Few shows in TV history have provided viewers with a more in-depth and relatable glimpse into what goes on at the White House than The West Wing. That being said, no group of people could have portrayed the many interesting and, most importantly, relatable, members of the President of the United States’ cabinet better than Alison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Martin Sheen, and the rest of the stellar cast of this series, which HBO Max is slated to have available for streaming in 2020.
Creator Aaron Sorkin brought to this series, which ran from 1999 to 2006 on NBC, a sense of humanity, charisma, and good-natured humor unlike any political drama to come before or after The West Wing. Of course, much of the its ratings gold and multi-award-winning glory should be credited to the actors, who would win the show a collective amount of nine Emmys out of its grand total of 26 - an all-time record for a drama that it once held in unison with Hill Street Blues.
To learn who among the cast took home awards for their patriotic performances, keep reading. The following are 12 of the most notable regular cast members from The West Wing with an update on what they have been up to since and what is in store for them next.
Martin Sheen (President Josiah Bartlet)
Years after playing the Chief of Staff in the Aaron Sorkin-penned The American President, Martin Sheen was cast in the Golden Globe role of President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet on The West Wing. Following the series' end, Sheen would go onto collaborate with sons Emilio Estevez (who has directed his father in several films) and Charlie Sheen (as a guest star on his sitcom Anger Management) and made a steady return to TV in 2015 as Jane Fonda's previously closeted ex-husband in Netflix's Grace & Frankie. The 79-year-old actor will star as J. Edgar Hoover in an upcoming Fred Hampton biopic and a doctor in Depression-era sports film 12 Mighty Orphans, now in post-production.
Allison Janney (C.J. Gregg)
Another West Wing alum who made a successful TV comeback on a comedy is Allison Janney, who received her first four Emmys as White House Press Secretary C.J. Gregg and two of her last three wins from playing Bonnie on the CBS sitcom Mom. The Academy Award-winner (for I, Tonya), who more recently received praise for non-fiction dramas Bad Education and Bombshell, will be bringing her incomparable talents to director Tate Taylor's Breaking News in Yuba County, another fact-based drama called To Leslie, action comedy The Heart, and Lou, in which Janney will play the title character.
Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman)
He may be four Emmys short of Alison Janney's personal record (one of which he received for playing Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman), but Bradley Whitford is just as busy. Despite rarely having the same luck as a series regular for many of his post-West Wing TV projects (most recently Perfect Harmony, which was cancelled after 13 episodes), the actor's popularity in film has seen a pretty notable spike lately, especially since his scene-stealing turns in Jordan Peele's Get Out and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Whitford has been slated to play Stephen Sondheim in Tick, Tick... Boom Lin-Manuel Miranda's directorial debut based on Rent writer Jonathan Larson's autobiographical stage musical.
Janel Moloney (Donna Moss)
To this day, Janel Moloney is best known for her two-time Emmy-nominated role as Josh Lyman's senior assistant Donna Moss on The West Wing. Of course, her work on the big and small screen should not go unnoticed, such as playing a catatonic housewife on Damon Lindelof's The Leftovers, starring opposite Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren in the 2017 comedy The Leisure Seeker, and playing a burdened single mom in Season 3 of American Crime. Next, Moloney will star opposite Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in the HBO limited drama series The Undoing.
Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler)
One of the more recognizable character actors of his time, even if you can only identify him as White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler, is Richard Schiff. The Emmy-winner's biggest cinematic role is most likely Eddie Carr in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, not counting Dr. Emil Hamilton in Man of Steel and John Doe's attorney Mark Swarr in Se7en. In addition to continuing his regular role on ABC's The Good Doctor, Schiff will reunite with fellow West Wing alum Dulé Hill in Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, the upcoming sequel to the hit series' feature-length spin-off, and American Morning, a tragic short in which he plays a guilt-stricken music teacher's father, is in post-production.
Stockard Channing (Abbey Bartlet)
Nothing short of an icon thanks to her star-making role as troubled high schooler Rizzo in Grease and her Academy Award-nominated performance in 1993's Six Degrees of Separation, Stockard Channing won two Emmys in 2002, one of which was for playing First Lady Abbey Bartlet on The West Wing. Her more recent notable recurring roles on TV were as Alicia Florrick's mother Veronica Loy on The Good Wife and on the TBS anthology comedy series The Guest Book. She will keep the humor flowing opposite Frank Langella in the upcoming economic satire Lapham Rising, also starring Bobby Cannavale and Ashley Benson.
Dulé Hill (Charlie Young)
Shortly after his role on The West Wing as Charlie Young, who wore multiple hats in the White House, including boyfriend of First Daughter Zoey Bartlet (Elisabeth Moss), Dulé Hill found what is, arguably, his biggest TV gig to date on Psych. He will reprise the character of Burton "Gus" Guster, best friend and reluctant partner of faux police psychic Shawn Spencer (James Roday) in the aforementioned TV movie sequel Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, which will premiere exclusively on the streaming service Peacock July 15, 2020.
Joshua Malina (Will Bailey)
The West Wing, on which Joshua Malina played Will Bailey (another man of multiple titles in the Bartlet Administration), is one of many collaborations between the actor and Aaron Sorkin. Yet, the political role that he is better known for today is David Rosen, the United States Attorney General under President Fitzgerald Grant on Shonda Rhimes' Scandal. More recently, Malina guest-starred on the CBS procedural drama FBI: Most Wanted and was make an appearance on his old friend Bradley Whitford's comedy Perfect Harmony before NBC gave it the boot.
Alan Alda (Arnold Vinick)
As President Bartlet's term was nearing its end, the nominated candidate for the Republican party was California Senator Arnold Vinick, a role on The West Wing that won prolific screen star Alan Alda (best known for playing Hawkeye on MASH) his fifth Emmy. The 84-year-old, Academy Award-nominated actor (for Martin Scorsese's 2005 Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator) made his most recent and widely acclaimed return to cinema as Adam Driver's divorce attorney in the Netflix original Best Picture Oscar-nominee Marriage Story and also has a recurring role on the hit Showtime crime drama Ray Donovan. When he is not acting, Alda lends his unmistakable voice to his own podcast called Clear+Vivid.
Jimmy Smits (Matt Santos)
The winner of the election to succeed Josiah Bartlet as President of the United States on The West Wing, however, was Texas Congressman Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits. Also a TV legend himself with an Emmy for L.A. Law and a Golden Globe for NYPD Blue, the actor continues to earn recurring roles in major small screen hits like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the Shondaland production How to Get Away with Murder. Smits will be seen next in the delayed film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winner In the Heights, his biggest appearance in a film since his reprisal of Bail Organa in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn)
For the first four seasons of The West Wing, Rob Lowe played Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn and would later play a political employee of far lower status, Chris Traeger, as a series regular for four seasons of the beloved NBC mockumentary Parks and Recreation. Since then, the '80s icon seems to have been trying his at hand everything from medical dramas, crime procedurals, hosting a game show and non-scripted supernatural investigation series, and, surprisingly, even more than that. Lowe's most recent endeavor is hosting his own podcast called Literally, whose title is a nod to his overly enthusiastic Parks and Rec role that seems to have rubbed off on him quite a bit.
John Spencer (Leo McGarry)
Last, but certainly not least, on our list is John Spencer, another prolific screen legend of vast acclaim who won an Emmy in 2002 for his role as Jed Bartlet's Chief of Staff and best friend Leo McGarry on The West Wing. Unfortunately, the series would be his last acting credit as the actor passed away, due to a heart attack, in 2005, just four days shy of his 59th birthday. Spencer and his character were both immortalized in the Season 7 episode, "Requiem," which sees much of the entire cast reunite for McGarry's funeral.
Be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the cast of the long-running political drama, as well as even more check-ins with actors from your favorite movies and TV shows, here on CinemaBlend.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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