Wet Hot American Summer was more than just a cult classic summer movie, it was also a career changer. Some of its stars, like movie stars Bradley Cooper and Elizabeth Banks got their start in WHAS in 2001 and became legitimate movie stars from there. Check out our guide to the stars of your favorite summer movie and what they’ve been doing since their first summer at Camp Firewood.
David Wain. Director. Wet Hot American Summer was director David Wain’s first movie. He admittedly didn’t really know what he was doing, but has since gone on to make incredibly funny and downright silly films like Wainy Days (2007), Role Models (2008) and They Came Together (2014). All while launching the careers of Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper and plenty of others. He’s also responsible for Wanderlust (2012), Stella (2005), Children’s Hospital, and plenty more.
Michael Showalter. Writer, Cooperburg. Along with Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino and David Wain, Michael Showalter, built his funny-chops while studying at NYU and performing in the sketch group The State. After Wet Hot American Summer, Showalter, Black and Wain went on to form the comedy trio known as Stella. He has also become an author, director and co-wrote the romantic comedy hit parody They Came Together and was a triple threat with The Baxter, which Michael wrote, directed and starred in.
Michael Ian Black. McKinley. WHAS was only the second film of Michael Ian Black’s career. Since that release, he has gained a huge fan base from both TV and film work. From his work on Comedy Central’s Reno 911!, Stella, Another Period, and appearances onInside Amy Schumer. A prolific worker, Ian Black has also stole scenes in This is 40, They Came Together, Burning Love, Wainy Days, and Run Fatboy Run. Instantly recognizable, Ian Black has grown into one of the most popular TV personalities.
Paul Rudd. Andy. Of all the stars that were a part of Wet Hot American Summer there is not one actor that has had more roles on the big screen than Paul Rudd. Before WHAS, he was just known as that guy who made out with his step-sister in the movie Clueless. After, he got to be on Friends, and now averages roughly 2 and half movies a year like Dinner for Schmucks, This is 40, Wanderlust, This is the End, and They Came Together to name a few. And hey, he’s AntMan!
Bradley Cooper. Ben. Before Wet Hot American Summer Bradley Cooper was just another tall, handsome, smart young man just like everybody else. Sounds bad right? Well it didn’t stay like that for long because after his film debut in WHAS as Ben, he went on to do plenty more. Now he can say he is a tall, handsome man who has been nominated three times for an academy award (for Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and American Sniper). And People Magazine named him Sexiest Man Alive in 2011. Of the original cast to WHAS, Bradley Cooper is definitely the actor who carries the most star power. He future is limitless right now.
Ken Marino. Victor. Another guy who grew up making funny shorts with the NYU troop The State, Marino has since gone on to have some very funny roles. He is also a director, writer and all around smart man. He will be in the upcoming Goosebumps and has co-written on the movies Wanderlust (2012) and Role Models (2008). After playing Victor Kulak in WHAS we went on to love him in Party Down, Eastbound and Down, and Childrens Hospital in addition to his movie roles.
Janeane Garofalo. Beth. Since WHAS, Janeane’s career has hit many different notes. She hosted a radio show on Air America for multiple years. As an actress, she appeared notably in Manhood, Duane Hopwood, Stay, Ratatouille, and Bad Parents. She also joined the cast for the award-winning NBC show, The West Wing in its later seasons. Since WHAS, Janeane has also appeared on some of the most unique comedies on TV, including Stella, Delocated, and Broad City. In addition, Janeane continues to do stand-up regularly.
H. Jon Benjamin. Can of Vegetables. Since voicing that can of vegetables in WHAS, Jon Benjamin has carved out quite the niche for himself in the comedy world. He had already done some voiceover work on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, but since WHAS, Benjamin’s voiceover career has taken off. He has lent his vocal acting chops to Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Family Guy, Archer, and Bob’s Burgers. Not to be limited to a voice since WHAS, Benjamin also had his own show, Jon Benjamin Has A Van.
Elizabeth Banks. Lindsay. WHAS was only the third film role for Banks in her career, and the first of note. Since landing that gig, she has become one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood, with an insane filmography to her name. The Spiderman trilogy, The Lego Movie, The Forty Year Old Virgin, Zach and Miri Make A Porno, Catch Me If You Can, and The Hunger Games are just some of the massive projects that Banks has had a hand in their success.
Molly Shannon. Gail von Kleinenstein. Molly Shannon’s first film role since leaving SNL after six seasons on the cast was in WHAS. Some SNL alums struggle adjusting to life without Lorne, but Shannon has excelled as a supporting player, stealing scenes in major comedies. Since WHAS and her post- SNL life, she has guest-starred on some of TV’s biggest sitcoms (Sex and The City, Scrubs, 30 Rock, Glee, Enlightened) and appeared in supporting successful films like American Splendor, Bad Teacher, and The Millers. As a star, she had her own NBC series Kath & Kim and provided the lead voice on the TBS animated series, Neighbors From Hell.
Judah Friedlander. Ron von Kleinenstein. It’s tough to remember a time when everyone in the world didn’t know The World Champion. Judah has one of the most recognizable and distinct personas in comedy. At the time that he made WHAS, Judah was a working comedian, far from a household name. Since the film, he has launched to stardom. He appears in countless films, guests on TV shows, wrote a best-selling book How To Beat Up Anybody, and tours as a headlining stand-up. Judah is likely best known for his role as Frank Rossitano, one of the writers, on 30 Rock.
Christopher Meloni. Gene. A star of both Oz and SVU prior to WHAS, the film became the biggest comedic role of Meloni’s career. Since that performance, he has guested on Veep, Comedy Bang! Bang! and appeared in two Harold & Kumar movies. He also had a role in the rom-com spoof, They Came Together. Meloni also had roles in True Blood and a starring role in the short-lived series Surviving Jack.
Amy Poehler. Susie. Amy already had the Upright Citizens Brigade behind her when she took on the role of Susie in WHAS, and that would be enough! But she had so much ahead of her. The impact she has had in comedy has been incredible. She joined the cast of SNL immediately after Wet Hot came out in 2001 and the rest is history. Since 2001, she became one of the most influential female cast members in Saturday Night Live’s history, starred in her own network hit sitcom, Parks and Recreation, did a turn on Arrested Development, and this year the voice of Joy on the smash hit Inside Out and now has a starring role in Sisters with close friend Tina Fey coming out this year.
Zak Orth. J.J. Since playing J.J. in WHAS, Orth has appeared in multiple television shows. He has killed it as a guest star in Veep, Elementary, Happyish, Nurse Jackie,30 Rock, and starred in Revolution. Orth has also gotten to live the dream of many actors by landing multiple roles in Woody Allen movies. He appeared inMelinda & Melinda, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Joe Lo Truglio. Since WHAS, Lo Truglio has built a steady career as a small piece in some of the most beloved comedies. In film, fans immediately loved him as the teacher who yelled at Seth Rogan in Pineapple Express, as well as the guy who hit Jonah Hill with a car in Superbad. In TV, he is killing it as Charles Boyle in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, while voicing Bryce in Bob’s Burgers.