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‘Twister’: Learn All About the Cast of the 1996 Action Blockbuster

You may have forgotten some of the stars who encountered one of the biggest storms ever!

Back in the 1970s, disaster movies — The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno among them — were all the rage, but they made a pretty powerful comeback in the 1990s thanks to the original Twister. A fan favorite, that 1996 film proved itself to be a blockbuster, raking in nearly $500 million at the global box office and becoming the second highest-grossing film of the year — much of the credit for which has to go to the cast of Twister.

Made when Hollywood’s obsession with CG effects was just really beginning — the original Jurassic Park had been released only three years earlier — the cast of Twister had to deal with a lot more than imagine the world’s biggest tornado was raging all around them, effects to be added later. Much of the destruction taking place was done “practically” (meaning live, on location), elements of the twister itself being added later. The fact that the film won a pair of Academy Awards for sound and effects makes absolute sense.

All of that being said, the cast of Twister was top-notch. Helen Hunt is college professor Dr. Jo Harding, whose estranged husband, Bill (Bill Paxton), has developed a revolutionary tornado data-gathering device — called Dorothy — which is ready to be tested. The approach of the most powerful storm in many years provides them — and some students — the opportunity to do exactly that, but there are two problems: First, they have to get extremely close to it in order to utilize Dorothy, and then there’s the fact that a rival — Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes) — has stolen the plans for it and built his own version, which means that the race is on.

Before checking out the standalone sequel to the film, Twisters, which is being released on July 19 and stars Glen Powell and Daisy EdgarJones, you need to rewatch the original and learn all about the cast of Twister.

Helen Hunt: Cast of Twister

helen hunt; cast of twister
1996/ // Karwai Tang / Contributor / Getty

Character Played: Dr. Jo Harding

Born: June 15, 1963, in Culver City, California

Best Known For: The TV series Mad About You (1992-2019), as well as films like As Good As It Gets (1997), Then She Found Me (2007) and Soul Surfer (2011).

Thoughts on Twister: “I had nightmares making it. It was terrifying,” Hunt said. “It was only the beginning of this very, very evolved computer graphics, CGI world, so much more of it was real than you think… I was really happy to make it through in one piece.”

Must Read: Helen Hunt Movies: 17 of The Leading Lady’s Most Memorable Roles

Bill Paxton

bill paxton
1996/ // Stefanie Keenan / Contributor / Getty

Character Played: Bill Harding

Born: May 17, 1955, in Fort Worth, Texas

Died: February 25, 2017

Best Known For: Aliens (1986), Apollo 13 (1995) and Frailty (2001).

Thoughts on Twister: I love to talk about it. It made seven hundred million dollars,” Paxton joked. “Let’s talk… I knew what I was signing up for, I knew that was going to be a home run.”

Must Read: Titanic’ Movie Cast Then and Now: See Where The Stars of The Film Are Today

Cary Elwes: Cast of Twister

cary elwes; cast of twister
1996/ // Vivien Killilea / Stringer / Getty

Character Played: Dr. Jonas Miller

Born: October 26, 1962, in London, England

Best Known For: The Princess Bride (1987), Kiss the Girls (1997) and Saw (2004)

Thoughts on Twister: “I never judge a character when I’m playing him even though I know in the back of my mind he is considered the antagonist,” Elwes said of his part in Twister. “You can play the action, you can play the behavior that is perhaps distasteful, but you must never judge that person, because you don’t know until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes what that person’s motives are.”

Must Read: “As You Wish!” — Catch Up With ‘The Princess Bride’ Cast and See the Stars Then and Now

Philip Seymour Hoffman

philip seymour hoffman
1995/2014Steve Eichner / Contributor / Getty // Michael Loccisano / Staff / Getty

Character Played: Dustin Davis

Born: July 23, 1967, in Fairport, New York

Died: February 2, 2014

Best Known For: Almost Famous (2000), Capote (2005), The Master (2012) and The Hunger Games series (2013/14/15)

Thoughts on Twister: When asked if his recent film was the weirdest he’s ever made, Hoffman responded, “No! Twister is… That’s not to slight to Twister, but it is a weird movie. They’re chasing tornados.”

Jami Gertz: Cast of Twister

jami gertz; cast of twister
1996/ // Vivien Killilea / Contributor / Getty

Character Played: Dr. Melissa Reeves

Born: October 28, 1965, in Chicago, Illinois

Best Known For: Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Lost Boys (1987). Also known for the series Still Standing (2002-2006) and The Neighbors (2012-2014).

Lois Smith

lois smith
1996/2024Catherine McGann / Contributor / Getty // Corey Nickols / Contributor / Getty

Character Played: Meg Greene

Born: November 3, 1930, in Topeka, Kansas

Best Known For: The TV series The Doctors (1975-1977); films like Minority Report (2002), The Nice Guys (2016) and Lady Bird (2017).

Alan Ruck: Cast of Twister

alan ruck ; cast of twister
1999/2024Evan Agostini / Contributor / Getty // Monica Schipper / Staff / Getty

Character Played: Robert “Rabbit” Nurick

Born: July 1, 1956, Cleveland, Ohio

Best Known For: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Speed (1994) and Star Trek: Generations (1994). Also known for the TV Series Succession (2018-2023) and Spin City (1996-2002).

Thoughts on Twister: “We were out in the boiling sun in Oklahoma and in Iowa under clear blue skies, you know, pretending we were looking at horrific weather,” Ruck explained. “So we were just acting our asses off… I was glad for the experience, it was a long job… but I don’t think I’d want to do it again.”

Must Read: ‘Spin City’: Surprising Behind-the-Scenes Facts About the Show and the Cast

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