Famous Movie Stoners Then and Now
With the 4/20 “holiday” coming up, it seems only natural to pay tribute to those famed stoners who have made the day memorable. So what are some famous stoners from film history up to today? You might be surprised to see they’re doing way more than just toking, though that might also be involved. (Pass on grass, kids.)
Sean Penn, ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’
Then: Perhaps one of the most famous stoners of all time, actor Sean Penn played Jeff Spicoli — the surfing/smoking/lackadaisical high school student who took great pleasure from defying the intimidating Mr. Hand. ‘Fast Times‘ was Penn’s second film (with ‘Taps’ being his first) but it’s the one many seem to remember, despite his lengthy, impressive and multiple Academy Award winning career.
Now: After ‘Fast Times,’ Penn was on the road to becoming a star. His resume consists of some amazing performances, such as ‘Casualties of War,’ ‘I Am Sam,’ ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Milk.’ He’s moved on to become an accomplished director, writer and activist.
Doug Benson, ‘Super High Me’
Then: Comedian Doug Benson is notorious for his marijuana usage, which is why it wasn’t too surprising when he released ‘Super High Me.’ The film documents the effects of smoking pot for thirty days, acting as a play on the popular documentary ‘Supersize Me.’
Now: After the film’s success, Benson has performed in film and television — everything from ‘The Sarah Silverman Program’ to his short-lived Comedy Central series ‘The Benson Interruption’ — and currently hosts the popular ‘Doug Loves Movies’ podcast.
Seth Rogen, ‘Knocked Up’
Then: Modern movie star Seth Rogen blew up quite quickly, thanks to Judd Apatow. When ‘Knocked Up’ was released, Rogen had appeared in a few films — ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin,’ ‘Anchorman,’ ‘You, Me and Dupree’ and ‘Donnie Darko.’ The Canadian born Rogen got his start in the U.S. on the Judd Apatow/Paul Feig TV series ‘Freaks and Geeks.’
Now: Rogen has made no secret about his love for Mary Jane and has appeared in the stoner-friendly flicks ‘Superbad,’ ‘Pineapple Express’ and ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno.’ He has become a megastar at a young age (though he looks older, Rogen is only 30.) This year marks the release of his ‘This Is the End’ film, one which consists of a lengthy list of his A-Lister buddies hanging out together during the apocalypse and likely getting high.
Brad Pitt, ‘True Romance’
Then: Brad Pitt showed a flair for comedy (and an ingenuity for rigging bongs from plastic honey containers) as Floyd in ‘True Romance.’ Before the film, Pitt had melted hearts in ‘Thelma & Louise’ and ‘A River Runs Through It.’
Now: Today, Brad Pitt is one of the biggest stars on the planet. Whether he’s the hard-bodied tough guy in ‘Fight Club,’ the detective on the hunt in ‘Se7en,’ or getting his Academy Award nods for ’12 Monkeys’ and ‘Moneyball,’ Pitt’s performances over the years have proven time and time again why he’s the guy men want to be and women want to be with.
Rory Cochrane, ‘Dazed and Confused’
Then: ‘Dazed and Confused‘ consisted almost entirely of ’70s tokers, so we’ll focus on Rory Cochrane, who flawlessly played high school stoner/slacker Ron Slater. It was his third film role and most recognizable to date, despite the other hits he’d soon find himself in.
Now: After ‘Dazed and Confused,’ Cochrane ditched the long hair and stoner lingo for roles in ‘Empire Records,’ ‘Public Enemies’ and the Oscar-winning ‘Argo.’ His TV career includes parts in ‘The Company,’ ‘CSI: Miami’ and ’24.’
Redman, ‘How High’
Then: In 2001, Redman was already a famed rapper/actor/stoner who had appeared in a few films and TV shows (‘The Jamie Foxx Show’), but his role in ‘How High’ pushed him to a new level. Matched with fellow collaborator Method Man, the duo wreaked absolute havoc at Harvard.
Now: It looks as if Redman has gone back to his roots, mainly rapping lately and being featured in video games. Just last summer he began recording ‘Blackout 3′ with friend/co-star Method Man. Rumors of a ‘How High 2′ waft through Hollywood occasionally like thick pot clouds in a stuffy Harvard classroom.
Anna Faris, ‘Smiley Face’
Then: Sadly there aren’t as many female stoners on the big screen as there are dopey doped-up males. Anna Faris, who came into our lives in the ‘Scary Movie’ franchise, is the rare exception in ‘Smiley Face’ as a young woman who has a few misadventures after eating some special “cupcakes.”
Now: Faris has been a movie star since her role in ‘Scary Movie,’ and after trying out the stoner chick role in 2007, she turned up in more mainstream fare like ‘The House Bunny,’ ‘Yogi Bear,’ ‘The Dictator’ and the more recent ‘Movie 43.’ She is married to ‘Parks and Recreation’ star Chris Pratt.
Dave Chappelle, ‘Half Baked’
Then: Before Chappelle took the world by storm on Comedy Central, he wrote and starred in ‘Half Baked.’ As the stoner and “master of the custodial arts” who found himself a way to make some money, Dave Chappelle quickly solidified himself as a prominent figure in the comedy scene.
Now: After his ‘Half Baked’ success, Chappelle created ‘Chappelle’s Show.’ It lasted only three seasons but left a dent that the network still struggles to fill. After walking away from a reported $50 million contract, Chappelle ventured off to Africa without saying a word to anyone. But don’t worry, he’s back, and is back to doing what he loves— stand-up.
Jason Mewes, ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’
Then: Jason Mewes (and his character ‘Jay’) was introduced to the world in the Kevin Smith film ‘Clerks.’ The film eventually spawned a spinoff for Jay and Smith’s Silent Bob titled ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.’ (And further exposure for their pot-themed superhero duo Bluntman and Chronic.)
Now: Since becoming the famed leader of Jay and Silent Bob, Mewes has sporadically reprised his role (for example, in ‘Clerks II’). Mewes has appeared in various films and TV shows, including ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno,’ ‘The Last Godfather’ and ‘Todd and the Book of Pure Evil,’ on which he played Jimmy for 26 episodes. He’s also a regular presence on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast newtwork.
James Franco, ‘Pineapple Express’
Then: James Franco was already an accomplished actor before taking on the role of jovial stoner Saul Silver in ‘Pineapple Express.’ Roles in ‘Milk,’ ‘Freaks and Geeks’ and the ‘Spider-Man’ films put Franco on the map in between his various offbeat side projects.
Now: Franco currently has two films out: ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ and ‘Spring Breakers.’ He also made a memorable appearance hosting the Oscars opposite Anne Hathaway last year.
Charlyne Yi, ‘Knocked Up’
Then: 2007 was a good year for Charlyne Yi. She landed her first film role in ‘Knocked Up’ as well as her first TV role in ‘30 Rock.’ Not a bad way to start a career. As the super stoner Jodi, Yi’s part in ‘Knocked Up’ was small but hysterical.
Now: Yi has since gone on to become an accomplished musician, documentarian, performer, writer and actress. She wrote and produced the movie ‘Paper Heart,’ and appeared in ‘House’ and Judd Apatow’s ‘This Is 40.’
Chris Tucker, ‘Friday’
Then: If we’re going to look at our favorite stoners we certainly cannot leave out Chris Tucker’s portrayal of Smokey. Appearing opposite Ice Cube in ‘Friday,’ It was Tucker’s third film credit — over 15 years ago — but still remains one of his most remembered.
Now: Following ‘Friday,’ Tucker became a worldwide superstar thanks to the ‘Rush Hour’ franchise. It would seem that he took a hiatus after the third ‘Rush Hour’ (whether or not that was voluntary is uncertain) until he popped up to good reviews in 2012’s Oscar-nominated ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’
Kal Penn, ‘Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle’
Then: Kal Penn burst into the scene with his role as Taj in ‘Van Wilder,’ but it would be his portrayal of Kumar Patel in the stoner classic ‘Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle’ that set him on the path to success.
Now: Penn went on to appear on ’24,’ which led to a recurring role on ‘House’ that he abruptly left in 2009 to work for President Barack Obama. Not many people leave Hollywood and are able to venture back, but Penn did so with roles in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ — reuniting him with Neil Patrick Harris — and ‘A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas.’
Jeff Bridges, ‘The Big Lebowski’
Then: Jeff Bridges famously played The Dude in ‘The Big Lebowski.’ As your typical unemployed, undeterred stoner, The Dude abided by his own set of rules…until he was forced into an odd situation with a group of nihilists and a millionaire.
Now: Today, Jeff Bridges continues along a path of righteous success, winning an Oscar for his role in ‘Crazy Heart’ and appearing alongside Robert Downey, Jr. in ‘Iron Man.’ He also joined forces with the Coen Brothers yet again for 2010’s ‘True Grit.’
Jim Breuer, ‘Half Baked’
Then: ‘SNL‘ alum Jim Breuer played one of the most hysterical stoners to date in ‘Half Baked.’ His character Brian was Dave Chappelle’s unreliable right-hand man. The film came out the same year as his ‘Saturday Night Live’ departure.
Now: Breuer continues to act and perform stand-up regularly. For a while he was a radio personality before starting his own podcast, ‘The Podcast Masters.’ Recently, Breuer appeared in the 2011 Kevin James film ‘Zookeeper,’ and can be heard as the voice of Tooley in ‘Motorcity.’
Tommy Chong, ‘Up In Smoke’
Then: Tommy Chong made a career out of his love for cannabis. His comedy act alongside Cheech Marin became notorious, and when they made ‘Up In Smoke’ things went from mellow to really mellow, man.
Now: Chong has gone on to appear in countless television shows as himself or as a wacky character. (You probably remember him as Leo on ‘That ’70s Show.’) He’s been to prison, sued and indicted, all documented in ‘A/k/a Tommy Chong,’ a film that followed his federal prosecution under the Bush administration for selling bongs online.