Here's Something to Cheer For: See the Cast of Bring It On Then and Now

Because this is a cheerocracy, after all, the timing just feels right to check in with the cast of the 2000 teen comedy starring Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Bradford, Eliza Dushku and Gabrielle Union.

By Natalie Finn 30 Apr, 2021 7:00 AMTags
Watch: "Bring It On": Cliff's 40th Birthday - E! News Rewind

They're sexy! They're cute! They're popular to boot!

Start chanting along with the cheers that pepper the now-classic 2000 teen comedy Bring It On and you might never stop. Or at least you're going to have "that's alright, that's OK, you're gonna pump our gas someday" in your head for hours.

But what's more than alright and more than OK, is that it's Kirsten Dunst's birthday April 30 (you know you want to chant it)—and because this is a cheerocracy, we have decided that the timing is spot-on to check in with the cast of the sleeper hit about a high school cheerleading squad from a privileged enclave in San Diego, Calif., that learns the true meaning of teamwork after it turns out their former captain was stealing routines from other squads.

As Dunst, who did some cheering herself in eighth grade, pointed out to E! News almost 20 years ago, the important objective she feels they achieved with the film was to push against the stereotype of the ditzy cheerleader (Eliza Dushku's Missy certainly has her preconceived notions) and show how hard those athletes really work.

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Revisit the Bring It On Premiere Red Carpet or Perish, Sweater Monkeys

"They're gymnasts and dancers," Dunst explained, "this is like a sport and no one really realizes it." Added Gabrielle Union, "The kind of cheerleaders that we're portraying in the film, it's on such another level as far as the athleticism and the level of commitment."

Don't worry, there's no need for you to attempt to execute a wolf wall pyramid—all that tumbling around isn't suitable for social distancing at the moment anyway. Rather, sit back, relax, and enjoy the nostalgic scent of clover in the atmosphere:

Kirsten Dunst

Torrance Shipman's dream came true when she was named Big Red's successor as cheer captain—and it was up to Tor to reunite her squad in time for Nationals when the pyramid threatened to come crashing down around them. 

Dunst, meanwhile, started off as a child star in the likes of Interview With the Vampire and Little Women and has remained a prolific actress, starring in (to name a few) The Virgin Suicides, the Spider-Man trilogy, Marie AntoinetteMelancholiaMidnight Special and The Beguiled. More recently, she's been tearing it up with the dark humor on TV, earning Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Fargo and another Globe nomination in 2020 for On Becoming a God in Central Florida.

On May 3, 2018, she welcomed her first child, son Ennis, with Fargo co-star turned real-life love Jesse Plemons. In March, they announced they were expecting baby no. 2

Eliza Dushku

New girl Missy appeared to be 100 percent attitude (decorated with felt-tip barbed wire), but after learning that cheerleaders aren't all bobbleheads, she wanted to win for the Toros as much as anybody.

Before Bring It On, Dushku was best known for playing Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (before which she played Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter in True Lies). She then went on to star in her own short-lived spy drama, Dollhouse, and the supernatural crime series Tru Calling, playing a medical student who can talk to the dead, which turns out to be an ideal tool for solving murders. She's done a ton of voice work (Torchwood: Web of LiesHulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) and appeared in the CBS series Bull and The Saint, a pilot for a new show based on the 1960s TV series that ultimately went straight to VOD.

Dushku married businessman Peter Palandjian in August 2018 and they welcomed a son, Bourne, in 2019. And, earlier this year, she announced she was pregnant with baby no. 2.

In other good news, she just celebrated her graduation from college in May 2020 (online, like the rest of the Class of 2020) and plans to enter a Master's program in Holistic Counseling, Psychology, Theory & Practice.

Jesse Bradford

He believed in her! Missy's brother, Cliff, did too-cool-for-school things like read The Naked Ape during football games, but he was drawn to sunny, spirited Tor all the same.

Bradford, who also started acting as a kid, went on to star in the teen stalker thriller Swim Fan and the sci-fi action flick Clockstoppers in 2002; had a memorable turn as Josh Lyman's intern Ryan in The West Wing; and played a reluctant war hero in Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers. He's been in a dozen indie films and recent TV appearances include NCISShooter and Magnum P.I. Along the way, back in 2005, he was part of an investment group that included Chris Noth, Damon Dash and Petra Nemcova that opened the New York City nightclub NA—and Dushku celebrated a birthday there!

Bradford married wife Andrea Watrouse (his actual last name) in 2018.

Gabrielle Union

We all know that Union hasn't changed a bit since playing rival cheerleader Isis and her East Compton Clovers cheer outfit remains in the family.

The ageless actress has been in a slew of movies since, among them The BrothersDeliver Us From EvaBad Boys IIThe Perfect Holiday, Cadillac RecordsThink Like a ManTop FiveBirth of a NationGirls Trip and Breaking In. She won an NAACP Image Award for her role as a driven journalist in the BET series Being Mary Jane and now plays an LAPD detective (who is her same character from Bad Boys II) in Spectrum Originals' LA's Finest.

Union spent a season as a judge on America's Got Talent and upon her exit from the show alleged there was a "toxic culture" on set and she was subjected to racist and sexist remarks. However, an independent investigation determined that "no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union's appearance," NBC and AGT producers shared on May 27, 2020.

"At the end of all this, my goal is real change—and not just on this show but for the larger parent company. It starts from the top down," Union told Variety before the investigation results were released. "My goal is to create the happiest, most high-functioning, inclusive, protected and healthy example of a workplace."

Union married now-retired NBA star Dwyane Wade in 2014 after almost six years of dating. They welcomed daughter Kaavia James via surrogate in 2018 and she is also stepmom to Wade's three kids from previous relationships.

Clare Kramer

Courtney didn't wear anything under her cheer pants, so... there's that. 

Right after Bring It On, Kramer dove into the role of Gloria, the biggest bad Sunnydale had been threatened with to date, in the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was in the 2002 adaptation The Rules of Attraction as well as a slew of horror films and supernatural TV series, which included a guest appearance on Dushku's show Tru Calling.

She cofounded the website Geeknation because, as she said in an interview with GEEKisH at Oz Comic-Con in 2018, she's a fan like everybody else. She also hosted the podcast Take Five With Clare Kramer, which she called a highlight of the journey, and segued into hosting and moderating at fan-driven events while continuing to act, most recently in the Lifetime Movie Dating to Kill.

Kramer married producer Brian Keathley in 2005 and they have four children. A fangirl through and through, she refers to herself as a "Mother of Dragons" on her Instagram bio.

"We had the best time filming that movie," she said about Bring It On, telling GEEKisH, "When I first read the script I didn't totally understand it because a lot of it was written in this cheer lingo...but I definitely wanted to be a part of it." Eight auditions later, she got the part and reported for cheer boot camp.

Nicole Bilderback

Five years after her movie debut in Clueless, Bilderback played bitchy but ultimately harmless Whitney, who eventually proves to be a team player.

Bring It On was her biggest movie but she has steadily worked in film and TV, including a recurring role as Heather on Dawson's Creek, followed by HouseHeroesCold CaseNumb3rsCastleThe MentalistBonesNCIS: New Orleans and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. An expert in martial arts as well as a trained dancer, Bilderback has done all of her own stunts through the years.

Bilderback, who is Korean-American, told Huffington Post in 2018, "The majority of the roles that I've portrayed have been roles that were either intended for Caucasian actresses or the ethnicity wasn't specified. So for me, I got lucky in the sense of I wasn't really typecast as just an Asian actress. And I think a lot of that had to do with the timing. I was one of the first. It was like me, Lucy Liu, Lindsay Price and one or two other actresses who are still working today."

Asked what it was like continuing to audition at that point in her career, Bilderback (who read for Crazy Rich Asians but didn't get it) replied, "I've always been very fortunate. I've always worked. But it's, for me personally, getting to the next level that I thought I would have already been at by now."

"This year has been a really beautiful, big breakthrough year for me because I returned to writing," she continued. "I wrote a half-hour, single-camera sitcom pilot, kind of loosely about my life, really. I'm also producing now. I'm producing my first feature film. I had to realize, 'Oh, wait a minute, there's than one way of becoming a successful actress and reaching the success that I've always known I was meant to reach, other than just through auditioning."

Natina Reed

Isis' fiery friend and squad mate Jenelope didn't hold back, leaving diplomacy to her captain.

Reed was a songwriter and member of the trio Blaque, whose second album came out in 2001. She appeared in the show V.I.P. and the Jessica Alba movie Honey (Blaque's "I'm Good" was on the soundtrack) before she decided to focus solely on music. Blaque broke up in the mid-'00s but briefly reunited in 2010.

She had a son, Tren, in 2002 with rapper Kurupt and "she was tremendously excited to be a mother," her father, the Rev. Paul Reed, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "Tren was her priority from that point on."

Sadly, Reed died in October 2012 when she was hit by a car while walking along Lawrenceville Highway, north of Lilburn, Ga. She was 32.

"The very last time we were together, we were all in the studio," Brandi Williams, Reed's mate in Blaque along with Shamari DeVoe, told You Know I Got Soul in 2013. "We didn't know that would be the last time we were together. It just felt so natural like we hadn't been away from each other. It felt like we had been each other everyday up until that day...When we got in that studio that very last time, it felt like we had never left each other's side."

Lindsay Sloane

Big Red left the Toros high and dry when she graduated and it was soon revealed that she had been ripping off the East Compton Clovers and other cheer squads for who knows how long. Villain!

Sloane has been doing movies and TV ever since, appearing in films such as She's Out of My LeagueThe Other Guys and the two Horrible Bosses films, as well as shows ranging from The West Wing and Entourage to How I Met Your MotherWeeds and PsychKroll Show and Drunk History.

She's been married to talent agent Dar Rollins since 2004 and they have two daughters together, Maxwell and Pippa.

Ian Roberts

Oh, Sparky Polastri, the charlatan expert on the difference between jazz hands and spirit fingers.

Roberts is a founding member of legendary improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade whose talents have been put to good use in AnchormanTalladega NightsReno 911!Step BrothersWorkaholicsKey & PeeleDrunk History and wherever else antics are sold.

He has two children, Declan and Josie, with wife Katie.

Shamari Fears

East Compton Clover Lava also had Isis' back no matter what.

Fears was also a member of Blaque with Reed. She's been married to Ronnie DeVoe of Bell Biv DeVoe and New Edition fame since 2005 and they welcomed twin sons, Roman and Ronald, in 2017.

In 2018 Fears joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and appeared in season 11.

Richard Hillman

Tor's smarmy boyfriend Aaron started cheating on her seemingly the second he moved away to college, but she at least got the chance to put him in his place.

With previous credits including Detroit Rock City and Boys and Girls, after Bring It On Hillman had a bit part in Legally Blonde and guest-starred on the TV show Jack & Jill, but he appeared to leave the business behind in 2002 after a decade-long career. He died in 2009 at the age of 34; the cause was not reported.

Nathan West

In a getting-to-know-you convo with Missy, Jan declared how super-straight he was by making it known that Courtney doesn't wear anything under her cheer pants (which she did knowingly, as implied when she gives Jan a pointed look before game time one night). 

After a handful of more roles in the likes of The Skulls II and Miracle (he played major junior ice hockey in Canada), he left the acting game in 2010 and is now busy raising three kids with wife Chyler Leigh—Lexi, on Grey's Anatomy. They met at an audition for a WB series called Saving Graces. The show wasn't meant to be, but they were.

Huntley Ritter

As far as sexuality goes, Les—as he told Missy—was "controversial." Oh, 2000.

Ritter went on to appear in more films, including The Wedding PlannerWishcraft and We Are Marshall, but stopped acting around 2007 and went into producing and business, becoming an executive at the Virgin Group and then founding his own interactive ad company, USeek.

Recalling how he first got interested in being on the other side of the camera, Ritter said, "When I was doing Bring It On in San Diego, I pulled my chair up next to one of the main producers and said, 'Hey, I really want to be a producer. I'd love to shadow you if that's OK.' He jokingly replied, 'Why? You have the cushiest job in the world. You're one of the main actors in the movie.' But after some back and forth, he agreed to let me learn directly from him."

Not long after, "I moved onto the physical production and agency side of the house at Stafford, which I still have. We started doing short form advertising campaigns and we began working with Comcast sales teams to come up with creative pitches and packages while dabbling with e-com click through technologies. All of this eventually led to the idea for USeek."

Peyton Reed

When the Toros were learning the intricacies of Mime as part of their crash course in creativity before Nationals, the mime teaching them the moves was the film's director, Peyton Reed

Having previously worked in TV, including Mr. Show With Bob and David and "The Love Bug" for Wonderful World of DisneyBring It On marked his feature movie debut. He has since directed—stop us if you've heard of some of these—Down With LoveThe Break-UpYes ManAnt-Man and Ant-Man and the WaspAnt-Man 3 is in the works.

Asked in 2018 if he thought massive spectacle movies like those he was making for the Marvel Cinematic Universe were crowding out the kinds of smaller (albeit still studio) pictures he first made a name for himself with, he thought not.

"I don't think it any tougher now," he told Tech Crunch. "Honestly, in some ways it's a bit easier, because not only studios but people like Netflix are financing comedies and stuff like that. I guess what I'm saying is: It's always been tough."

Want more Bring It On? Catch the cult favorite movie airing on E! April 30 at 4 p.m. in honor of Dunst's birthday.

(This story was originally published on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 6 a.m. PT.)