Twister (1996) Cast Then and Now

Twister (1996) Cast Then and Now
Cast of Twister (1996) Then and Now

When Twister hit theatres in 1996, it took audiences by storm and became the second highest-grossing film of the year. The disaster movie about storm chasers racing to deploy sensors on tornadoes was praised for its groundbreaking special effects and tense, action-packed story.

Twister trailer 1996

Much of the film’s success was due to its talented cast, led by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as estranged storm chasers competing to collect data on a dangerous tornado outbreak. The supporting cast included Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and other memorable 1990s stars.

25+ years later, let’s take a look at where the cast of this exciting blockbuster is today.

Helen Hunt as Dr. Jo Harding

Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt delivered a powerful lead performance as the driven Dr. Jo Harding, a meteorologist obsessed with studying tornadoes up close, after her father was killed by one when she was a child.

"You've never seen it miss this house, and miss that house, and come after you" - Dr Jo Harding (Twister 1996)

Hunt was an Emmy winner for TV’s Mad About You when she took on the role at age 33. Her committed performance made Jo Harding one of 1990s cinema’s most memorable heroines.

Now 60, Hunt has continued acting while also moving into writing, directing, and production. She won acclaim for her directing debut, Then She Found Me (2007), and earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for starring in the miniseries Empire Falls (2005). She recently appeared in World on Fire (2019) and Blindspotting (2021–2023).

Bill Paxton as Bill Harding

Bill Paxton

As Jo’s estranged husband and meteorology rival Bill Harding, Bill Paxton exuded masculine charm. Audiences rooted for the couple to reconcile amidst the stormy mayhem as they unleashed their palpable romantic chemistry.

Paxton built an acclaimed career as a versatile character actor in films like Aliens (1986), Near Dark (1987), Apollo 13 (1995), and Titanic (1997). Tragically, Paxton died at age 61 due to complications from heart surgery on February 25, 2017. He had recently starred on TV’s Training Day (2017).

An absolute legend of the screen!

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After Bill Paxton died in 2017, Spotter Network choreographed 200 storm chasers to spell out "BP" with their GPS tracker blips on a radar display to honor him. This kind of tribute had only been done five times before, and it was the first time it had been done for someone who wasn't a storm chaser.
Bill Paxton movies: 15 greatest films ranked
While narrowing down Paxton’s rich filmography to just 15 titles was no easy task, these particular movies capture him at his very best.

Jami Gertz as Dr. Melissa Reeves

Jami Gertz

Jami Gertz brought humour and heart to the role of Jo’s best friend and meteorology partner, Dr. Melissa Reeves. As a supportive sidekick who’s afraid of storms but chases them anyway out of friendship, Gertz served as the film's comic relief.

Now 57, Gertz has balanced acting with being an NBA team owner and philanthropist. She recently appeared in 44 episode of the TV show The Neighbors and, most recently, in the film I Want You Back (2022)

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A recording of a camel's moan was slowed down and used as the sound of the tornado.

Cary Elwes as Jonas Miller

Cary Elwes

As Jo’s rival storm chaser, Jonas Miller, Cary Elwes made for an arrogant, competitive foil. Viewers rooted against the cocky Jonas in his red Dodge Ram as he raced to get sensors inside tornadoes first.

The English actor was already beloved for roles in 1980s classics like The Princess Bride (1987). Now 60, Elwes continues acting in films like Mission: Impossible 7 (2023), Rebel Moon (2023), and TV series like Stranger Things (2016–2022).

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dustin "Dusty" Davis

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman had an early-career role as Jo's clumsy assistant Dusty, who pined after Melissa. Hoffman's offbeat humour and latent talent shone through even in small moments here, a sign of the brilliant career ahead of him.

Hoffman tragically died in 2014 at age 46 from a drug overdose. At the time, he was one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed actors thanks to iconic roles in films like Boogie Nights (1997), Capote (2005, Oscar-winning), and The Master (2012).

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This was the first movie released on DVD, and the last released on HD-DVD.

Alan Ruck as Robert "Rabbit" Nurick

Alan Ruck

As Bill Harding's longtime tornado-chasing partner, "Rabbit," Alan Ruck played a paranoid storm enthusiast, responsible for map reading and getting Bill and Jo in front of the Twisters as quickly as possible. His high-strung urgency delivered some of the film's lighter moments.

"Rabbit is good; Rabbit is wise!"

Ruck was already known for Ferris Bueller's neurotic friend Cameron in the beloved comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). Now 66, Ruck played a key role as Connor Roy on HBO's smash series Succession, which won him an Emmy in 2022.

Jeremy Davies as Laurence

Jeremy Davies

Jeremy Davies had an offbeat supporting role as the storm-obsessed amateur meteorologist Laurence. His nerdy urgency amused audiences.

The quirky character actor earned acclaim playing Daniel Faraday on Lost (2009–2010) and Dickie Bennett on Justified (2011–2015). Now 55, Davies is recognisable from many TV and film roles over his eclectic career.

Sean Whalen as Allen Sanders

Sean Whalen

Sean Whalen played one of the Tornado-obsessed team members of Jo and Bill.

Whalen, now 60, continues to act in a mix of comedic and dramatic projects. Recently, he's appeared in smaller horror and fantasy films. He has also featured as a voice in the video game The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Joey Slotnick as Joey

Joey Slotnick

In one fun scene, Joey Slotnick played Joey, an extremely chatty storm chaser who won't stop talking Bill's ear off. His high-energy, motormouth personality made an impression.

Like several Twister cast members, Slotnick built his career playing eccentric character parts. Today, the 55-year-old continues acting on shows like New Amsterdam and most recently appeared in the 2023 film "Plane" with Gerard Butler.

Lois Smith as Meg Greene

Lois Smith

Veteran actress Lois Smith had an emotional role as Aunt Meg Greene, the owner of a farm destroyed by a massive tornado. Her tearful reactions and longing for her lost home added heart and consequences amidst the storm-chasing excitement.

Smith had a long career, going back to films like Five Easy Pieces (1970). She died in 2022 at age 91, having continued acting right up until her acclaimed roles in shows like True Blood (2008–2014). Smith was known as one of Hollywood's most talented and enduring character actresses.

Scott Thomson as Preacher

Scott Thomson

Scott Thomson had a small but memorable role as Preacher, a tornado-chasing veteran who helps lead Bill's team. His grim warnings about the storm's danger quickly proved accurate.

Thomson, now 66, is best known for starring in the cult classic comedy series The Kids in the Hall (1988–1995). His last appearance was in 2016's sports biography film, Greater.

Conclusion

While some of its players sadly left us far too soon, most of the talented Twister cast continues to entertain us today in new roles. However, we will forever remember them for bringing the classic 1996 blockbuster to thrilling life.

When we catch Helen Hunt commanding the screen or see Alan Ruck’s wild eyes searching the sky, it takes us right back to the danger and excitement of the chase alongside Jo Harding, Bill Harding, and their intense team of tornado hunters.

With 2024's reboot, Twisters on the horizon, we feel like a nod to the OG's was fitting. Nothing will compare!

Check out the trailer for Twisters below if you dare. (distinct lack of originality here)

Twisters Trailer 2024