Over the years, I’ve seen a multitude of memorable movies, but only a handful have claimed a spot on what I like to call my “Pop Culture Giants” list. The films that make this list always have several attributes in common: an all-star cast with killer chemistry, quirky dialogue, a gripping storyline and heart-stopping dramatic moments capable of eliciting all sorts of emotions from the viewer. Based on these criteria, it should be no surprise that Independence Day has maintained a prominent place on this list ever since its premiere in 1996.
Co-written and directed by Robert Emmerich and starring Will Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Judd Hirsh, the film, which revolved around a devastating alien invasion and humanity’s desperate efforts to fight back, received widespread praise and accolades upon its debut, becoming the highest grossing film of 1996. In addition, it took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Sound Mixing. To this day, it remains one of the most beloved disaster and sci-fi films of all-time and one of the quintessential films of the summer season.
Now, twenty years later, Emmerich is hoping lightning strikes twice with the long-awaited sequel to the film, Independence Day: Resurgence. With some familiar faces returning and others not, fans are anxious to see what this new installment will add to the story. In honor of its impending release, let’s take a trip down memory lane and find out what the original cast members are up to now!
Will Smith (Captain Steven Hiller)
As anyone who has seen Independence Day knows, the chemistry between Captain Steven Hiller, played by star Will Smith, and David Levinson, played by Jeff Goldblum, is one of the reasons that this movie shines as bright as it does. Since then, Smith, who made his debut as the lead in Fresh Prince of Bel Air, has risen to become one of the best-known television and film stars. In addition to starring in the Men in Black series and Bad Boys I & II, Smith also scored roles in the movies Ali, The Pursuit of Happiness, Seven Pounds, I Am Legend, I Robot, Hitch, Hancock, After Earth, Focus, Winter’s Tale and, most recently, Concussion. Fans can anticipate seeing him in the upcoming films Suicide Squad and Collateral Beauty, and is rumored to be returning for Bad Boys III & IV. However, he is not returning for Independence Day: Resurgence, an absence that is said to be due to scheduling conflicts (Cry with me, friends; you know you want to).
Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson)
Over the years, Jeff Goldblum has established himself as an exemplary actor and producer, solidifying his place in pop culture by starring in not only Independence Day but also Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: Lost World. Since then, Goldblum has starred on Will & Grace, Raines, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Portlandia and scored roles in the films Fay Grim, Man of the Year, Adam Resurrected, The Switch, Morning Glory and Mordechai. In addition to returning for Independence Day: Resurgence, Goldblum will also be appearing in Thor: Ragnorak and an upcoming, untitled Wes Anderson project.
Bill Pullman (President Thomas J. Whitmore)
Quite possibly the most inspiring moment of Independence Day is President Whitmore’s “We will not go quietly into the night!” speech before the final assault on the alien invaders, and I can’t imagine anyone delivering it better than the iconic Bill Pullman. Best known for starring in Sleepless in Seattle and While You Were Sleeping, Pullman has had an impressive career spanning several decades. Some of his other noteworthy acting credits to include The Grudge, Noble Son, Surveillance, The Killer Inside Me, The Equalizer and American Ultra. He also starred in the mini-series Revelations and guest-starred on the shows Torchwood and 1600 Penn. In addition to returning in Independence Day: Resurgence, fans can expect to see him in the upcoming films Brother in Laws, Walking Out, LBJ and Trouble.
Vivica A. Fox (Jasmine Dubrow)
Ever since making her acting debut on Days of Our Lives in 1988, Vivica A. Fox’s career has been flourishing. In addition to playing Captain Steven Hiller’s lady love in Independence Day, Fox is also known for her roles in Set It Off, Batman & Robin, Soul Food, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2, Ella Enchanted, Line of Duty and Sharknado: The Second One. She also guest-starred on City of Angels, Ozzy & Drix, Alias, 1-800-MISSING, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Empire. She also was a series regular on the show Mr. Box Office. While she is not going to be making an appearance in Independence Day: Resurgence, fans can expect to see her in the upcoming films Before I Do, True to the Game, The Wrong Child, Illicit and Fat Camp.
Brent Spiner (Dr. Brakish Okun)
Best known for playing Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Brent Spiner has had quite a lucrative career since making his debut in 1970. His acting credits following Independence Day include the films Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: Nemesis, Dude, Where’s My Car, The Master of Disguise, The Aviator, Material Girls, Superhero Movie and The Midnight Man. He also revisited his role as Data for a multiple-episode stint in Star Trek: Enterprise and made appearances in Friends, Threshold, Fresh Hell, Warehouse 13, Generator Rex and Star Wars: Rebels. In addition to returning for Independence Day: Resurgence (which will be interesting, considering his character died in the first one), fans can also expect to see him in the upcoming show Outcast.
Judd Hirsch (Julius Levinson)
You’d be hard-pressed to find an actor as legendary as Judd Hirsch, who first made his mark on the acting world by starring in the films King of the Gypsies, Ordinary People, The Goodbye People and Running on Empty, and the television shows Taxi, Dear John and George & Leo. Since playing David’s father in Independence Day, Hirsch has stayed busy. He starred in the show Numb3rs and guest-starred on the shows Regular Joe, Damages, Small Miracles, Forever, Maron and The Goldbergs. He also scored roles in the movies A Beautiful Mind, Tower Heist, The Muppets, Altered Minds and Sharknado: The Second One. Fans can expect to see him in Independence Day: Resurgence as well as the film Wild Oats.
Randy Quaid (Russell Casse)
Since playing Russell Casse in Independence Day, Randy Quaid has scored many notable film and television roles. His acting credits include the movies Kingpin, Vegas Vacation, Hard Rain, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Not Another Teen Movie, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Grind, Brokeback Mountain, The Ice Harvest and Real Time, and the shows The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire, 5ive Days to Midnight and Texas Ranch House. Quaid’s last acting credit was in 2009; amidst a flurry of legal woes and bizarre conspiracy theories, Quaid and his wife have relatively dropped off the Hollywood radar.
Margaret Colin (Constance Spano)
Since playing Constance (Connie) Spano in Independence Day, Margaret Colin has been involved in a multitude of different projects. Some of her acting credits include Milk & Money, Unfaithful, First Daughter, Deception, The Missing Person, Camilla Dickinson, Backwards, Kelly & Cal and Equity. She also scored roles in the shows Now and Again, Madigan Men and Gossip Girl. Sadly, she is not returning for Independence Day: Resurgence but fans can expect to see her in the upcoming film The Broken Ones.
Mae Whitman (Patricia Whitmore)
Mae Whitman was only a child when she starred in Independence Day, but she has since grown into a talented and versatile young actress. From starring in the films Hope Floats, An American Rhapsody, Going Shopping, The Bondage, Love’s Abiding Joy, Boogeyman 2, Nights in Rodanthe, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The DUFF, Freaks of Nature and Operator to scoring roles in the shows Grey’s Anatomy, In Treatment, Arrest Development, Web Therapy and Dragons: Race to the Edge. She also starred in the show Parenthood and did voice-acting in the shows Avatar: The Last Airbender, Family Guy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and DC Superhero Girls. While she is not returning for Independence Day: Resurgence, fans can expect to at least hear her voice in A Dog and Pony Show and Rock Dog.
Ross Bagley (Dylan)
Last but not least, we have Ross Bagley. Aside from playing the adorable Buckwheat in The Little Rascals, Ross Bagley’s most memorable roles remain that of Dylan in Independence Day and Nicky Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for two seasons. Then, he guest-starred on Profiler, Providence, The Wild Thornberrys and Judging Amy. Fans can expect to see him in the upcoming film Dead Ringer. He is not listed as returning for Independence Day: Resurgence.
Independence Day: Resurgence premieres in theaters June 24, 2016.