The Cast of 'Little Giants,' Then and Now

9:05 AM 10/14/2019

by Sara Merican

The comedy film about a pee-wee football team celebrates its 25th anniversary Oct. 14.

Warner Bros/Photofest

In Little Giants, a motley crew of young football players in Urbania, Ohio, form a team (dubbed Little Giants) to challenge the town's elite pee-wee football team (Urbania Cowboys) for a place at the state playoffs.

The elite team is coached by an arrogant ex-football star, Kevin O'Shea (Ed O'Neill), while Kevin's nerdy (and entirely un-athletic) younger brother, Danny O'Shea (Rick Moranis), takes the Little Giants under his wings. A lost bus (and a stroke of luck) result in Coach John Madden and his group of football players (NFL stars Emmitt Smith, Bruce Smith, Tim Brown and Steve Emtman) stumbling across the Little Giants, and they help to get the team ready for the showdown with the Cowboys.

Little Giants was directed by Duwayne Dunham, who also worked as director and editor on TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Twin Peaks. As the movie celebrates its 25th anniversary — it first hit theaters Oct. 14, 1994 — The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at where the Little Giants stars are now.

  • Ed O'Neill

    Kevin O'Shea

    Photofest; Todd Williamson/Getty Images
    O'Neill plays ex-football star Kevin O'Shea in Little Giants, running tryouts for the town's pee-wee football team, cutting anyone showing the slightest incompetence. Before his acting career, O'Neill had played college football on a scholarship (and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers at one point). O'Neill has since spent the last 11 years starring in Modern Family, which is in its final season. He was nominated twice for Golden Globes, three times for Primetime Emmys and, since May 2019, holds the record for starring in the most episodes of any network sitcom. His other major project was Married ... With Children, which he starred in from 1987-97. He has also played detective Michael Mooney in Big Apple, Lt. Joe Friday in a 2003-04 reboot of crime drama Dragnet and Gov. Eric Baker in the series The West Wing, and voiced the character of Hank, the octopus with a missing tentacle, in Finding Dory (2016).
  • Rick Moranis

    Danny O'Shea

    Photofest; Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

    Coming off hits like Ghostbusters and Little Shop of Horrors, Moranis was cast as Danny O'Shea in Little Giants. Unlike his "winning is everything" older brother, Danny muses to his young charges in the film, "Who said you had to be good to play football? You play football because you want to. You play football because it's fun. You play football so you could pretend you're Joe Montana throwing a touchdown pass, or Emmitt Smith going for a long run. And even if those Cowboys are better than you guys, even if they beat you 99 times out of 100, that still leaves ... one time." Moranis later starred in comedies like Big Bully (1996) and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves! (1997). Widowed in 1991 after his wife's death from breast cancer, he decided to take a break from acting to focus on raising his children. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, Moranis revealed, "I took a break, which turned into a longer break." Besides famously turning down a cameo in the 2015 Ghostbusters reboot (which his former co-stars had all returned to appear in), Moranis has mainly done voice-over work, notably for Disney's Brother Bear and Brother Bear 2, and launched three comedy albums, You, Me, the Music and Me (1989), The Agoraphobic Cowboy (2005) and My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs (2013). 

  • Shawna Waldron

    Becky O'Shea

    David Livingston/Getty Images
    Waldron captured hearts as spunky tomboy Becky "Icebox" O'Shea. Despite being one of the best players, she is cut from Kevin O'Shea's elite team (unfortunately, on the basis of gender). Undeterred, she convinces her father, Danny O'Shea, to set up a rival team, which later adopts the name Little Giants. Little Giants became Waldron's feature film debut when an earlier film, The New Kid, was never released. The following year, she played the president's daughter in The American President and also took roles in TV projects Family Rules and Ladies Man. Waldron has also starred in horror film Stitch (2013), Nightlights (2014) and Dead Man Rising (2018).
  • Devon Sawa

    Junior Floyd

    Photofest; Getty

    The Canadian actor played Junior Floyd, the cute quarterback who gets recruited to the Little Giants team. Becky O'Shea later develops a crush on him. Self-described as "ex-teen heartthrob" in his Twitter bio, Sawa recently played the role of Lester Clark Jr in Escape Plan: The Extractors, alongside Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, 50 Cent, Jin Zhang and Harry Shum Jr. Other projects include Final Destination, Primetime Emmy-nominated Nikita, Somewhere Between, an episode of Hawaii Five-0 and an Eminem music video. He has two children and often tweets funny things about them. 

  • Todd Bosley

    Jake Berman

    Courtesy of subject

    Bosley played the small-built Jake Berman in Little Giants. Last year, Bosley tweeted, "Little Giants was my first big acting gig, and the 5 months we spent making it felt like the greatest summer camp ever." After Little Giants, Bosley acted in two episodes of Seinfeld and took on the role of Howie in Scrubs. In 2001, he played the lead role in the film Lloyd. From 2016-18, he worked on Game Shakers, a sitcom about two 12-year-olds who start a multimillion-dollar gaming company. More recently, he's been focusing on voice-over work as well as appearing in commercials and various TV shows.

  • Alexa PenaVega

    Priscilla O'Shea

    Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

    Fresh off the TV comedy series Evening Shade, PenaVega made her big-screen debut in Little Giants as Kevin O'Shea's youngest daughter, Priscilla. Since then, she has been featured in TV series like Ladies Man, The Tomorrow People and Nashville, and also appeared in commercials for McDonald's, JC Penney, Coca Cola and Pillsbury Cookies. She is best known for her role as Carmen Cortez in the popular Spy Kids films, winning a Young Artist Award for best performance in a feature film (leading young actress) in 2003 for Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams. She won the American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) Award for favorite movie actress (comedy/musical) in 2011 for From Prada to Nada, a spin on Jane Austen's classic novel, Sense and Sensibility. She welcomed her second child in July 2019.

  • Sam Horrigan

    Spike Hammersmith

    Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

    Horrigan played the talented but arrogant Spike in Little Giants, who starts out on the scrappy Little Giants team but later switches allegiance to the elite Urbania Cowboys. After Little Giants, Horrigan played Quentin Kelly in ABC series Grace Under Fire, which starred Brett Butler, Casey Sander and twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse. He has also appeared in CSI, True Blood, Modern Family and School of Rock.