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Catch Up With the ‘My Cousin Vinny’ Cast, Then and Now

Find out what the actors have been up to lately — and which role almost went to Will Smith! 


My Cousin Vinny is one of the quintessential 90s movies, with a cast that is as beloved as the script.

In this courtroom comedy, two college students from New York are on a road trip through rural Alabama when they make a pit stop at the wrong place at the wrong time — and find themselves falsely accused of murdering a convenience store clerk. Without money to hire a proper lawyer, they enlist the help of Bill’s cousin Vinny, a fast-talking personal injury lawyer from Brooklyn who recently passed the bar exam on his sixth try.

Screenwriter Dale Launer was inspired to write the script after hearing about a law student who had failed the bar exam 13 times. Filmed in Georgia on an $11 million budget, the movie went on to make more than $60 million worldwide. It was praised for the accuracy of its courtroom scenes, with the American Bar Association Journal naming it the third best legal movie of all time — right behind To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men.

(My Cousin Vinny cast) Intro
Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield (1992) 20th Century Studios

More than three decades later, the culture-clash comedy remains a cult classic, thanks to the hilarious chemistry of its talented cast. Here’s a look at the My Cousin Vinny cast, then and now.

Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini

Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini (My Cousin Vinny cast)
1992/2021 Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/Getty; Paul Archuleta / Contributor/Getty

After filming the 1976 low-budget crime drama Death Collector, Joe Pesci struggled to find another acting role, so he moved back home and spent three years managing an Italian restaurant. His luck changed when Martin Scorsese caught him in Death Collector and offered him a role in the movie Raging Bull. That performance earned him an Oscar nomination and kicked off a string of high-profile gigs like Home Alone, the Lethal Weapon franchise, and an Oscar-winning role in the mob classic Goodfellas.

After starring as the titular character in My Cousin Vinny, Pesci continued to appear in movies like A Bronx Tale, With Honors, and Casino. But in 1999, he announced his retirement from acting and disappeared from the spotlight for nearly two decades, other than a cameo in the 2006 film The Good Shepherd and an appearance as a “hangry” alter ego in a 2011 Snickers ad. He finally reemerged with a role in Scorsese’s 2019 mob epic The Irishman, which got rave reviews from critics and gave Pesci his third Oscar nomination. He currently appears on the Peacock comedy-drama Bupkis alongside Edie Falco and Pete Davidson.

Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito

Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito (My Cousin Vinny cast)
1993/2024 Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/Getty; Daniele Venturelli / Contributor/Getty

Marisa Tomei broke into acting with recurring roles on the soap opera As the World Turns and the sitcom A Different World, but she was still a relative unknown when she joined the My Cousin Vinny cast. Her scene-stealing turn as Vinny’s fiancée Mona Lisa — a sharp-tongued hairdresser with an encyclopedic knowledge of the automotive industry — catapulted her into the spotlight, and she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.

Since then, Tomei has enjoyed a steady stream of acting projects. She showed off her comedic chops in movies like What Women Want and Anger Management, and has appeared throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Spider-Man’s aunt, May Parker. Tomei has also received two more Oscar nominations, for her roles in the 2001 drama In the Bedroom and the 2008 sports drama The Wrestler. Most recently, she appeared in the 2024 rom-com Upgraded.

MUST-READ: Marisa Tomei Movies, Ranked: Our 10 Favorite Flicks Starring the Stunning Leading Lady

Ralph Macchio as Bill Gambini in the My Cousin Vinny cast

Ralph Macchio as Bill Gambini
2000/2023 Steve Azzara / Contributor/Getty; Mike Coppola / Staff/Getty

Ralph Macchio appeared in the final season of the TV show Eight is Enough and the coming-of-age film The Outsiders before landing his breakthrough role as Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid and its two sequels. In 1992, he was cast in My Cousin Vinny as college kid Bill Gambini (even though Macchio himself was already in his 30s!).

After My Cousin Vinny, Macchio briefly shifted his focus to the stage, appearing in the U.S. tour of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In 2011, he competed on Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars, coming in fourth place overall. The following year, he appeared in the movie Hitchcock as Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano.

Since 2018, Macchio has reprised his role as Daniel LaRusso in the Netflix series Cobra Kai. And in 2022, he published a memoir called Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me.  

MUST-READ: The Cast of ‘The Outsiders’ Then and Now: See Where the Stars of the ’80s Classic Are Today

Mitchell Whitfield as Stan Rothenstein in the My Cousin Vinny cast

Mitchell Whitfield as Stan Rothenstein
1992/ 2007 20th Century Studios; E. Charbonneau / Staff/Getty

Born and raised in New York, Mitchell Whitfield had recently moved to Los Angeles when he heard about auditions for the My Cousin Vinny cast…in New York. He flew back for a screen test, and the rest was history. (Little-known fact: Will Smith was also considered for the role of Stan!)

After My Cousin Vinny, Whitfield was best known for playing Rachel Green’s jilted ex-fiancé, Barry, on the sitcom Friends. He’s also appeared on shows like Blossom, The George Carlin Show, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. More recently, he’s focused his career on voice acting, playing Donatello in the 2007 movie TMNT and voicing roles for children’s series like Sofia the First, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, and Vampirina.

Related: ‘Blossom’ Cast: See the Hilarious Russo Family Then and Now

Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain Haller

Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain Haller
1992Archive Photos / Stringer/Getty

Though he played an Alabama judge in My Cousin Vinny, Chamberlain Haller was born in NYC and launched his acting career on Broadway in 1952. He went on to play memorable roles like Officer Francis Muldoon in the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?, Herman Munster in The Munsters and Jud Crandall in Pet Sematary. He also made frequent appearances on the radio drama series CBS Radio Mystery Theater and penned several children’s books, including A Chocolate Moose for Dinner.

Unfortunately, his turn as the no-nonsense Judge Chamberlain Haller was his last movie role. Gwynne passed away in 1993 due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

Lane Smith as Jim Trotter III in the My Cousin Vinny cast

Lane Smith as Jim Trotter III

Before he joined the My Cousin Vinny cast as prosecutor Jim Trotter III, Lane Smith carved out a career that spanned the stage and screen. Along with his acclaimed theater work on and off Broadway, Smith took on roles in movies like Red Dawn and Air America.

In 1992, Smith not only starred in My Cousin Vinny, but also played the authoritarian Coach Jack Reilly in The Mighty Ducks. He went on to appear in Son in Law, The Scout, and The Legend of Bagger Vance and also had small roles in TV shows like Walker, Texas Ranger and The Practice.

Smith was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2004 and passed away the following year. 

Click through to learn more of our favorite 90s movies and TV shows!

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