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Varsity Blues Cast Then And Now: Is Varsity Blues Based On A Real Story?

Varsity Blues is still a favorite football movie for a whole generation, even though it came out more than 20 years ago. But this movie about a small-town Texan football team isn’t your typical feel-good sports story. Instead, it shows the dark side of the sport by showing what a cruel coach will do to make sure his team wins, no matter what it takes.

Two of the male leads, Paul Walker and James Van Der Beek, were just starting in their careers when the movie came out. Walker is known for his role as Brian O’Conner in the Fast and the Furious movies, and Van Der Beek is known for her role as Pacey Dawson in Dawson’s Creek.

But they weren’t the only famous people in the ensemble cast, and there was so much talent on screen that you can’t help but wonder what happened to the different people who were in Varsity Blues. Some went on to star in famous movies, while others dropped out of the public eye. When we look back, we can see that Varsity Blues gave a lot of then-unknown actors their big break in Hollywood. Here’s where they are right now.

James Van Der Beek as Johnny “Mox” Moxon

James Van Der Beek as Johnny Mox Moxon
James Van Der Beek as Johnny Mox Moxon

In Varsity Blues, James Van Der Beek plays Mox, who has to decide whether to enjoy being his school’s star quarterback or stick to his original plan to go to Brown University and give up football. During his Dawson years, this was Van Der Beek’s first big role in a movie. Dawson’s Creek ran from 1998 to 2003, and even though it is still his most famous role, he has gone on to appear in other shows like One Tree Hill, How I Met Your Mother and Mercy. In Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23, he played an exaggerated, meta version of himself. He was also in the first season of Ryan Murphy’s hit show Pose. He also tried his hand at reality TV. In season 28 of Dancing With the Stars, he was a contestant and made it to the semifinals.

In his personal life, Van Der Beek was married to actress Heather McComb from 2003 to 2009 and business consultant Kimberly Brook in 2010. Olivia, Joshua, Annabel, Emilia, and Gwendolyn are their five children.

Jon Voight as Coach Bud Kilmer

Jon Voight as Coach Bud Kilmer
Jon Voight as Coach Bud Kilmer

Coach Kilmer is the bad guy in the story. He abuses his players physically and verbally in an attempt to get them to play better and win. When Lance gets hurt and can’t be the star quarterback anymore, he puts pressure on Mox to win the game and even threatens to take away his scholarship to Brown University if he doesn’t play by his rules. His actions cost him his 30-year job as a coach in the end.

Voight has been in a huge number of movies, just like his daughter Angelina Jolie. Before Varsity Blues, he was already a Hollywood star. After that movie, he got parts in movies like Zoolander, Holes, Transformers, and National Treasure. He played Mickey Donovan on Ray Donovan until the show was canceled after seven seasons. In the political biographical drama Roe v. Wade, he played Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was a real person. Voight has also been in the news in recent years for his controversial political views.

Amy Smart as Jules Harbor

Amy Smart as Jules Harbor
Amy Smart as Jules Harbor

Amy Smart plays Jules, Mox’s supportive girlfriend who gives him a bit of tough love when the attention that comes with being the star quarterback gets to his head. She knows that Mox has bigger ambitions than football and reminds him to follow his dreams instead of trying to be the person that Coach Kilmer and his football-obsessed dad think he should be. Despite Mox not being a great boyfriend, she forgives him and stands by him.

After Varsity Blues, Smart appeared in a spate of comedies, including Road Trip, Rat Race, and Just Friends. She had a recurring role in Scrubs as J.D.’s brief romantic interest, T.C.W. (Tasty Coma Wife), who flirts with him while her husband’s in a coma. Smart also played Jasmine Hollander in Shameless and has since gone on to star in the CW’s Stargirl as Barbara, Stargirl’s mom.

Smart married Trading Spaces’ Carter Oosterhouse in 2011, and they have a daughter named Flora.

Scott Caan as Charlie Tweeder

Scott Caan as Charlie Tweeder
Scott Caan as Charlie Tweeder

Charlie is the craziest of the group. He only cares about going out and having fun, and no one can stop him. At one point, he even steals a police car, but he still gets away with it. He also often gives advice about how to get girls that isn’t very good.

Scott Caan’s first big movie role was in Varsity Blues. Before he got this role, he was in a hip-hop group called the Whooliganz. There, he went by the name Mad Skillz. But the movie did open doors for him in Hollywood. After that, he got parts in hit movies like “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” He also wrote, starred in, and made the indie film Mercy, but Entourage fans will remember him best as Scott Lavin. More recently, he was in a new version of Hawaii Five-O, which ran for 10 seasons but will end in April 2020.

Eliel Swinton as Wendell Brown

Wendell is the only Black football player on the varsity team at West Canaan High School. He tells Mox about how Coach Kilmer treated him badly because he was black. He says that even though he works hard as a running back to get noticed, the coach always looks down on him. Even though he is hurt, Coach Kilmer tries to get him to play, but Mox stops him so that Wendell doesn’t end up like Lance.

Eliel Swinton’s only movie role was in Varsity Blues. He was a professional football player. He played running back for Stanford University and was a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs for a short time. He worked as a National Scouting Director for the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) and now trains young athletes at the Factory Training in Sherman Oaks, California.

Ali Larter as Darcy Sears

Ali Larter as Darcy Sears
Ali Larter as Darcy Sears

Lance’s girlfriend is Darcy, but as soon as he gets hurt and can’t play football anymore, she stops caring about him. She decides that since Mox is now the star quarterback, she’ll do anything to get him, even try to seduce him in a whipped cream bikini. Mox tells her some inspiring things, and she realizes that she doesn’t have to date a football player to leave their small town and go after her dreams.

Ali Larter went on to be in a lot of popular movies after Varsity Blues. She was in Final Destination, Legally Blonde, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Obsessed, among others. She also played Niki Sanders on the show Heroes. She has been seen more recently in a small role on The Rookie, an ABC police comedy-drama show.

After meeting on the set of National Lampoon’s Homo Erectus, Larter married actor Hayes MacArthur in 2009. She told Cosmo that after three weeks of dating MacArthur, she told him she wanted to marry him. Theodore and Vivienne are their children.

Thomas F. Duffy as Sam Moxon

Thomas F. Duffy as Sam Moxon
Thomas F. Duffy as Sam Moxon

Sam was on the varsity football team at West Canaan High School, just like his son Mox, but his hopes of becoming a star athlete didn’t come true. Instead, he spends his time trying to help Mox have the career in football he wanted. He competes with Lance’s dad because they both want their sons to be the team’s star quarterback.

Thomas F. Duffy is a well-known character actor who has been in a long list of TV shows and movies, such as ER, The X-Files, Grey’s Anatomy, NYPD Blue, and Super 8.

In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, he played Dr. Robert Burke, a paleontologist who is an expert on dinosaurs and gets eaten by a T-rex. This is thought to be his most famous role. He also played the Heck family’s neighbor, Jack Meenahan, in a recurring role on The Middle. In the last few years, he doesn’t seem to have done much acting. As of this writing, his last role was in the 2017 movie Just Within Reach.

Joe Pichler as Kyle Moxon

Joe Pichler as Kyle Moxon
Joe Pichler as Kyle Moxon

Kyle doesn’t want to be a football player like his dad, just like his older brother Mox. Instead, he is very interested in religion and even starts his own cult at one point.

Joe Pichler had been in a few movies, like The Fan and Music From Another Room, and made one-time appearances on TV shows like Gun and Touched by an Angel before he played Kyle.

Pichler went on to act in movies for kids like Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season and Beethoven’s 3rd after Varsity Blues. His last role was in the independent movie Children on Their Birthdays, which was based on a short story by Truman Capote with the same name. It starred Jesse Plemons and Sheryl Lee from Twin Peaks.

In 2006, Pichler disappeared after he left a disturbing note in his car. His disappearance led to a search for him, but his body was never found, so no one knows what happened to him.

Ron Lester as Billy Bob

Ron Lester as Billy Bob
Ron Lester as Billy Bob

Billy Bob is the lovable, dim-witted team member who drinks pancake syrup like soda and loves to let loose. He doesn’t think twice about getting on stage at a strip club and dancing shirtless until he’s kicked out. He used to be Coach Kilmer’s favourite player, but after Lance gets hurt, the coach starts to say mean things to him. He ends up scoring the touchdown that wins the game while Lance coaches from the sidelines. This makes him realise that he didn’t need Coach Kilmer’s approval to be a good athlete.

Ron Lester’s character from Varsity Blues was made fun of in Not Another Teen Movie, and he also had a part in the horror movie The Greenskeeper. He had gastric bypass surgery a year after Varsity Blues. In an interview with Grantland, he said that during the surgery, his heart stopped beating. The actor ended up having a lot of serious health problems, and in 2016 he died of liver and kidney failure.

Paul Walker as Lance Harbor

Paul Walker as Lance Harbor
Paul Walker as Lance Harbor

Lance is a famous quarterback whose picture is everywhere in town. He makes Coach Kilmer very happy. But everything changes when Lance hurts his knee badly enough that he can’t play.

Paul Walker used to be a child star, but Varsity Blues was a big reason why he became a leading man. Two years after he played Lance, Walker became a big name in the Fast and the Furious franchise when he starred in that movie. He was working on the seventh movie in the series when he was killed in a car accident in 2013. He was only 40 years old.

His daughter, Meadow, started the Paul Walker Foundation in 2015 with the goal of “serving as a lasting light of Paul’s unique spirit, far-reaching goals, and spontaneous goodwill.” On Walker’s birthday in 2019, his Fast and Furious co-star Dwayne Johnson wrote on social media, “Our friendship was bonded over our daughters, Meadow and Simone, and the pride and protection we took in being their fathers.”

Is The Story In Varsity Blues Based On a True Event?

In the fictional town of West Canaan, Texas, Varsity Blues follows Jonathan “Mox” Moxon (James Van Der Beek), the backup quarterback for West Canaan High School, as he is thrust into the spotlight when the starting quarterback, Lance Harbor (Paul Walker), gets a terrible knee injury and has to sit on the sidelines.