What The Cast Of How The Grinch Stole Christmas Looks Like Today

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" opened in theaters on November 17, 2000. Inspired by Dr. Seuss' 1957 book, the film features an updated version of the classic story, a dazzling set design, and a cast of comedic legends like Jim Carrey, Molly Shannon, and Bill Irwin. By all accounts, it was destined to shine brighter than a Whovillian Christmas ornament. But despite all of its merits, the movie initially garnered mixed reviews. In fact, film critic Roger Ebert once called it "a dank, eerie, weird movie."

Nevertheless, money speaks louder than words — and by that measure, the film was a smash hit. During its box office run, "The Grinch" earned over $345 million and became an international sensation. Since then, it has evolved into a bona fide holiday classic and a pop-cultural phenomenon, largely thanks to an impeccable cast who pulled out all the stops to bring their characters to life. As some "Grinch" actors recalled, it wasn't an easy job. Most of the cast wore dentures, fake earlobes, wigs, and prosthetic noses that took hours each day to install. In the end, though, they pulled it off — and for that, the "Grinch" cast deserves a Whobilation all their own.

So, what became of all those Whos down in Whoville? From the Mean One himself to little Cindy Lou Who, here's how the "Grinch" actors have changed over the years.

Jim Carrey (The Grinch)

Jim Carrey played the titular green sourpuss in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The film was a massive blockbuster — but it wasn't Carrey's first cinematic triumph. Before he stole Christmas as the Grinch, he'd already stolen our hearts in films like "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "Dumb and Dumber," and "The Truman Show." Still, the Grinch held a special place in Carrey's heart. "I've always loved this character. I think that he's great," the actor told E! News. "I've always been kind of a little bit of an outsider and I think that he's the ultimate outsider. He's the ultimate disenfranchised guy."

But becoming the Grinch wasn't an easy feat. For one thing, Carrey had to spend hours every day in hair and makeup. In an interview with TV Guide, the actor revealed that his costume was so stifling it was like being "buried alive." His yellow contact lenses, he recalled, "were like knives in my eyes." Eventually, the comedian contacted a Navy SEAL, who taught him a few pain tolerance techniques. "It was hellish," Carrey confessed (via the Globe and Mail). "It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It was very claustrophobic."

As you might imagine, the comedic legend has been quite busy since "The Grinch." Carrey went on to star in films including "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Yes Man," and "Mr. Popper's Penguins." In 2022, he appeared in the music video for The Weeknd's hit song, "Out of Time."

Taylor Momsen (Cindy Lou Who)

Taylor Momsen got her big break in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." She played Cindy Lou Who, the rosy-cheeked optimist who helps the Grinch discover the true meaning of Christmas. Momsen was only seven years old when she played the famous Who Daughter, but her star power was undeniable. "I do remember having a lot of fun on that set," she told "Today" in 2020. Unlike her adult costars, Momsen didn't have to wear uncomfortable prosthetics for her role. However, she did wear fake teeth. "I hated the taste of the glue that went in and covered to make the fake teeth," she recalled. "And so I wouldn't take them out once I put them in, and I would eat with them and everything."

A few years later, Momsen played Jenny Humphrey in the hit series "Gossip Girl" — but she left the show in 2012 to focus on her rock band, The Pretty Reckless. "Personally, I don't really consider myself an actress," the singer told Elle in 2022. "I wouldn't call it a passion. It was just something I always did." In 2021, The Pretty Reckless released their fourth album, "Death by Rock and Roll." 

Despite leaving acting behind, Momsen told "Today" that she hasn't completely abandoned her "Grinch" character. "I'm kind of the same person," she said. "I grew up, but I think deep down, I've still got a lot of Cindy Lou Who in me."

Bill Irwin (Lou Lou Who)

In regards to Whoville, Bill Irwin is known for his portrayal of Cindy Lou's father, Lou Lou Who. But in real life, Irwin is a legendary entertainer and a professional clown. He started out in the '70s as a circus performer but eventually took his talents from the Big Top to the big screen. After appearing in numerous films and television shows, Irwin snagged his iconic role in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Recalling his experience on set, Irwin told the Imperial Hotel Cork, "At the beginning of the day there were an hour and a half to sometimes three or four hours for some people for makeup, and then at least 45 minutes at the end of the day to take it off. Sometimes people, toward the end of the shoot, were tearing their own makeup off because it's a long, long day." He also revealed that Jim Carrey had once bitten off the prosthetic nose of Jeffrey Tambor (as Mayor Augustus May Who) in an attempt to shut down filming on one particularly long day.

Post-"Grinch," Irwin has continued dominating the screen and the stage. He's appeared in "Sesame Street," "Legion," and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." As noted by Arts Emerson, Irwin's theater credits include "Largely New York," "King Lear," and "Waiting for Godot." And in 2005, the esteemed actor won a Tony Award for his performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Christine Baranski (Martha May Whovier)

If we've learned anything from Hallmark Christmas movies, it's that no holiday film is complete without a romantic subplot. Therefore, it's no surprise that "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" features a love story between the Grinch and his childhood sweetheart, Martha May Whovier. Christine Baranski played the elegant Martha May, who eventually pairs up with our hairy, green protagonist. 

Baranski was already a massive star when she joined the "Grinch" cast. She scored her first acting credit as a pre-teen in 1964. By 1996, she'd won an Emmy for her role as Maryann Thorpe on the acclaimed series "Cybill." Despite her celebrity status, Baranski was starstruck by the rest of the "Grinch" cast. "It isn't often you have a chance to do a big Hollywood studio picture involving a dozen sound stages, a great director, and a phenomenal comedic star," the actor told South Jersey in 2000. 

Like her co-stars, Baranski underwent a complete physical transformation for her role in the movie. "Because I have such an upturned nose in real life, they thought of my not wearing a prosthetic at all," she recalled. "But it was a little too real – I looked like a Who with a nose job. A Beverly Hills Who." These days, Baranski looks as glamorous as ever, and she's still a superstar. Her acting credits include well-known titles like "The Good Wife," "The Big Bang Theory," and "The Gilded Age."

Landry Allbright (Young Martha May Whovier)

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" answered an age-old question: Why exactly did the Grinch hate Christmas? As depicted in a flashback sequence, his Yuletide bitterness was the result of the bullying that he endured as a child. Nearly all of the Grinch's classmates treated him cruelly — except for Martha May Whovier, who had a not-so-secret crush on him. Young Martha May was played by Landry Allbright, who was already a burgeoning movie star. Her earliest claim to fame was the 1997 thriller "Con Air," in which she played the daughter of Nicholas Cage's character. 

Despite being a child when she played the role of young Martha May, Allbright's charm and elegance were beyond her years. The starlet melted hearts with her adorable smile and loop-de-looping braids. And the scene where she waves flirtatiously at the young Grinch remains an iconic moment in the film. 

Since "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," Allbright has continued plowing forward in her show business career. She's guest-starred in numerous television shows, including "7th Heaven" and "S.W.A.T." Allbright has also racked up credits as a writer, editor, and producer.

Molly Shannon (Betty Lou Who)

Molly Shannon was already at the top of her acting game when she played Cindy Lou's mother, Betty Lou Who, in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Shannon became a mega-star in 1995 when she joined the "Saturday Night Live" cast and served up iconic characters like Mary Katherine Gallagher and Sally O'Malley. With her legendary physical comedy and character acting skills, Shannon was a natural choice for her role in "The Grinch."

Before hitting it big with "SNL" and "The Grinch," Shannon was a struggling actor with an admirable day job: She waited tables at a restaurant in Hollywood. While serving up meals, Shannon even crossed paths with her future "Grinch" co-star, Jim Carrey. "I used to wait on Jim as a waitress — I believe at Mel and Roses," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2022. "I served him hamburgers. He actually just came up to me at a restaurant and said, 'Remember when you were my waitress.' Isn't that funny?"

Of course, Shannon has come a long way since her burger-slinging days. After "The Grinch," she went on to appear in hit television shows like "Wet Hot American Summer: The First Day of Camp," "Will & Grace," and "The White Lotus." Her film resume is equally stacked, with titles like "Promising Young Woman" and "A Good Person." In 2022, the comedy golden girl also released her memoir, "Hello, Molly!"

Jeffrey Tambor (Augustus May Who)

Jeffrey Tambor portrayed the Grinch's rival, Mayor Augustus May Who. Tambor was already a film and television star before landing his role in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." His first major break came in 1979 when he starred in the sitcom "The Ropers." Later, he appeared in cinema classics like "Girl Interrupted" and "Something About Mary."

For Tambor, it was an exciting challenge to play the role of Augustus May Who. "Well, Ron [Howard] and I met, and he sort of explained it to me," Tambor told an interviewer (via ScreenSlam). "And I said, 'I'd like very much to be a part of it' and it just seem[ed] like something very important and very nice and something very different from anything that I've ever done. So it was quite an opportunity for me."

After "The Grinch," Tambor went on to play George and Oscar Bluth in the acclaimed series "Arrested Development." He's also known for his Emmy-winning role as Maura Pfefferman on Amazon's "Transparent." However, Tambor was fired from the show in 2018 amid sexual misconduct allegations. His latest acting credit came in 2020.

Clint Howard (Whobris)

Clint Howard played Whobris, the dutiful assistant to Mayor Augustus May Who. Howard grew up in an illustrious Hollywood family. In fact, he has a special familial connection to "The Grinch" — his older brother, Ron Howard, directed the film. The actor was just 2 years old when he debuted on "The Andy Griffith Show" in 1962. Five years later, he starred in the television series "Gentle Ben."

By 2000, Howard was a familiar face in movies and television. Although his "Grinch" character was a minor one, Howard delivered some massively funny moments — including the scene where Whobris shaves off his own hair in support of the mayor. Howard was a hilarious addition to the film, but that's really no surprise, considering his penchant for hamming it up onscreen. "There's a trick to being an actor when you only have a few moments on screen, where your character arc is all going to happen in a minute," the actor told AV Club. "You've got to be able to give those goods, and you need it to still seem natural. It needs to be organic, but by god, you gotta get your beats in because, next thing you know, you're going to be out of there."

Today, Howard remains a Hollywood icon. He's been in plenty more films and television shows, including "Frost/Nixon," "Star Trek: Discovery," and "Pam & Tommy."

Jeremy Howard (Dru Lou Who)

Jeremy Howard portrayed Dru Lou Who, the spindly-haired older brother of Cindy Lou Who. Although he's a minor character, Dru is one of the first Whos that we see on screen. His most notable scene occurs at the film's opening when he approaches the Grinch's front door, only to be scared away by a crude Grinch-like mannequin. As Howard recalled in 2000, preparing for the role was more grueling than expected. "During rehearsals, any spare time we had was spent in Who-school," the actor told IGN. "Yes, Who-school. That's where we learned how to be a Who."

Like many of his "Grinch" co-stars, Howard spent hours in hair and makeup before filming his scenes. At one point, he devised an ingenious way to speed up the process: He shaved off his eyebrows, which ended up saving him about an hour and a half of hair and makeup time. According to Howard, performing his scenes was the easiest part of the job. "I really approached my character lightly," he recalled. "I was just a Who-teen having fun. It was easy to do, because just being on the set was fun." He explained, "When Ron said action, all I had to do was transfer my energy into Seuessian expressions. Scared, happy, whatever the occasion."

These days, the former Who-teen continues to thrive. Howard has appeared in several popular television series, including "Breaking Bad," "Mighty Med," and "Super Pumped."

Mindy Sterling (Clarnella)

Mindy Sterling played Clarnella, one of the Grinch's adoptive moms. By the time she joined the "Grinch" cast, Sterling was already a comedic superstar, and she was best known for playing the loud, hot-tempered Frau Farbissina in the "Austin Powers" series. Frau Farbissina was basically the opposite of the kind, soft-spoken Clarnella, but Sterling portrayed both characters with her signature sense of humor and absurdity. For Sterling, the best part of playing Clarnella was the process of transforming into a real-life Who. "[It was] absolutely magically and fun to see how everyone changes working on that film," the comedian told Media Mikes in 2011. "When you put on that kind of facial prosthetics and the wigs. You really do become a Dr. Seuss character. It is a lot of fun."

After "The Grinch," Sterling continued her reign as a comedy queen. She's appeared in numerous films and television series, including recurring roles in "Con Man" and "The Goldbergs." She also found a love for voice acting. She told the Daily Actor in 2010, "I love voice-over. You don't have to look nice, dress and it's a whole different thing since you're creating just with your voice and you can't rely on the little behavioral things you may do with your body or your face." Sterling has been featured in a slew of animated projects, including "Minions," "American Dad!" and "The Great North."