The ‘Jaws’ Cast: Meet the Stars of the Steven Spielberg Film That Changed Movie History

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Few movies have penetrated pop culture the way that Jaws has, this due to a combination of a theme song equated with fearful suspense and impending doom along with the masterful direction of Steven Spielberg. On top of that, of course, there's the Jaws cast, which made it all so real for moviegoers.

Spielberg would go on to make — as either director or producer — blockbusters like sci-fi drama Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), the first four chapters in the Indiana Jones saga (1981, 1984, 1989 and 2008), family sci-fi adventure E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982), the Back To The Future trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990), the live action/animated Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988),  historical drama Schindler’s List (1993), the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World series and war drama Saving Private Ryan (1998).

But before all of that, Jaws, which won three Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound, was only Spielberg's second movie (the first being 1974's The Sugarland Express). Quite the start to one of the most successful careers in Hollywood history.

In Jaws, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) hunt a Great White shark following a string of attacks off shore of Amity Island, near Cape Cod.

The special effects are so good that even the mechanical sharks are as convincing as the people,” The New York Times raved, adding, “If you think about Jaws for more than 45 seconds you will recognize it as nonsense, but it's the sort of nonsense that can be a good deal of fun if you like to have the wits scared out of you at irregular intervals.”

It was shot in Martha’s Vineyard, and relied on locals for casting.

Jaws has earned nearly $500 million worldwide (about $2.9 billion adjusted for inflation), making it the number one movie in box office history, a position it enjoyed for two years before the original Star Wars was released.

The film has spawned three sequels, and inspired theme-park rides at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando.

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Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw (1975)
Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw (1975) Pictures

Behind the scenes, the Jaws production was beset with issues ranging from bad weather to script changes and a malfunctioning mechanical shark. The film’s budget ballooned from $9 million to $12 million and its shooting schedule lengthened from 55 days to 159 days.

While Shaw was a classically-trained theater actor, Dreyfuss was less established. Shaw took advantage, according to the 2010 documentary Jaws: The Inside Story, and would convince Dreyfus to complete dares.

Spielberg said, “Robert would basically humiliate Richard into taking a chance. Robert would say, 'I'll give you a hundred bucks if you climb up to the top of the mast on the Orca and jump off into the water.'”

He would also zing insults at Dreyfuss, calling him “fat” and “sloppy.”

Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw on board a boat in a still from the film, 'Jaws,'1975
Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw on board a boat in a still from the film, Jaws, 1975
Universal Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images

While filming a scene, Shaw held a glass of bourbon and approached his costar, who remembers being asked, “’Help me out, will you, Richard?'”

Spielberg remembered, "Richard took the shot glass out of Robert's hand and threw it out the window … That was the shot heard around the world. It got ugly."

Later that day, Dreyfuss said Shaw got even by going behind the camera and pointing a fire extinguisher at his face as he acted.

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Whether or not they got along, their legacy remains as members of this iconic cast.

Here’s a glimpse at what became of the Jaws cast:

Roy Scheider as Brody

Roy Scheider as Brody
1975/1997 Pictures; MYCHELE DANIAU / Staff/Getty

Starring as police chief Brody in the original film, Roy Scheider is remembered for the line,  “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

He reprised his role in Jaws 2, forced to do so given his contract with Universal Pictures even though he despised the idea of doing a sequel.

Before Jaws, Roy Scheider starred in crime drama The French Connection (1971), filling out most of the 1970s with everything from comedic drama Loving (1970) to drama Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970), thriller Klute (1971), crime dramas The Outside Man (1972) and The Seven-Ups (1973) and comedy Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York (1975).

He followed Jaws with films like Marathon Man (1976), Blue Thunder (1983), 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984), The Fourth War (1990), The Peacekeeper (1997), Daybreak (2000), The Punisher (2004) and If I Didn't Care (2007). He appeared on TV as the lead in the Steven Spielberg-produced Seaquest 2032 from 1993-1995, and in a variety of TV movies.

Scheider died at age 75 in 2008 after suffering from multiple myeloma and succumbing to a staph infection. His final film, crime drama Beautiful Blue Eyes (2009), was released after his death.

In a posthumous interview with, Scheider shared how the characters became so rich in Jaws: "A very fortuious thing happened on that film — the shark didn't work. And that left us with weeks and weeks to shoot, polish, to improve, to discuss, to enrich, to develop, to experiment with all the other [non-shark] scenes that, in a movie like that, would usually get a cursory treatment.

"What happened," he continued, "is that [we] turned into a little rep company. And all those scenes, instead of pushing the plot along, became golden in developing the characters. So when the crisis came, you really cared about those three guys. And as wonderful as Benchley's book was, those characters were not that likable in the novel."

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Robert Shaw as Quint: Jaws cast

Robert Shaw as Quint (Jaws cast)
1975/1978 Pictures; Sunset Boulevard / Contributor/Getty

In Jaws, Quint portrays Quint, the owner of the chartered fishing boat Orca.

His career was widely established by the time he starred in the film, having been featured in major movies, including the James Bond film From Russia With Love (1963), historical drama A Man For All Seasons (1966) and crime comedy The Sting (1973).

After Jaws, he could be seen in crime drama Diamonds (1975), romantic adventure Robin and Marian (1976), action-adventure comedy Swashbuckler (1976), crime drama Black Sunday (1977), mystery The Deep (1977), war drama Force 10 From Navarone (1978) and Avalanche Express (1979).

In 1978, Shaw died at age 52 near his home in Ireland after sufferilng a heart attack while driving with wife Virginia and son Thomas, who was 1 at the time.

Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper

Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper
1975/2023 Pictures; Bruce Glikas / Contributor/Getty

Dreyfuss plays marine biologist Matt Hooper in the film.

He came to Jaws after years of bit parts on television, followed by George Lucas' dramatic comedy American Graffiti (1973).

Major films after Jaws include Close Encounters of The Third Kind, romantic comedy The Goodbye Girl (1977), which earned him the 1978 Academy Award in the category of Best Actor in a Leading Role; comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), coming-of-age comedic drama Stand By Me (1986), a third collaboration with Steven Spielberg in Always (1989), comedy What About Bob? (1991), musical drama Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995), action-adventure Poseidon (2006), romantic drama Very Good Girls (2013) and sports biopic Sweetwater (2023).

He is not without scandal.

In 2017, a writer named Jessica Teich told Vulture that Dreyfuss sexually harassed her while she worked as a researcher and writer on 1987’s Funny, You Don’t Look 200: A Constitutional Vaudeville, adding that he exposed himself to her.

“I emphatically deny ever ‘exposing’ myself to Jessica Teich, whom I have considered a friend for 30 years,” Dreyfuss responded to Vulture. “I did flirt with her, and I remember trying to kiss Jessica as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual that went on and on for many years. I am horrified and bewildered to discover that it wasn’t consensual. I didn’t get it. It makes me reassess every relationship I have ever thought was playful and mutual.”

Soon before his own #MeToo allegations, Dreyfuss’ son Harry said Kevin Spacey once groped him in front of his famous father in 2008 when he was 18. Dreyfuss wrote on Twitter, “I love my son @harrydreyfuss more than I could explain with all the words in the world. And I am so incredibly proud of him right now.”

In the hopper, he has no less than six films, including A Scorched Earth, Into the Deep and Waltzing with Brando.

He’s on X at @richarddreyfuss, wishing his (third) wife Svetlana a happy birthday, expressing he’s honored to be nominated for NAACP Image Awards for Sweetwater, tweeting inspiration like “personal excellence is the ultimate rebellion,” and encouraging followers to purchase his 2022 education theory book One Thought Scares Me.

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Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody: Jaws cast

Lorraine Gary as Ellen Brody (Jaws cast)
1975/1987 Pictures; Pictures

As the first actor to be hired for Jaws, Gary appeared in Jaws 2, and Jaws: The Revenge. Spielberg cast the actress after seeing her in the TV pilot for police drama Kojak, Marcus-Nelson Murders (1973).

Born on August 16, 1937, she met the love of her life while attending Columbia University. He was Sid Sheinberg, who was president of Universal Pictures at the time she landed the career-making role. They were married from 1956 until his death in 2019.

The couple was awarded the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Humanitarian Award in 1995.

Prior to Jaws, Gary was a bit TV actress starting with an episode of crime drama Dragnet 1967, released the same year, before appearing in made-for-television movie drama The City and 1974 thriller Pray For The Wildcats, plus 1974 crime drama Man On The Outside.

She was also seen in romantic comedy Car Wash (1976), fantasy drama I Never Promised You A Rose Garden (1977), comedy Zero To Sixty (1978), comedy Just You and Me, Kid (1979), and 1941.

Her last film was Jaws: The Revenge in 1987.

After retiring from acting, Gary focused on activism, working on the Human Rights Watch Advisory Committee.

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Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn

Murray Hamilton as Vaughn
1975/1979 Pictures; Pictures

Murray Hamilton plays the mayor of Amity Island, and appeared in Jaws and Jaws 2.

Prior to Jaws, his screen successes included romantic comedy The Graduate (1967) and mystery drama Anatomy of a Murder (1959); while his post-Jaws credits include The Drowning Pool (1975), The Amityville Horror (1979), Spielberg's 1941 (1979), Too Scared to Scream (1984) and Whoops Apocalypse (1986).

He also appeared on TV shows including Rich Man, Poor Man (1976), Alice (1976), Kojak (1977), Mama’s Family (1984), Murder, She Wrote (1984) and The Golden Girls (1986).

He was on 15 episodes of adventure comedy B.J. and The Bear (1981).

Hamilton died of lung cancer at age 63 in 1986.

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Carl Gottlieb as Meadows: Jaws cast

Carl Gottlieb as Meadows (Jaws cast)

Gottlieb cowrote the film and played the role of local reporter Meadows.

He also penned Jaws 2 and Jaws 3-D, plus Steve Martin comedy The Jerk (1979), its sequel The Jerk, Too (1984), Caveman (1981) and Doctor Detroit (1983), making appearances in those films as well.

He won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy, Variety or Music in 1969 for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

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Jeffrey Kramer as Hendricks

Jeffrey Kramer as Hendricks
IMDB;Bobby Bank / Contributor/Getty

Kramer is a deputy policeman in Jaws and Jaws 2, plus mystery Clue (1985).

Additional TV appearances include Barney Miller (1975), The Mary Tyler Moore Hour (1979), M*A*S*H (between the 1977 and 1980 seasons), Out of This World (1988) and Ally McBeal (1997).

He worked as a producer on Ally McBeal, Chicago Hope and The Practice.

Kramer won two Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series for Ally McBeal in 1999.

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Susan Backlinie as Chrissie: Jaws cast

Susan Backlinie as Chrissie (Jaws cast)
1975/2023 Pictures; Bobby Bank / Contributor/Getty

Backlinie plays the skinny-dipping shark victim at the beginning of the film.

After Jaws, she was best-known for her roles in 1941 (1979), family comedy The Great Muppet Caper (1981) and thriller Day of the Animals (1977). She also worked as a stunt woman in Western comedy The Villain (1979) and sci-fi thriller Image of The Beast (1981).

Jay Mello as Sean Brody: Jaws cast

Jay Mello as Sean Brody (Jaws cast)
Lorraine Gary, Roy Scheider and Jay Mello (1975) Pictures

Mello played police chief Brody’s youngest son in the film. As a fellow local, Jaws was also the beginning and the end of Mello’s acting career.

He was charged with demonstrating lewd conduct with a child in 2009 after being accused by a nine-year-old. While he got probation the first time, he was jailed a year later for violating probation after kids said he was “creepy” when he was working at Lyndon State College in Vermont.

Chris Rebello as Michael Brody

Chris Rebello as Michael Brody

Rebello, final member of the Jaws cast, played police chief’s Brody’s eldest son Michael in the film.

He was also local. "I was supposed to act scared when I was out on that little sailboat with the shark cruising around, but I was freezing my baby buns off," Rebello told reporters about filming in 60-degree water.

He continued, “When you're a little kid, you have no real idea about the film business or movie stars, so these celebrities didn't mean much to me. I was just excited to get my 138 bucks a day, which seemed like a million."

Like Mello, Jaws was the only showbiz project Rebello appeared in.

He went on to become a high school football coach, but died in 2000 at the age of 56 after suffering a massive heart attack while hunting deer. ‘Jaws’ Cast: Then and Now With Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary and more.

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