It doesn’t take a genius to know that biographical dramas can be tricky to put together. After all, telling the life stories of notable public figures comes with a great sense of responsibility and a need for creativity. Over the years, we’ve seen biographical dramas such as 2021’s King Richard and 2001’s Ali perform well at the box office and gain recognition. And while some films can miss the mark, many would argue that 2008’s Cadillac Records was a well-told story.
Shining a light on the musical era of the 1940s to 1960s, Cadillac Records tells the story of a Jewish immigrant and bar owner Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) hiring a blues music trio to entertain guests. As their popularity grew, the bar became an outlet for Black musicians to show off their talent, which ultimately led to the birth of a new record label — Chess Records.
Now that Cadillac Records has made its way to Netflix’s eclectic lineup, viewers are intrigued to see the cast then and now. How have their careers grown? Who’s still in the business? Here’s what we know.
The main cast consists of big names in the acting and music worlds. And while some have faded into the background, others have only taken their star power to the next level.
1. Adrien Brody (Leonard Chess)
Adrien, who played Leonard Chess, is considered to be one of the greatest male actors in the entertainment world. Before joining the cast, Adrien took home the 2003 Oscar Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the 2002 film The Pianist. After his fantastic portrayal of Leonard in Cadillac Records, he went on to star in a plethora of films and TV series that include Midnight in Paris, Clean, and Chapelwaite. As of late, Adrien has been captivating audiences with his role as Josh Aaronson on HBO’s hit series Succession.
2. Jeffrey Wright (Muddy Waters)
There is no way to talk about actors with range without having Jeffrey Wright as part of the conversation. After portraying Muddy Waters in Cadillac Records, Jeffrey went on to act in some of the box office’s biggest blockbuster franchises. From his portrayal of the genius victor Beetee Latier in the Hunger Games films to recently flexing his acting skills as Bernard Lowe in Westworld, Jeffrey is quite the talent.
3. Beyoncé Knowles (Etta James)
Queen Bey! There is so much to say and not enough time or words to do it. After acting as Etta Jame in Cadillac Records, Beyoncé’s star power reached GOAT status. Beyoncé has not only become a global superstar, but she also made history as the first Black woman to headline Coachella. Not to mention, Queen Bey is the most-nominated woman in Grammy Award history and is considered to be one of the highest-selling artists of all time. Plus, she’s busy taking over the athleisure lane with her Adidas line, Ivy Park. And the list goes on!
4. Columbus Short (Little Walter)
Columbus’s role as Little Walter is considered to be one of his best to date. The Stomp the Yard and This Christmas star took his career to the next level after Cadillac Records with films like Death at a Funeral and True to the Game. Not to mention, he also impressed audiences with his portrayal of Harrison Wright on ABC’s hit series Scandal. These days, he’s fresh off the release of True to the Game 3 and working on new projects, including Scott Free and Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story which are both set to be released in 2022.
5. Mos Def (Chuck Berry)
6. Cedric the Entertainer (Willie Dixon)
Like his former co-stars, fan-favorite comedian and actor Cedric the Entertainer has also done pretty well for himself after starring in the film. Known as one of the Kings of Comedy, Cedric has continued to make audiences laugh with his roles in The Neighborhood, Black-ish, and the Barbershop franchise. Now, Cedric is busy working on the TV series short The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder and the films Down by the Water and A Fall from Grace, both in pre-production.
7. Gabrielle Union (Geneva Wade)
In case you’ve been out of the loop, Gabrielle Union has been killing the game before and after her portrayal of Geneva Wade in the film. The Hollywood darling has since landed roles in the Think Like a Man movies, Being Mary Jane, and L.A.’s Finest. Gabrielle also was a host on America's Got Talent. Like many actors from the film, Gabrielle also has a few projects coming up including Cheaper by the Dozen and White Dave.