The Mighty Ducks – then and now

Although it’s been more than twenty five years since the first movie in the trilogy came out, the memorable Mighty Ducks movies will always have a warm place in our hearts. If you were born in the 80s (and even afterward), Charlie, Fulton, Goldberg, and the others were definitely a part of your childhood.

The story centers around an arrogant but talented lawyer Gordon Bombay (portrayed by Emilio Estevez), who is sentenced to community service after driving under the influence. As a part of his service, he is assigned to coach a failing children’s hockey team. Bombay, who was himself a hockey prodigy before being disillusioned by the game, sees the team’s potential and decides to take them under his wing. At the beginning, the failing team and their new coach do not get along.

Over time, Bombay manages to slowly gain their trust and eventually, after many turmoils and challenges, the Mighty Ducks became a championship winning team. With the exception of Estevez, who was already a well known actor in 80s classics such as St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club, the cast consisted of mainly unknown child actors. The movie was a surprise hit for Disney and it spawned two sequels detailing the Ducks’ journey in the league.

Following its major success, a National Hockey League team chose to name itself the Anaheim Ducks after the series. Some of the trilogy’s stars went on to become film and television regulars such as Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek, Fringe) and Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer, Queen of the Damned). Although it’s today considered to be a modern classic of the 90s sports genre, the Disney franchise also stands alone as a childrens’ tale of friendship and aspiration. Here’s a chance to revisit some of our favorite characters from the movies and see what they up to now.

Joshua Jackson (Charlie Conway)

Although Jake Gyllenhaal was the first choice for the role, the young Canadian-born actor Joshua Jackson eventually portrayed the gifted Hockey player Charlie Conway. Jackson kept on to perform in the next two installments of the series, before sustaining fame in successful TV shows such as Dawson’s Creek, Fringe, and The Affair. The Canadian prodigy also starred in many Hollywood features including I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions.


Marguerite Moreau (Connie)

This talented actress had a recurring part throughout the Mighty Ducks series while also appearing on notable 90s television shows such as Blossom and Boy Meets World. Later, Moreau took a break from acting and earned a B.A. from Vassar College in Political Science. After graduating, she appeared in the cult comedy film (and later the show) Wet Hot American Summer. Since then she has had several recurring roles and guest roles, including an appearance on the successful television drama Grey’s Anatomy.


(Josef Sommer) Gerald Ducksworth

Before his role as the Mighty Ducks’ big boss Gerald Ducksworth, the German actor was already a pretty known actor in Hollywood and appeared in classic movies including Dirty Harry and Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Coming from classical training, Sommer is still an active actor in the business. He appeared in several TV series such as Law and Order and recently played the president in the 2006 X-Men movie The Last Stand.


(Elden Henson) Fulton Reed

Born as Elden Ratliff, Henson played the role of Fulton Reed in the Mighty Ducks film trilogy, alongside his brother Garette Ratliff. Although he was initially embarrassed by his role, Henson recently said that he owes his acting career to those movies. Henson attended Emerson College before landing the part of Pollux in the third and fourth installments of the Hunger Games movies. Recently, he is starring as Foggy Nelson in the Netflix television show Daredevil.


Aaron Lohr (Dean Portman)

Lohr played the role of Dean Portman in the second and third installment of the trilogy and was known along with his fellow character Fulton Reed as one of the “Bash Brothers.” Lohr is a graduate from the UCLA school of theater, and after the films he went on to perform in many off-broadway plays. He played in various television programs including the highly-successful show The Mentalist while having notable performances in movies such as Rent and Zoe Gone.


Kenan Thompson (Russ Tyler)

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Kenan Thompson’s acting began in his teens when he joined the famous Nickelodeon comedy series All That, and later Kenan and Kel. He was then cast as the defenseman Russ Tyler in the Mighty Ducks and was featured in the two sequels of the series. During his successful career, Thompson became a regular cast member of the cult comedy show “Saturday Night Live.” He is also known as a gifted voice actor, providing his voice to many animated shows on our screen.


Emilio Estevez (Gordon Bombay)

Emilio Estevez played the lead role of the Gordon Bombay, the coach of the Mighty Ducks hockey team. During that time, he was a prominent actor in Hollywood. Active since the 1980s, Estevez appeared in many well-known features including St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club. He originally came from a family of famous actors, alongside his father Martin Sheen and his brother Charlie. Today, Estevez still maintains a steady career in Hollywood both as an actor and as a director.


Kathryn Erbe (Michele MacKay)

Before appearing in Mighty Ducks as Michelle, the team’s tutor, Erbe was already a distinguished actor. She appeared in many New York theater groups in New York including a show called A Streetcar Named Desire, where she won a Tony award. She would later rise to higher levels of fame when she played death row inmate Shirley Bellinger in the HBO award-winning Oz. Erbe continued her golden streak when she won the lead role of Alexandra Eames in the Law & Order spin-off Criminal Intent.


Matt Doherty (Les Averman)

Originally from Harvey, Illinois, Matthew Doherty started his acting career at a very young age. Before appearing in the Mighty Ducks series as Lester “Les” Averman, Doherty had already appeared in numerous films, including the blockbuster hit Home Alone. According to the actor, he originally auditioned for the role of Fulton Reed, but eventually was chosen for Lester’s role.Doherty later graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in theater and secured a role in the show “Boston Public” shortly afterward.


Brandon Quintin Adams (Jesse Hall)

Brandon Quintin Adams first became known when he played both young Michael and the role of Zeke in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker in 1988. That year, Adams won a young artist award for that role. He then went to appear in other successful shows such as Quantum Leap and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, before portraying the role of prankster Jesse Hall in the second installment of Mighty Ducks. Adams still remains in the movie industry and is currently pursuing other roles.


Carsten Norgaard (Coach Wolf Stansson)

Originally from Denmark, Norgaard played the character of coach Wolf “The Dentist” Stinton in D2: The Mighty Ducks. Known for his enigmatic, fearsome look, Norgaard then continued to play similar roles in various feature films and television shows including a Frankenstein adaptation for television. These days, he is most famous for his role as Rudolf Wegener in Amazon’s well-received series “The Man in the High Castle”, based on the popular book by Philip K. Dick.


Danny Tamberelli (Tommy)

Danny appeared as Tommy Duncan in the Mighty Ducks, and he would later star with his fellow cast member Aaron Schwarz in the beloved Nickelodeon show Pete and Pete. Tamberelli later chose to pursue academics and attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Many of us know him today as a panelist on the show “Figure It Out”. In addition to all of his many occupations, Danny Tamberelli is also a member of a sketch comedy group.


Jussie Smollett (Terry Hall)

After Smollett portrayed Terry Hall in the franchise, he went to star in a television show called On Our Own in the mid-1990s. Afterward, he chose to step away from the limelight for a few years to pursue other interests. Today, Jussie Smollett is well known for his role as Jamal on the revered series Empire. The role was a major comeback for him into the spotlight, which in addition earned him a music record deal.


J.D Daniels (Peter)

Attitude was the middle name of Ducks player Peter Mark, who was portrayed by the talented J.D Daniels. During a pivotal scene in the movie, he convinced the team to walk out on Coach Bombay before a match, after hearing him insulting their team during a conversation. Daniels switched to voice work after the film, which included him provided the voice for Arnold in Hey Arnold’s first episode. Nowadays, Daniels is on an indefinite hiatus from show business.


Lane Smith (Coach Reilly)

Lane Smith was the perfect casting for the over achieving Hawks coach Jack Reilly, and he would use that success for roles in other future films. One of these films was the Superman franchise, as he was chosen to play Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s editor in the TV-series Lois and Clark. In addition to that, he had many roles in movies such as From Earth to Moon, My Cousin Vinny, and many others. After appearing in many other successful movies, Lane Smith passed away in 2005.


Vincent Larusso (Adam Banks)

Vincent Larusso played Adam Banks, who was the Ducks’ rival team hockey star before he was forced to join them during the season. Initially, Banks was considered an outcast by his teammates due to his privileged status and was often called “cake eater,” but later earned their respect and was a major contributor to the team. After the trilogy, Larusso took a long hiatus from acting, graduated from Boston University, and since then made a few appearances on television.


Garret Henson (Guy Germaine)

Henson appeared in the movie as Guy Germaine, a talented player on the Ducks hockey team who later dated Connie (Marguerite Moreau). Unknown to many, Garret Henson actually acted alongside his brother Elden, who played Fulton Reed in the movies. Henson continued to act in many other shows including NCIS and Melrose Place. However, these days Henson has decided to focus on filmmaking, and a short drama he directed was premiered in a Brooklyn film festival.


Jane Plank (Tammy)

One of the two female players on the team, Tammy Duncan had been a figure skating prodigy before being recruited by the Mighty Ducks due to her amazing skills. Having no hockey experience, Tammy would use her figure skating skills as a diversion against the other teams. Jane Plank played the role of Tammy, and although she has since retired from acting, she is in the music business and writes and performs her own songs. She usually plays around Minnesota.


M.C Gainey (Lewis)

Michael Connor Gainey is one of those actors whose face you’ll never forget, with his long beard and giant-like physique. While he played Lewis the Limousine driver in the movie, Gainey is generally cast for villainous roles for other films and television shows. Among them are his roles as Swamp Thing in 1997’s Con Air, Tom Friendly on NBC’s Lost, and as Big John Brittle in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.


Joss Ackland (Hans)

Ackland was already a highly respected English actor at the time he played Hans. He previously starred in several movies like The Hunt For Red October and Lethal Weapon 2 before appearing as Hans, the ice hockey store owner and Gordon Bombay’s mentor and friend. Over time, he eventually became one of the most active actors in Hollywood, appearing in more than 130 performances in film and TV during his career. The 84-year-old Ackland is still active today.


Mike Vitar (Luis Mendoza)

Appearing in the second and the third movies in the Mighty Ducks’ trilogy, Mike Vitar portrayed the Miami-born forward player Luis Mendosa. After the film was released in 1998, he tried to pursue other roles in film and television but eventually decided to retire from acting completely. Vitar later chose to be a service to his community and after exhausting training, he became a firefighter. Mike Vitar now lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, Kim and their three children.


Aaron Schwartz (Dave Karp)

A New-York native, Schwarz’s role of the Ducks’ defense player Dave Karp was actually his first movie appearance ever. He then went on to appear in the cult comedy film Heavyweights, and the television series Pete and Pete, before temporarily retiring from the movie industry. After coming back from his 15-year hiatus, Schwarz acted in numerous short films before landing the role of Vania in the drama series Gossip Girl. Recently, Schwarz appeared in the second installment of Guardians of the Galaxy.


Colombe Jacobsen (Julie Gaffney)

No one can forget Julie, the blonde and beautiful goal-keeper who was the crush of many young viewers in the 90s. Played by actress Colombe Jacobsen, Julie joined the iconic movie for its two sequels: D2: The Mighty Ducks which came out in 1994, and D3: The Mighty Ducks which came out two years later. Jacobsen today works in the food industry and writes a food related blog.


Jeffrey Nordling (Coach Ted Orion)

Although Emilio Estevez is in the third installment of the Mighty Ducks series, D3 introduces a new coach to the mix, one that our lovable band of misfits are forced to play hockey under. His name is Coach Ted Orion, and he’s stricter than any coach they’ve ever had. Played by Jeffrey Nordling, they resent his harsh attitude at first but later warm up to his guidelines, understanding the values of discipline that he was instilling within them all along.

Maria Ellingsen (Maria)

What kind of Mighty Ducks movies would they be without a little bit of romance? But instead of youthful flirting, this case is a little bit more mature. Maria Ellingsen plays the role of Maria, a trainer for the Icelandic hockey team, and Coach Bombay meets her by accidentally bumping into her in the hallway. There are sparks flying from the very moment they meet, and this chemistry grows wonderfully as the movie goes on.

Melissa Keller (Mindy)

As long as we’re on the topic of love, let’s talk a bit about the girls that some of our little hockey player friends had huge crushes on. The blonde you see here goes by the name of Mindy, and she and Bash Brother Dean actually share a romantic kiss on the ice. Mindy is portrayed by Melissa Keller, who has done a fair amount of work as an actress but is a lot more well known as a model, working for the likes of Sports Illustrated, Aveda, and more.

Samantha Harris (Cindy)

Samantha Harris, who has done a minor amount of acting in her career, appeared in D3 Mighty Ducks as the role of Cindy. As you can here, she is celebrating wildly with Charlie after an apparent victory, and the energy is quite contagious. Harris also makes a brief appearance in George of the Jungle, where she plays the role of Ursula’s friend. Other than her work as an actress, she has pursued a career in journalism.

Margot Finley (Linda)

One of the reasons that Mighty Ducks was so enjoyable to watch as a kid was that we identified with all the teen crushes that were taking place. Watching Charlie flirt with Linda in high school taught us how to flirt in real life, and we certainly had all the feels when he gave her a big kiss towards the end of the film. Margot Finley played the role of Linda, and as you can see, she’s come a long way since D3, eventually becoming a mother!

Brock Pierce (10 year old Gordon)

There isn’t anything quite as enjoyable as a good old fashioned flashback in a movie. Sometimes they exist to help us understand the origin story of a character, and when the film takes us back in time to observe Gordon Bombay as a ten year old child, the effect is nothing short of shocking. His younger self gets played by Brock Pierce, a well known child star who has since emerged into a successful cryptocurrency entrepreneur.

Leah Lail (Terry)

Not every character in the movies we watch have many lines, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important. Leah Lail plays the role of Terry, a waitress at a party they all attend, but that didn’t stop people from recognizing her when she appeared in the cult classic comedy film, Heavyweights. Lail would appear in a few more big roles in the following years, but eventually took a pause from acting and now works as a real estate agent.

Heidi Kling (Casey Conway)

Casey Conway is the mother of Charlie Conway, one of the best players of the Mighty Ducks. She doesn’t appear in too many scenes, but when she does, the love she has for Charlie is quite apparent. Their mother-son dynamic gets explored a solid amount throughout the film, and Heidi King does a great job convincing us that she cares about the welfare of her son. Heidi hasn’t done that much acting since the Mighty Ducks, retreating into the quiet life with her family.

John Paul Gamoke (Mr. Tolbert)

John Paul Gamoke plays the role of Mr. Tolbert in Mighty Ducks films, and although it was one of the roles that he was known best for, he has certainly done his other share of acting in other films since then. A year later he starred alongside Marisa Tomei in Untamed Heart, and a decade later he would appear in films such as Sweet Land and Peacock. He hasn’t acted in anything since 2011 though, meaning that he has probably decided to take a break from it all.

Jan Rubes (deceased) (Jan)

Here we have ourselves another really interesting character, an elderly chap filled with legions of words of wisdom. Except after looking at this picture, you can tell that the spirit of this man is young at heart, as he celebrates wildly with the Mighty Ducks after a strong victory. Jan Rubes plays this role, and was well known for his opera singing as well as his acting. Sadly, Rubes passed away in June 2009, at the age of 89.

Kristi Yamaguchi as herself

And now it is time that we cross paths with the cameo part of Mighty Ducks. Due to the fact that the first Mighty Ducks was a success, they then had the clout to pull in all kinds of professional athletes to appear in the sequel. One of the athletes that they brought in was Kristi Yamaguchi, a figure skater that was at the peak of her fame at the time. She is less famous these days, but diehard ice skating fans still remember her well.

Wayne Gretzky as himself

We shouldn’t have to give much of an introduction for you to know who this guy is, but we’ll tell you anyway. Wayne Gretzky, arguably one of the greatest hockey players of all time, made a small cameo in D2: Mighty Ducks when he said hello to all the young kids. The moment was exciting to watch, and we all appreciated Gretzky for his contribution. He is now long retired, and lives comfortably with his lovely wife Janet Jones.

Michael Modano as himself

Another hockey star who plopped himself into the Mighty Duck film series is Michael Modano, who enjoyed a pretty illustrious NHL career which ended with a stint on the Detroit Red Wings. But when he appeared in the movie, he was a player for the Minnesota North Stars, and this explains the jersey that he’s wearing in the picture on the left. The kids are in awe of him when they see him, and exclaim their gratitude right then and there.

Basil McRae as himself

In the same scene that Michael Modano introduces himself to the kids, his real life North Star teammate Basil McRae is right there by his side. Although he plays himself, his lines to Gordon Bombay are fictional, telling him that he remembers him when they used to play Pee Wee Hockey as kids. Basil has since retired and become part owner and alternate governor of the London Knights, a team from the Ontario Hockey League.

Greg Louganis as himself

There was a very memorable scene that took place in the second Mighty Ducks movie, one where Coach Gordon Bombay attended a high class party. At this party, he was lucky enough to meet a large assortment of famous athletes, all of whom are professional in real life, and were playing the roles of themselves. One of these athletes was Greg Louganis, an American diver who has won gold medals for USA in both the 1984 Olympics and the 1988 Olympics.

Luc Robitaille as himself

Here’s a player who you should definitely have heard of once or twice if you’ve ever been a hockey fan, especially in the 90s. Luc Robitaille was a NHL star who played for a number of teams, most notably the Los Angeles Kings. He was another one of the athletes who was there for the “meet-and-greet” with Gordon Bombay at the lavish party he attended. Luc currently currently serves as the president for the Los Angeles Kings.

Cam Neely as himself

Why stop there, right? There were a select handful of NHL stars at this meeting with Bombay, so we felt we might as well tell you about everyone that was there, and tell you what they’ve been up to in the process. Cam Neely was yet another NHL player who appeared in this scene, and he was playing for the Boston Bruins at that time. Not unlike Luc Robitaille, he also now serves as the president for the team he used to play for, in his case the Bruins.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar as himself

Wait what? Kareem Abdul Jabbar was in Mighty Ducks? The answer is that he most certainly was, and if you don’t believe us, we suggest you watch the trilogy one more time. He appeared in D2, where he not only shook Gordon Bombay’s hand, but lounged out in the sun with him and had a pretty laid back conversation. The six time NBA champion and Laker legend currently works as an advisor for the Lakers, but is retired for the most part.

John Beasley (Mr. Hall)

Every movie has their share of parents, and when it comes to movies that center around children, you’re bound to have a few rowdy parental characters in the flick. In this case, the parent is none other than Mr. Hall, the father of Jesse and Terry Hall, both players on the young squad of Mighty Ducklings (you like what we did there?). His role is minor at best, but his voice is not unheard, with John Beasley showing his passionate acting chops.

Steven Brill (Frank Huddy)

Now it’s time to extend a little appreciation to one of the most important people in the Mighty Ducks universe. Steven Brill is the writer of the Mighty Ducks films, and he actually also appears in a small number of scenes, portraying the role of a man named Frank Huddy. Let’s be real though, his major contribution was his outstanding screenplay, without which the movies would never have been possible. Brill continues to make Hollywood films to this day.

Goldberg (Shaun Weiss)

Although now he is all grown up, Mighty Ducks fans will always remember Shaun Weiss as Goldberg the frightened goalkeeper. Afterward, He played as a similar kid in a comedy named Heavyweights. Since then, Weiss acted in numerous in several TV programs such Drillbit Taylor, MTV’s Undressed and the cult comedy Freaks and Geeks. In 2014 he opened up a Kickstarter campaign for himself, but unfortunately, it failed as only $210 out of the requested $20,000 were donated.