The Cast of Animal House: Revisiting the Iconic College Comedy
Revisiting a Timeless Ensemble and their Impact on Comedy
The legendary cast of Animal House poses in front of the Zeta Beta Tau headquarters
by Abigail Grace Irons
The cast of Animal House consists of a shining ensemble of actors, including some who would go on to have successful acting careers. Directed by John Landis, this landmark college comedy remains one of the most iconic films in the genre to this day. Animal House thrusts the audience into the chaotic world of Delta Tau Chi, a fictional fraternity marked by over-the-top antics and larger-than-life personalities.
We celebrate the talented cast members of Animal House by delving into their unforgettable moments on-screen and tracing the trajectory of their careers after the film's release. Each actor contributed a unique, indelible performance that is not only entertaining as hell, but along the way shaped the future of comedy films and left an everlasting impact on popular culture.
1. John Belushi as John 'Bluto' Blutarsky
John Belushi as John 'Bluto' Blutarsky in Animal House
John Belushi's Bluto steals the show with his wild antics and comedic timing. The beer-guzzling party animal became a beloved character, demonstrating Belushi's talent for physical comedy, energy, and humorous lines that still hold up today.
Prior to Animal House, Belushi had gained prominence as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, where he showcased his talent for outlandish characters. Unfortunately, after a successful acting career in films, such as The Blues Brothers and Neighbors, this comedic legend passed away at the young age of 33 due to drug-related complications.
2. Tim Matheson as Eric 'Otter' Stratton
Tim Matheson as Eric 'Otter' Stratton in Animal House
Tim Matheson's Otter charms audiences with his smooth-talking, wit, and elegant style, which provides a sense of balance amidst the chaos of Delta House. He is a fan favorite, skillful at manipulating situations and having a mischievous streak.
After the movie, Matheson continued to have a steady career in both television and film, with notable roles in Fletch, The West Wing, and most recently in shows like The Good Fight and This is Us. Additionally, he has lent his talents to voice acting and directing on numerous TV programs.
3. Peter Riegert as Donald 'Boon' Schoenstein
Peter Riegert as Donald 'Boon' Schoenstein in Animal House
Peter Riegert's Boon is the voice of reason among the Delta fraternity members. As a responsible college student, Boon tries to maintain some level of order while remaining loyal to his friends and participating in their antics.
After Animal House, Riegert maintained a career acting in television, film, and theater, including the critically acclaimed film Local Hero and the popular crime series, The Sopranos. He has continued to take on a variety of roles and has even stepped into film directing with the 2015 short film, Are You Talking to Me?
4. Tom Hulce as Larry 'Pinto' Kroger
Tom Hulce as Larry 'Pinto' Kroger in Animal House
Tom Hulce portrays Pinto, the naive freshman thrust into the wild world of Delta House. His character's innocence and vulnerability provides a relatable touchstone for the audience amidst the wild college experiences depicted in the film.
Post-Animal House, Hulce went on to give an Oscar-nominated performance as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the 1984 film Amadeus. Since then, Hulce has ventured into voice acting, most notably as Quasimodo in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as well as acting in theatrical productions. In recent years, he has shifted focus to producing plays, such as Broadway's Spring Awakening and American Idiot.
5. John Vernon as Dean Vernon Wormer
John Vernon as Dean Vernon Wormer in Animal House
John Vernon portrays the strict, antagonistic Dean Wormer, a character that audiences love to hate. His distinctive voice and commanding presence makes him the perfect foil for the chaotic Delta House fraternity members.
With his distinctive voice and commanding presence, Vernon had a successful acting career that spanned over five decades in film and television, with roles in Dirty Harry, Herbie Goes Bananas, and Batman: The Animated Series as Rupert Thorne.
6. Karen Allen as Katy
Karen Allen as Katy in Animal House
Karen Allen plays Katy, Boon's independent and strong-willed girlfriend. She provides a grounded and realistic portrayal of a college relationship, with her character demonstrating both tenderness and strength.
After Animal House, she achieved widespread recognition as Marion Ravenwood in the Indiana Jones franchise. Allen continues to act in film and television today, while also pursuing a career in stage productions and working on a line of knitwear clothing in western Massachusetts.
7. Stephen Furst as Kent 'Flounder' Dorfman
Stephen Furst as Kent 'Flounder' Dorfman in Animal House
Stephen Furst portrays Flounder, the lovable and gullible pledge who embodies the ups and downs of college life. The character's clumsy nature and wide-eyed innocence endears him to the audience, making him one of the most relatable Delta House members.
After his role in Animal House, Furst went on to have a successful acting career, most notably for his role as Dr. Elliot Axelrod in the 1980s medical drama series, St. Elsewhere. He also appeared in the popular sci-fi series Babylon 5 as Centauri diplomat, Vir Cotto. Later in his career, he transitioned to directing and producing films and television episodes. Sadly, Furst passed away in June of 2017.
8. Kevin Bacon as Chip Diller
Kevin Bacon as Chip Diller in Animal House
Animal House marks the film debut of a young Kevin Bacon, who plays the obedient and snobbish Chip Diller from the rival Omega fraternity. His character’s eagerness to please and smug attitude creates a memorable antagonist for Delta House, setting the stage for Bacon's future versatile roles.
After his role in the film, Bacon's career skyrocketed, with notable roles in Footloose, A Few Good Men, Apollo 13, and The Woodsman. Known for his versatility and consistent work in the industry, Bacon has garnered accolades for his performances in both film and television. In recent years, he has appeared in shows such as The Following and City on a Hill.
9. Donald Sutherland as Professor Dave Jennings
Donald Sutherland as Professor Dave Jennings in Animal House
Donald Sutherland's portrayal of the disinterested and disillusioned Professor Dave Jennings adds a layer of satirical academia to Animal House. His character's unconventional teaching methods and jaded outlook on life provide a humorous and realistic representation of higher education.
As an already established and versatile actor prior to the film, Sutherland went on to have an even more impressive career following Animal House. With an extensive filmography that spans over six decades, some of his renowned works include roles in MAS*H, Ordinary People, JFK, and The Hunger Games franchise. Sutherland continues to work in both film and television and is recognized as one of the industry's most prolific actors.
10. Bruce McGill as Daniel Simpson 'D-Day' Day
Bruce McGill as Daniel Simpson 'D-Day' Day shares a drink with John Belushi's Bluto in Animal House
As the rough-around-the-edges biker with exceptional musical talent, Bruce McGill's 'D-Day' is one of the more memorable characters in Animal House. His character brings a sense of unpredictability and non-conformity to Delta House, with his motorcycle entrances and bugle-playing antics.
McGill's acting career continued to flourish afterward, with roles in films such as Timecop, The Insider, and Lincoln. His television work includes guest appearances on popular shows like The Simpsons, NCIS, and Rizzoli & Isles. McGill has had both acting and voice roles over the course of his impressive career.
11. James Widdoes as Robert Hoover
James Widdoes as Robert Hoover in Animal House
As the responsible and level-headed Delta House president, James Widdoes' portrayal of Robert Hoover provides a contrast to the chaos surrounding him. His character's efforts to govern the fraternity members adds a dose of reality to the film's humorous antics.
After his role in Animal House, Widdoes continued acting in film and television, appearing in shows such as Charles in Charge and Dave's World. However, his talents would eventually lead him to concentrate on a successful career as a television director. Widdoes has directed hundreds of episodes for shows like 8 Simple Rules, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Mom.
12. Otis Day and the Knights as themselves
Otis Day and the Knights in Animal House
Otis Day and the Knights are an unforgettable part of Animal House with their high-energy performances of "Shout!" and "Shama Lama Ding Dong." The fictional band, led by actor/singer DeWayne Jessie, brings the iconic party scenes to life, giving the audience a break from the madness of Delta House and showcasing the sheer joy of celebrating with friends.
Following the film's release, the band's popularity skyrocketed, and they decided to adopt the group's name, continuing to tour and perform for years after. Otis Day and the Knights' enthusiastic performances made them an integral part of Animal House's lasting legacy and unforgettable soundtrack, with their songs still resonating with audiences today.
Behind-the-scenes of Animal House
The cast of Animal House lifts up director John Landis in a fun backstage moment
Animal House's legendary status can also be attributed to its talented crew. The movie is directed by John Landis, who went on to helm iconic films like An American Werewolf in London, The Blues Brothers, and Coming to America. The screenplay is written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Chris Miller. Ramis is particularly noteworthy, as he went on to write and direct Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and Caddyshack.
In terms of production, Animal House is produced by Ivan Reitman, who later produced and directed successful films such as Ghostbusters, Stripes, and Kindergarten Cop. Matty Simmons, the co-founder of National Lampoon, also serves as a producer on the film, while John Jympson, who previously worked on films such as A Hard Day's Night, is the editor of Animal House.
Legacy and Impact
The complete cast of Animal House poses in front of Zeta Beta Tau
Animal House's massive success transformed the landscape of comedy films and inspired a wave of raunchy comedies in the 1980s and beyond. The film's enduring influence can be seen in movies like Revenge of the Nerds, Old School, and American Pie, as well as countless other college-set comedies that attempted to emulate its winning formula.
Moreover, the movie helped launch National Lampoon's brand and paved the way for a series of films and TV specials based on the popular humor magazine. Animal House's impact can still be felt in contemporary comedies and popular culture, with its quotable lines, unforgettable characters, and iconic moments remaining influential today.
John Belushi as Bluto sticks pencils up his nose in Animal House
The cast of Animal House created an enduring piece of cinematic comedy history with their unforgettable performances and unique character portrayals. To this day, their characters and performances continue to resonate with new generations of fans, ensuring the film's long-lasting legacy. As we look back and appreciate the incredible cast of Animal House, we are reminded of the movie's impact on popular culture and the way it continues to entertain and inspire audiences with its timeless appeal.
Animal House stands as a testament to the power of humor, friendship, and unforgettable characters. It explores the college experience in a way that remains relevant and relatable even decades after its release. The talented cast, along with the film's lasting influence on popular culture, make Animal House an iconic comedy that will undoubtedly continue to captivate moviegoers for generations to come.
Abigail Grace Irons
Hey there! I'm Abigail Grace Irons, a cinema blogger with a passion for everything film-related. I enjoy diving into the world of movies, from the latest releases to timeless classics like Casablanca and Rear Window. Join me as we explore the enchanting universe of film together, and let's embark on this cinematic journey one story at a time. 🎬🍿✨