When Fannie Flagg first wrote her novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, she had no idea anyone would want to turn it into a film. When Hollywood came calling to bring the small Alabama town of Whistle Stop to the big screen, it ended up being a major box office hit and gave southern women a chance to shine. Years later, the film remains a classic story worth revisiting time and again. There was even talk of a TV series starring Reba McEntire in the works, though the project, unfortunately, fell through.
Executive producer and director Jon Avnet initially hired Carol Sobieski to write Fried Green Tomatoes. The initial draft was a musical (which, as we know, did not pan out), so Fannie Flag herself came in to make edits to the script, which is what ended up making it to the screen. Both women received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 1992 Academy Awards, though, for their work on the script.
Just like the 1987 novel, the film follows a discontented housewife who befriends an old lady in a nursing home in the small town of Whistle Stop. The old lady regales her new friend with stories of her relatives from years before, which are seen in a series of flashbacks. Whether or not you've read the original novel, it's safe to say the film was impeccably cast and is exactly how you'd picture Whistle Stop looking.
Three decades later, here's where all of the beloved cast members of the film have been.
Jessica Tandy, also known for her Oscar-winning performance in Driving Miss Daisy, received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the role of Ninny Threadgoode, the old lady who befriends Evelyn Couch. The year before the film was released, Tandy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer but continued working. Before her death in 1994, she had appeared in multiple more films — Used People, To Dance with the White Dog, A Century of Cinema, Camilla, and ??Nobody's Fool.
Kathy Bates did an impressive job playing depressed housewife Evelyn Couch, but really she's pretty much good in anything. Bates is also a celebrated actress, having won an Academy Award, two Emmys, and two Golden Globes. She has since appeared on countless TV shows, including Six Feet Under, Harry's Law, American Horror Story, and The Big Bang Theory as well as films like Titanic, The Blind Side, and The Highwaymen.
Mary Stuart Masterson
Mary Stuart Masterson did an incredible job playing Idgie Threadgoode, who is devasted at the loss of her brother Buddy until his former girlfriend Ruth steps in to bring her back to life. Masterson appeared in Benny & Joon, Bad Girls, and The Postman, as well as TV shows NCIS, Blindspot, and For Life.
Mary Louise Parker
Ruth Jamison is the straight-laced former girlfriend of Idgie's deceased brother, and the two women end up having a deep attachment to each other. Idgie even rescues her from her abusive husband, Frank, in Georgia and brings her back home, where they open up the Whistle Stop Cafe. Parker went on to star in the popular Showtime series Weeds, as well as films The Portrait of a Lady, Red Dragon, Saved!, Red, and Red Sparrow.
The sweet family cook Sipsey, who had worked for Papa and Mama Threadgoode, comes to work for Idgie and Ruth at the Whistle Stop. Tyson remained a busy actress in Hollywood well into her 90s until she passed away in 2021. She appeared on How to Get Away with Murder, House of Cards, Madam Secretary, and Cherish the Day in recent years. Fun fact, in the 80s, she was married to musician Miles Davis!
Sweet Chris O'Donnell was the perfect choice to play Buddy Threadgoode, who tragically loses his life at the beginning of the film. O'Donnell was a bit of a heartthrob in the 90s in films like The Three Musketeers, Circle of Friends, Batman Forever, and The Bachelor. Since 2009 he's been starring in NCIS: Los Angeles. O'Donnell has been married to his wife Caroline Fentress since 1997, and they have 5 children together.
Evenlyn's disappointing husband, Ed Couch, couldn't have been captured better. Gailard Sartain, who had been a regular on Hee Haw in the 70s, has continued appearing in multiple films including The Patriot, The Replacements, and Elizabethtown. He was also well-known for his appearances in several of the Ernest films.
Frank Bennett, Ruth's abusive husband, is quite scary in the film, so it took an impressive actor to be able to pull it off. Nick Searcy has since appeared in The Fugitive, Cast Away, Flicka, The Last Song, Moneyball, and The Shape of Water.
Local sheriff Grady Kilgore investigates the mysterious death of Frank in the film. Basaraba is what you could call a "career police officer" because he frequently plays them on the screen. He has appeared in Boomtown, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Brooklyn South, Blue Bloods, and Mad Men. Recently he was even in the Scorsese film, The Irishman.
Big George, son of Sipsey the cook, also joins the Whistle Stop Cafe and impresses all of their guests with his BBQ skills. Shaw is still acting, his recent credits include Jeepers Creepers 3 and A Christmas Winter Song. Did you know that his cousin was soul singer Sam Cooke?
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