Nothing makes me want to dance more than the soundtrack to the iconic 1984 movie Footloose, a story about rebellion, joy, youth, and love. The lyrics to the songs are unforgettable, and the melodies always have me tapping along to music that never goes out of style. Where you find movies like Footloose, you also find generation-defining actors and actresses. While some of the names from the original Footloose film are more well-known than others, there’s no doubt they all inspired us to kick off our Sunday shoes. Below is a closer look at the Footloose cast then and now.
What is Footloose?
While our daughters may know the remake better, the original 1984 Footloose will always hold a special place in our hearts. Directed by Herbert Ross and written by Dean Pitchford, it tells the story of rebellion, love, and friendship in the fictional small town of Bomont, USA.
In the film, Bomont’s reverend has banned dancing and rock-and-roll music. Ren McCormack is the new kid in school, having moved to Bomont from the big city of Chicago with his mother, Ethel. Ren rebels against the strict rules that the town has put forth, and he begins encouraging his new friends to join him in dancing. At the same time, a love story unfolds between Ren and the Reverend’s daughter, Ariel, who also fights against her father’s rules for the town. Footloose is broadly based on a true story about Elmore City, Oklahoma, which banned dancing as a form of religious censorship.
The soundtrack included hits from artists like Kenny Loggins, Dean Pitchford, and Tom Snow, which makes the film even more fun. Nancy Wilson of the women-led rock group Heart and Eric Carmen, formerly of The Raspberries, also contributed a song. Some of the most recognizable tunes on the soundtrack include the title song, “Footloose,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise,” and “Holding Out for a Hero.”
Where is the Footloose cast now?
Footloose became an instant classic (and a box office hit) for many reasons, from the soundtrack to the storyline. Still, the actors that brought these characters to life made the film what it was. Here’s a closer look at some of Footloose’s cast and what they’re up to today.
1980s heartthrobs Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe were considered for Ren McCormack. Scheduling conflicts and injuries took these actors out of the running. Instead, the role went to Kevin Bacon, who made it his own. While Bacon had his first role in 1978’s National Lampoon’s Animal House, Footloose launched his career — and what a career it’s been. Bacon has starred in many films and television programs, including Apollo 13, A Few Good Men, and Black Mass. He has also directed movies and TV shows. While he has never won an Academy Award — The Guardian named him one of the best actors never to win an Oscar — he has won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Bacon isn’t only known for his acting chops. His name is often used to reference degrees of separation. Inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation, it’s a cultural norm to refer to this phenomenon as the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon.” People often play a game to see how different actors have engaged professionally or personally, starting or ending with a connection to Bacon. Bacon embraced the unique game by founding a charitable organization called Six Degrees.
Lori Singer played Ariel, the Reverend’s daughter and Ren’s love interest. Singer’s father was the lead conductor for the Oregon Symphony from 1962 to 1972, and a love for music ran in her family. Singer was admitted to the Oregon Symphony at thirteen before being accepted to the Juilliard School. She was the youngest musician to graduate from Juilliard.
Singer’s talents extended beyond her considerable musical skill to modeling and acting. She began modeling in the 1980s, then earned a role on the television program Fame from 1982 to 1983. In 1984, she starred in Footloose, after which she acted in films like The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) and Warlock (1989). In recent years, Singer has returned to her musical roots, singing at Carnegie Hall. She was also an executive producer on the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) about sexual abuse in the church and the first known protests against it. The film was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards and won three. It also won a Peabody Award in 2013.
John Lithgow is a highly acclaimed actor, poet, author, and musician. He has appeared in various television programs, films, and stage productions throughout his career, which began on Broadway in the 1970s. In Footloose, he played the character of the Reverend Shaw Moore, who banned dancing and listening to rock and roll.
Before Footloose, Lithgow was already a well-known actor. After the film, he took roles in films and television programs like Mesmerized, The Manhattan Project, and Requiem for a Heavyweight. Lithgow has been nominated for Academy Awards, nominated for six Tony Awards and awarded two, and nominated for over a dozen Primetime Emmy Awards and awarded six.
Dianne Wiest played Reverend Shaw’s wife, one of many collaborations with John Lithgow. She made her Broadway debut in 1971. She had small screen roles predating the movie, but Footloose was the first big role she took off the stage. After Footloose, Wiest acted in the film Hannah and her Sisters (1986), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was nominated for another Academy Award in 1989 and won Best Supporting Actress a second time her role in Bullets Over Broadway (1994). After Footloose, Wiest performed in a wide range of stage and screen productions with little pause. She has appeared in films and shows like Practical Magic, Law & Order, and All My Sons. Some of her most recent work includes the ongoing television program Mayor of Kingstown and the 2022 film My Father’s Dragon.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker was born in 1965 and began acting in stage productions as a child. In 1977, she took a small role in a Broadway production of the show Annie, eventually taking over as the titular character. Not long after, Parker acted in television programs until her role in Footloose. She plays Rusty, the love interest of one of Ren’s friends, Willard Hewitt (Chris Penn). After Footloose, Parker starred in films like Honeymoon in Vegas, Hocus Pocus, and Ed Wood. She also starred in an off-Broadway production of Sylvia alongside Matthew Broderick, whom she married in 1997. One of her most loved roles, as Carrie in Sex and the City, started in 1998 and lasted until 2004. Parker has received 14 Golden Globe nominations and six wins, 10 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and two wins, and nine Screen Actors Guild nominations and three wins.
Recently, Sarah Jessica Parker appeared in the film Hocus Pocus 2 and the Broadway production Plaza Suite. She also produced and starred in And Just Like That…, the sequel to Sex and the City.
Additional Cast Members
Here are a few of the other actors that were in the cast list for Footloose:
- Chris Penn as Willard
- Elizabeth Gorcey as Wendy Jo
- Jim Youngs as Chuck Cranston
- John Laughlin as Woody
- Alan Haufrect as Roger Dunbar
- Arthur Rosenberg as Wes Warnicker
When it comes to 1980s films, there are plenty of classics to love. After all, it was the period of Brat Pack fame, falling in love with bad boys, and rebelling against the day’s strictures to find the meaning of life. Still, Footloose stands a world above the rest. It’s little wonder that the story was taken from real life, as it holds universal themes and experiences that all young people can understand.
Footloose launched some big names and featured some of our favorite actors and actresses from the 1980s. From John Lithgow to Sarah Jessica Parker, the cast proved a five-star feast of talent that made the film special. Those great actors and actresses continue to bring exceptional talent and capability to the stage and screen today.