THEN AND NOW: The cast of 'Freaks and Geeks' 22 years later

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Savanna Swain-Wilson
·11 min read
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busy phillips then and now freaks and geeks
A few members of the "Freaks and Geeks" cast are big-name stars today. NBC / Contributor/Getty; Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
  • NBC's "Freaks and Geeks" is about outcast teenagers navigating their way through high school.

  • Many of the series' cast members have since gone on to have incredibly successful Hollywood careers.

  • The series marked the big break for James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Busy Philipps.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's been 22 years since NBC's "Freaks and Geeks" made its way into living rooms everywhere for the first time.

Set in 1980, the beloved teen comedy-drama followed a group of misfit high-school students as they dealt with the struggles of growing up and fitting in.

Although the series only lasted for one season, it helped launch the careers of countless A-list stars.

Here's what the cast of "Freaks and Geeks" has been up to over the past two decades:

Linda Cardellini starred as Lindsay Weir, an intelligent mathlete who rebels against her goody-two-shoes label by hanging out with a group of teen burnouts.

freaks geeks lindsay
Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir. NBC

Throughout the series, Lindsay struggles to fit in with her new "freak" friends while maintaining her former reputation as a "geek."

Over the next two decades, Cardellini's acting career has flourished.

Linda Cardellini Oscars 2019 red carpet
Linda Cardellini currently stars on Netflix's "Dead to Me." Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

During the 2000s, she snagged a main role as Samantha Taggart on NBC's "ER," and later earned a recurring spot on AMC's "Mad Men."

Some fans may recognize her as Velma from The "Scooby-Doo" movies. She also recently appeared in the Oscar best-picture winner "Green Book."

As of late, she stars opposite Christina Applegate on Netflix's dark comedy "Dead To Me."

John Francis Daley played Sam Weir, one of the lead geeks and Lindsay’s younger brother.

Sam Weir
Sam Weir got bullied quite a bit. NBC

On the show, Sam was known for his caring personality. He was frequently at the center of painfully embarrassing situations, like falling for the wrong girl and getting egged on Halloween.

Nevertheless, Sam always looked out for his sister and his friends.

Following "Freaks and Geeks," he continued to work in Hollywood as an actor and screenwriter.

john francis daily
John Francis Daley has stayed busy. Annie I. Bang /Invision/AP

From 2007 to 2014, Daley portrayed Dr. Lance Sweets on the Fox drama series "Bones."

Daley also cowrote the 2011 comedy "Horrible Bosses" with Jonathan Goldstein, and was credited as a writer for the box-office smash "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

Samm Levine played the funny and confident geek, Neal Schweiber.

freaks geeks
Neal thought he was classier than his pals. NBC

Despite Neal's love for science and some "nerdy" things, he believed he was more mature and sophisticated than his friends.

Throughout the series, he also had a secret, ill-fated crush on his best friend Sam's older sister, Lindsay.

Once the show ended, Levine continued acting in comedy films and on TV series.

Samm Levine
Samm Levine has done voice work, too. Annie I. Bang /Invision/AP

During the early 2000s, he appeared in several popular films like "Wet Hot American Summer" and "Not Another Teen Movie."

He recently reprised his role as the voice of Arty for the "Wet Hot American Summer" prequel on Netflix.

Martin Starr was Bill Haverchuck, the most socially awkward of the geek troupe.

freaks geeks
Bill Haverchuck was known for his chunky glasses. NBC

Between his unusually tall stature, massive spectacles, and bizarre commentary, Bill was the geekiest of his friends.

After "Freaks and Geeks," Starr racked up an impressive roster of television and film roles.

Martin Starr
Martin Starr has acted on a few major TV series. Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

The former "geek" popped up in Judd Apatow's comedy films "Knocked Up" and "Superbad."

In 2012, he reunited with several of his "Freaks and Geeks" co-stars for the movie "This Is The End."

Starr also appeared in the short-lived comedy series "Party Down" and currently portrays Bertram Gilfoyle, a cynical engineer, on the Emmy-nominated HBO series "Silicon Valley."

You may have also recognized him in the latest Marvel "Spider-Man" movies, where he plays a teacher.

Former "Sandlot" star Chauncey Leopardi played Alan, a bully.

Alan Freaks and Geeks
His character wasn't very nice. NBC

Alan frequently tormented Sam and the rest of the geeks.

Leopardi kept acting throughout the decade after the show ended, but he mostly stays out of the spotlight today.

Chauncey gilmore
Chauncey Leopardi was on "Gilmore Girls," but he hasn't acted in much else. The CW

His recognized credits include Dean's friend Kyle on The CW's "Gilmore Girls" from 2003 to 2005. He hasn't acted in many major projects since.

In 2019, he appeared in Logic's music video for "Homicide."

Natasha Melnick was Cindy the cheerleader, and Sam’s crush.

cindy freaks and geeks
Cindy was known for her cheering skills. NBC

By the end of the series, it was clear that Cindy and Sam weren't a great match.

She did some acting after the show ended.

Natasha Melnick
Natasha Melnick hasn't been on TV in a few years. Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP

Melnick's most recent role was voicing the character Ruth Cochamet on "Family Guy" from 2005 to 2012.

James Franco got his acting start playing the rebellious bad boy Daniel Desario.

freaks and geeks
James Franco as Daniel Desario. NBC

Daniel was never afraid to take risks or get into trouble. As long as he had his on-again, off-again girlfriend Kim by his side and his friends, he was content to do anything.

In the years that followed, he built an impressive career but has also been at the center of a few controversies.

james franco
James Franco has been active in the film world for years. Getty Images

In 2001, Franco won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of James Dean in the Mark Rydell-directed biopic of the same name.

Franco also became well known for frequently acting alongside his former "Freaks and Geeks" co-star Seth Rogen. The pair appeared together in "Knocked Up," "Pineapple Express," "This Is The End," "The Interview," and several other films.

That said, his rise to fame has not been without controversy.

Currently, Franco is being sued by two former students of his now-defunct acting school. They accuse Franco and his business partners of sexually exploiting female students, according to a lawsuit seen by the New York Times.

And, in 2018, five women accused Franco of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior. Per the Los Angeles Times, Franco's attorney has disputed all of the women's allegations.

Busy Philipps played the brash and reckless Kim Kelly, who picked on Lindsay for being a geek.

freaks and geeks kim
Busy Philipps as Kim Kelly. NBC / Contributor / Getty Images

Kim never held back her opinions, which made her come off as intimidating to Lindsay and the geeks. She also couldn't get enough of her "stud" of a boyfriend, Daniel.

In the two decades after the show ended, Philipps continued acting and recently hosted her own talk show, "Busy Tonight."

Busy-Philipps
Busy Philipps has appeared on multiple TV shows over the past few years. Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown

She's best known for her roles on The WB's "Dawson's Creek" and ABC's "Cougar Town."

The actress has also appeared in films like "Maid of Honor" and "He's Just Not That Into You."

From 2018 to 2019 she hosted her own talk-show, "Busy Tonight."

Dave Allen played Mr. Rosso, the long-haired guidance counselor who tried a little too hard to connect with the students.

Mr Rosso freaks and geeks
Mr. Rosso wanted the kids to like him. NBC

Mr. Rosso never hesitated to name-drop a rock band he liked in front of the freaks or show off his guitar skills.

Allen is still acting today and he regularly does voice work.

Love Netflix
Dave Allen appeared on "Love." Netflix

Allen has appeared on dozens of TV shows over the years.

You may have noticed him on Nickelodeon's "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" and, recently, the Netflix series "Love."

Seth Rogen got his start playing the sarcastic Ken Miller.

freaks and geeks seth
Seth Rogen's character hated disco music. NBC

Ken was known for his abrasive one-liners, admiration for "tuba girl" Amy, and fervent hatred of all disco music.

Today, he is one of the most popular actors, writers, and producers in Hollywood.

seth rogen
Seth Rogen has been writing and acting for over a decade. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

After the show ended, Rogen's comedy-acting career skyrocketed as he appeared in many of Judd Apatow's most iconic films, including "Anchorman," "Knocked Up," and "Funny People."

He also co-wrote and starred in the films "Pineapple Express," "Superbad," and "This Is the End."

Lately, Rogen keeps busy as the executive producer of Amazon's satirical superhero show, "The Boys." He is also the co-founder of Hilarity for Charity, a nonprofit that supports Alzheimer's awareness.

Rogen can also be heard as the voice of Pumbaa in "The Lion King" live-action movie, one of the highest-grossing films of 2019.

Long before he was a Hollywood A-lister, Jason Segel played Nick Andopolis, a burnout stoner who was obsessed with the band Rush.

Nick Andopolis, freaks and geeks
Jason Segel as Nick Andopolis. NBC

Nick had dreams of being a drummer in a rock band, but his aspirations were killed by his father's desire to enlist him in the army.

Segel continues to achieve immense success on television and build a prosperous film career.

Jason segel
Jason Segel has appeared in multiple movies over the past few years. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Following his role on "Freaks and Geeks," Segel portrayed the lovable lawyer Marshall Eriksen on the critically acclaimed CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother."

He also starred in the comedy films "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "The Five Year Engagement," "The Muppets," and "Sex Tape."

Fans also came to love him for his role in the film "I Love You, Man."

On top of that, Segel co-authored the young adult novel "Otherworld," which was released in 2017.

He recently appeared on AMC's "Dispatches from Elsewhere."

Sarah Hagan was Millie, Lindsay's sheltered childhood friend who didn’t approve of the freaks’ lifestyle.

Millie
Millie wasn't a fan of the freaks' antics. NBC

Millie didn't need drugs to have fun and preferred to "get high on life."

She continued to act on television for a few years after the series ended.

sarah hagan
Sarah Hagan has had some small roles over the years. aul A. Hebert/Invision/AP

Her most well-known role is perhaps when she played Amanda on The WB's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

In the years since, she appeared on a few TV series and starred in a few shorts, like "Breaking Fat."

But acting doesn't seem to be her sole focus these days. Per Hagan's Instagram, she currently works in ceramics.

Steve Bannos played Mr. Kowchevski, the algebra teacher who wasn’t too fond of the freaks.

Steve Bannos freaks and geeks
Mr. Kowchevski had no time for antics. NBC

Kowchevski kept the kids at McKinley High School in check.

Following his brief stint portraying another teacher on the Nickelodeon series "Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide," he continued to work on TV and appeared in multiple Judd Apatow films.

Love Netflix
Steve Bannos appeared on "Love." Netflix

Bannos had small parts in "The 40-year-old Virgin," "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express."

He most recently portrayed "Frank" on the Netflix series "Love."

Becky Ann Baker played Jean Weir, Sam and Lindsay’s kind-hearted mother.

jean weir freaks and geeks
Becky Ann Baker as Jean Weir. NBC

Mrs. Weir believed the best of her kids, even when they weren't being totally honest.

Prior to this role, Becky Ann Baker had acted in stage plays such as "A Streetcar Named Desire," "June Moon" and "The Best Whore House in Texas."

After the show ended, she continued to act in movies and on television.

Becky Ann Baker
Becky Ann Baker still acts today. John Salangsang/Invision for the Television Academy/AP

Baker notably earned a recurring role portraying Hannah Horvath's mom on the HBO series "Girls" and was featured prominently on the second season on the same network's hit drama "Big Little Lies"

Lizzy Caplan got her acting start playing Sara, a disco-dancing student who has a crush on Nick.

greaks and geeks sara lizzy
Sara has a passion for dancing. NBC

During the series finale, Sara miraculously convinces Nick to join the disco-dance team.

Following her standout performance as Janis Ian in the hit movie "Mean Girls," Caplan had a recurring role on HBO's "True Blood" and starred on Showtime's "Masters of Sex."

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Lizzy Caplan is still acting. Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

She also acted alongside former co-stars Rogen and Franco in "The Interview" and appeared in Franco's 2017 film "The Disaster Artist."

Caplan recently appeared on the Hulu drama series "Castle Rock" and the Apple Plus drama "Truth Be Told."

Rashida Jones played Karen, Kim's mean friend.

karen freaks and geeks
Rashida Jones as Karen. NBC

Karen also bullied Sam and painted the words "pygmy geek" across his locker.

Jones has acted in a lot of movies and on many TV shows since appearing on "Freaks and Geeks."

Rashida Jones
Rashida Jones has been in a lot of films since "Freaks and Geeks" aired. Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

Today, most fans know Jones as Ann Perkins from "Parks and Recreation."

Jones has also acted in dozens of projects, including NBC's "The Office" and "I Love You, Man," which also starred Segel. She's also worked behind the camera producing multiple projects, like the Netflix series "#BlackAF."

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