Jaws Cast Then And Now — A Look At The Cast Of The 70s Thriller

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Jaws cast nowJaws cast now

UPDATED 1/19/2024

Do you remember the iconic Jaws cast? Steven Spielberg’s timeless masterpiece, Jaws, has scared generations into staying out of the water. Arguably the biggest star of this thriller is the mechanical shark, aka Jaws, but oddly enough the shark only has four minutes of screen time! Can you believe that? For most of the movie, all the audience sees is Jaws’ infamous fin ominously cruising just above the waterline. Although in the end, you do get a pretty good look at him as he is chomping away at the boat. Yeah, it seems that a bigger boat would have definitely come in handy.

And who could forget the score by John Williams? A remarkably simple yet deeply impactful composition consisting of basically two notes, E and F. Even people who haven’t seen the movie know what’s up when they hear the impending music. Yes, Jaws is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, still scaring audiences decades after its release. Today we are looking back at the legendary cast that made this amazing film the timeless classic that it is.

1. Roy Scheider (Chief Martin Brody)

Roy Scheider (Chief Martin Brody)Roy Scheider (Chief Martin Brody)
Universal Pictures / Wikipedia

All hail the chief. While Roy’s acting career actually began in 1951, he really soared to fame with the 1975 thriller Jaws. Given the success of the first film, he would go on to star in its sequel, Jaws 2, as well. But Jaws is not the only classic film Roy took part in. He also starred in The French Connection alongside Gene Hackman, which won a whole slew of Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Hackman, and Best Director! Scheider was nominated for Best Supporting Actor but lost to Ben Johnson’s performance in The Last Picture Show. That’s okay, it’s an honor just to be nominated, right?

ROY SCHEIDER / JOHN ZISSEL/ IPOL/ GLOBE PHOTOS INC.ROY SCHEIDER / JOHN ZISSEL/ IPOL/ GLOBE PHOTOS INC.
ROY SCHEIDER / JOHN ZISSEL/ IPOL/ GLOBE PHOTOS INC.

You may not remember because he died early on in the movie, but Scheider was also in Marathon Man starring the great Dustin Hoffman. Laurence Olivier plays one of the best movie villains of all time, Dr. Zell. If you haven’t seen this, get to it, and if you have, it might be time for a re-watch. Some of his other notable credits include his role in the 1984 film 2010 and the ‘90s series SeaQuest 2032. He also co-starred with Sean Connery in the 1990 film The Russia House.

In his later years, he did a few episodes of the 2002 TV series Third Watch, and finished his career with roles in smaller B-rated action flicks. Overall, he was nominated for two Academy Awards, the one for The French Connection, and 1979’s All That JazzSadly, Scheider passed away in 2008 at the age of 75 after a battle with cancer. We’ll always remember him as ‘Chief’ though. And, of course, his epic delivery of one of the best movie lines of all time: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

2. Robert Shaw (Quint)

Robert Shaw (Quint)Robert Shaw (Quint)
Wikipedia / Universal Pictures

We all remember Quint; the tough as nails shark hunter who ultimately gets gobbled up by the humongous shark we all know and… well… love? Our Quint is a classically trained actor that spent his younger years in the Royal Shakespeare company. This experience came in handy as he was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Henry VIII in the film A Man for All Seasons (1966) which actually ended up winning Best Picture.

Robert Shaw (Quint)Robert Shaw (Quint)
Robert Shaw / Universal Pictures/Getty Images

It’s safe to say Robert Shaw is one of the best character actors of all time. If you primarily know Shaw from Jaws it may be hard to recognize him all cleaned up in the Sean Connery/James Bond classic From Russia With Love. And who could forget his role as the conned mob boss in The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford?

Shaw is most-known for playing Quint in Jaws. An unforgettable role in an unforgettable film. Sadly, he was an alcoholic for most of his life which seemed to run in the family. He was often drunk on the set of filming Jaws as well. At one point he drank so much that he blacked out and needed to be carried back onto the set. Only a few years after the release of Jaws, Shaw, unfortunately, died at the young age of 51 from a heart attack. On the bright side, he did manage to get a lot of great roles in.

3. Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper)

Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper)Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper)
Universal Pictures / Wikipedia

The last surviving crew member of the Orca, Hooper, was played by the legendary Richard Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss was born in Brooklyn but moved to California at a young age and was acting on television as young as 15. But he really became a star in 1973 with his role as Curt Henderson in the George Lucas directed film, American Graffiti. 

But who could forget his incredible performance amongst the Jaws cast as Hooper? The chemistry between Dreyfuss and Scheider is undeniable. Just watching Dreyfuss crumble up that cup is incredible. Soon after Jaws, Steven Spielberg cast Dreyfuss in another classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But instead of hunting sharks, this time he is hunting aliens. 

Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper)Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper)
Richard Dreyfuss / s_bukley/Image Collect

Dreyfuss,76, has been incredibly active in the entertainment biz for decades. One of our personal favorites is a comedy from the ’90s What About Bob? Dreyfuss plays a successful psychiatrist who is driven insane by his patient, Bob (Bill Murray). Recently he played the infamous Bernie Madoff in a TV mini-series and co-starred alongside SNL alum Chevy Chase in a Netflix film called The Last Laugh. In 2022 he provided his voice for an episode of Bubble Guppies and in 2023 he was seen in the film Sweetwater

Unfortunately, in 2017, Dreyfuss was accused of exposing himself to writer Jessica Teich in the ’80s. He responded by denying the allegations, saying he had been overly flirtatious in his past, and that he regretted that behavior, but emphasized that he “value[s] and respect[s] women” and is “not an assaulter.” He’s still keeping as busy as ever and we can’t wait to see what he does next!

4. Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody)

Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody)Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody)
Universal Pictures / David Livingston/Getty Images

Lorraine (one our 50 Fabulous People of the 1970s) is best known amongst the Jaws cast as Ellen Brody, the doting wife to Roy Scheider’s character. While her acting career isn’t nearly as expansive as her co-stars, she did have a few notable film roles including I Never Promised You a Rose Garden in 1977 and a recurring role in the TV series Ironside from ’68 to ’73. 

Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody)Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody)
LORRAINE GARY / NINA PROMMER/GLOBE PHOTOS, INC.

Following the success of Jaws, she would go on to appear in the sequel as well as the fourth installment, Jaws: The Revenge. However, after that film’s release in 1987, she retired from acting altogether. Spending most of her time as an activist, she is on the Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Advisory Committee which she produced and directed a series of fourteen educational videotapes. Both of her sons, Bill Sheinberg and Jonathan Sheinberg, have gone on to become film producers. We bet she’s proud and we’ll always remember her as Ellen Brody. Lorraine is 86.

5. Murray Hamilton (Mayor Larry Vaughn)

Murray Hamilton (Mayor Larry Vaughn)Murray Hamilton (Mayor Larry Vaughn)
CBS / Universal Pictures

Enter, the mayor of Amity, who insisted on keeping the beaches open for the 4th of July in the wake of great white shark attacks — who you could say among the Jaws cast is the film’s villain. Aside from Jaws and its first sequel, he was also best known for his roles in Anatomy of a Murder in 1959, The Hustler in 1961, The Graduate in 1967, and the very-memorable The Amityville Horror in 1979. 

Murray Hamilton (Mayor Larry Vaughn)Murray Hamilton (Mayor Larry Vaughn)
Murray Hamilton / Universal Pictures/Getty Images

He also appeared on popular shows like The Golden Girls and The Twilight Zone during his career.  Hamilton worked up until his death in 1986 with his final film being 1986’s Whoops Apocalypse. He died at the age of 63 from lung cancer.

6. Carl Gottlieb (Meadows)

Carl Gottlieb (Meadows)Carl Gottlieb (Meadows)
Universal Pictures / Wikipedia

If you remember correctly, within the Jaws cast, Carl Gottlieb played the role of Meadows in the film, but he actually had a much bigger role behind the camera of Jaws. He is actually best known for co-writing the script for the successful movie.

That’s not the only project he’s written for, he’s also been a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Mama Cass Television Program, and The Bob Newhart Show. And of course, he also wrote the script for Jaws 2. Not to mention co-writing with Mr. Steve Martin, one of the best comedies of all time, on The Jerk

Carl Gottlieb (Meadows)Carl Gottlieb (Meadows)
Carl Gottlieb / Kazuki Hirata / HollywoodNewsWire.net

He has also been involved in the Writer’s Guild of America, serving the Board of Directors in 1983, and re-elected for numerous terms thereafter. He was also VP of the Guild twice. A true talent in the world of writing! He has not written anything since 2010, and at age 85, it’s safe to say he’s probably settling down now after creating some truly game-changing scripts.

7. Jeffrey Kramer (Deputy Hendricks)

Jeffrey Kramer (Deputy Hendricks)Jeffrey Kramer (Deputy Hendricks)
Universal Pictures / Wikipedia

Jeffrey Kramer played the role of Deputy Hendricks, and was one member of the Jaws cast who reprised the role in 1978’s Jaws 2. Similar to Gottlieb, he, too, has a very important background in the behind-the-scenes making of films. Kramer is a very successful producer in film and TV, co-producing two incredibly popular TV shows, The Practice and Ally McBeal. His role as Hendricks, however, was only his second acting credit, according to his IMDb.

Jeffrey Kramer (Deputy Hendricks)Jeffrey Kramer (Deputy Hendricks)
Jeffrey Kramer / Universal Pictures

He did appear on popular shows like M*A*S*H  and Happy Days and also in the film Halloween II. He has not actively acted in any films in a while, but at 78 years old, he does have a TV series in pre-production that he is the executive producer for. We can’t wait to see what he does beyond that!

8. Susan Backlinie (Chrissie Watkins)

Susan Backlinie (Chrissie Watkins)Susan Backlinie (Chrissie Watkins)
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Sumter County Sheriff’s Office

You may remember Susan Backlinie as Chrissie Watkins, the very first shark attack victim of the Jaws cast at the beginning of the film. She is known for being a stuntwoman, an important part of the job! Her very first acting credit was in Jaws and she went on to have small, one-off roles in various TV series and films. She retired from acting altogether in 1982. She’s a former animal trainer who owned and trained a bear whose growls were later recorded for use as the voice of Chewbacca, according to Peter Mayhew.

Susan Backlinie (Chrissie Watkins)Susan Backlinie (Chrissie Watkins)
Susan Backlinie / Universal Pictures

Reports say that cast member Richard Dreyfuss saw Susan being attacked by the shark on a daily basis while filming and he told her it “absolutely terrified” him. Contrary to what many people may believe, Susan was intentionally not warned when she was going to be pulled underwater to create genuine reactions of fear and surprise. It definitely worked not just for her, but to also invoke fear in others, which was Steven Spielberg’s main goal as director. In 2018, she was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and failing field sobriety exercises. She was 71 at the time and is now 77, staying under the radar as a computer accountant in Ventura, California.

Can you believe it has been 49 years since Jaws was released? It continues to be a go-to summer favorite to invoke total fear of beach vacations. So tell us, were there any specific scenes that you remember vividly? Let us know in the comments, we read them all!

FAQs

Who turned down Brody in Jaws?

The role of Brody was originally offered to famed actor Robert Duvall. However, he was interested only in portraying Quint.

Where was Jaws filmed at?

A majority of Jaws was filmed in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The location was boasted as the fictional “Amity Island” in the movie.

Why is Roy Scheider not in Jaws 3?

Roy Scheider was originally asked to reprise his role as Chief Brody in Jaws 3. However, Scheider said that “The only way I would reprise my role is if I were to be killed off at the beginning of the movie.”

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