’60s. He acted in a number of British TV shows and then appeared in movies like Witchfinder General (1968) and Wuthering Heights (1970).

Before and after Death Becomes Her, he appeared in a handful of episodes of Murder, She Wrote from 1989 to 1994. He then appeared in shows like Malibu Shores (1996), Murphy Brown (1997), JAG (1997), Melrose Place (1999) and Diagnosis Murder (1995 — 1999).

Now 80, Ogilvy most recently acted in the movies My Life in Ruins (2009), Mistrust (2018) and Renegades (2022).

Did you know? He was seriously considered for the role of James Bond in the ’80s.

For all things 1990’s, click here!

For all things Goldie Hawn, click here!

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