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‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ Cast, Then and Now


Some Christmas movies touch the heart (It’s a Wonderful Life), provide family laughs with nostalgic memories (Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story), or just cause you to burst out in laughter at the insanity unfolding in front of you, which is where the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation cast comes in.

Audiences encountered National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation cast in 1989 in what was the third of five films released between 1983 and 2015. It reunites Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as, respective, Clark and Ellen Griswold, with their kids Rusty and Audrey played this time (those parts are frequently recast) by Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis, two faces who have become very familiar during the intervening years.

The plot deals with the Griswolds throwing a huge family Christmas where things go pretty much as wrong as they usually do.

Before you watch the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation cast do its thing, catch up with what has gone on with Chevy, Beverly, Johnny and Juliette.

Chevy Chase as Clark W. ‘Sparky’ Griswold Jr.

Chevy Chase, then and now National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Cast
Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation 1989, and at the 2023 Megacon in FloridaL-R: ©Warner Bros/courtesy; Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Chevy Chase, who had done so many physical pratfalls early in his career that it caused serious damage to his body, told British TV that he walked away from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation relatively unscathed: “It wasn’t that bad,” he offered. “I had a couple of swollen knuckles from punching Santa Clause, but that was about it. I didn’t really get hurt much in this one, and I did more physical stunt work in this one than I’ve done in any picture and I loved it.”

At an onstage reunion of the cast, he added, “To me, all comedy is basically physical. It’s not just pratfalls. It all has to be placed in a larger context. You can do very subtle stuff with your eyes, which to me is as just as physical as anything else.”

Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase hosting Weekend Update on ‘Saturday Night Live.’©NBCUniversal/courtesy

Born Cornelius Crane “Chevy” Chase on October 8, 1943 in New York City, he preceded this film as a career spawning member of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players ensemble making up the premiere season of Saturday Night Live between 1975 and 1976.

Feeling destined for true Hollywood stardom, he departed that show early in its second season and shifted over to the big screen, in rapid succession appearing alongside Goldie Hawn in Foul Play (1978), Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack and a reunion with Hawn in Seems Like Old Times (both 1980), Carrie Fisher in Under the Rainbow (1981) and Modern Problems before starring in the first National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983).

Chevy Chase in 'Caddyshack.'
Chevy Chase in ‘Caddyshack.’©Orion Pictures/courtesy

Following National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, he had been in 38 movies, most recently 2023’s Zombie Town. Along the way he reprised the part of Clark Griswold in the films Vegas Vacation (1997) and Vacation (2015), as well as the short film “Hotel Hell Vacation” (2010).

On the small screen he hosted his own self-titled late night talk show, had recurring roles on the Swedish sitcom Hjalp! and Chuck, as well as a starring role from 2009 to 2014 in NBC’s Community. In his personal life, he’s been married three times and has four children. He’s 80-years-old.

Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen Griswold

Beverly D'Angelo National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Cast
Beverly D’Angelo at the time of ‘Christmas Vacation’s’ release; and in 2022.Getty Images

Remembered Beverly D’Angelo at that same on stage event Chevy Chase attended, “We shot the scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark turns the switch and finally does turn on the lights of the house. I know we were surrounded by artificial snow and it was about 80 degrees, but I remember thinking, ‘Is this stuff flammable?’ I think back to the stress that I felt with my kids when I was first, like, ‘Let’s do the biggest Christmas in the world!’ I think that Christmas Vacation is really about that.

“And,” D’Angelo continued, “it’s about how everybody kind of has in the back of their mind that Christmas is going to be horrible, but maybe it’ll be great and they do everything that they’re supposed to do with all that wishing that things are going to be fantastic. And, of course, in the Griswold universe everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, but we always persevere and we get there in the end through love. No matter what faith you are, no matter what brings you to appreciate the happy chaos of Christmas Vacation, I hope people enjoy the film.”

Beverly D'Angelo and John Savage
Beverly D’Angelo and John Savage in the movie version of the musical ‘Hair.’ ©United Artists/courtesy

Beverly Heather D’Angelo was born November 15, 1951 in Columbus, Ohio. She worked as a singer and an illustrator at the Hanna-Barbera animation studio. Switching her focus to acting, she began appearing on Broadway in the 1976 production of Rockabye Hamlet and made her TV debut in the TV mini-series Captains and the Kings.

Early movie roles include Woody Allen‘s Annie Hall, The Sentinel and First Love (all 1977), Clint Eastwood‘s Every Which Way But Loose (1978), the musical Hair (1979), playing Patsy Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) and a few others before the first Vacation film. In between starring alongside Chevy Chase in the other entries in the series, she’s appeared in 63 films and will be seen in the near future in No Address and Summer Camp.

Jeremy Piven and Beverly D'Angelo
Jeremy Piven and Beverly D’Angelo in ‘Entourage.’©WarnerBros Discovery/courtesy

On television, D’Angelo has had recurring roles on Rude Awakening, Talk to Me, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Entourage, Mom, Shooter, Insatiable and True Lies. Now 72, she was married to Don Lorenzo Salviati from 1981 to 1995 and was partnered with Al Pacino from 1997 to 2003. She is the mother of two.

Juliette Lewis as Audrey Griswold

Juliette Lewis, then and now National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Cast
Juliette Lewis in 1992 and, again, in 2023, in the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation castGetty Images

Juliette Lewis, who portrays Audrey Griswold in the film, reflects, “The original Vacation was legendary and this film meant so much to me, because I was a little young teen actor and this was a big studio movie. We worshipped Chevy in my home. And then Beverly D’Angelo had worked with my dad, so I was really moved by that fact.”

The son of actor Geoffrey Lewis, Juliette, who was born June 21, 1973 in Los Angeles, has had an incredibly diversified career, much of which has been met with critical acclaim. Things started off with a starring role on the TV series I Married Dora (1987 to 1988) and a few guest appearances. After National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation she would recur or star in shows like the original Wonder Years, A Family for Joe, Free for All, The Firm, Secrets and Lies, Camping, and the current Showtime hit, Yellowjackets.

Juliette Lewis in Yellowjackets.
Juliette Lewis and the cast of ‘Yellowjackets.’©Paramount Pictures/courtesy

Following Vacation, her credits include 63 films, including the remake of Cape Fear (1991), Natural Born Killers (1994), From Dusk till Dawn (1996), Starsky & Hutch (2004), Jem and the Holograms (2015) and, most recently, Breaking News in Yuba County (2021). Her next two films will be The Thicket and Opus.

She’s also been involved in music, starting the band Juliette and the Licks and recording two albums and an EP, and then, as a solo artist, an album and EP of music. A former member of Scientology, she was married to skateboarder and director Steve Berra from 1999 to 2003. She’s 50-years-old.

Johnny Galecki as Russell ‘Rusty’ Griswold

Johnny Galecki, then and now National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Cast
Johnny Galecki in 1990 and again in 2023.Getty Images

“They were having a massive casting breadkdown that went out and I sent in a tape from Chicago,” David Galecki says of joining the project. “And then we got a call that they were flying me out to Los Angeles to read with Chevy and the director. I was terrified, of course, but I remember there was a full page monologue that I don’t think ended up in the final film, for the character of Russ and nailed it.

“Chevy said, ‘You’re the first one that’s been able to do that without looking at his script or stumbling a single syllable; you’ve got the part,'” Galecki continued. “He said that without talking to the director or the studio or anything. I think I had given him proof of comedic chops, but it was probably because I proved he wouldn’t be kept later on the set because I wouldn’t mess up my lines.”

Johnny Galecki and the cast of 'Roseanne.'
Johnny Galecki and the cast of ‘Roseanne.’©Disney/courtesy

There are probably few people who could have imagined the career that Johnny Galecki would have based on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Born April 30, 1975 in Bree, Limburg, Belgium, prior to Christmas Vacation he was in four films, and following it would be in 25 others, including 2019’s A Dog’s Journey. Beyond that success, however, has been his television achievements.

Johnny Galecki and the cast of 'The Big Bang Theory'
Johnny Galecki and the cast of ‘The Big Bang Theory.’©WarnerBrosDiscovery/courtesy

He was a series regular on Roseanne from 1992 to 1997 and would guest star on its spin-off, The Conners, between 2018 and 2019. But then, from 2007 to 2019, he portrayed his most famous role, that of Dr. Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory. In his personal life, he has dated co-stars Sara Gilbert and Kaley Kuoo and has one son through his former relationship with Alaina Meyer. He has 360 acres of land in Santa Margarita, California, on which he had vineyards and a log cabin, which, unfortunately, were destroyed in 2017 by wildfire. He is 48.

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