No film got more people dancing in the summer of 2000 than the ladies of the hit film Coyote Ugly. Although the film received poor reviews from critics, Coyote Ugly went on to become a smashing hit at the box office. It’s fun. It’s rambunctious. And it stars five gorgeous, scantily clad barmaids who like to throw bottles and dance on the bar. What could be better than that?
Over the years, the film has garnered quite a cult-like following. At the time, most of the film’s stars were fresh-faced newcomers to Hollywood, but they have come a long way in the past two decades. We’re taking a look at where the stars from Coyote Ugly are today, as well as offering some juicy behind-the-scenes gossip.
Before She Was Violet Sanford
No one knew the name Piper Perabo prior to the 2000 comedy-drama film Coyote Ugly. The blonde beauty was cast in the lead role of Violet Sanford, a small-town girl with dreams of making it in the Big Apple. With the voice of an angel, Violet moves to NYC to become a singer, only to get sidetracked by the adrenaline of working at the Coyote Ugly bar.
Surprisingly enough, Violet’s story somewhat mirrors Perabo’s early days in NYC. “I moved to New York and worked as a cocktail waitress, and I was horrible, I mean horrible,” the actress told Entertainment Tonight in 2000. It’s hard to imagine that she was THAT bad. I mean, have you seen her bottle-spinning skills?
Moving On Up
Violent Sanford’s role was Perabo’s breakout role, and she’s taken on several projects since. Fans may recognize her from other films such as Cheaper by the Dozen (and Cheaper by the Dozen 2) and The Prestige. She went on to star as Annie Walker on the spy drama series Covert Affair—the role even earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Talk about moving on up!
Twenty years may have passed since Coyote Ugly, but you would have never guessed by looking at Perabo. The actress is still rocking those blonde waves. In 2013, Perabo became engaged to her boyfriend, writer, and director Stephen Kay. The two married the following year in a classic New York City ceremony.
The Overprotective Father
Piper Perabo may have been an unknown actress when Coyote Ugly came out, but everyone knew who John Goodman was in 2000. By the time he was cast in Coyote Ugly in Bill Sanford’s role, Violet’s overbearing father, he had already won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his role as Dan Conner on Roseanne.
Goodman later reprised his role as Dan for the sequel series, The Conners. The actor is also a Coen Brother favorite and has collaborated with them for several films, including Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Goodman had a pretty serious resume at the time, but that didn’t seem to stop him from playing a good ‘ole dad in a comedy-drama flick.
A Seasoned Actor
Since Coyote Ugly’s release in 2000, Goodman has even further cemented himself as a phenomenal Hollywood actor. The Big Lebowski star has aged quite a bit since the early 2000s and even famously managed to drop several pounds in the mid-2010s. However, his talent and charm are everlasting.
The actor has also lent his voice for several animated films, such as Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove and Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. As for his personal life, Goodman married Annabeth Hartzog in 1989, and they currently live in the Garden District in New Orleans. The couple also shares a daughter, Molly, who is also involved in the film business as a production assistant.
Coyote Bar Maid
Many of you may not know Izabella Miko by name, but you’ve most likely seen her in a handful of films (and music videos) over the years. But back in 2000, she was an unknown actress. Much like Piper Perabo, Miko was a newbie on the Hollywood scene.
The actress grew up in Warsaw, Poland, where she trained to be a ballerina at the Chopin Music School. In the early ’90s, Miko was spotted by a choreographer, who invited her to the Big Apple to perform. Fast forward a few years, and Miko was cast as one of the “Coyotes” in the 2000 film.
Not Just an Actress
After her performance in Coyote Ugly, Miko relied on her dance skills to land her roles in Save the Last Dance 2 and Step Up: All In. Yes, these films are considered to be cheesy sequels, but there’s no denying that Miko’s dance skills were on point.
In 2005, the dancer-turned-actress appeared in a few episodes in the HBO series Deadwood and made a cameo in The Killers music video for Mr. Brightside. She later collaborated with the band for their 2012 single Miss Atomic Bomb and broke her foot during filming.
Tyra Banks may be a mainstream figure in Hollywood, but she wasn’t always the famous model that we know and love today. Even still, Banks was a full-fledged supermodel when Coyote Ugly began filming. The model turned business mogul began her career when she was just 15 years old.
Within two years, Banks was jet-setting around the world to walk the runway for some of the biggest names in fashion. She became a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 1997 and is one of the few Black models to achieve supermodel status.
Top Model No Longer
After appearing in Coyote Ugly as Zoe, Banks went on to star in a few other films before launching her reality competition show, America’s Next Top Model, in 2003. The show was a huge hit, but now that it is streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime, fans have noticed how badly the show aged.
Several viewers criticized Banks for her creative choices and offbeat comments about sexual orientation, race, and body image. Banks has since apologized and agreed with viewers that ATM has its issues. Ken Mok, the show’s co-creator, echoed Banks’s statement.
Hello From Down Under
Aussie Adam Garcia was cast in Kevin O’Donnell’s role, the dreamy Australian who catches Violet’s eye and encourages her to follow her dream of becoming a singer. With his stunning blue eyes and 2000s haircut, it was clear to everyone that Garcia was the right choice for Coyote Ugly’s leading man.
The hunky actor went on to star in other teen flicks, including Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, alongside Lindsay Lohan. He played Stu Wolff’s role, a troubled Rockstar who is, in Lola’s words, “a greater poet than Shakespeare.”
A Little Pep in His Step
The Australian native was known to get teenage girls’ hearts racing in the early 2000s, but Garcia is also known for bringing his talents to the stage. The actor is a professionally trained tap dancer who has displayed his dancing abilities in the live stage productions of Kiss Me, Kate, and Saturday Night Fever, both of which earned him nominations for a Laurence Olivier Award.
With everyone stuck at home for the better part of a year, Garcia has released tap dancing instruction videos. As for his personal life, Garcia is married to his longtime girlfriend, Nathalia Chubin.
’90s Country Starlet
Country singer LeAnn Rimes was already on top of the world when she appeared in Coyote Ugly as herself. That’s right! Rimes’s cameo added to Can’t Fight the Moonlight’s fun, which she and the rest of the barmaids performed on the bar.
Rimes made her country music debut at just 14 years old with her album Blue, which was certified multi-platinum after reaching the number one spot for Top Country Albums. The singer has won several awards, including three Grammys in 1997 (for new artist, best country song, and best country female vocal performance).
Making the Tabloid Headlines
Rimes rose to fame as a young teenager and has continued to make headlines ever since, but not always for the best reasons. The country singer’s marriage to Dean Sheremet came to an end in 2009 after the tabloids exposed her extramarital affair with actor Eddie Cibrian.
The two met and fell in love while filming the Lifetime movie Northern Lights. Cibrian was also married at the time to Bravo-lebrity Brandi Gainesville. “I take responsibility for everything I’ve done. I hate that people got hurt, but I don’t regret the outcome,” Rimes later told reporters.
Another Breakout Star
Actress Maria Bello was another actress who made her debut on the big screen with Coyote Ugly. But unlike her fellow newcomers, Bello wasn’t new to the business. Before landing the role of Lil, the feisty owner of the Coyote Ugly bar, Bello landed a role on ER.
The actress was also cast in the TV spy series Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but the show was canceled after only eight weeks. That’s when Bello decided to make the move to the big screen and auditioned for Coyote Ugly. Luckily for her, she landed the part.
Working on Finding Herself
Since Coyote Ugly, Bello has landed roles in films like Prisoners, A History of Violence, and Lights Out. The Guardian has even named Bello as one of the best actresses never to have received an Oscar nomination. That’s a pretty big deal!
In 2015, the actress came out with a book called Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves. The book discusses her struggles, experience, and growth as a gay woman. When she’s not writing or acting, Bello focuses on initiatives for public health care in Haiti and helping women from Darfur.
Cold as Ice
Actress Bridget Moynahan was cast as the ice-cold, leather pants-donning Rachel. Let’s just say Rachel was one tough cookie. But like most cookies, she was a big softie on the inside. Moynahan began her career as a model when she was 18 years old.
But after appearing in a few department store catalogs and TV commercials, the brunette beauty decided to take acting lessons. Fast forward to 1999, and Moynahan made her TV debut in a guest appearance in the HBO series Sex and the City as Natasha (Big’s new wife).
Quite the Love Triangle
After her reoccurring role as Natasha on Sex and the City, Moynahan landed some other roles. Over the years, you’ve most likely spotted her as Erin Reagan on the hit CBS show Blue Bloods and as Mrs. Wick in the John Wick films, alongside Keanu Reeves.
As for her personal life, the actress dated NFL player Tom Brady from 2004 until 2006. But just a few months after their breakup (and one month after Brady began dating his now-wife, Gisele Bündchen), Moynahan announced that she was pregnant with Brady’s baby. The actress gave birth to her son Jack in August 2007.
American Culture Shock
Actress Melanie Lynskey played Gloria, Violet Sanford’s supportive and warm BFF from New Jersey. Fun fact: Lynskey moved from New Zealand to the U.S. in 1997. So when she began shooting Coyote Ugly in 1999, the actress was still growing accustomed to American culture—which wasn’t always the easiest experience.
She had a hard time dealing with the hustle and bustle of the city. “People are rude everywhere, I guess,” she confessed to Time magazine. But Lynskey stuck it out and managed to make it work here in the U.S.
Queen of Accents
Lynskey is often complimented on her ability to speak in an American accent. The actress says that she learned different accents while staying with director Joss Whedon when she first made the big move to Los Angeles. “When I came here, I stayed in his guest bedroom. I watched movie after movie and learned American accents,” she later told reporters.
After her supporting role on Coyote Ugly, Lynskey seemed to make a career out of playing quirky, supporting characters. You’ve probably noticed her as the actress from Sweet Home Alabama and Perks of Being a Wallflower.
It’s Johnny Knoxville!
I know what you must be thinking: “Johnny Knoxville was in Coyote Ugly?” It may not have been a huge cameo-like LeAnn Rimes, but Knoxville was there. The goofy stunt performer played a rowdy frat guy who practically drooled while watching the Coyote barmaids sing and dance on the bar.
His cameo was most likely a promotional appearance, seeing as Knoxville and the rest of the gang began filming their MTV cult classic hit, Jackass. Many people don’t know this, but Knoxville didn’t always want to be a stunt performer.
Making It in Hollywood
After graduating high school in 1989, Knoxville moved to the City of Angels to become an actor. At the beginning of his career, he appeared mostly in commercials or as an extra in films. But after Jackass, Knoxville was catapulted into stardom and decided to give acting another chance.
He is known for his roles in The Dukes of Hazzard, The Ringer, and in the 2019 thriller, We Summon the Darkness. When he’s not acting or performing stunts, Knoxville likes to spend time with his second wife, Naomi Nelson, and his three kids.
Yes, the film Coyote Ugly was based on a real bar of the same name. NYU graduate Liliana Lovell opened the first Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York after leaving her career in Wall Street in 1993. Just like in the film, the dive bar was known for its rowdy bar staff and adrenaline-pumping atmosphere.
As for the name of the bar, there’s a story behind that too. “[Coyote Ugly is] when you get so drunk that the next day you wake up in bed with some awful guy, and you’d rather chew your arm off than wake them up,” Lovell told reporters in 2020.
Special Delivery for Mr. McNally!
In a 2020 interview with Variety magazine, director David McNally said that he received Coyote Ugly’s script under mysterious circumstances while relaxing next to the pool at the Mondrian Hotel in Hollywood.
“This young man dressed in black with a Jerry Bruckheimer cap with a black envelope, and he said, ‘Are you, David McNally?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Special delivery from Jerry Bruckheimer.’ It was very dramatic.'” Bruckheimer is a legendary Hollywood producer known for his action flicks, such as Bad Boys and Armageddon, for those who don’t know.
Jessica Simpson as Violet Sanford?
Jessica Simpson was in the midst of recording her second album when she reportedly auditioned for a role in Coyote Ugly. The young country starlet may have been perfect in the role of an aspiring singer-songwriter who ends up working in a rowdy bar, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Apparently, the young singer had a problem with some of the raunchier scenes and refused to shoot a sex scene (which was mostly cut out anyways). Luckily for Piper Perabo, Simpson turned down the role, and both ladies went on to make it in Hollywood.
A Little White Lie
Speaking of Piper Perabo, the Hollywood newcomer reportedly had no idea what was in store for her when she arrived for her first audition for Coyote Ugly. When the casting director asked Perabo if she knew how to play an instrument, Perabo was quick on her feet.
She lied and said that she knew how to play the guitar. When the actress got the call back for Coyote Ugly while filming The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (alongside John Goodman), she went out and bought a guitar so she could take lessons while on set.
Multiple Filming Locations
The 2000 film was filmed in various locations around New Jersey and New York. But all of the bar scenes were shot on set in Los Angeles, rather than in the original Coyote Ugly bar.
Not only was the original bar too small for filming, but the owner didn’t want to close it down for long periods of time. Fun fact: There are 20 Coyote Ugly bars around the world! That means that whether you’re in Las Vegas or Denver or overseas in England or Japan, you still get your dose of rowdy, dive bar fun.
Tyra Banks Made an Impression
In one scene, Violet is completely mesmerized by the coyotes’ dance moves at a local diner. Well, it looks like Violet was not the only one impressed during that scene. According to the film’s director David McNally, Bank’s completely blew him away with her performance.
“A lot of that was completely improvised, and that script wasn’t written that way for her to get up and try to shimmy and dance and do her thing,” he told Variety in 2020. “And she just did that spontaneously – ad-libbed some of those lines.”
An Impressive Client List
The dancing scenes in Coyote Ugly were choreographed by Travis Paynes, who had previously worked with huge stars like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Salt-N-Pepa. With that impressive resume, it’s no wonder that the film’s dance scenes were a hit.
According to the famed choreographer, he spent hours teaching the ladies of Coyote Ugly their moves. Most of the actors did not have a background in dancing, so it took them a bit longer to get their moves just right. But their efforts paid off, and dancing became an essential part of the film.
Adam Garcia Had to Dumb Down His Moves
Aussie actor Adam Garcia was a trained tap dancer before landing the part of Kevin. However, his character was not supposed to be a hotshot on the dance floor. So, when it came time for Garcia to bust a few moves on camera, the film’s choreographer had to tell him to dumb down his moves.
Bad dance moves and a lack of rhythm meant that he was more relatable to the average male. “[Travis Payne] was like, ‘You can’t look like a professional dancer. You can’t look as slick and polished,'” Garcia said in 2020. “We had to rough it up, put bits and pieces, and then make it more improvisational.”
Perfecting Their Bottle Throwing
As many of you may know, the cast of Coyote Ugly spin and throw their bottles in the air (which is called flaring in bartender terms) like it was nobody’s business. Their bartending skills look flawless, but, as it turns out, it took the cast a lot of practice to look that good.
Luckily, the ladies had a bartending specialist on set to help them out with the more complicated moves. That being said, the girls still broke a lot of bottles while perfecting their moves. But hey, anyone who’s bartended knows that’s what it takes to get good.
Beware! Girls Dancing on Bar!
Most of the dance scenes in Coyote Ugly take place on top of the bar. This, however, posed a problem for set designers when they realized that the ceiling was way too low, especially for models Tyra Banks and Bridget Moynahan.
As a result, the set had to be redesigned to accommodate some of the taller actresses. But this wasn’t the only problem that production faced. Dancing on the bar can be dangerous, and some of the actresses took a tumble. To prevent this from happening, the production would pour soda on the countertop so it would be sticky.
There Was Ageism on Set
Actress Maria Bello apparently experienced ageism on set. The actress may have played the no-nonsense bar manager Lil, but she did not call the shots behind the scenes. In August 2020, the actress told Variety that the production team members told her that she was “too old” to dance in the film.
“I was 32 at the time. I had argued for it because I worked at Hogs and Heifers,” the actress explained. Bello argued with production and the director, but no one would budge. “It was different back then. I remember arguing about it, but I wasn’t gonna win.”
Some Major Setbacks
While filming Coyote Ugly, the cast and crew experienced some major setbacks, including TWO hurricanes. “I remember one of the first days of shooting with [Perabo] and [Bello] in the basement where Violet meets Lil for the first time. When we got there that morning, that set was knee-deep in water and mucky,” director David McNally said in 2020.
They then had to pump out the basement, dry it, dress it, and then put sandbags against the door so water wouldn’t seep in. McNally also noted that the crew did a wonderful job dealing with the unfortunate circumstances.
Famous Coyote Cameos
If you watch Coyote Ugly closely, you’ll notice that there are some famous faces among the extras. You’ll be able to spot Johnny Knoxville in the crowd, as well as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Kaitlin Olsen.
And if you look closely, you’ll also be able to spot Hollywood producer Michael Bay, acting as a photographer in the film. As a producer, Bay was used to calling all of the shots on set. However, while filming Coyote Ugly, Bay wanted to be treated like any other extra. That meant waiting hours on end to film a single shot.
Lending a Helping Hand
Since the film tells an aspiring singer’s story, the film’s soundtrack had to be spot on. Luckily, they had the help of some pretty big names in music. Academy Award winner Diane Warren wrote the film’s original songs, while British producer Trevor Horn offered to work on some tracks.
But these weren’t the only famous faces lending a helping hand. Believe it or not, but actress Carrie Fisher served as a script doctor during a rewrite. “It was a kind of a dream team between the musical elements and the wonderful writers we had working with us,” Jerry Bruckheimer later told reporters.
Thanks to the film, LeAnn Rimes had some major success with her single Can’t Fight the Moonlight. It’s hard to even imagine the film without the song, which makes it that much more surprising to learn that the track was a last-minute addition to the soundtrack.
Can’t Fight the Moonlight was only added after test audiences said they didn’t like the original final song. This is not the only time when Rimes is credited for saving the day. Piper Perabo originally sang all of her character’s tracks for the film and even recorded them for the film’s album.
That’s Not Her Singing?
However, for some reason, Rimes was asked to re-record the film’s soundtrack and overdub Perabo’s performances in the movie. This means that we never actually hear what Perabo’s singing voice sounds like. The actress later recalled the moment when the production told her that Rimes would be overdubbing her singing.
“I was so scared they were going to say something worse. They were like, ‘We’re going to redub it because your voice isn’t the right feeling for the character and the movie,'” Perabo told Variety. “I was like, ‘As long as the movie’s still okay whatever.'”
Pulling It Off
It’s one thing to say that Rimes is going to re-record all of Victoria’s tracks, but it’s another thing to actually do it. In order to successfully pull off the overdub, Rimes had to perfectly match her singing to the actress’s moves in the film.
This meant that Rimes had to put in a lot of extra work to make it look natural. “I would watch the clip of her and what she was doing and had to actually match my voice up to her mouth, which was very hard to do,” the singer later told reporters. “I had to put her emotion that she was showing on screen into my voice.”
Critics Were Unimpressed
Coyote Ugly has become a cult classic. However, film critics were far from impressed. “Coyote Ugly’s main flaw is that it just isn’t bad enough,” Steve Schneider from Orlando Weekly said in 2000. The film even has a 23 percent critic rating.
Despite these bad reviews, audiences around the world loved the film. Coyote Ugly grossed a whopping $113 million globally, and the film’s soundtrack went multi-platinum. It just goes to show that film critics don’t always know what they’re talking about! Sometimes audiences just want to have fun.
Coyote Ugly 2?
Fans may not have seen the last of Coyote Ugly. That’s because Tyra Banks apparently has been pushing for a second move for some time now. “I’ve even reached out to [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer and the team and the original writer, and they’ve had some jam sessions on what it could possibly be,” Banks told Variety.
As for Perabo, she believes that the sequel’s storyline would have to be tweaked for modern audiences. “We’re maybe in the third wave of feminism now, and things have evolved, and I would want the movie to reflect that evolution.”