Where American Beauty cast are now – sexual abuse ordeal to family tragedy, drug battles & unrecognisable transformation | The Sun

SHE is best known for American Beauty but Mena Suvari has had a less than flattering makeover for her new film. 

The actress, 43, has adopted a creepy new look for her role as a housekeeper in her latest film The Accursed. 

Her appearance is a far cry from her look in 1999 blockbuster American Beauty. 

The breakthrough performance, starring opposite Kevin Spacey and directed by Sam Mendes, catapulted 19-year-old Mena into super stardom. 

The hit film grossed more than £200million worldwide and picked up five Oscars at the 2000 Academy Awards.

But life hasn't been a bed of roses for Mena, now 43, who recently revealed in her memoir The Great Peace that she battled with drug use and was subjected to sexual abuse. 


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She told how a former boyfriend coerced her into rough sex and threesomes with other women. Speaking to The Guardian, she said: “I was not being loved. I was just a body, a receptacle for his desires.”

After the relationship, Suvari married and divorced twice. She found love with prop designer Michael Hope in 2018 and they had son Christopher last year. 

She went on to star in films Sugar & Spice, and TV shows Six Feet Under and American Horror Story.

Nearly 20 years on, here we take a look at what's become of the rest of the American Beauty cast. 

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Thora Birch

Child actress Thora Birch has moved on to directing after her career dwindled

From a child star in Hocus Pocus, Birch had her first adult role in American Beauty. 

Afterwards she bagged a lead role in indy film Ghost World – which landed her an Oscar. 

But she then disappeared from the spotlight – with some blaming her pushy dad Jack’s on-set behaviour. 

A crew member on film Winter of Frozen Dreams said her father insisted on watching a sex scene between his daughter and actor Dean Winters. 

The insider told Page Six: “It was so wrong. The director is saying, ‘Harder! Faster!’ and the father is giving Winters the thumbs up.”

After a break from acting until 2019, Birch, 40, is now directing true crime film The Gabby Petito Story. 

Kevin Spacey

Spacey was already an award-winning actor by the time he appeared as Lester Burnham in American Beauty. 

The 63-year-old had starred in hit films The Usual Suspects, Seven and LA Confidential.

His career continued to flourish until sexual abuse claims started to emerge while he was starring in TV series House of Cards in 2017. 

This year Spacey was charged with four counts of sexual assault against three individuals. 

He appeared in Southwark Crown Court in July to enter a not guilty plea.  

Annette Bening

Actress Annette, 64, played Lester’s unfaithful wife Carolyn and already had a Hollywood career behind her. 

She met husband Warren Beatty, 85, on the set of film Bugsy where she played his love interest.

The 64-year-old told PEOPLE in February: "I remember thinking 'Wow, this guy is so smart and so sharp and funny, but more — just articulate'.

"He was very passionate about the movie that he was about to make. He had a lot to say — and he was charming, for sure."

Despite a 21-year age gap and Beatty’s reputation as a lothario, the pair are still happily married today and have four children. 

Annette recently starred in the 2022 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. 

Allison Janney 

Allison played downtrodden next door neighbour Barbara Fitts in American Beauty – but the actress is far more glam in real life. 

The 62-year-old has since starred in the Help, Juno and Hairspray but is best known for her Oscar-winning role as press secretary CJ in The West Wing. 

The character actress recently starred in I, Tonya and discovered her relatives came to the US on the Mayflower on Who Do You Think You Are US. 

She also revealed her brother Hal committed suicide after suffering from a drug addiction.

Allison told the HuffPost it inspired her performance in the sitcom Mom: “I lost my brother to addiction and other things. 

“It was terrible, and I think that's why when this show came into my lap and I saw it was about people in recovery and addiction, I was like, 'I'm doing it. I just want to do it. I just want to do it for him'.”

Chris Cooper 

Chris played repressed and closeted neighbour Frank who tries to kiss Lester.

The tough guy, 71, had already had roles in A Time to Kill and The Horse Whisperer by 1999. 

After American Beauty, he went on to star in the The Patriot, The Bourne Identity and Adaptation, for which he won a best supporting actor Academy Award. 

In January 2005, tragedy struck when Chris and his Sopranos actress wife, Marianne Leone, lost their 17-year-old son, who had cerebral palsy.

Honor roll student Jesse died in his sleep from a epileptic seizure.

Wes Bentley

Like Mena, Wes – who played Ricky – also battled issues with drugs following the film’s release. 

The 44-year-old decided to get clean a year after his friend Heath Ledger died from an overdose and he was arrested for heroin possession.

He told the New York Times: “I had come back to L.A. for something, and I drank a whole bottle of Scotch, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to die in this hotel room with this bottle of Scotch’. 

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“It was after that I told a friend for the first time, ‘I’m a drug addict, and an alcoholic, and I need help. I need help or I’m going to die.’ ” 

Since getting clean, Wes has starred in The Hunger Games and two series of American Horror Story.

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