How the Grinch Stole Christmas cast – where they are now from rock star to tragic early death

He is green, furry and almost as famous as Santa Claus, and it’s all thanks to a movie that has grown into a Christmas classic.

When it comes to festive films, few are better than How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Featuring a star turn from Jim Carrey as the grumpy green monster, it has been a perennial family favourite since it was released in 2000.

Based on the Dr Seuss book from 1957 and directed by Ron Howard, it became one of the most successful Christmas movies of all time, behind only Home Alone at the time. With a stellar cast and fabulous fantasy costumes – the film won the Academy Award for best make-up – it is still as good as ever nearly a quarter of a century on.


In the intervening years, “Grinch” has become a byword for anyone who acts in a miserable or nasty way at Christmas. As for the film’s stars, many have gone on to further success, but others have suffered setbacks and tragedy.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey as The Grinch and in recent years.
Jim Carrey as The Grinch and in recent years.

Jim Carrey famously played the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, captivating viewers with his energetic and wacky performance. The rubber-faced comedian was already 10 years into his stellar career – and had won huge success through roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber – by the time he took on the iconic role.

By then, he had also won acclaim for a string of dramatic performances in films such as The Truman Show, and Man on the Moon. Arguably, his career has never again scaled such heights, though in recent years he has won praise for his role as Dr Robotnik in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, including Sonic the Hedgehog 2, released in 2022.

Carrey has previously spoken of his struggles with depression. “Depression is your body saying, ‘I don’t want to be this character anymore. I don’t want to hold up this avatar that you’ve created in the world. It’s too much for me,” he once said.

In 2018, a wrongful death suit brought against Carrey was dismissed. It followed the death of his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White from an overdose in 2015. White’s estranged husband and her mother had claimed Carrey obtained prescription drugs for White. Carrey described the law suit as a “heartless attempt to exploit” both him and White.

Now 61, Carrey announced that he was considering retiring from the film and TV industry. He said he would consider a comeback if the script was “really important for people to see”. He also made headlines when he criticised the audience at the Oscars for giving Will Smith a standing ovation following his attack on Chris Rock.

Taylor Momsen

Taylor Momsen, then seven, rose to fame through her portrayal of Cindy Lou Who, the young girl who befriends the Grinch and helps him rediscover the joy of Christmas. Now 30, Taylor is almost unrecognisable! Since appearing in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Taylor Momsen went on to star as Jenny Humphrey in the hit TV show Gossip Girl. After five years on the show, Momsen decided to turn her back on acting and pursue other interests.

Since 2009, Momsen has been the frontwoman for American rock band The Pretty Reckless, with the band having recently released their fourth studio album. A tour date in Whoville has yet to be confirmed. In an interview with the Today show, Momsen said she had a lot of fun when making the film, which helped lead her on the path to being a professional musician. “I grew up, but I think deep down I’ve still got a lot of Cindy Lou Who in me,” she said.

Christine Baranski

Christine Baranski in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and at an event in 2020.

Christine Baranski played Martha May Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a former classmate and love interest of the furry, green monster. Baranski, now 71, has enjoyed a glittering career since her time in Whoville. She has appeared in a number of feature films, including Mamma Mia! (2008) and it’s sequel in 2018. Perhaps Baranski’s greatest body of work comes in the form of The Good Wife, and its spin-off The Good Fight, two critically acclaimed US legal dramas.

Today, many people may recognise Christine Baranski for her recurring role in her recurring role in The Big Bang Theory as Leonard’s mother, Dr. Beverly Hofstadter. Her most recent role is in the animated sitcom Praise Petey. Her husband, the actor Matthew Cowles, died of heart failure in 2014, aged 69.

Jeffrey Tambor

Jeffrey Tambor in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and more recent years.

Jeffrey Tambor starred as Mayor Augustus, the Grinch’s childhood bully who went on to become the mayor of Whoville. A cruel and vindictive character, he learns his lesson by the end of the film when Martha May rejects him in favour of the Grinch.

Before the film, he was best-known for playing the needy sidekick Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show, the US satire based on late-night talk shows. Now 79, Tambor has featured in a range roles since the Grinch. Perhaps the most notable of these is his role as Oscar Bluth on Arrested Development.

Tambor was praised for his portrayal of a transgender woman in the series Transparent (2014-2017). He has also featured in Hellboy (2004), The Death of Stalin (2017), and all three films in The Hangover trilogy.

In 2017, Tambor denied accusations of sexual misconduct by former colleagues, but admitted having anger issues. He said: “I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

Bill Irwin

Bill Irwin played Lou Lou Who, father of Cindy Lou. Now 73, the actor has found most of his success on the stage since his time on How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Irwin has recently starred in the Broadway productions of The Iceman Cometh, Bye Bye Birdie, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which he received a Tony Award. From 2017 to 2019, Irwin played Cary Loudermilk in the FX superhero drama Legion. In 2023, he appeared in the civil rights biopic Rustin. With the help of AI, he also reproduced the voice of the artist Andy Warhol, for the TV series The Andy Warhol Diaries.

Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon played Betty Lou Who, mother of Cindy Lou and loving wife of Lou Lou. Now 59, Shannon has enjoyed a successful acting career with film roles in Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015). In television, Shannon is known for her roles in Enlightened (2013), Divorce (2016–2019), The White Lotus (2021) and I Love That for You (2022). In 2023, she appeared in the Morgan Freeman drama A Good Person.

Josh Ryan Evans

Josh Ryan Evans in the Grinch. He sadly died at the age of 20.

Josh Ryan Evans played a young Grinch during his schooldays. He was 18 when the film was released and stood 3ft 2in tall due to achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. Sadly, Josh Ryan Evans passed away in 2002 at just 20 during an operation for a congenital heart condition. Evans was praised for his role as Timmy Lenox in the soap opera Passions, with an episode being dedicated to him after he died.

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