If you’ve ever walked out into the freezing cold and uttered “It’s a bit nipply out," you’re probably one of the many fans of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation — the third installment of the Vacation series. A perennial favorite, this 1989 John Hughes’ film follows Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) as he tries to make a memorable holiday for his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), son Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis). Griswaldian comedy ensues: Clark uproots a 20-foot Christmas tree, emblazons his home in blackout-inducing Christmas lights, and hosts a disastrous dinner for his family that includes surprise visitor, Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid). Ever wonder what happened to these Christmas stars? Read on...
Chevy Chase as Clark
Chevy Chase was already a box office star when he took on the role of Clark Griswold for the third time. He was commanding big bucks thanks to the success of Caddyshack, the first Vacation movie and Fletch, but his career started to stall after a succession of box office bombs followed by a short-lived talk show. In 2009, however, the comedian re-entered the spotlight as Pierce Hawthorne on the hit sitcom Community. His success lasted fewer than four seasons, however, as the actor engaged in a highly publicized feud with series creator Dan Harmon. Upset over the lack of attention paid to his character, he left the show, calling sitcoms “the lowest form of television.” He later appeared in 2010's Hot Tub Time Machine. He also appeared in the film's 2015 upcoming sequel, as well as the comedy Lovesick.
Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen
Never mind the fact that Beverly D’Angelo appeared in Annie Hall and Coal Miner’s Daughter — she’s best known as Ellen Griswold, the ever-loyal Griswold matriarch. Following her movie success in the 1980s, she went on to appear in such films as Pacific Heights, American History X, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, and The House Bunny. In 1988, she met Al Pacino on the set of Sea of Love. The couple had twins together but never married. In 2013, she appeared in the grindhouse-inspired indie film, Bounty Killer and in 2015, rejoined Chase to appear in the soft reboot of the Vacation franchise, aptly titled Vacation.
Juliette Lewis as Audrey
Although a household name nowadays, Juliette Lewis was relatively unknown when she first appeared as Audrey Griswold. Her big hit came years later when she was cast by Martin Scorsese in his 1991 film, Cape Fear. Her largely improvised “thumb-sucking” scene with Robert De Niro punctuated an award-winning performance and led to roles on Woody Allen’s Husband and Wives, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (opposite Johnny Depp) and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. In 2012, she starred on the short-lived network drama, The Firm, and a year later played sister to Julia Roberts in the film Osage County. An outspoken Scientologist, she divorced skateboarder Steve Berra in 2003 and lives in Los Angeles.
Johnny Galecki as Rusty
Chase might consider television sitcoms the lowest form of comedy, but that probably doesn’t bother Johnny Galecki. From 2007 to 2019, Galecki starred in the hit comedy The Big Bang Theory, in which he plays the physicist Leonard Hofstadter. Galecki had a recurring part on Roseanne for five years and reprised his role on the revival of the show in 2018. He's also had roles in such movies as Vanilla Sky and Hancock.
Randy Quaid and Cousin Eddie
The Oscar-nominated actor followed up his role as the Hamburger Helper-loving army vet with roles in Independence Day, Kingpin and Brokeback Mountain. However, in 2010, he and his wife were arrested for causing more than $5,000 in damage at a rental house. The couple fled to Vancouver, claiming a cabal of Hollywood executives and lawyers were out to destroy them and has claimed that they had a hand in the deaths of actors David Carradine and Heath Ledger. He and his wife eventually made their way to Vermont where authorities have forced them to remain.