Those of us old enough to remember the millennium with some clarity will recall that Coyote Ugly was hammered by the majority of critics upon release, dubbed "sexist, shallow and silly" by Rotten Tomatoes reviewer Nell Minow when it came out back in 2000. Minow was writing her review for Common Sense Media, however, and to enjoy a film like Coyote Ugly you can’t put too much stake in common sense. David McNally’s raunchy rom-com is best viewed with the brain switched to primal mode, and for those who are willing to forgo a water-tight plot in favor of water-soaked dance numbers, Coyote Ugly is not only bearable, but genuinely enjoyable. Over the years this divisive film has built up a strong cult following, refusing to age and somehow managing to remain relevant. Can the same be said for the cast? Here’s what they look like today.
Australian actor Adam Garcia’s love for performing began when his father took him to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show aged just 8, and after a fleeting attempt at launching a career as a pop star on the back of his part in the original stage production of Saturday Night Fever, he set his sights on movies. Like Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia only had one previous film appearance under his belt when he was offered a part in Coyote Ugly, and (again, much like his co-star) he is still best-known for it even now.
"I had no idea in the moment what it would become," he said of the film. "None at all. Even at the box office I don’t even think we were number one… Critically it was ‘meh’, but people just seemed to really like it, which is great. It does have a really endearing story about someone struggling to get somewhere who has a dream. I guess in that regard it’s a great film."
Garcia has split his time between stage, film and television in the years since. In 2013 he was nominated for an Olivier award for his supporting role in the London revival of Kiss Me, Kate, and he’s popped up in numerous much-loved TV shows such as Doctor Who (2005), Flight of the Conchords (2009) and House (2010). His career as a movie star never really took off, however, with his most noteworthy appearance post-Coyote being 2001’s Riding in Cars with Boys.
After making a name for herself as Dr. Anna Del Amico on NBC medical drama ER (1997–1998), Maria Bello transitioned into the film world with a supporting role in Ben Stiller indie drama Permanent Midnight (1998) followed by a starring role opposite Mel Gibson in Payback (1999). In her third outing Coyote Ugly she played the founder of the titular bar Lil Lovell, who managed to turn her honky-tonk saloon in New York City’s East Village into an international chain on the back of the film, which is set in that original dive bar.
To get into the mindset, Bello and her castmates hit up some similar spots. "We went to one of the bars in New York a couple of months ago where they—it’s sort of like [the real-life bar] Coyote Ugly—where they do this sort of thing," Bello told ET. "And the girls did this dance called the ‘water dance’ and it was hilarious because here they were pouring water on top of each other and really kind of sexy and wild to this great music… So they brought a dance similar to that into the movie."
Bello has starred in a number of critically acclaimed movies in the years that followed, but her decision making has always plagued her. She took over from Rachel Weisz in ill-advised Mummy sequel Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, put herself in questionable company for low-brow comedy Grown Ups and recently took part in Max Steel, a rare zero-percenter on Rotten Tomatoes.
Polish beauty Izabella Miko turned to acting when injury ended her dreams of becoming a professional dancer. After winning a scholarship at the prestigious School of American Ballet, Miko was on course to make it big, but when she damaged vertabrae in her back she was forced to return to Poland. Once home, a local filmmaker offered her the chance to change direction with a part in a silent TV movie called Lithuania You Are My Motherland.
Acting filled the void that had been in her life, and before long she had decided that if she was going to make it she needed to be in LA. Still in her teens, Miko packed her bags and boarded a plane for the States, where she came to the attention of a huge agent. While she didn’t have the money to make things official, this agent put her in touch with the casting director working on the upcoming Coyote Ugly. She was offered the part of Cammie and made her big screen debut aged 19.
Her most high profile appearance in the years since came in 2010 when she played Athena in the Clash of the Titans reboot, but she’s spent most of time post-Coyote combining her dance talents with her acting. She’s busted moves in Save the Last Dance 2 (2006), Make Your Move (2013), and Step Up: All In (2014), and in 2014 she made her debut as a producer, spearheading British biographical drama Desert Dancer.
Unlike the other Coyote Ugly girls, Tyra Banks was already a superstar when she was cast in the part of crowdsurfing barmaid Zoe. The stunning Cali girl was a Victoria’s Secret Angel at the time and only continued to get bigger in the years after the film dropped, named "the world’s most famous supermodel" in a 2006 write up by Forbes. Her fame was given a huge boost by America’s Next Top Model, the reality show she herself conceived and hosted for a whopping 22 seasons until it was cancelled in 2015.
As far as her acting career is concerned, she followed up Coyote Ugly with a role in tired 2002 slasher flick Halloween: Resurrection, though the majority of her appearances in both film and TV have been cameos as herself. Banks has managed to keep her fame flame alive in other ways, however, flirting with a career in music on occasion and turning her hand to writing, too—she became a New York Times bestselling author in 2011 when her semi-autobiographical novel Modelland became a big hit.
Banks announced plans to adapt Modelland for the big screen, even telling The Associated Press (via The Hollywood Reporter) that she had been approached by producers. Whether the project has been canned or remains on the back-burner is unclear, but what we do know is that Banks is coming back to America’s Next Top Model for the upcoming 24th cycle of the show, replacing the outgoing Rita Ora.
Like Tyra Banks, Bridget Moynahan had a background in modeling when she was cast in Coyote Ugly, though she wouldn’t go on to enjoy anywhere near the same levels of success afterwards. The actress was under the glare of the public eye in the mid-00s when she dated NFL quarterback Tom Brady during a golden period for the New England Patriots, but when the couple "amicably ended their three-year relationship," the actress began to fade from the spotlight.
While Coyote Ugly was her first feature film, Moynahan actually made her screen debut a few years earlier when she appeared as "the other woman" Natasha on Sex and the City, a character who was only supposed to appear in a single episode as Mr. Big’s wife until producers decided they wanted to see more of her. "I always found it ironic people didn’t really like me since I was the one getting cheated on," she told EW. "But that’s the tribute to how much people loved Carrie and Sarah Jessica Parker."
Today, Moynahan is best known for her work in TV, having starred as Assistant District Attorney Erin Reagan in CBS procedural Blue Bloods (which recently celebrated its 150th episode) since its inception in 2010. "I have noticed that the writing has gotten better year after year," she said. "Luckily we have a bunch of writers and people who really care about the show and who keep coming up with really smart ideas and storylines."
New Zealand-born character actress Melanie Lynskey got her big break in 1994 when compatriot Peter Jackson cast her in his critically acclaimed psychological drama Heavenly Creatures; but while her co-star Kate Winslet was able to ride the success of that movie all the way to Tinsel Town, Lynskey had to climb the ladder the hard way. Not many critics had kind things to say about her work during the late-90s and early-00s (her role as homely best friend Gloria in Coyote Ugly included), though a quick glance at her Rotten Tomatoes record shows how she managed to turn that early form around.
Lynskey has an impressive amount of Certified Fresh films on her resume and has been on something of a hot streak recently, with 2016’s The Intervention and 2017’s I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore both reaching that sought after critical milestone. She also managed to carve out a successful career in TV, portraying Rose in CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men from 2003 until 2015 and grabbing headlines with a full-frontal nude scene in HBO comedy drama Togetherness.
"When people have sex, they’re naked," she told Guardian. "It’s not supposed to be turning everyone on. We’re not showing perfectly manicured porn bodies—people are used to seeing that kind of image of sexuality, especially of the female body. It feels really exciting to me to be naked and be like: ‘Hey, that’s what some people look like!’ It feels radical."
It was the Coen Brothers who first saw Roseanne star John Goodman as more than a funnyman, and through the sibling directors he was able to showcase his versatile talents. He managed to straddle the fence between family friendly flicks and edgier projects throughout the ’90s (he did The Borrowers and The Big Lebowski within a year of each other, for example), and on the turn of the new millennium he played Piper Perabo’s reluctant dad in Coyote Ugly.
Goodman put in a patented scene-stealing performance as Bill Sanford, though what his fans and colleagues didn’t know at the time was that he was suffering from alcoholism. "There’s many times I could have gone under," the actor told Guardian. "I drank for a while and towards the end of that, the lines would not come. And it was like a snowball. It just built up a lack of confidence that I could even learn lines."
Goodman kicked the booze back in 2007 and has been sober ever since. He recently used that same determination to do something about his weight after recognizing he was in dangerous territory. "I just got tired, sick and tired of looking at myself," Goodman revealed on Popcorn with Peter Travers. "You’re shaving in the mirror and you don’t want to look at yourself." Now slim and in his mid-60s, Goodman shows no signs of slowing down, with five projects currently in some stage of production including an eight episode revival of Roseanne.
Country singer turned pop star LeAnn Rimes made a brief but memorable cameo appearance in Coyote Ugly when she performed at said bar in the final scene of the film, though her biggest contribution undoubtedly came in the form of music. Rimes had four songs on the film’s popular soundtrack, most notably the single "Can’t Fight The Moonlight" which became the unofficial Coyote Ugly anthem and propelled the singer to new levels of fame. She didn’t like the direction in which her career was heading, however, and in 2002 Rimes dropped her dad as her manager and left her country roots in the dust with fifth studio album Twisted Angel.
Her new sound didn’t go down as well as Rimes had hoped, with lead single "Life Goes On" proving to be a chart disappointment for her. The song failed to register on the The Billboard Hot 100 and only managed to reach number 35 on the Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart, leaving her with a difficult decision to make going forward. In the end, Rimes, who has become a tabloid fixture in recent years, came cowboy hat in hand back to country music in 2005 and has proudly allowed the genre to influence her style of music since. "I fully embrace the journey I am on and have a deeper understanding of how every piece of my story serves a purpose in my evolution as a woman and an artist," Rimes told Billboard while promoting her most recent album Remnants.
Piper Perabo’s career in acting began when she was talked into auditioning for a role that her friend was going for having tagged along to the casting call out of curiosity. While she didn’t win the part, she impressed enough for her name to be passed to a talent manager. With new representation and a rekindled enthusiasm for acting (she put on plays for her friends and family as a child), Perabo was cast as female lead Violet ‘Jersey’ Sanford in Coyote Ugly, a character she related to instantly.
"When I first read the script, it hit me like a ton of bricks," she told BBC. "A year earlier, I had moved from New Jersey. The same train she takes back and forth from her house is the train I take back and forth from my house. I worked in a bar when I got to New York. It’s really autobiographical!"
Sadly for Perabo, outside of her 75-episode run on Covert Affairs she is still best remembered for Coyote Ugly, despite having worked steadily in the years since. She’s appeared in family fodder like 2003’s Cheaper by the Dozen and its 2005 sequel, but she’s also dabbled in thinking-man’s sci-fi like Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006) and Rian Johnson’s neo-noir mind bender Looper (2012). When Covert Affairs was canned in 2015, Perabo found a new home in indie films: she recently starred in gory horror Into the Grizzly Maze and played alongside Antonio Banderas in Black Butterfly.