Already have an account?
Get back to the

‘The West Wing’ Characters: See Where President Barlet and His Cabinet Are Today

See who got their big break from Steven Spielberg and who became an Oscar winner!


With its powerful performances, intelligent dialogue, dynamic characters and coverage of hot-button issues, The West Wing is considered one of the most riveting political dramas of all time. Over the course of seven seasons from 1999 to 2006, the show kept us hooked with its irresistible mix of government intrigue and juicy drama. The diverse ensemble cast was strong enough to win over even those of us who didn’t have a personal interest in politics, and seeing the inner workings of the presidential office was endlessly fascinating.

Even years after it wrapped up, the award-winning show remains politically relevant and prescient. Here’s what President Bartlet, C.J. Cregg and the rest of our favorite West Wing characters have been up to since they left the White House.

The West Wing publicity still, 2000
The cast of The West Wing (2000)NBC/Newsmakers/Getty

Martin Sheen as President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet

Martin Sheen from West Wing. Left: 2000; Right: 2023
Left: 2000; Right: 2023David Rose/NBC/Newsmakers/Getty; Cindy Ord/CNN/Getty

Martin Sheen played Josiah “Jed” Bartlet, the President of the United States. The show captured all of Bartlet’s highs and lows, from unexpectedly winning the Democratic Party nomination to privately battling multiple sclerosis. Deeply intelligent, witty and no-nonsense, Bartlet remains one of the most compelling fictional presidents we’ve seen.

Sheen had a long and impressive career behind him when he was cast in The West Wing. Born Ramón Antonio Gerard Estévez, he began acting in the ’60s, appearing consistently in TV episodes throughout the decade. In 1973, he broke through with his starring role in the gorgeously shot lovers-on-the-run drama Badlands. He won further acclaim in 1979 when he played a Vietnam-era army captain in Apocalypse Now, a film widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time.

Sheen became known for playing political roles: He played Robert F. Kennedy in a 1974 TV special and John F. Kennedy in a 1983 miniseries and White House Counsel John Dean in a 1979 miniseries. He also played a fictional presidential candidate in the 1983 thriller The Dead Zone and narrated the controversial film JFK in 1991. In 1995, Sheen played the White House Chief of Staff in The American President. The film was written by Aaron Sorkin, who would go on to create The West Wing and write much of its signature fast-paced dialogue.

West Wing TV stills with Martin Sheen and John Spencer, 2000
Martin Sheen and John Spencer in The West Wing (2000)James Sorensen/NBC/Newsmakers/Getty

After The West Wing ended, Sheen had notable roles in films like The Departed, The Amazing Spider-Man and Judas and the Black Messiah. From 2012 to 2014 he appeared alongside his son, Charlie Sheen, in the sitcom Anger Management.

Most recently, Sheen, now 83, starred as Jane Fonda‘s ex-husband in the popular Netflix comedy series Grace and Frankie.

John Spencer as Leo McGarry, The West Wing Characters

John Spencer Left: 2000; Right: 2005
Left: 2000; Right: 2005James Sorensen/NBC/Newsmakers/Getty; Amy Tierney/WireImage/Getty

John Spencer played Leo McGarry, President Bartlet’s close personal friend and the White House Chief of Staff. Following a heart attack, he became Counselor to the President and later the Democratic candidate for veep. 

Born John Speshock Jr., Spencer began acting with a recurring role on The Patty Duke Show in 1963. His next notable role came 20 years later, when he had a supporting part in the 1983 tech-centered thriller WarGames. He then appeared in episodes of Miami Vice, As the World Turns and Law & Order. In 1990 he played a tough veteran homicide detective in Presumed Innocent and that same year he joined the cast of L.A. Law.

Related: Cast of ‘L.A. Law’ Then and Now: Catch Up with the Stars of the Hit Legal Drama

Long known as a supporting actor who frequently played detectives and other authority figures, Spencer became more widely recognized thanks to L.A. Law. His role in The West Wing would become his best-remembered work, but sadly it was also his final project, as he died of a heart attack at age 58 in 2005.

Bradley Whitford as Joshua Lyman

Bradley Whitford Left: 1999; Right: 2023
Left: 1999; Right: 2023, ‘The West Wing’ charactersHulton Archive/Getty; Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Bradley Whitford played Josh Lyman, the charming, sharp-as-a-tack White House Chief of Staff.

The Juilliard-trained star began acting in the ’80s, making appearances in soap operas and movies like Adventures in Babysitting and the sequel to Revenge of the Nerds. In 1990, he appeared on Broadway in Aaron Sorkin’s play A Few Good Men. The writer and actor would have a long working relationship. After The West Wing, Whitford starred in another Sorkin show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but it was notoriously canceled after just one season.

Related: ‘The West Wing’ Star Bradley Whitford Admits: “I’ve Played a Lot of Creepy Guys!”

Throughout the ’90s, Whitford appeared in movies like Awakenings, Scent of a Woman, Philadelphia, Billy Madison and Bicentennial Man. The West Wing brought him a new level of fame, and after the show ended, he remained a TV fixture with shows of varying success, including The Good Guys, Trophy Wife, Happyish, Transparent and Perfect Harmony. His pitch-perfect performance in the groundbreaking 2017 horror movie Get Out sparked much conversation and even became meme fodder. Whitford’s other notable film roles include The Cabin in the Woods, Saving Mr. Banks, The Post, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and tick, tick… BOOM!

Now 64, Whitford most recently played Commander Joseph Lawrence in the futuristic dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale.

Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg, The West Wing characters

Allison Janney Left: 2000; Right: 2023
Left: 2000; Right: 2023David Rose/NBC/Newsmakers/Getty; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/Getty

In the male-dominated world of politics, Allison Janney‘s performance as Press Secretary C.J. Cregg was a breath of fresh air. While she was frequently condescended to by her male peers, she proved her savviness time and again, and ultimately became Chief of Staff.

Prior to The West Wing, Janney started out with small roles and stage performances in the early ’90s. She appeared in soap opera episodes and movies like Walking and Talking, Private Parts, The Ice Storm, 10 Things I Hate About You and Drop Dead Gorgeous. Sorkin was inspired to cast Janney after seeing her in the 1998 politically-themed film Primary Colors.

Janney was originally something of a character actress who primarily took on supporting roles, but The West Wing made her a star. After the show ended, she acted in popular movies like Hairspray, Juno and The Help. In 2018, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting actress for her role as the notorious ice skater Tonya Harding’s abusive mother in I, Tonya.

Now 64, Janney took a sharp turn from The West Wing when she starred in the sitcom Mom from 2013 to 2021. Her other recent credits include To Leslie, Lou, The People We Hate at the Wedding and The Creator.

Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler, The West Wing characters

Richard Schiff Left: 1999; Right: 2023
Left: 1999; Right: 2023Hulton Archive/Getty; Michael Loccisano/WireImage/Getty

Richard Schiff played the White House Communications Director, Toby Ziegler, who wrote many of Bartlet’s speeches, including inaugural addresses and State of the Union addresses. Though he was fired from the administration during a leak investigation, he was ultimately pardoned for his crimes at the series’ end.

Initially, Schiff wanted to be a director, and he began his career by directing off-Broadway plays. In the late ’80s, he moved into acting, with bit parts in movies and a handful of TV appearances on shows like L.A. Law and Murphy Brown. Schiff grew fed up with all the small, single-episode roles he was taking, but his fortunes turned when he was cast in an episode of the show High Incident, which was produced by none other than Steven Spielberg. Spielberg was so impressed by Schiff’s performance that he cast him in The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997. A couple years later, The West Wing would give Schiff his most prominent role.

After The West Wing, Schiff had recurring roles in a variety of shows, including Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, NCIS, House of Lies, Ballers and The Affair. Now 68, he currently stars in the medical drama The Good Doctor. In 2022, he returned to the White House as Secretary of State in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. 

Check in with more beloved TV drama casts below!

‘Everwood’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With the Beloved Stars Today!

‘JAG’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With the Stars of the Hit ’90s Military Drama

‘Lost’ Cast Then and Now: Take a Trip Back to The Island and See Where the Stars Are Today

‘Sons of Anarchy’ Cast Then and Now: Get Up to Speed With the Beloved Biker Gang

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.