Days Of Thunder Cast Update

Days Of Thunder (1990): Cast Then And Now

Then vs Now Movies Mar 14, 2024

In the high-octane world of motorsports, few films have captured the adrenaline-fueled intensity quite like "Days of Thunder" (1990). Directed by Tony Scott, this action-packed flick revved up audiences with its electrifying race sequences and an ensemble cast that brought the characters to life. Let's take a nostalgic journey and revisit the stars who graced the silver screen in this iconic racing drama, exploring where they were then and where they stand now.

Tom Cruise (Cole Trickle)

Age in 1990: 28 years old
Age in 2024: 61 years old

Tom Cruise Then

Tom Cruise was already a rising star in 1990, but "Days of Thunder" cemented his status as a bona fide action hero. As Cole Trickle, the young and reckless driver with raw talent, Cruise delivered a captivating performance that showcased his on-screen charisma and daring stunts. Fast forward to 2024, and Cruise remains a Hollywood powerhouse, known for his unwavering dedication to the craft and his insistence on performing his own death-defying stunts.

Tom Cruise Now

From the "Mission: Impossible" franchise to critically acclaimed films like "Jerry Maguire" and the recent "Top Gun: Maverick," Cruise has consistently proven his versatility and longevity in the industry. At 61, he shows no signs of slowing down, continuing to push boundaries and redefine what it means to be an action star.

Fun Fact: Production began without a finished script. Scenes were often written the day of filming. During one driving sequence, Tom Cruise actually had to read his lines off cue cards attached to his windshield, which resulted in a minor car accident. For subsequent driving sequences, Cruise was fitted with a special earpiece to have lines fed to him.

Nicole Kidman (Dr. Claire Lewicki)

Age in 1990: 23 years old
Age in 2024: 56 years old

Nicole Kidman Then

In 1990, Nicole Kidman was just starting her journey to stardom, and "Days of Thunder" marked the beginning of a fruitful partnership with Tom Cruise, both on-screen and off. As the brilliant Dr. Claire Lewicki, Kidman exuded a captivating blend of intelligence and vulnerability, capturing the hearts of audiences worldwide.

Nicole Kidman Now

Fast forward to the present day, and Kidman has solidified her status as an Oscar-winning actress ("The Hours") and a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. From critically acclaimed films like "Moulin Rouge!" to the hit HBO series "Big Little Lies," Kidman has consistently delivered powerful performances that showcase her incredible range and depth.


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Robert Duvall (Harry Hogge)

Age in 1990: 59 years old
Age in 2024: 93 years old

Robert Duvall Then

In "Days of Thunder," Robert Duvall embodied the role of Harry Hogge, the wise and experienced crew chief who mentors Cole Trickle. Even in 1990, Duvall was already a respected character actor, known for his memorable performances in films like "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now."

Robert Duvall Now

Now, at the remarkable age of 93, Duvall's illustrious career spans decades, and he continues to impress with his versatility and dedication to his craft. From "The Godfather Part III" and "Tender Mercies" to the critically acclaimed "Crazy Heart," Duvall's performances have left a staining mark on the film industry.

Insider Scoop: The movie was conceived by Tom Cruise when he and Paul Newman were allowed to test one of Rick Hendrick's race cars. Tom's first lap was in excess of 180 miles per hour, igniting his passion for the world of motorsports and inspiring the creation of "Days of Thunder."

Randy Quaid (Tim Daland)

Age in 1990: 40 years old
Age in 2024: 73 years old

Randy Quaid Then

As the ruthless team owner Tim Daland, Randy Quaid brought a fierce intensity to "Days of Thunder." His performance as the profit-driven and unapologetic businessman added an intriguing layer of conflict to the film. While Quaid's career continued after the movie, it was not without its challenges.

Randy Quaid Now

Despite notable roles in major Hollywood films like "Independence Day" (1996) and "Kingpin" (1996), Quaid faced personal and legal struggles in later years. However, his talents as an actor remain undeniable, and his portrayal of Tim Daland in "Days of Thunder" stands as a testament to his ability to bring complex characters to life.


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Cary Elwes (Russ Wheeler)

Age in 1990: 28 years old
Age in 2024: 62 years old

Cary Elwes Then

Cary Elwes had already gained recognition for his role in the beloved classic "The Princess Bride" (1987) when he took on the role of Russ Wheeler, Cole Trickle's ambitious and competitive rival driver, in "Days of Thunder." Elwes brought a charismatic and intense presence to the screen, making Russ a formidable adversary.

Cary Elwes Now

Since then, Elwes has enjoyed a successful career in both film and television, showcasing his versatility in a variety of genres. From the comedic "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993) to the thrilling "Twister" (1996), and even guest appearances in popular TV shows like "The X-Files" and "Stranger Things," Elwes has solidified his place as a beloved and respected actor.

Behind the Scenes: Some footage for the movie was shot during the 1990 Daytona 500. Two additional cars, driven by Bobby Hamilton and Tommy Ellis, were added to the rear of the field for the express purpose of shooting them for this film. They were not officially scored, and left the racetrack after one hundred miles (forty laps) were completed. At one point in the race, leader Dale Earnhardt even lapped the movie cars, adding an authentic touch to the filming process.

Michael Rooker (Rowdy Burns)

Age in 1990: 34 years old
Age in 2024: 68 years old

Michael Rooker Then

In "Days of Thunder," Michael Rooker brought a rugged authenticity to his role as Rowdy Burns, the veteran driver who eventually becomes a mentor to Cole Trickle. Rooker's on-screen presence and gritty performance added depth and realism to the film's racing world.

Michael Rooker Now

Since 1990, Rooker has become a familiar face in action and sci-fi films, consistently delivering memorable performances. From "Cliffhanger" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" to the popular TV series "The Walking Dead," Rooker has carved out a niche for himself as a versatile and captivating actor, capable of bringing any character to life with his signature intensity.

Fred Thompson (Big John) (Deceased)

Age in 1990: 58 years old

Fred Thompson Then

Sadly, Fred Thompson, who portrayed the fictional NASCAR president Big John in "Days of Thunder," passed away in 2015 at the age of 73. In 1990, Thompson was already a prominent figure, having served as a U.S. Senator before returning to acting in his later years.

Fred Thompson Now

While his role in "Days of Thunder" may have been relatively small, Thompson's presence added authenticity and gravitas to the film's depiction of the racing world. His legacy extends beyond the screen, as he left his mark on both the political and entertainment spheres.

John C. Reilly (Buck Bretherton)

Age in 1990: 25 years old
Age in 2024: 58 years old

John C. Reilly Then

As Buck Bretherton, a dedicated member of Cole Trickle's pit crew, John C. Reilly brought his signature charm and comedic timing to "Days of Thunder." Even in this early role, Reilly's talent was evident, foreshadowing his future success as a versatile and acclaimed actor.

John C. Reilly Now

Since 1990, Reilly has established himself as a comedic talent with roles in films like "Boogie Nights" and the hilarious "Step Brothers," while also showcasing his dramatic range in other projects. His ability to seamlessly transition between genres and characters has made him a beloved figure in the entertainment industry, and his performance in "Days of Thunder" was no exception, albeit a small role.


As we look back on "Days of Thunder," it's remarkable to see how the careers of its talented cast members have evolved and flourished over the years. From Tom Cruise's unwavering reign as a Hollywood icon to Nicole Kidman's ascent as an Oscar-winning powerhouse and the remarkable longevity of actors like Robert Duvall and Michael Rooker, the legacy of this film lives on through its ensemble.

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Richard Wells

I am the founder of The Rewind Zone, created in 2022. My passion for film knows no bounds! It is my goal through this medium to bring the wonders of film from a bygone era back into your lives.