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Location: Home / Article / THEN AND NOW: The cast of 'The Outsiders,' 38 years later

THEN AND NOW: The cast of 'The Outsiders,' 38 years later

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C. Thomas Howell played the sensitive Ponyboy Curtis, the main character of the novel and the film.

C. Thomas Howell in 1984.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Howell was 16 years old while filming "The Outsiders," which was

only his second role ever

— he had a brief part in 1982's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."

After taking on the role of Ponyboy, Howell was one of Hollywood's most in-demand young stars. In the '80s alone, he appeared in "Tank," "Grandview, USA," "Red Dawn" (alongside "Outsiders" brother Patrick Swayze), "Secret Admirer," "The Return of the Musketeers," and,

most infamously

, "Soul Man."

C. Thomas Howell, 54, has worked extensively but never again had a leading role like Ponyboy.

C. Thomas Howell in 2017.

Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images


appeared in multiple direct-to-video films

throughout the '90s and 2000s. He also appeared in a long-delayed sequel to "The Hitcher" in 2003, "The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting," and had a small role in "The Amazing Spider-Man" in 2012. More recently, Howell played longtime political aide Walter Jenkins in 2016's "LBJ."

He's also had a career in voice acting, with roles in "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox," "Justice League: Gods and Monsters," "Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay," and video games "Injustice 2" and "Lego DC Super-Villains."

On the TV front, he's appeared in episodes of dozens of TV shows, including "24," "Criminal Minds" as the Boston Reaper, "Castle," "Sons of Anarchy," "Grimm," "Stitchers," "The Punisher" in the MCU, "Animal Kingdom," and "Bosch," among others.

Howell was

married to his "Soul Man" co-star

Rae Dawn Chong from 1989 to


. He then married Sylvie Anderson in 1992, and they have three kids together.

She filed for divorce in 2016


Matt Dillon played the unstable and hardened greaser Dallas "Dally" Winston.

Matt Dillon in 1984.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Dillon was 19 when "The Outsiders" was released, fittingly, as Dally was an older character in the novel and the film. He meets a heartbreaking end that we won't spoil, but it's possible the trend of "broken" teenage boys may have started with Dally.


had already appeared in another S. E. Hinton adaptation

, "Tex," the year before "The Outsiders," along with films "Over the Edge," "My Bodyguard," and "Little Darlings." He solidified his teen-idol status with "Outsiders," another S. E. Hinton adaptation "Rumble Fish," "The Flamingo Kid," "Kansas," and "Drugstore Cowboy," which

earned him an Independent Spirit Award


He continued to establish Hollywood dominance in the '90s with roles in "Singles," "There's Something About Mary," and "Wild Things."

During this time, he also dated multiple A-listers, like Cameron Diaz, Heather Graham, and Brooke Shields.

Dillon, 57, was nominated for an Oscar for his role in 2004's "Crash."

Matt Dillon in 2020.

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Dillon made his directorial debut with 2002 film "City of Ghosts," to mixed reviews. Two years later, he starred in "Crash,"

which garnered him

a Golden Globe nomination, an Oscar nomination, and a SAG nomination, among others. The film itself won the Oscar for best picture.

He then appeared in comedies such as "Herbie: Fully Loaded," "You, Me and Dupree," "Girl Most Likely," "The Art of the Steal," and "Old Dogs," in addition to dramatic films like "Loverboy," "Sunlight Jr.," and most recently the Tom Hardy-led "Capone." Dillon starred in the 2018 Lars von Trier film "The House That Jack Built."

He's also moved into TV, appearing on "Modern Family," and the first season of "Wayward Pines," which earned him a Saturn Award nomination.


set to appear in

"American Dreamer," based on a segment from "This American Life," alongside Peter Dinklage, Shirley MacLaine, Danny Glover, and Danny Pudi.

Dillon has famously never married


Ralph Macchio played the sweet Johnny Cade, who cautions Ponyboy to "stay gold."

Ralph Macchio in 1984.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

While Macchio has a baby face, he was actually 22 when he played Johnny, Ponyboy's best friend who comes from an abusive home. He eventually kills a "soc," jump-starting the events of the film.

Macchio, of course,

is most famous for "The Karate Kid,"

which was released the year after "The Outsiders." It became a global phenomenon and spawned a franchise that had two sequels (1986's "The Karate Kid Part II" and 1989's "The Karate Kid Part III"), and is still running to this day.

Daniel LaRusso remains his signature role, but Macchio also appeared in "Teachers," "Crossroads," "Distant Thunder," and "My Cousin Vinny" throughout the '80s and early '90s.


married his wife, Phyllis Fierro, in 1987

. They have two kids.

Ralph Macchio, 59, is reprising his role of Danny LaRusso in Netflix's "Cobra Kai."

Ralph Macchio in 2021.

Matt Winkelmeyer/2021 MTV Movie and TV Awards/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

The '90s and 2000s were

a bit slow for Macchio

, as he mainly cashed in on nostalgia. He appeared as himself in a 2010 short called "Wax On, F--- Off" for Funny or Die — a reference to Mr. Miyagi's famous mantra in "The Karate Kid" — and played himself in 2013's "He's Way More Famous Than You." He also appeared as himself in an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" and at the roast of his "Outsiders" co-star, Rob Lowe in 2016.

Since 2018, Macchio has been starring on "Cobra Kai" as the adult version of Daniel LaRusso, sparring off once against Billy Zabka's Johnny Lawrence, this time through their teenage kids. The show was

nominated for outstanding comedy series

at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Season four

will drop on Netflix

in December 2021.

Rob Lowe played Ponyboy's older brother Sodapop, who is described as "beautiful."

Rob Lowe in 1984.

Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Lowe was 19 when he played the handsome and popular Sodapop. It was his debut film role, and it

led to him becoming one of the biggest stars

of the '80s and

a founding member of the Brat Pack

, a group of '80s movie stars that frequently appeared in films together.

Lowe starred in "Class," "Oxford Blues," "St. Elmo's Fire," "Square Dance," "Youngblood," "About Last Night," and "Bad Influence" with various members of the Brat Pack throughout the '80s. However, his career was temporarily derailed when he was

caught in the middle of a sex-tape scandal

in 1988. It wouldn't be until the 2000s that he really got his career back on track.


married his wife, Sheryl Berkoff, in 1991

. They have two sons together, Matthew and John.

Rob Lowe, 57, is now best known for his TV roles in shows like "The West Wing," "Parks and Recreation," and "9-1-1: Lone Star."

Rob Lowe in 2020.

Aaron Poole/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images


mounted his comeback when

he began starring as the idealistic speechwriter Sam Seaborn on "The West Wing" from 1999 to 2003, which

earned him an Emmy nomination


two Golden Globe nominations


Soon after, he starred on "Brothers & Sisters" from 2006 to 2010, before moving to "Parks and Recreation," starring as the unbelievably optimistic Chris Traeger.

He's also starred in shows like "The Grinder," which earned him another Golden Globe nod, "Code Black," and currently "9-1-1: Lone Star." Lowe was nominated for another Golden Globe for his role in the TV film "Behind the Candelabra."

Emilio Estevez played the mouthy Two-Bit Mathews, a greaser and friend of Ponyboy.

Emilio Estevez in 1984.

Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Estevez was 21 at the time of "The Outsiders." Along with Lowe, Estevez — whose father is Martin Sheen and brother is Charlie Sheen — became a major member of the Brat Pack,

with roles in "Tex"

(alongside Matt Dillon), "The Breakfast Club," "St. Elmo's Fire," another S. E. Hinton adaptation "That Was Then... This Is Now," and "Young Guns." He also made his directorial debut with 1986's "Wisdom," co-starring his then-girlfriend Demi Moore.

Estevez had his biggest adult role in 1992's "The Mighty Ducks," which led to two more sequels in the '90s, "D2: The Mighty Ducks" in 1994 and "D3: The Mighty Ducks" in 1996 as prickly coach Gordon Bombay.

He has two kids with former model Carey Salley — their relationship overlapped with

Estevez's engagement to Moore

. In 1992,

he married Paula Abdul

. They were divorced by 1994.

Estevez, 59, is frequently working behind the camera, though he reprised his role as Gordon Bombay in "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers" in 2021.

Emilio Estevez in 2019.

Craig Barritt/Getty Images for WE Day


has directed seven more movies

since "Wisdom": "Men at Work," "The War at Home," "Rated X," "Culture Clash in AmeriCCa," "Bobby," "The Way," and "The Public." He last acted in a film in 2005's "The L.A. Riot Spectacular."

On the TV side, he's directed numerous episodes of "The Guardian," "Cold Case," "CSI: NY," and an episode of his brother's sitcom "Two and a Half Men." He also had a cameo in "The West Wing" as the younger version of his father Martin Sheen's character, Jed Bartlet.

In 2021, Estevez returned to the "Mighty Ducks" franchise to appear as Bombay in the Disney+ series "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers."

A young unknown by the name of Tom Cruise played Steve Randle, another greaser.

Tom Cruise in 1983.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Maybe you've heard of him now, but at the time, Cruise was a relatively green 21-year-old actor who had only been in two movies: "Endless Love" and "Taps." He had small roles in all three films.

But, five months after "The Outsiders," a film called "Risky Business" was released, catapulting Cruise to the A-list.



of Cruise's filmography

in the late '80s and '90s: "Top Gun" and "The Color of Money" (1986), "Cocktail" and "Rain Man" (1988), "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), "Days of Thunder" (1990), "A Few Good Men" (1992), "Interview with the Vampire" (1994), "Mission: Impossible" and "Jerry Maguire" (1996), and "Eyes Wide Shut" and "Magnolia" (1999) ... not that Cruise's career really slowed down after that either.

Cruise was

married to actress Mimi Rogers

from 1987 to 1990. He then married Nicole Kidman in 1990 and the two were together until 2001 and adopted two children together.

Cruise, 59, has been nominated for three Oscars and is one of the highest-grossing movie stars of all time.

Tom Cruise in 2019.

Lia Toby/BFC/Getty Images


strong filmography continued through

the early 2000s, alternating "Mission: Impossible" installments with movies like "Vanilla Sky," "Minority Report," "War of the Worlds," "Edge of Tomorrow," and a hilarious performance in "Tropic Thunder."

This was followed by a few flops, including "Rock of Ages," "Valkyrie," "Knight and Day," and "American Made." He's also made a few (failed) attempts at starting more franchises like "Jack Reacher" and "

The Mummy


He's set to star in the seventh "Mission: Impossible" next year, and he will reprise his role as Maverick in "Top Gun: Maverick" in November 2021.

In his personal life, Cruise was in

one of the biggest couples of the 2000s

as one-half of "TomKat" with Katie Holmes. The two got divorced in 2012, and since then, Cruise hasn't publicly been linked with anyone, though there's

some speculation he's dating

"Mission: Impossible 7" co-star Hayley Atwell.

Glenn Withrow played Tim, the leader of another greaser gang and a friend of Dally's.

Withrow in "The Outsiders."

Warner Bros.

Withrow was 30

when he played a fellow greaser

in "The Outsiders." Before that, he had appeared in a few episodes of TV soaps like "Knots Landing" and "The Waltons," and other films like "The Hollywood Knights" and "The Lady in Red."

After "Outsiders," he appeared in another S. E. Hinton adaptation, "Rumble Fish," along with Matt Dillon and Diane Lane, and then appeared in a few other '80s classics, like "The Cotton Club," "Armed and Dangerous," and "Beverly Hills Cop II." His last acting role was a TV movie called "By Dawn's Early Light" in 1990.


been married to Hallie Todd

, best known for being Lizzie McGuire's mom in the Disney Channel classic, since 1992.

Withrow, 67, now works behind the scenes at his production company, In House Media, Inc.

Withrow and his daughter, Ivy, in 2020.

Screen Rant Plus

Withrow started In House Media in 1999,

according to LinkedIn

. In 2012, he produced, wrote, and directed the horror film "

The Mooring

." He co-wrote the film with his wife and their daughter, Ivy. Todd also starred in the film.


second directorial effort

, "The Last Champion," starring Cole Hauser, was completed in 2020.

Diane Lane played the pivotal role of Cherry Valance, a soc who bonds with Ponyboy.

Diane Lane in 1983.

Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Lane was 18 when she was cast as the soc with a heart of gold, Cherry, but she already had an impressive résumé. She

co-starred with Laurence Olivier

when she was just 13 in 1979's "A Little Romance" and had appeared in "National Lampoon's Movie Madness," among other roles. The same year as "Outsiders," she appeared in "Rumble Fish," and then appeared in "The Cotton Club" the following year.

In 1989, she starred in the miniseries "Lonesome Dove,"

which earned her an Emmy nomination


She married actor Christopher Lambert in 1988, but they

were divorced in 1994

. They have one daughter together.

It took a few years for Lane's career to really kick off, but now the 56-year-old is a timeless star.

Diane Lane in 2020.

John Shearer/Getty Images

It wasn't until 1999's "A Walk on the Moon" that Lane's career really took off. After that, she went on a real run, starring in "The Perfect Storm" in 2000, and then "Unfaithful" in 2002. Her role as Connie Summer

earned her


Golden Globe

, and SAG nominations.

Since then,

she's been in other films

like "Under the Tuscan Sun," "Must Love Dogs," "Secretariat," and "Nights of Rodanthe," and had a voice role as Riley's mom in "Inside Out." Lane has also appeared in multiple DC Extended Universe movies as Martha Kent, Superman's mother. She was in "Man of Steel," "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," and both versions of "Justice League."

Lane also had a role in


's "House of Cards," Prime Video's "The Romanoffs," and will appear in the upcoming FX on


adaptation of "Y: The Last Man."

In her personal life, she began dating Josh Brolin and married him in 2004. They were

together until February 2013


Leif Garrett had already been a teen idol when he was cast as soc Bob Sheldon.

Leif Garrett and Nicollette Sheridan in 1984.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Bob is one of the socs who fights with Johnny and Ponyboy and almost drowns Ponyboy, leading Johnny to stab and kill him in defense.

At the time, 22-year-old Garrett

had already been a successful teen idol

with multiple Hot 100 hits in the '70s — playing the violent Bob was a real change from his public persona of a child star, with early roles in "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," "Three for the Road," "Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion," and "Skateboard."

He dated future "Desperate Housewives" star Nicollette Sheridan for five years on and off until 1985. He also dated other '80s stars like Justine Bateman and Tatum O'Neal.

Garrett, 59, has had a long and hard road in Hollywood stemming from drug abuse.

Leif Garrett in 2016.

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Garrett, who began using drugs when he was just 14, went

through extensive periods of legal troubles

throughout the '90s and 2000s. He hasn't released an album since 2007, nor a single since 1981.

In 2010, he appeared on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew." In 2019,

he published an autobiography

, "Idol Truth," in which he wrote about his life as a child star and teen idol.

Darren Dalton played another soc, Randy.

Dalton in "The Outsiders."

Warner Bros.

Dalton, who was 18 at the time, played Randy, one of Bob's friends who refuses to participate in a final rumble between the socs and the greasers, claiming it won't change anything. It was his debut film role.

After the film,

he appeared in "Red Dawn"

alongside some of his "Outsiders" castmates. He also had an uncredited role in "Soul Man" alongside C. Thomas Howell.

Through the rest of the '80s, he appeared in the series "The Best Times," "Cagney & Lacey," and "Freddy's Nightmares." In 1990, he appeared in an episode of "Quantum Leap."

Dalton, 56, hasn't acted since 2012. He's now primarily a screenwriter.

Dalton in "Quantum Leap."



took a 10-year break from acting

between 1997 and 2007, before returning to appear in "The Stolen Moments of September." His last role was in 2012's "The Cottage."

In 1992, he wrote his first screenplay, "To Protect and Serve," which starred "Outsiders" co-star Howell. He also wrote screenplays for "The Day the Earth Stopped" and "The Land That time Forgot." He has a film, "The Lurking Fear," his directorial debut, in post-production.

Michelle Meyrink made her film debut as Marcia, Cherry's friend.

Michelle Meyrink and Tom Cruise in 1982.

Fotos International/Getty Images

The 21-year-old's first film was "The Outsiders," but she wasted no time appearing in iconic '80s films after, such as "Valley Girl," "Real Genius," and "Revenge of the Nerds." She also co-starred with Darren Dalton in 1984's "National Lampoon's Joy of Sex." Meyrink also appeared in an episode of "Family Ties."


retired from acting in 1988

— her last role was in "Permanent Record."

Meyrink, 58, founded an acting school in Vancouver.

"The Outsiders."

Warner Bros.

Meyrink left behind acting to instead teach it —

she founded the Actorium

, an acting school, in Vancouver.

Patrick Swayze played Ponyboy and Sodapop's older brother Darry, who was taking care of them after their parents died.

Patrick Swayze in 1983.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

"The Outsiders" was

only the 31-year-old's second film role

after his debut in 1979's "Skatetown, U.S.A." The year after "Outsiders," he joined some of his fellow cast-mates in "Red Dawn."

But it wasn't until 1987 that Swayze really popped off — that year, he starred alongside Jennifer Grey in "Dirty Dancing," which remains iconic. He then starred in "Road House" in 1989, "Ghost" in 1990, "Point Break" in 1991, and "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar" in 1995. He also

had an iconic "SNL" appearance

in 1990, and he was named

People's Sexiest Man Alive

in 1991, a year after his "Outsiders" co-star Cruise was bestowed the title.

He was

nominated for three Golden Globes

, for his work in "Dirty Dancing," "Ghost," and "To Wong Foo."

He was

married to Lisa Niemi from 1975

until his death in 2009.

Swayze died in 2009 at age 57.

Patrick Swayze in 2008.

Barry Brecheisen/WireImage for Rockit Ranch Productions

Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2008. He continued to work while getting treatment, appearing in the 2008 film "Jump!," and the TV series "The Beast." His final role, Velvet Larry in the 2009 film "Powder Blue," was released in May 2009.

He died in September 2009.