The Cast of 'The Shawshank Redemption,' Then and Now

8:15 AM 9/23/2019

by Naomi Hofferber

The film, which hit the big screen in limited release Sept. 23, 1994, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The Shawshank Redemption - H - 1994

The Frank Darabont-directed prison drama The Shawshank Redemption hit theaters 25 years ago, in a limited release, Sept. 23, 1994, before getting a wide release Oct. 14. It took the ninth spot at the domestic box office in its wide opening weekend in 1994, earning $5.2 million, according to Box Office Mojo (numbers adjusted for inflation).

Following its lukewarm release, the film received positive reviews from critics such as Roger Ebert and from The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter. The Stephen King novella adaption was additionally nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture, and was rereleased in theaters, where it eventually earned $60 million domestically (adjusted for inflation). It has since become IMDb's top-rated film.

For the movie's 25th anniversary, THR takes a look at what the cast has been up to since their time behind Shawshank bars.

  • Tim Robbins

    Early into his film career, Tim Robbins starred as The Shawshank Redemption's protagonist Andy Dufresne, a wrongfully imprisoned banker accused of murder, who does his best to survive and thrive behind bars.

    Prior to The Shawshank Redemption, Robbins got his start with television movies in 1983. In 1988, he landed his breakout role of Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham. The year following The Shawshank Redemption, Robbins received an Oscar nomination for best director for Dead Man Walking.

    He received both an Oscar and Golden Globe for his role of Dave Boyle in Mystic River in 2003, and recently has moved back to television, landing roles in shows The Brink and Here and Now. He currently stars as Reginald "Pop" Merrill in the Stephen King-J.J. Abrams collaboration Castle Rock.

  • Morgan Freeman

    Morgan Freeman had an established career in both theater and film prior to playing inmate Ellis "Red" Redding, a man who quickly befriends Dufresne in Shawshank. Freeman initially got his start in theater, from his first role in Hello, Dolly! to a role in The Mighty Gents, which earned him a Tony nomination.

    Following a successful start in theater, Freeman began television work in 1971 with a series of roles on children’s program The Electric Company before moving onto film. His role in 1987’s Street Smart brought his first Oscar nomination, followed quickly by a second nomination in 1989 for his role in Driving Miss Daisy.

    His role as Red in The Shawshank Redemption brought his third Oscar nomination. Since the film, Freeman has been working continuously, landing roles every year since, from hunting a serial killer in 1995 film Se7en, to playing the President in 1998's Deep Impact, to playing God in Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty.

    Recent roles for Freeman include Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Doc in The Poison Rose and Allan Trumbull in Angel Has Fallen.

  • Bob Gunton

    Prior to playing Shawshank's cruel Warden Norton, Bob Gunton broke into film with a role in Civil War movie Glory, alongside future Shawshank castmate Morgan Freeman. Since The Shawshank Redemption, Gunton has landed roles in a variety of films and TV series, with recurring roles as Noah Taylor in Desperate Housewives from 2004 to 2006 and as Ethan Kanin in 24 from 2007to 2010.

    In recent years, Gunton has starred as Leland Owlsley on Netflix's Daredevil series and held guest roles on TV shows The Blacklist and The Cool Kids.

  • William Sadler

    Before landing the role of Shawshank inmate Heywood, William Sadler started his career acting in theater productions throughout New York before moving to television. He appeared in various TV shows before landing the role of Stuart in 1990's Die Hard 2. The following year, he played the Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, a role he is set to revise in 2020's Bill & Ted Face the Music; he additionally played the Grim Reaper in the Tales From the Crypt TV series in 1994.

    Following Shawshank, Sadler starred on the other side of the law as Sheriff Jim Valenti in the TV series Roswell from 1999 to 2002.

    In recent years, Sadler has played President Ellis in both Iron Man 3 (2013) and the television series Agents of SHIELD.

    He currently voices a variety of characters on Showtime series Our Cartoon President and will have a role in early-2020 horror film Grudge.

  • Clancy Brown

    Prior to his role as Captain Hadley, Clancy Brown made his film debut in 1983’s Bad Boys.

    Since the film, Brown has landed roles in movies such as Starship Troopers and Flubber. He has additionally found success in voicing a variety of animated characters, more notably Mr. Krabs in the SpongeBob SquarePants franchise and Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series. He has contributed his voice for a number of cartoons, including Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Phineas and Ferb, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    Recently, Brown has held a recurring role on The Goldbergs and its spinoff, Schooled, as Mr. Crosby.

  • Gil Bellows

    Gil Bellows landed his first major film role as young inmate Tommy in The Shawshank Redemption. The same year, he also starred as a crook in Love and a .45. Bellows went on to star in Fox's Ally McBeal from 1997 to 2002, and has since landed roles in a variety of television series and films, most recently playing Lawrence Lacroix in Amazon original series Patriot. He has also found success as a producer, winning a Primetime Emmy for the 2010 made-for-television movie Temple Grandin.

    He made his directorial debut in 2013 with Three Days in Havana, which was released in Canada after premiering at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

    Currently, he is starring as Chief Turner in upcoming horror film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

  • Mark Rolston

    Prior to playing villainous inmate Boggs Diamond in The Shawshank Redemption, Rolston was cast as Private Drake in the 1986 sci-fi thriller Aliens. Since then, Rolston has had roles in a variety of live-action and animated television series, with both him and Shawshank co-star Clancy Brown providing voices for WB’s 1997 Zorro series.

    Additionally, both Rolston and Brown voiced DC supervillain Lex Luthor — Rolston in Young Justice and Brown in a variety of DC animated shows and video games.