When producer David Geffen was looking for a director to bring Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's hit off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors (based on the 1960 Roger Corman film) to the big screen one more, he turned to Muppet puppeteer Frank Oz. However, the filmmaker told EW in 2012 that he initially turned the offer down, stating he "didn't really have a way in" to the effects-heavy story of Seymour (Rick Moranis), a nerdy flower shop employee who raises a carnivorous talking (and singing) plant while pining for his co-worker, Audrey (Ellen Greene). Thankfully, inspiration struck, and Oz found a way to bring Audrey II (Levi Stubbs) — and the production's 15 songs — to life.
Much like Seymour's dream of leaving Skid Row behind, the film was nearly derailed by a killer ending and disastrous test screenings. Oz told EW that, "For every musical number there was applause…until we killed our two leads. And then the theater became a refrigerator…It was a complete disaster…Howard and I knew what we had to do…cut that ending…We didn't want to, but we understood they couldn't release it with that kind of a reaction."
After making the change, the movie made a modest return at the box office and received two Oscar nominations for Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects before finding a whole new audience on home video.
In the nearly 40 years since the cult classic's debut, there have been a handful of stage revivals and even talk of a cinematic update, but so far, the 1986 film — and its happier ending — remains the definitive version in the minds of audiences. Read on to find out where the cast of Little Shop of Horrors is now.
Rick Moranis (Seymour Krelborn)
Lovesick plant enthusiast Seymour Krelborn was sung to life by Rick Moranis.
Before he was "Suddenly Seymour," Moranis was a performer on the sketch comedy series SCTV alongside future stars John Candy and Catherine O'Hara. He and castmate Dave Thomas created the breakout characters Bob and Doug McKenzie, and their popularity led to both a Grammy-nominated comedy album, The Great White North (1981), and a movie, Strange Brew (1983), which was Moranis' feature film debut. He went on to star in Ghostbusters (1984) and Brewster's Millions (1985) before belting out show tunes opposite the killer plant in 1986.
Moranis told the Nerdist podcast in 2013 that production was challenging, as it took 55 puppeteers to operate Audrey II, and they had to shoot all of its dialogue scenes at a slower rate "cause they could not film the words fast enough."
He married make-up artist Ann Belsky in 1986, and the couple had two children before she tragically died from cancer in 1991. Moranis continued to work on camera for six more years before taking a hiatus in 1997 to focus on raising his two children as a single parent.
He has mostly stayed out of the public eye since then but has performed voice work in films like Brother Bear (2003) and the sitcom The Goldbergs, where he reprised the voice of Dark Helmet from Spaceballs. In 2020, he announced a return to live-action acting with an additional Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie. The actor also made a rare appearance on the Disney+ series Prop Culture to discuss his work on the original Honey film.
Ellen Greene (Audrey)
Ellen Greene played Seymour's vulnerable love interest, Audrey.
A Tony nominee for her work in The Three Penny Opera, Greene originated the role of Audrey in the off-Broadway production of Little Shop, and director Frank Oz fought for her to be cast in the movie.
"Frank called me up and I just screamed bloody murder. I was ecstatic. I originated it but normally you don't get the film and I knew that. But…Frank believed in me," Greene said in a 1986 "Making Of" featurette.
Following both versions, Greene went on to appear in the films Pump Up the Volume (1990) and the rom-com One Fine Day (1996). She has also amassed several TV credits including The X-Files, The Young and the Restless, and playing Aunt Vivian on the cult favorite Pushing Daisies.
In 2015, Greene returned to the role of Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors for a limited engagement at New York's City Center opposite Jake Gyllenhaal as Seymour. She told EW in 2017 that after the run, she and Oz attempted to launch a stage revival combining elements of the play and the movie, but the duo was denied the rights to move forward.
Greene was married to Tibor Hardik from 1990 to 1997, then Christian Klikovits from 2003 to 2007.
Vincent Gardenia (Mr. Mushnik)
Vincent Gardenia played the harsh flower shop owner Mr. Mushnik.
Prior to Little Shop, the Italian-born actor won a Tony in 1972 for The Prisoner of Second Avenue and received an Oscar nomination for his work in Bang the Drum Slowly in 1973. He also starred in iconic films like A View From the Bridge (1962), Death Wish (1974), and Heaven Can Wait (1978).
After Little Shop of Horrors, Gardenia continued his hot streak and earned a second Academy Award nomination for playing Cosmo Castorini in Moonstruck (1987) opposite Cher. In 1990, he won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor for the HBO movie Age-Old Friends. He made his final film appearance in the 1991 Joe Pesci comedy The Super.
Gardenia died of a heart attack in 1992 at age 72 after completing preview performances of the play Breaking Legs in Philadelphia.
Steve Martin (Orin Scrivello, DDS)
Frank Oz told The Hollywood Reporter the character's rockabilly swagger was Martin's idea. "He said, 'I don't want to play a Fonzie [Happy Days] character,' and I said, 'Do what you want.' So he played it as an Elvis character. So damn brilliant."
Before Little Shop, Martin won an Emmy in 1969 for his work on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, two Grammys for his comedy albums, and starred in hit films like The Jerk (1979) and Three Amigos (1986).
Since Orin's untimely end, Martin has enjoyed a prolific career that includes Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), Parenthood (1989) alongside Little Shop costar Rick Moranis, Father of the Bride (1991), the 2003 remake of Cheaper by the Dozen, and the Pink Panther reboot films. He received an Honorary Academy Award in 2014 for his achievements in film.
In addition to his work in Hollywood, Martin has also released five studio albums featuring banjo and bluegrass music, which garnered three Grammy wins. He has written several books and plays, and received two Tony nominations for creating the Broadway musical Bright Star.
Martin was married to actress Victoria Tennant from 1986 to 1994. He has been married to his second wife, writer Anne Stringfield, since 2007, and the couple welcomed a child, Mary, in 2012.
Levi Stubbs (voice of Audrey II)
Motown legend Levi Stubbs lent his powerful baritone voice to Audrey II, the "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space."
Like Ellen Greene, Oz told THR he had to fight to get Stubbs cast. "He was not considered funny by some, but I didn't want funny…I wanted someone who had some danger in their voice."
Before Little Shop of Horrors, Stubbs was the lead singer of the Four Tops. The group released almost 40 singles and had two no. 1 hits, including "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" and "Reach Out I'll Be There." The singer only had one acting credit prior to the film.
After the musical movie, Stubbs only voiced one other role, the character Mother Brain on the short-lived cartoon Captain N: The Game Master. He released many more albums with the Four Tops and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. He continued to tour and appear with the Tops until he suffered a stroke in 2000 and gave his final performance in 2004.
Stubbs was married to his wife, Clineice, for 48 years. The couple had five children, 11 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. He died in 2008 of natural causes at age 72.
Tichina Arnold (Crystal)
Tichina Arnold made her feature film debut as Crystal, one-third of the trio who make up Little Shop's magical Greek chorus.
Arnold told Slate in 2016 that the production had a huge impact on her. "To be 15-years-old…to be able to experience living in London for a whole year, riding the Concorde…it was just an amazing turning point for me in my career…That's when I really made my decision like this is what I want to do for the rest of my life."
After Little Shop, the actress starred on the soap All My Children before becoming a household name as Pam on the hit Fox sitcom Martin alongside her fellow chorus girl Tisha Campbell. She reteamed with Martin Lawrence two more times for the films Big Momma's House (2000) and Wild Hogs (2007), and returned to sitcoms with Everybody Hates Chris in 2005. Following its conclusion, she has starred in the series Happily Divorced and Survivor's Remorse, and as of 2023 is a series regular on the CBS comedy The Neighborhood.
Arnold has a daughter with music producer Carvin Haggins. She was married to basketball coach DaRico Hines from 2012 to 2016.
Tisha Campbell (Chiffon)
16-year-old Tisha Campbell also made her film debut in Little Shop as chorus girl Chiffon, but she almost didn't audition for the part. She told Tudum by Netflix she had decided to quit acting and spend the summer at a Rutgers University music camp after failing to book a role on the sitcom 227.
"My mother started calling me from home, and said, 'Your agent is calling me and they want you to audition for Little Shop of Horrors'…I told her, 'Ma, I told you. I quit.' She said, 'Please, Tisha, they won't stop calling me.' So I said, 'All right. If I do this, can I just come back to camp right after?' And she agreed."
After the horror musical, she starred in Spike Lee's School Daze (1988), the hit Kid 'n Play comedy franchise House Party, and released an album tittled Tisha (1993). In 1992, she booked her career-defining role as Martin Lawrence's on-again, off-again love interest Gina on Martin, which reunited her with fellow chorus girl Tichina Arnold.
The actress left the series during its last season after filing a lawsuit against Lawrence for sexual harassment and abuse but later returned for the finale. As of 2020, the former costars have reportedly reconciled. Campbell went on to play Jay Kyle on the ABC sitcom My Wife and Kids and reteamed with Arnold for a four-episode stint on Everybody Hates Chris. More recently, she lent her voice to Max's animated series Harley Quinn and starred in Uncoupled. She has also continued to perform as a singer.
Campbell married actor Duane Martin in 1996. The couple divorced in 2020 and they have two sons.
Michelle Weeks (Ronette)
Michelle Weeks played Ronette, the third member of the harmonious chorus.
Weeks, a graduate of New York's famed LaGuardia High School, appeared in the Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid before lending her vocal talents to Little Shop of Horrors. The film is one of her only two on-screen acting credits, along with the 1987 TV movie Norman's Corner.
In a 2021 interview with Switched On Music, the singer briefly discussed her industry absence. "During the shooting of Little Shop of Horrors, I got pregnant. So that kind of put a hold on some things," she said.
Weeks began doing background vocals and has worked for artists like Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz. She eventually transitioned to House music and has released several tracks as both a songwriter and performer. In addition to her music career, she is also a canna chef.
John Candy (Wink Wilkinson)
John Candy played wacky radio host Wink Wilkinson.
Like Moranis, Candy was a veteran of the sketch series SCTV and quickly became one of its breakout stars. He had his first big-screen success in the Ivan Reitman Army comedy Stripes (1981), then rose to greater fame as Tom Hanks' brother in the mermaid rom-com Splash (1984). Box office hits Brewster's Millions (1985) — also featuring Moranis — and Summer Rental (1985) followed before he made his appearance in Little Shop of Horrors.
After the film, he reunited with Moranis in Spaceballs (1987), then with costar Steve Martin for Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987). Throughout the rest of the '80s and '90s, Candy continued to churn out chart-toppers like The Great Outdoors (1988), Uncle Buck (1989), Home Alone (1990), and Cool Runnings (1993). He made a rare dramatic turn in 1991 as attorney Dean Andrews Jr. in Oliver Stone's conspiracy thriller JFK.
Candy died of a heart attack at the age of 43 in March 1994. He is survived by his wife, Rosemary, and their two children.
Bill Murray (Arthur Denton)
Bill Murray jumped into the dentist's chair as pain enthusiast Arthur Denton.
Before Little Shop, Murray starred on SNL from 1977 to 1980 and won an Emmy for his writing contributions to the show. He made the leap to movies in 1979 with the raunchy comedy Meatballs (1979), followed by a successful string of films including Caddyshack (1980), Tootsie (1982), Stripes with John Candy (1981), and Ghostbusters (1984) with Rick Moranis.
Despite being an established star, Murray was not the director's first choice for the small but memorable role. Oz told THR, "I wanted to cast somebody else, but David [Geffen] had already cast Bill. I got very upset — not that Bill had been cast, but David and I had an agreement that we both had to sign off on whoever was cast…but David agreed he would not do that again, and I was glad to have Bill."
In the decades since Little Shop, Murray has added many memorable movies to his resume like Groundhog Day (1993), Lost in Translation (2003), and several collaborations with filmmaker Wes Anderson, including Rushmore (1998) and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). He's won two Independent Spirit Awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, another Emmy, and received an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actor. In 2016, he received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The actor was recently accused of misconduct on the set of the Aziz Ansari-directed feature Being Mortal. In the wake of the incident, two of Murray's former costars, Geena Davis and Seth Green, also recounted negative encounters they allegedly had while working with the star.
Murray has been married twice and has six children. In 2023, it was rumored he was in a relationship with "Milkshake" singer Kelis, to which she replied, "lol no babe, I wouldn't bother at all."
Jim Belushi (Patrick Martin)
Jim Belushi (credited as James Belushi) played the salesman who promises Seymour he'll make Audrey II "bigger than Hula Hoops!"
Jim, the younger brother of iconic SNL performer John Belushi, is an alumnus of the Second City improv troupe and made his first major on-screen appearance in the Michael Mann heist movie Thief (1981). After his brother's death in 1982, he followed in his footsteps and joined the cast of SNL for two seasons from 1983 to 1985 before starring in Little Shop of Horrors.
Since the film's debut, he reunited with costar John Candy for Who's Harry Crumb (1989) and Only the Lonely (1991) and starred in the comedies Red Heat (1988), K-9 (1989), Mr. Destiny (1990) and Curly Sue (1991). He costarred with Tupac Shakur in the rapper-actor's final film, Gang Related, in 1997. In 2001, he began an eight-season run as the titular husband and father on the sitcom According to Jim. The actor also notably appeared in the 2017 revival of Twin Peaks.
Outside of acting, Belushi stepped in for his late sibling in the Blues Brothers band alongside cocreator Dan Aykroyd to tour and record with the group. He and Aykroyd also released a non-Blues Brothers album together in 2003, Have Love, Will Travel. In 2020, he became a reality star with his three-season Discovery Channel series Growing Belushi, which chronicled his life as a cannabis farmer in Oregon.
Belushi has been married three times and has three children.
Christopher Guest (The first customer)
Christopher Guest played the brief walk-on role of the first customer to notice the "strange and interesting plant" in the window.
Guest first rose to prominence in 1984 for his portrayal of Nigel Tufnel, lead guitarist of the fictional rock band Spinal Tap, in the comedy This is Spinal Tap. That same year, he joined the cast of SNL for one season. Prior to his bit part in Little Shop of Horrors, Guest worked with costar Vincent Gardenia in 1974's Death Wish.
Since his brief visit to Mushnik's Flower Shop, Guest has continued to act but is best known as the writer and director of several partially improvised mockumentaries, such as Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), and For Your Consideration (2006). In addition to appearing in his own films, he also starred as Count Rugen in the beloved classic The Princess Bride (1987) and as Dr. Stone in the Tom Cruise legal thriller A Few Good Men (1992). In 2016, he directed and starred in the Netflix comedy Mascots. Next up is the long-awaited Spinal Tap II.
Miriam Margolyes (Dental nurse)
Miriam Margolyes played Dr. Scrivello's put-upon dental nurse.
Prior to Little Shop, Margolyes was a veteran British actress with over 60 TV and film credits to her name, including the BBC comedy series Blackadder and the Barbra Streisand musical Yentl (1983).
In 2023, Variety reported the actress claims her time playing Martin's assistant wasn't a laughing matter. "During my only musical number ('Dentist!') I was hit all day by doors opening in my face; repeatedly punched, slapped, and knocked down by an unlovely and unapologetic Steve Martin…Perhaps he was method acting." Martin and director Frank Oz have both refuted her account.
After Little Shop, Margolyes has stayed busy, adding almost 130 more roles to her resume. She won a BAFTA in 1994 for her performance in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993) and has also appeared in Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet (1996) and played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films. In 2022, she recounted a foul experience she had on the set of the apocalyptic action movie End of Days that led her to label star Arnold Schwarzenegger her "least favorite costar."
On the small screen, Margolyes was a cast member of the popular BBC series Call the Midwife and the Australian mystery series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. She has released three books: Dickens' Women (2012), This Much is True (2021), and Oh Miriam (2023). In 2002, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Drama. Next up is a guest appearance on Doctor Who.
Margolyes has been in a relationship with retired Australian professor Heather Sutherland since 1968.
Little Shop of Horrors: A Q&A with Frank Oz