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‘My So-Called Life’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With the ’90s Cult Classic

Learn who became an Oscar winner and who became literal royalty!


The angsty teen drama My So-Called Life may have run just a single season with 19 episodes, but the show and its stand-out cast have developed a passionate following over the years, and its influence on pop culture endures. The show centered on high schooler Angela Chase (played by Claire Danes in one of her earliest roles) and the many highs and lows she faced navigating the tricky terrain of being a teen.

On air from 1994 to 1995, My So-Called Life perfectly captured Gen X teen life, with its grunge-inspired fashions and spot-on soundtrack. The show was also memorably bold in its nuanced handling of heavy themes like sex, drug and alcohol use, class dynamics and much more.

The drama never shied away from showing the more challenging parts of the high school experience, which gave it a poignant resonance with teen viewers who felt like outsiders.

Claire Danes and Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, 1994
Claire Danes as Angela Chase in My So-Called Life (1994)a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB

My So-Called Life cast

My So-Called Life unfolded from the relatable point of view of Angela (Claire Danes), who narrated the show. The cast of characters also included Angela’s crush, Jordan (Jared Leto); her cool new bad girlfriend, Rayanne (A.J. Langer); her good girl former BFF, Sharon (Devon Odessa); her charming gay friend, Rickie (Wilson Cruz); her nerdy, lovestruck classmate, Brian (Devon Gummersall); her mom, Patty (Bess Armstrong); her dad, Graham (Tom Irwin); and her little sister, Danielle (Lisa Wilhoit).

The cast of My So-Called Life, 1994
The cast of My So-Called Life (1994)a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB

Danes was just 14 when she was cast in her breakout role. “That was wild because I was the same age as the character, and there was an incredible symmetry between us,” Danes told Interview Magazine in 2013.

Alicia Silverstone, was also up for the role, but lost out after being deemed “too beautiful” and therefore not relatable enough to play Angela by co-executive producer Marshall Herskovitz.

Related: “As If!” 12 of the Best Alicia Silverstone Movies, Ranked

Portrait of Claire Danes and Jared Leto for My So-Called Life, 1994
Claire Danes and Jared Leto in My So-Called Life (1994)a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB

Today, 30 years later, the My So-Called Life cast has nothing but fond memories of the show. “Even though we were all devastated when it ended, I do think we are grateful for it being such a short-lived and kind of perfect thing that happened under glass, in a way,” Gummersall (who played Brian) told Elle in 2016. “It was over before it became huge, so it had a purity to it that was unique and rare.”

In 2018, Danes told Entertainment Tonight, “I think it was maybe just a little too ahead of its time.”

We still miss My So-Called Life, and since its cancellation it’s become a major comfort watch for both viewers who were fans the first time around and younger folks who discovered it long after it ended. Here’s a look at the My So-Called Life cast then and now.

Claire Danes as Angela Chase

Claire Danes from My So-Called Life. Left: 1995; Right: 2023
Left: 1995; Right: 2023Vinnie Zuffante/Getty; Dia Dipasupil/Tribeca Film Festival/Getty

After her time as the star of the My So-Called Life cast, Claire Danes went on to play Juliet in the 1996 adaptation Romeo + Juliet. Her other roles in the ’90s included U Turn (1997), The Mod Squad (1999) and Brokedown Palace (1999).

In the ’00s, Danes further established herself as a mature actress with roles in Igby Goes Down (2002), The Hours (2002) and Shopgirl (2005). She also went back to her TV roots, playing the titular autistic scientist in the TV movie Temple Grandin (2010) and starring as CIA agent Carrie Mathison in the acclaimed drama Homeland from 2011 to 2020. She won Emmy awards for both roles.

Most recently, Danes starred in three different miniseries, The Essex Serpent (2022), Fleishman Is in Trouble (2022) and Full Circle (2023).

Offscreen, Danes, now 44, is married to fellow actor Hugh Dancy, who she met during production of the 2007 film Evening. They have three children.

Jared Leto as Jordan Catalano

Jared Leto from My So-Called Life. Left: 1994; Right: 2023
Left: 1994; Right: 2023Mitchell Gerber/Corbis/VCG/Getty; Michael Loccisano/Getty

My So-Called Life also gave Jared Leto his breakthrough performance. After the show ended, he appeared in popular films like The Thin Red Line (1998); Fight Club (1999); Girl, Interrupted (1999); Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Panic Room (2002).

Leto’s role as a transgender woman suffering from AIDS in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club earned him an Oscar, and since then he’s appeared in movies like Suicide Squad (2016), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), House of Gucci (2021) and Morbius (2022). Most recently, he starred in the 2022 miniseries WeCrashed and appeared in the 2023 movie Haunted Mansion.

Now 52, Leto is well-known for his eccentric personality and commitment to method acting. Outside of his film and TV work, he’s also been in an alternative rock band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, since 1998.

While Leto has gone on to be an acclaimed actor, the impact of his early role in My So-Called Life remains. Those sandwiched between Gen X and Millennials, born between 1977 to 1981, have been referred to as Generation Catalano.

Wilson Cruz as Rickie Vasquez

Wilson Cruz Left: 1994; Right: 2024
Left: 1994; Right: 2024a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB; Randy Brooke/Getty

Rickie Vasquez was Wilson Cruz’s very first role, and it proved groundbreaking, as it marked the first time an openly gay actor played an openly gay character in a prominent TV role.

Cruz is a fierce advocate on behalf of gay youth, and he told People that his My So-Called Life role didn’t just have an impact on viewers, it also helped him connect with his family. “It was through his watching of the series that he was able to understand what my life was really like,” Cruz said of his father.

After the show, Cruz had a recurring role on Party of Five, and he also appeared in shows like Ally McBeal, ER, The West Wing, Monk and NCIS. He’s been in movies like All Over Me (1997), Party Monster (2003) and He’s Just Not That Into You (2009).

Related: ‘Party of Five’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With the Salinger Siblings Today

More recently, from 2017 to 2019, Cruz costarred in the teen drama 13 Reasons Why and from 2017 to 2022 he explored space in Star Trek: Discovery.

Now 50, Cruz will next be seen in the rom-com Mother of the Bride, also starring Brooke Shields, Benjamin Bratt and Miranda Cosgrove.

Devon Odessa as Sharon Cherski

Devon Odessa Left: 1994; Right: 2018
Left: 1994; Right: 2018a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB; Brandon Williams/Getty

Devon Odessa appeared in episodes of many TV shows prior to My So-Called Life, among them Highway to Heaven, The Facts of Life, Small Wonder, Full House, Step by Step and The Wonder Years.

After My So-Called Life ended, she appeared in a number of ’90s TV movies, as well as movies like Nowhere (1997), The Sterling Chase (1999) and Punks (2000).

Now 50, Odessa currently works as an acting coach. She has remained tight with the My So-Called Life cast, telling Elle, “Claire and I were both in each other’s weddings.”

A.J. Langer as Rayanne Graff in the My So-Called Life cast

A.J. Langer Left: 1994; Right: 2017
Left: 1994; Right: 2017a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB; Monica Schipper/WireImage/Getty

A.J. Langer started out with a role in the short-lived sitcom Drexell’s Class, which ran from 1991 to 1992. She also appeared in shows like Blossom, The Wonder Years and Baywatch prior to My So-Called Life.

After My So-Called Life, Langer continued to appear in TV shows, among them Coach, Seinfeld, and Touched by an Angel, and had recurring roles in Brooklyn South, Eyes and Private Practice. She also costarred in the shows It’s Like, You Know… and Three Sisters in the early ’00s, and appeared in movies like Escape From L.A. (1996), Meet the Deedles (1998) and On Edge (2001).

Now 49, Langer became royalty — yes, you read that right! — in 2005, after marrying lawyer Charles Courtenay, who is the Earl of Devon. Her charmed life ended in 2023 when they announced their split. They have two children, and lived near the British city of Exeter, where they resided at Powderham Castle.

Becoming the Countess of Devon was an adjustment, and was very different from the bohemian role Langer played in My So-Called Life. When it came to becoming a royal, Langer admitted, “I may have underestimated the realities” in a 2020 podcast.

Devon Gummersall as Brian Krakow

Devon Gummersall Left: 1996; Right: 2008
Left: 1996; Right: 2008Frank Trapper/Corbis/Getty; Chris Weeks/WireImage/Getty

Devon Gummersall appeared in movies like It’s My Party (1996), Independence Day (1997) and Dick (1999) after My So-Called Life ended. He also had recurring roles in shows including Relativity, Felicity, Roswell, The Fugitive, The L Word, State of Mind and The Last Ship.

Now 45, Gummersall most recently appeared in the 2023 TV movie You’re Not Supposed to Be Here. He’s also moved behind the camera, directing indie films and episodes of shows like Nashville.

Lisa Wilhoit as Danielle Chase in the My So-Called Life cast

Lisa Wilhoit Left: 1994; Right: 2005
Left: 1994; Right: 2005a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB; Mark Sullivan/WireImage/Getty

After My So-Called Life, Lisa Wilhoit had recurring roles in shows like Social Studies, The Tom Show, Watching Ellie, 7th Heaven and Greek.

Now 42, Wilhoit has become an accomplished voice actress, providing additional voice work (known in the film industry as ADR and loop group work) for over 40 films. She’s also provided her voice to 20 episodes of Family Guy.

Bess Armstrong as Patty Chase in the My So-Called Life cast

Bess Armstrong Left: 1994; Right: 2022
Left: 1994; Right: 2022a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB; JC Olivera/Getty

Bess Armstrong began her acting career with a string of TV show and TV movie roles in the ’70s and ’80s. She also appeared in films like The Four Seasons (1981), Jaws 3-D (1983) and Nothing in Common (1986).

After My So-Called Life, Armstrong appeared in a variety of ’90s TV movies and had recurring roles in shows like That Was Then, One Tree Hill, House of Lies, Switched at Birth, S.W.A.T., Grey’s Anatomy and Bosch.

Now 70, Armstrong most recently had a recurring role in the comedy series I Love That for You in 2022.

Tom Irwin as Graham Chase in the My So-Called Life cast

Tom Irwin Left: 1994; Right: 2022
Left: 1994; Right: 2022a.k.a. Productions/The Bedford Falls Company/ABC Productions/MoviestillsDB; Paul Archuleta/Getty

Tom Irwin began acting in the ’80s, and was in films like Light of Day (1987), Midnight Run (1988), Men Don’t Leave (1990) and Deceived (1991) before My So-Called Life.

After being part of the My So-Called Life cast, Irwin appeared in many TV movies and had recurring roles in shows like Related, Saving Grace and Grey’s Anatomy. From 2013 to 2016, he costarred in the series Devious Maids. He’s also appeared in the films The Haunting (1999), 21 Grams (2003), Marley & Me (2008), On the Basis of Sex (2018) and Amsterdam (2022).

Now 67, he must recently played fired network president Fred Micklen in the star-studded series The Morning Show from 2019 to 2023.

Read on to catch up with more ’90s TV stars!

‘Family Matters’ Cast: Find Out Where Urkel and the Rest of the Winslows Are Today

‘The All-New Mickey Mouse Club’: See Superstars Like Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Keri Russell Then And Now

‘Boy Meets World’ Cast: Find Out What Happened to the Stars of the Beloved 90s Sitcom

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