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Then and Now: The Stars of Freaks & Geeks 22 Years Later


When Freaks and Geeks premiered on NBC in 1999, it was met with critical acclaim. Created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow, it was the first teen comedy/drama to be centered around early 1980s nostalgia. Unfortunately, the show was constantly shifted to different time slots and was never able to find an audience. Remarkably, when the producers created a website for the show, NBC refused to publicize it as they saw the Internet as competition. Ultimately, Freaks and Geeks would be canceled after 12 episodes. It was nominated for three Emmy Awards and several publications have placed it on their list of greatest shows of the 2000s and even all time. It also launched the careers of several actors who remain successful more than two decades later. Let’s see what the main cast is up to these days.

1. Linda Cardellini (Lindsay Weir)

Although Lindsay excels academically, she’s a bit of a rebel, hanging out with the slacker crowd. One of the focuses of the show is how she tries to balance her previous reputation as a geek while seeking approval from her “freak” friends. 

Cardellini continues to have a solid career. In the early 2000s she became a regular cast member of ER for its final six seasons as Samantha Taggart, received a Primetime Emmy nomination for her recurring role as Sylvia Rosen on AMC’s Mad Men, and currently co-stars alongside Christina Applegate on the Netflix dark comedy series Dead to Me, for which she has also earned a Primetime Emmy nomination. 

2. John Francis Daley (Sam Weir)

Lindsay’s younger brother Sam was one of the main geeks, finding himself in awkward situations and getting picked on. But at the same time, he was a good kid who was loyal to his friends and older sister. 

Aside from portraying FBI criminal profiler Dr. Lance Sweets in Bones from 2007-2014, he has co-written several films with Jonathan Goldstein including Horrible Bosses, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Horrible Bosses 2, Spiderman: Homecoming and Game Night. He’s set to direct a Dungeons & Dragons movie in 2022. 

3. Samm Levine (Neal Schweiber) 

Sam’s best friend, Neal was very much a geek with a love for all things science, although he regarded himself as more mature and worldly than his peers. He had a secret crush on Lindsay.

Levine appeared in several popular teen flicks in the early 2000s including Wet Hot American Summer and Not Another Teen Movie. He could also be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. He plays bit roles on TV shows and is the guest host on the Internet talk show Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show.

4. Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck)

Bill was the most awkward geek in his clique, with his tall, gangly appearance, huge glasses and weird dialogues. 

Starr reunited with Freaks & Geeks producer Apatow in the hit comedies Knocked Up and Superbad. Other acting credits include This is the End, Spiderman: Homecoming, and the short-lived TV show Party Down. He currently plays Bertram Gilfoyle in the critically acclaimed series Silicon Valley.

5. Natasha Melnick (Cindy Sanders)

Cindy is a cheerleader and the object of Sam’s affection, although the feeling isn’t mutual. Instead, she has a crush on the high school’s basketball star. 

Melnick appeared in the Jack Black/Colin Hanks comedy Orange County, reunited with much of the cast in Apatow’s series Undeclared, and from 2005-2012 was the voice of Ruth Cochamet in Family Guy. As of 2012, she hasn’t been active in entertainment. 

6. Busy Phillips (Kim Kelly)

As Lindsay’s best friend, Kim plays an important role on the show. After the series was cancelled, Philips had no trouble finding work on TV. She has appeared in Dawson’s Creek, ER, Cougar Town, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She’s also been seen in several movies over the years such as Made of Honor, He’s Just Not That Into You, and The Gift. In addition, she gave late-night TV a try, hosting Busy Tonight on the E! Network. She currently stars on Peacock’s Girls5Eva.

7. Jason Segel (Nick Andopolis)

Nick is one of the “freaks,” and often looks out for Lindsay. The show helped start Segal’s successful career. He would subsequently star in the award-winning How I Met Your Mother. His film credits over the years include Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets, The Five-Year Engagement, I Love You Man, Bad Teacher, Knocked Up, and Can’t Hardly Wait, among others.

8. James Franco (Daniel Desario)

“Freak” Daniel was a risk-taker and troublemaker. Franco went on to appear in the Spiderman trilogy, won a Golden Globe for James Dean, portraying the late actor, was nominated for an Oscar for 127 Hours and won a second Golden Globe playing Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Recently, Franco was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, and while he denies the allegations, his career has come to a halt. 

9. Seth Rogan (Ken Miller)

Another of the “freaks,” Ken is sarcastic and prone to making wisecracks. Freaks & Geeks helped launch a career that has made Rogan a Hollywood A-lister. There are too many to name, but among his credits are Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Funny People, Shrek the Third, Monsters vs Aliens, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, 50/50, Neighbors, Long Shot, and The Disaster Artist. Of course, he also co-wrote the comedy blockbuster Superbad and Pineapple Express.