Chevy Chase – Clark
While Clark W. Griswold, Jr. (Chevy Chase) is generally a pretty optimistic and cheerful guy, he often goes overboard when it comes to arranging the ideal family gathering—which causes lots of problems when things don’t go according to plan. In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark tries to host the perfect holiday for his visiting relatives, but the festivities soon turn to chaos and disaster.
Next -> #2 Beverly D’Angelo – Ellen
#2 Beverly D’Angelo – Ellen
For Clark Griswold’s long-suffering wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), a successful Christmas isn’t about perfectly cooked holiday meals or having the most impressive light display on the block. Level-headed and practical, Ellen simply wants to get through the holidays with no major disasters—so she does her best to rein in her husband when his single-minded enthusiasm and grandiose plans get out of hand.
Since Christmas Vacation, actress and singer Beverly D’Angelo has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows. Even after having twins at age 49 with her then-partner Al Pacino, D’Angelo’s Hollywood career hasn’t slowed down a bit. You may have spotted her in American History X, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The House Bunny, or as agent Barbara “Babs” Miller in the popular HBO series Entourage.
Next -> #3 Juliette Lewis – Audrey
#3 Juliette Lewis – Audrey
While Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo played the parts of Clark and Ellen Griswold throughout all of the Vacation films, the two Griswold children were always recast for each movie. For 1989’s Christmas Vacation, Juliette Lewis plays Clark and Ellen’s teenage daughter Audrey—who is mortified at being forced to share a bed with her brother after their extended family arrives for Christmas.
Although Lewis had previously appeared in a few television shows and in a minor role in the 1988 sci-fi comedy film My Stepmother Is an Alien, her part as Audrey in Christmas Vacation helped put her on the map. Just two years later, she made waves as Danielle Bowden in the Cape Fear remake, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Since then, she’s appeared in many other films and television shows, including Kalifornia, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Natural Born Killers, The Firm, and Wayward Pines. Lewis also has a successful music career as the lead singer of her band Juliette and the Licks. Projects she’s lined up for 2018 include the horror comedy Dreamland and the drama Anthem.
Next -> #4 Johnny Galecki – Rusty
The Griswolds’ son Rusty (Johnny Galecki) does his best to help his dad through the stressful holiday season, but he refuses to get involved in some of Clark’s crazier ideas—like checking the thousands of Christmas lights stapled to their roof for a dead bulb, or helping Clark kill the squirrel that gets loose in their living room.
Johnny Galecki’s part in Christmas Vacation came early in his acting career, but he soon rose to greater prominence on television with roles in American Dreamer and Billy. In 1992, Galecki landed his big break when he was cast as Darlene Conner’s boyfriend David Healy in the long-running sitcom Roseanne. After Roseanne, Galecki transitioned to movies for a time—appearing in films like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Suicide Kings, and Vanilla Sky. Since 2006, he’s starred as physicist Leonard Hofstadter in the massively popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory—a role which has earned him both an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination.
Next -> #4 Randy Quaid – Cousin Eddie
#4 Randy Quaid – Cousin Eddie
Cousin Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid) makes an appearance in four of the Vacation films, but his antics during the course of Christmas Vacation make for some of the character’s most hilarious and quotable moments—like when he dumps his RV’s septic tank into the neighborhood storm drain. Although Eddie’s exploits cause quite a bit of chaos, it becomes clear by the end of the film that his heart is (usually) in the right place.
While Quaid has repeatedly earned acclaim for dramatic performances, his most memorable roles have been quirky comedic characters like Cousin Eddie. He scored two big hits in 1996 as an Amish bowling phenom in Kingpin and an eccentric former fighter pilot in Independence Day. He later earned his third Emmy nomination with a role in the TV miniseries Elvis, and appeared as ranch boss Joe Aguirre in Brokeback Mountain. Since 2009, Quaid’s acting career has essentially been on hold; he and his wife have been arrested on multiple occasions, and Quaid was banned for life from a stage actors’ union. The couple fled to Canada in 2010, supposedly to avoid a shadowy group called the “Hollywood Star-Whackers.” They were arrested again after returning to the U.S., but those charges were later dropped. At the time, Quaid told reporters he hoped to become a firefighter, but it seems his career plans have changed: he’s currently slated to appear in the 2018 comedy Weight, his first movie in nine years.
Next -> #5 Nicholas Guest – Todd Chester
#5 Nicholas Guest – Todd Chester
Throughout National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold’s efforts to create an “old-fashioned family Christmas” inadvertently cause chaos in the structured and snobbish lives of his rich next-door neighbors, Todd Chester (Nicholas Guest) and his wife, Margo. In the late 1970s, Nicholas Guest decided to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Christopher by pursuing a professional acting career. Since then, Guest has racked up nearly 200 different credits on his Hollywood résumé. After his performance in Christmas Vacation, Guest went on to appear in dozens of other live-action productions, and also began a successful second career as a voice actor. Over the years, he’s lent his voice to numerous characters in cartoons, anime, and video games—most recently in the animated series Dragons: Race to the Edge.
Next -> #6 Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Margo Chester
#6 Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Margo Chester
While Todd and Margo Chester (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) love to take digs at their neighbor Clark Griswold, only Margo has the guts to actually do anything about the chaotic situation next door when things finally come to a head. After launching her acting career in the 1980s,
Julia Louis-Dreyfus found early success as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and the sitcom Day By Day. As Margo Chester in Christmas Vacation, Louis-Dreyfus essentially reprised her Day By Day role, playing a shallow and sarcastic neighbor in both parts. After Christmas Vacation, Louis-Dreyfus went on to even greater fame for her performance as Elaine Benes on NBC’s beloved sitcom Seinfeld; in the years since, she’s continued her professional winning streak, appearing in shows like Watching Ellie, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The New Adventures of Old Christine. Most recently, you can spot her in the HBO satirical comedy series Veep—in which she’s starred as former U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer since 2012.