ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

I'm just going to come out and say it: Miss Congeniality was one of the first movies I ever owned on DVD, and I wore that puppy out. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a transformation story, especially if it involves strong female leads and ridiculous performances.

Plus, true winner Cheryl Fraiser (Miss Rhode Island) remains one of the funniest people to ever be on screen.

Because of her, I still can't look at red underwear without calling them "Satan's panties."

It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since this movie hit theaters, so let's see how the cast has been using their beauty and grace since leaving Miss Congeniality behind (until the sequel, of course).

Gracie Hart - Sandra Bullock

Gracie Hart (or Gracie Lou Freebush as her coworkers semi-affectionately deem her) is a tough-as-nails, down-to-Earth ball of likability, and in many ways, the same can be said about Sandra Bullock. Following her turn as the most dangerous beauty queen around, she proved her range, starring in rom-coms (The Proposal, Two Weeks Notice), dramas (Infamous, Crash), and thrillers (Murder by Numbers).

Her real turning point came when she one an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in 2009's The Blind Side. From there, she proved that women-led comedies could be financially successful with The Heat and made outer space unbearably tense in Gravity. In the meantime, Bullock got married and divorced, adopted a kid, and was named People's "Most Beautiful Woman" in 2015.

Fun fact: The scene where she gets home after her first mission was almost completely improvised by Bullock. The trip, the bed-kick, and difficulty with the microwave were entirely her doing.

Victor Melling - Michael Caine

After making Gracie Hart pageant-ready, Michael Caine stayed incredibly busy with film projects. He starred in Austin Powers in Goldmember and Secondhand Lions before being cast as Alfred in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. From there, he appeared in Children of Men, The Prestige, and Inception (so clearly Nolan took a liking to the charming Caine).

His latest showings have been no less impressive, most recently appearing in two phenomenal films: Interstellar and [Kingsman: The Secret Service](tag:713143). Next up, you can catch him in early Cannes favorite Youth and alongside Vin Diesel in The Last Witch Hunter.

Eric Matthews - Benjamin Bratt

Eric Matthews was the partner turned love interest that Gracie never knew she wanted, and Benjamin Bratt did a great job of pulling that off. Since then, he's made jumps from film to TV and back, appearing in Traffic, Love in the Time of Cholera, and his own short-lived show on NBC, E-Ring. Later, he voiced characters in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Despicable Me 2. Recently, he's been all over TV, nabbing major roles in Private Practice, Modern Family, and [24: Live Another Day](tag:951373).

Up next, he'll voice Superman in Justice League: Gods and Monsters and star alongside Bryan Cranston in The Infliltrator.

Fun fact: Both Benjamin Bratt and Sandra Bullock did all their own fighting stunts in the movie. At one point, Bullock actually injured Bratt with a swift kick after he said, "Yes, you have to wear a bathing suit."

Kathy Morningside - Candice Bergen

Legendary actress Candice Bergen brought her poise to Miss Congeniality as the nefarious (but beautiful!) Kathy Morningside. She appeared in multiple comedies afterwards, including Sweet Home Alabama, View from the Top, and Sex and the City. Then, she had a starring role in Boston Legal, alongside her Congeniality co-star William Shatner.

Since then, she's had small roles in House M.D. and Battle Creek. She also took to the stage in Broadway productions of The Best Man and Love Letters.

Stan Fields - William Shatner

William Shatner played the doting announcer in Miss Congeniality and even appeared in the sequel Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. The original Captain Kirk has had a steady career with roles on Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, The Practice, and, of course, Boston Legal.

Since then, he's made some small but memorable appearances in shows like Rookie Blue, Hot In Cleveland, and Psych. You've also probably seen him in some Priceline commercials hawking travel packages.

Cheryl Fraiser - Heather Burns

The absolute best of the movie, Cheryl Fraiser a.k.a. Miss Rhode Island a.k.a. Heather Burns, has been a little more elusive than the rest of her cast mates, which is an absolute travesty. I want Burns on my screen pretty much always, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of quoting this amazing response to a pageant question.

Burns must have really loved working beside Sandra Bullock because she also starred in Two Weeks Notice and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous with her. Since then, she's appeared in Choke, Ashes, and What's Your Number. These days, she's probably best known for her starring role as Leah in Bored to Death. Next up, she'll be featured alongside Michelle Williams in Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Fun fact: Apparently her infamous answer to the "perfect date" question was an actual answer given in a real beauty pageant.


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