Can you believe it's been 20 years since Jack Black helped a classroom of kids find their inner rockstars? Catch up with the cast, then and now
Twenty years ago today, on Sept. 24, 2003, a little movie called School of Rock premiered, encouraging all of us to rock a little harder, whether we're in the classroom or not.
Starring Jack Black, Joan Cusack and Sarah Silverman and written by Mike White (now of White Lotus fame), the movie also introduced a host of new child stars, some of whom have gone on to successful Hollywood careers. The film itself was later spun off into a television series and Broadway musical.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Black called the film "a love letter to all the rockers who haven't hit the big time, but have that dream in their hearts, because there's so many out there and it's a testament to the dreamers."
Here, on the film's milestone anniversary, catch up with the cast, then and now.
Jack Black as Dewey Finn
You probably knew him then and you still know him now. Black had endless roles under his belt — from The Neverending Story III to Shallow Hal — when he slipped into the (stolen) substitute teacher uniform of dejected rock star Dewey Finn.
"I was really taking inspiration from my stepfather, because he was a substitute teacher," Black once told PEOPLE. "He did bring some rap music and different elements to his teaching style. And I just always thought he was so funny and interesting and quirky."
In the 20 years since School of Rock, Black, 54, has continued his string of comedy hits, most recently voicing Bowser in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Off screen, he rocks out with Kyle Gass as part of the band Tenacious D. He wed Tanya Haden in 2006; together they have two sons.
In an April 2023 interview, he shared that the School of Rock cast was planning to reunite this year in celebration of the 20th anniversary. In various interviews through the years, too, the film's former child stars have spoken fondly of their former "teacher," and how he's stayed in their lives in the two decades since filming.
Joan Cusack as Rosalie Mullins
Like Black, Cusack was quite well known (and had two Oscar nominations to her name) when she landed the role of uptight principal Rosalie Mullins in School of Rock (according to casting director Ilene Starger, she didn't even have to audition). Her earlier credits included Saturday Night Live, Toy Story, Working Girl and her series What About Joan.
And like Black, she's stayed busy since, appearing in everything from The Office to Homecoming and picking up five Emmy nominations and one win for her guest role on Shameless. Sister of actor John, the 60-year-old is married to Richard Burke, with whom she has two children.
Mike White as Ned Schneebly
White both wrote in and co-starred in the film, flexing the skills he'd developed on Dawson's Creek (for which he wrote) and Chuck & Buck (in which he acted). His character, Ned Schneebly, was supposed to be substituting ... until Dewey impersonated him and stepped in.
As he recalled to Paramount on the film's 15th anniversary, "Jack was my next-door neighbor ... and he would occasionally give me scripts that had been submitted to him to star in. They were invariably these flat comedies or he was like the John Belushi guy who gets drunk and falls through a sliding glass door or something."
He continued, "I'm reading these scripts and I was like, ‘I could do better than this.’ Obviously, music is a big passion of his; he has his band Tenacious D. I had the idea of him leading a band of little kids — somehow it just seemed like a funny visual. Then I got the idea that it would be fun to have him be more of a W.C. Fields a little bit, like a guy who isn't really somebody you'd want around kids, but that's part of the fun of it."
In the years since, 53-year-old White picked up roles in The Stepford Wives and Pushing Daisies, taking a detour on season 14 of The Amazing Race before returning to writing on Pitch Perfect 3, School of Rock the TV series and now most famously, The White Lotus, for which he's won three Emmy Awards to date.
Sarah Silverman as Patty Di Marco
According to Starger, Tina Fey auditioned for the role that would go to Silverman, who was "hilarious" when she read for Ned's beleaguered girlfriend, Patty Di Marco.
"It was fun to play a character like that," Silverman later told E!. "I wanted to be a part of the movie more than anything, and this combination of Jack Black and Mike White, [director] Richard Linklater and Joan Cusack, I would've taken an eraser on chalkboard."
Like her costars, Silverman, 52 and a two-time Emmy winner, basically hasn't stopped moving, starring in everything from her own Sarah Silverman Program and mega-hit movie Wreck-It Ralph to her 2022 Off-Broadway play, The Bedwetter.
Miranda Cosgrove as Summer 'Tinkerbell' Hathaway
School of Rock was Cosgrove's big break; as class perfectionist Summer, she ultimately became the band manager.
In a June 2023 interview, Cosgrove, now 30, credited Black with the good vibes on set.
"He's always been unbelievably nice," she shared, "and I can honestly say one of the main reasons I love acting, and why I probably tried to keep doing it for so long, is because of what a great experience he made doing School of Rock."
After working steadily on kid-favorite TV shows and movies — including Drake & Josh — she landed her own starring role on iCarly beginning in 2007. (Black even guested on an episode!)
Cosgrove took a break from acting to attend the University of Southern California, joining the cast of Crowded in 2016 before starring in an iCarly revival beginning in 2021.
Angelo Massagli as Frankie 'Tough Guy'
Massagli had seven episodes of Cosby and the film Stuart Little 2 to his name when he joined the cast as Frankie, who worked security.
In 2021 his name was in the news again, but not for acting — it's because fans discovered he was dating one of his School of Rock costars, Caitlin Hale.
Massagli told Inside Edition that several years prior he learned Hale was moving to Florida, where he was living at the time, in "a group chat where all the School of Rock kids, we just hit each other up whenever someone moves somewhere new or is doing something different."
"The rest is history," Hale said, adding of their relationship, "This is locked down. Yes. This is it."
Massagli largely left acting after the film, save for a recurring role on The Sopranos. According to his Instagram bio, he graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 2019.
Caitlin Hale as Marta 'Blondie'
Save for two episodes of Blue's Clues, School of Rock — in which she sang lead vocals — was Hale's only acting credit, and she hasn't stepped in front of the cameras since.
However, the film brought her back to Massagli, who recalled meeting her for the first time in his 2021 chat with Inside Edition.
"I get in there and the little blonde girl next to me, she gets called in first and she starts singing show tunes and just blows the roof off the place. It was excellent," he shared.
According to her Instagram bio, Hale works as an OB-GYN ultrasound technologist.
Maryam Hassan as Tomika 'Songbird'
As her nickname implied, Hassan sang lead vocals in the film, and like many of her young costars, hadn't worked in Hollywood before School of Rock.
She left movie-making soon after for music, and now performs as Mayhrenate,
In a 2021 interview with Vulture, she shared many fond memories from filming, spilled on the lively group chat and frequent mini cast reunions, and said how blown away she is by the continued love for the movie.
"When it first came out, I was just happy to be involved and have the opportunity to sing in front of others. Thinking about the scope of it was never on my mind," she said. "It wasn’t until ten years after, at the reunion, when I realized the extent of how big of a deal it was. There were adults, young adults, and kids who showed up and knew all of the words to our songs. I didn’t know that it transcended to a different generation."
Robert Tsai as Lawrence 'Mr. Cool'
Pianist Tsai had a similar story to his young costars, too: little experience before School of Rock, and little after. (Per Hassan's Vulture interview, the casting directors looked for kids with musical experience, not necessarily robust acting résumés.)
Aleisha Allen as Alicia 'Brace Face'
Allen played Alicia, another of the band's star vocalists. Already busy with work on Blue's Clues and other kids' programs prior to School of Rock, she stuck with acting, joining the casts of Are We There Yet? and Are We Done Yet? in 2005 and 2007.
According to her Instagram account — where she's shared School of Rock memories — she's now a speech pathologist.
Rivkah Reyes as Katie 'Posh Spice'
School of Rock was Reyes' first role, and while they have happy memories from portraying bassist Katie, the years following weren't easy.
Reyes "felt unsafe existing," they told the New York Post, because many grown men sexualized them, making remarks like they couldn't "wait 'til she's 18."
Reyes also said they suffered because they thought they'd never be considered as anything but "the girl from School of Rock" and felt pressure to land a bigger role. They recalled hoping, "they'll stop calling you Katie."
They described themself to the New York Post as "a raging addict" from age 14 to 24. They eventually dealt with "a lot demons" and became sober in 2017.
Brian Falduto as Billy 'Fancy Pants'
Falduto, who played band stylist Billy, remembered his audition in the 2018 interview with Paramount.
"I went in and did a boys' soprano rendition of 'Send in the Clowns' from A Little Night Music," he shared. "And I'm pretty sure the casting director was like, we cannot pass up this 10-year-old child who is boy soprano-ing 'Send in the Clowns' right now."
Though he didn't act much after School of Rock, according to EW, he attended Wagner College and graduated with degrees in theater performance and arts administration. The 30-year-old recently broke into country music, too, with his album Gay Country.
Joey Gaydos Jr. as Zack 'Zack-Attack'
Gaydos Jr.'s string skills helped him step into the role of lead guitarist Joey, his lone acting role, per IMDb.
In 2019, the former actor was arrested in Florida for stealing guitars from different stores across several different days, Variety reported. He faced charges of grand theft and shoplifting.
Kevin Clark as Freddy 'Spazzy McGee' Jones
School of Rock was the first and only film for Clark, who portrayed drummer Freddy Jones. He went on to find his footing in music, performing with bands including Jessie Bess and the Intentions.
In 2021, Clark died tragically after he was hit by a car while riding his bike in Chicago. He was 32.
Several School of Rock castmates memorialized him on social media, with Black writing, "Beautiful soul. So many great memories."
Cosgrove echoed the sentiment, calling him an "amazing soul."
"I'll always remember your spirit and how kind you were to me," she wrote. "I'll never forget all the memories."
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