Real Genius Cast and Character Guide: (1985 film)

Real Genius Cast: Released in 1985, “Real Genius” is a cult classic science fiction comedy film that has delighted audiences for decades. Directed by Martha Coolidge, the film explores themes of genius, ethics, and the consequences of unchecked technological advancement. With its witty humor, memorable characters, and a heartwarming message, “Real Genius” has earned its place in the pantheon of ’80s cinema.

Real Genius Cast
Real Genius Cast
Release dateAugust 7, 1985
Duration1H 46M
CountryUnited States
Budget$8 million
Box office$13 million (North America)
DirectorMartha Coolidge
Screenplay byNeal Israel Pat Proft PJ Torokvei
Story byNeal Israel
Pat Proft
ProducerBrian Grazer
Star castVal Kilmer
Gabe Jarret Michelle Meyrink William Atherton
CinematographyVilmos Zsigmond
EditerRichard Chew
MusicThomas Newman
Production companyDelphi III Productions
DistributorTri-Star Pictures
Real Genius Cast

Real Genius Cast

Features a talented ensemble cast, including:

  • Val Kilmer as Chris Knight: The charismatic and brilliant genius who leads a group of students in building a powerful laser.
  • Gabriel Jarret as Mitch Taylor: A young, gifted student who joins Chris’s project and becomes his protégé.
  • Michelle Meyrink as Jordan Cochran: A quirky and brilliant fellow student who becomes romantically involved with Chris.
  • William Atherton as Prof. Jerry Hathaway: The unscrupulous professor who exploits the students’ work for his own gain.
  • Jon Gries as Lazlo Hollyfeld: A former genius student who lives in the basement and offers sage advice to Chris and Mitch
  • Robert Prescott as Kent
  • Mark Kamiyama as “Ick” Ikagami
  • Ed Lauter as David Decker
  • Louis Giambalvo as Major Don Carnagle
  • Patti D’Arbanville as Sherry Nugil
  • Severn Darden as Dr. Meredith
  • Beau Billingslea as George
  • Joanne Baron as Mrs. Taylor
  • Sandy Martin as Mrs. Meredith
  • Dean Devlin as Milton
  • Yuji Okumoto as Fenton
  • Deborah Foreman as Susan Decker
  • Stacy Peralta as Shuttle Pilot


The story of “Real Genius” revolves around Mitch Taylor, a 15-year-old prodigy who is admitted to the prestigious Pacific Technical University. Upon arriving, Mitch is introduced to Chris Knight, a brilliant and rebellious student who, along with his friends, is working on a top-secret project for their unscrupulous professor, Jerry Hathaway. The project involves developing a high-powered laser for military purposes.

As Mitch gets involved with Chris and his group, he discovers the true nature of the project and the moral dilemmas it presents. Together, they navigate the challenges of college life while working on the laser. Along the way, they encounter eccentric characters, including Jordan Cochran and Lazlo Hollyfeld, who add to the film’s charm.

The climax of the film centers around the unveiling of the laser, which is intended to be used as a weapon. Mitch and Chris realize the consequences of their work and decide to sabotage the project. They turn the laser into a giant popcorn popper, filling Hathaway’s house with popcorn.


Produced by Brian Grazer and directed by Martha Coolidge. The screenplay was written by Neal Israel, Pat Proft, and Peter Torokvei. The film was shot on location at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, which added authenticity to the college setting.

The production of the film faced various challenges, including the need for convincing scientific dialogue and creating realistic laboratory scenes. To achieve this, the filmmakers consulted with actual Caltech students and faculty members, ensuring that the scientific aspects of the film were accurate.

Val Kilmer’s charismatic performance as Chris Knight was a standout element of the production. His witty one-liners and charming demeanor contributed significantly to the film’s success. The chemistry among the cast members, including Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, and Michelle Meyrink, brought the characters to life and made the film enjoyable to watch.

The soundtrack of “Real Genius” also played a crucial role in the film’s overall tone. Featuring music by Thomas Newman, the score added depth to emotional scenes and complemented the lighthearted moments.


Upon its release, “Real Genius” received positive reviews from both critics and audiences. The film’s unique blend of comedy, science fiction, and heartwarming moments resonated with viewers. Val Kilmer’s performance as Chris Knight was particularly praised, with critics highlighting his charisma and comedic timing.

The film’s themes of ethics in science and the responsibilities of genius struck a chord with many viewers. “Real Genius” encouraged discussions about the ethical implications of scientific research, especially in the context of military applications. This added depth to the film and made it more than just a lighthearted comedy.

Over the years, “Real Genius” has gained cult status, and it continues to have a dedicated fanbase. Its memorable quotes and scenes, such as the famous popcorn-filled house, have become iconic in popular culture. The film’s enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless humor and thought-provoking themes.

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“Real Genius” remains a beloved classic in the realm of ’80s cinema. With its witty humor, memorable characters, and ethical quandaries, the film has stood the test of time and continues to entertain audiences of all ages. Val Kilmer’s charismatic performance as Chris Knight, coupled with the film’s exploration of the responsibilities of genius, make “Real Genius Cast” a must-watch for anyone seeking a blend of science fiction, comedy, and social commentary.

Whether you’re revisiting this cult classic or watching it for the first time, offers a delightful journey through the world of college geniuses, laser beams, and exploding popcorn – a truly unique and entertaining cinematic experience that has left a lasting mark on the world of film.

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