Tragic Details About The Original Cast Of Mean Girls

"Mean Girls" entered the zeitgeist in 2004, and it never really left. The seminal film has had a lasting impact thanks to its sharp script and important messages about bullying and kindness. The film has been so impactful that it was adapted to a musical stage production, and in 2024, the musical stage production was adapted to the big screen. All signs point to its legacy living on in perpetuity.

Another reason the film was and is so popular is its fantastic actors, like Lindsay Lohan as Cady Heron, Rachel McAdams as Regina George, and Lacey Chabert as Gretchen Wieners. Each role was perfectly cast, and most of the actors in the film have continued with successful Hollywood careers. However, these actors have also had their fair share of tragedies. (Actors are people, after all.)

From weathering career lows to losing loved ones to facing sexual harassment, these "Mean Girls" stars have experienced tragic circumstances.

Jonathan Bennett lost both of his parents

Jonathan Bennett played Aaron Samuels in "Mean Girls." Aaron is the romantic interest of Cady Heron, caught in a love triangle with her and Regina George (whose hair looked sexy pushed back). Bennett is now a regular on the Hallmark Channel, with some of his more recent films including "Wedding of a Lifetime" and "Christmas on Cherry Lane."

About eight years after "Mean Girls" premiered, tragedy sadly struck. The actor lost his mother, Ruthanne Bennett, in 2012. Not two years later, Bennett sadly lost his father, as well.

Although some have poked fun at Hallmark films over the years, they've been a source of happiness for Jonathan, especially since losing his parents. "The holidays always meant a time of sadness. Once my parents passed, each Christmas wasn't what it used to be. But then I started being involved in and watching these movies, and it really reminds you that it's all about love," Bennett told Glamour. Bennett noted his particular appreciation for the actors he's worked with on the films. "They are some of the most beautiful human beings I've ever met, so it makes me so happy to be part of a network with so many dear friends," he said.

Tim Meadows lost a friend and fellow SNL alum

Tim Meadows excelled in his role as Mr. Duvall, the North Shore High School principal who was tasked with breaking up fights and disciplining students in the wake of students finding out about the Burn Book. To this day, Meadows is known for his notable work on "Saturday Night Live." The comedic actor was on the show for a decade, and during and before the show he worked with and became close friends with another "SNL" great, Chris Farley.

A couple of years before Meadows left "SNL," Farley died from a drug overdose. Farley's death was an enormous loss to many, including Meadows. To this day, Farley has an impact on his friend. "He was such a great guy. I miss him. I think about him every day," Meadows said of his late friend while choking back tears on "The Three Questions with Andy Richter." "When I do comedy, I think of things that, like, are gonna make him laugh. I think, 'That'll get him.'"

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Rajiv Surendra 'felt dead inside' after a career opportunity fell through

Rajiv Surendra played Kevin G in "Mean Girls." Kevin G is, per his business card, a "math enthusiast / bad-ass m.c." who made his presence known wherever he went. Unfortunately, Surendra didn't have much of an acting career after "Mean Girls."

While filming "Mean Girls," Surendra learned that the book "The Life of Pi" was being adapted to screen, and Surendra began preparing to audition. For various reasons, production was continually halted, and after six years of waiting and investing intense research into understanding the character, Surendra didn't get the part. "When I got the email saying I didn't get the part, I felt like that person just died instantly," he shared in an interview with GQ. "It was traumatic. I think I was in shock for a couple weeks. I felt dead inside for a long time," Surendra said of losing the role.

Surendra decided to quit acting for good after "The Life of Pi" spot fell through. After trying a few different career paths, he began pursuing other creative outlets like calligraphy and pottery. He also posts DIY tutorials on YouTube.

Amy Poehler lost a Parks and Rec co-star

Amy Poehler played Regina George's mom — not like a regular mom but a cool mom — in "Mean Girls." Poehler's character isn't in the film much, but the time she had on-screen led to iconic moments like her dancing along with The Plastics' performance of "Jingle Bell Rock." Poehler has been a sought-after comedy actor for decades now, and she's best known for her work on "Saturday Night Live" and "Parks and Recreation."

Poehler was heavily involved in the making of "Parks and Recreation," with writing, directing, and producing credits to her name. During the final season of the series, one of Poehler's friends and co-executive producers from the series, Harris Wittles, sadly died. "Today, I lost a friend. I lost a dear, young friend in my life who was struggling with addiction," Poehler said at an event, as reported by Variety. "I'm sharing it with you because life and death live so close together, and we walk that fine line everyday. ... So, I don't really feel like telling any jokes. I'm kind of sad." Wittles was memorialized with a special thanks at the end of one of the final "Parks and Recreation" episodes.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tina Fey was attacked by a stranger

Tina Fey has so many great accomplishments it's hard to name them all. The actor and writer is known for her time as a cast member and head writer of "Saturday Night Live," as well as for creating, writing, and starring in the hit NBC sitcom "30 Rock." Fey also wrote the film "Mean Girls." She adapted the script from a book called "Queen Bees and Wannabees." In the film, she plays the part of Ms. Norbury, a divorced math teacher who is falsely accused of selling drugs.

Long before Fey was famous, she was involved in a terrible incident that left her with a scar on her face. When she was 5 years old, Fey was playing in the front yard of her childhood home when a stranger came up to her and cut her face with a knife. "I proceeded unaware of [the scar]. I was a very confident little kid. It's really almost like I'm kind of able to forget about it, until I was on-camera, and it became a thing of 'Oh, I guess we should use this side' or whatever," Fey told Vanity Fair.

Lizzy Caplan lost her mother as a child

Lizzy Caplan brought to life the character Janis Ian in "Mean Girls." Janis is a student artist who used her rocky past with Regina George as fuel to take her down alongside her new friend, Cady Heron. Caplan has been a successful actor ever since, and some of her more notable projects have included "Masters of Sex," "Inside Job," "Party Down," and "Fleishman Is in Trouble."

Caplan became familiar with tragedy before she even considered pursuing acting professionally. When the actor was 13, her mother, who'd been sick with cancer, died. However, some good came from the sad turn of events — she was inspired to act. "Strangely, from that age on I thought the only reason why I could even attempt to be an actress was because this horrible thing happened to me. Like something dark and terrible had to happen in order to earn your stripes as a human being and be able to be an actress. I don't know where I got that from," Caplan told Rolling Stone.

As an adult, Caplan has also had the misfortune of reliving the trauma of her mother's death. While filming "Masters of Sex," one storyline, as Caplan explained on an episode of "Actors on Actors," brought back intense memories of the pain she experienced losing a parent.

Daniel Franzese faced harassment on a film set

Daniel Franzese has had a long career in Hollywood, acting in series like "Burn Notice," "GLOW," and "Not So Straight in Silver Lake." In "Mean Girls," Franzese played Damian, a friend of Cady Heron and Janis Ian's who, as Janis lovingly put it, was "too gay to function." In real life, Franzese is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and unfortunately, he's experienced intense harassment for it.

"On my first film BULLY I was harassed by Bijou Phillips the entire shoot," Franzese revealed in a 2017 Facebook post. "She body shamed me and ridiculed me about my sexuality‬ and physically assaulted me. I was scared and closeted and feared for my job ... I love the movie and my other cast mates and crew but BULLY was one of the most stressful experiences of my life on or off a set and it was my first one."

After Franzese spoke out about the mistreatment, Phillips responded. "I am so mortified by this behavior and have contacted Daniel and apologized to him privately," the actor told TMZ. Franzese shared in a tweet that Phillips had reached out to him and that he accepted her apology.

Rachel McAdams was sexually harassed

Rachel McAdams played Regina George in "Mean Girls," the leader of North Shore High's popular trio called The Plastics, who invites Cady Heron into their group only to be burned by the new student. Soon, everyone would recognize McAdams' acting chops. Just a couple months after "Mean Girls" premiered, McAdams starred in "The Notebook" alongside Ryan Gosling. In 2016, she secured an Oscar nomination for the film "Spotlight." Although her career in entertainment has been successful and lucrative, not everything about it has been good.

When McAdams was 21, she auditioned for a film by James Toback, a writer and director best known for films like "Bugsy" and "The Gambler." As McAdams wrote in Vanity Fair, Toback invited her back to a hotel room during the auditioning process and made lewd remarks to her. "Eventually, I just excused myself. I can't remember how long I was there ... I kept thinking, 'This is going to become normal any minute now. This is going to all make sense. This is all above board somehow.' Eventually I just realized that it wasn't," McAdams explained. Nearly 40 other women also came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Toback in 2017. Tobalk denied the allegations in an interview with Rolling Stone.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Lindsay Lohan struggled with alcoholism and was hounded by the media

Lindsay Lohan's "Mean Girls" character, Cady Heron, is the protagonist of the film. She began attending public school for the first time as a junior in high school after a life of home-schooling in Africa. She learned firsthand how easy it is to get caught up in the negative aspects of teen culture. Lohan first tasted fame as a child actor, but her role in "Mean Girls," as well as films like "Freaky Friday," "Just My Luck," and "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen," propelled her to icon status.

The rest of the 2000s proved to be difficult for Lohan. While going through personal struggles, including alcohol abuse, Lohan was blasted by tabloids for her behavior and constantly hounded by paparazzi. This continued for Lohan well into the 2010s, and in 2014, a list of Lohan's sexual partners was made public. While the list is real, she wrote it as part of her recovery. "Someone, when I was moving during the OWN show, must've taken a photo of it. So that's a really personal thing, and it's really unfortunate," Lohan said of the exploitation on "Watch What Happens Live."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Amanda Seyfried had a traumatic delivery

Despite all her iconic roles, Amanda Seyfried may still be best known for her work in "Mean Girls." The actor played Karen Smith, a member of The Plastics who was known for being a little too close for comfort with her cousin and her unique approach to meteorology. Seyfried's other classic projects include both "Mamma Mia!" films; "Mank," which earned her an Oscar nomination; and "The Dropout," which earned her an Emmy Award.

In 2017, Seyfried married Thomas Sadoski. The two were together for a couple of years before tying the knot, and just a few weeks after they wed, Seyfried gave birth to their first child, a daughter. In 2020, Seyfried gave birth to their second child, a son, but her second delivery was much tougher than her first. "I had something that went wrong with my second birth. The baby was okay but it was tricky and it was painful and it didn't have to happen, and it did so it added an extra level of trauma," Seyfried told People of the scare. Thankfully, Seyfried recovered from the traumatic experience. "I'm okay. It was a very physical thing and it was a spinal thing, but I'm okay," the actor confirmed to the publication.

Lacey Chabert lost her sister

The final member of The Plastics, Gretchen Wieners, was played by Lacey Chabert. Gretchen is Regina George's best friend — and the heir to the Toaster Strudel fortune — who shared damning secrets about Regina after feeling betrayed. This ultimately led to the dissolution of her friend group. Chabert has remained a busy actor since her "Mean Girls" days, mostly working with the Hallmark Channel and lending her voice to animated projects.

Though her career has been successful, a quick look at Chabert's social media will reveal that what's most important in her life — her family. Sadly, in 2022, Chabert lost her sister. "I keep calling grief a journey, because that's what it's been for me. It's been incredibly hard. ... I miss Wendy with every ounce of my being," Chabert revealed on Instagram two months after her 46-year-old sister suddenly died. Chabert went on to share bright spots in her life, noting that her daughter, Julia, reminds her of her sister.