EW Reunions: 'The West Wing' cast talk President Obama, and where their characters are now

Reunions_West-WingThe cast of The West Wing must really enjoy each other’s company. Our reunion shoot for the Emmy-laden NBC drama was scheduled for a Sunday morning — early Sunday morning, at a dive bar in East Los Angeles, on one of the hottest days of the waning summer. Some of the women were scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m. Again: On a Sunday.

But Martin Sheen (President Josiah Bartlet), Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg), Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman), Elisabeth Moss (Zoey Bartlet), Dulé Hill (Charlie Young), Janel Moloney (Donna Moss), Kathryn Joosten (Dolores Landingham), and Stockard Channing (Abigail Bartlet) could not have been more game to reconnect and reminisce about the show, its impact on the culture and their careers, its eerie parallels with Barack Obama’s ascent to the real White House, and where their characters would be today.  (Cast mates Richard Schiff and Rob Lowe were unavailable; Lowe tweeted a shout-out to his West Wing buddies, explaining he was filming a movie in Big Sur that was keeping him from the reunion shoot: “Miss you, old friends.”)

The actors also remembered John Spencer, who played Chief of Staff (and later vice-presidential candidate) Leo McGarry; Spencer died suddenly on Dec. 16, 2005 in the middle of the seventh and ultimately final season. “It’s not The West Wing without John Spencer,” said Hill. “All the time, he would be saying, ‘We wouldn’t be getting this [experience] if we were on a cop show.’ He would always say that with a big smile on his face whenever we had some kind of amazing experience because we were on this show about the White House.”

Check out the exclusive EW.com video below to see what else they had to say. Channing had to leave the shoot before we had a chance to chat with her on camera, unfortunately, but you can see what she told us about the perks (or lack thereof) of playing the First Lady in Entertainment Weekly’s Reunions issue (on newsstands now). You can also check out interviews with the reunited casts of Back to the Future, The Lord of the RingsWill & GraceScreamPretty in PinkAliasMarried… With Children, and more.

Comments (121 total) Add your comment
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  • Sharu


    • Jeff

      Yeah that Elizabeth Moss should really find a Emmy-worthy role on a critically acclaimed show. And Dule Hill? I mean, can’t the guy find a really popular cable series to latch onto or something? And christ Allison Janney, you’d think by now you’d have been in several well-recieved indie films as well as played a pivotal role in the final season of one of the most talked-about TV shows of the last decade. And Bradley Whitford? Why does nobody want to hire him for a TV series (or two)?

      Otherwise, right on the money Larry.

    • Joseph T

      The actors from the show have found plenty of work so I am not sure where you are pulling that from.

    • ggny

      and The Sopranos actors have found work? I would say that The West Wing actors are FAR MORE sucessful then The Soprano sctors

    • Garry

      Yeah, well, writing a post like that shows you’re pretty pathetic yourself.

    • Abby

      Larry: I know that we’re all entitled to our own opinions, but you’re an idiot! Perhaps the dialogue was too complex for you, or the characters confused you by seeming too real? I’m sorry, but I say again, you’re an idiot…Oh yeah, and as a proud girl from Jersey,…The Sopranos sucked!!!

    • Ana

      Also for at least 3 of those 4 years, The Wire was the best show on television and should have won best drama over everything else that was nominated during that time.

    • Mr Burns

      This is an outrage! Where was Moira Kelly, the true heart and soul of the show? Just kidding.

      • PityPie


      • izzy

        that’s right, Mandy did so much for the first season! and there’s even a new television term named after her.

      • Scott

        izzy – what’s the term? mandied?

    • Buzz

      Bradley W. … it must be really tough to only get to act in Tony award-winning plays on Broadway.
      Maybe a role will open up on The Bold and Beautiful soon …

    • WW girl

      I personally love the West Wing. I watch the reruns over and over again and wish they could air new episodes. It is my personal opinion that it is one of the best shows ever. We all have an opinion and I try to comment positively on things I like, and refrain from commenting on shows that I do not. Because I know someone else must like it. To each his own.

    • Dinjab

      Just jealous because no one would watch a political drama about creationist Republicans.

    • CP

      Go back and watch the Sopranos again. It’s like a straight line from “OMG, this is the greatest show of all time, ever, must-watch-more!” to “Why am I watching this again?” from episode 1 to episode 86. Straight line. I’ve never seen another show have as straight a line. It’s eerie.

    • Chris

      This show was only for intelligent viewers. If you thought it was “crappy”, that’s just your I.Q. speaking, yelling up from below, begging for some attention.

    • calvin

      It is amazing to me that there are so many West Wing fans out there. I fell in love with the show the very first time I screened it. The writing was so smart and honest. I liked how the democrats were called on the carpet about their smug nature. Although the WW was ruled by democrats, the republican agenda and perspective was always included for balance. I loved the poetic dialogue between any two characters at any given time. Seriously, it could by Charlie and POTUS, or Josh and Mrs. Landingham, it really didn’t matter. Every week was worth my efforts of watching and learning. That’s it; I learned when I watched the show, and I learned even more later when I screened the DVDs. How often can you say that you learned something from a television show that you can apply in your daily lives. I loved the growth of Charlie from a frightful young man into the confident contributor to policy and staff. There weren’t too many topics that WW stayed away from; whether it was race, sexism, conflict in the Middle-East, China, or even domestic terrorism. This IS a great show. Yes, I cried when Josh was shot and fighting for his life on the table. I couldn’t help but envision myself in the waiting room while a cohort/ friend of mine was fighting for his life. It was crazy to me. I’m not sure if Aaron is reading this or not, but WE WANT A REAL REUNION. WE WANT A MINI-SERIES PLEEEEEASE!

  • econruth

    I thought Mrs. Landingham had died in real life too… How did I miss that?

    • Alan of Montreal

      Guess you don’t watch Desperate Housewives

    • Bobbie

      Idk, since Joosten continued to appear on the show irregularly in flashbacks and as Bartlet’s illusory sparring partner after her character died.

    • Lissa in Montreal

      Kathryn Joosten has been diagnosed with cancer, but continues to work.

  • Amy

    I totally agree: Donna worked with Josh at the think tank until the kid came, and Zoey and Charlie ended up together. And John Spencer’s Leo WAS the heart and soul, and father confessor, of the show.

    • David

      Santos was elected in 2006, which would mean he was up for re-election this year. Seems like Josh would still be there as Chief of Staff (unless he left to run for mayor of Chicago).

      • Jenn

        Part of me wants to agree with you: They were such a fantastic team, so it is great to think Josh is still CoS for Santos.
        But then another part of me thinks Donna–she of the “Be still and listen to me” speech–would have stood firm that in trying to make a marriage and/or family work, CoS isn’t the best job for Josh to be in (what with his workaholic single-mindedness nature–very similar, in fact, to Leo, whose own marriage disintegrated in part because of his job as CoS). And Josh would have *eventually* seen her way of thinking was right.

        I probably need to quit thinking so much about fictional characters’ continued story arcs, no?

      • wooster182

        I don’t think she would have made him leave. She was just as hungry for politics as he was. And she understood his need to be the guy behind the guy. I think they would have been CoS of the President and First Lady until Santos just couldn’t take Josh any more or Josh found a better candidate. I think they would have become a political team of 2, preparing presidential candidates and their spouses as long as they possibly could. They had to be a part of the action. I don’t think either of them would have felt comfortable idle in a think tank.

  • Christopher Shappley

    Still the best show the television gods has ever given us.

    • noa


    • blueorchid


    • Buzz


    • Julia

      Love the show. Can’t believe Bravo pulled it from reruns – I was just getting back into it!!!

      • jules

        seriously? that sucks.

      • WW girl

        oh no…now I will have to buy the DVDs. I used Bravo to get my fix on whenever I had a day off.

    • jules

      great show – yes. best show – no. I can think of at least one other that premiered in 2004 that was better and more ground-breaking than the west wing.

      • WW girl

        Malcome in the MIddle???

  • ggny

    You kidding me…No Richard Schiff? There is no way this is a West Wing reunion without Toby i refuse to watch it just because he isnt there

    • Luddite

      You should at least read the article. He couldn’t be there. It’s not like they left him out on purpose.

      • ggny

        before posting something idiotic i did read it and im trying to say there is no point in a WW reunion without Toby

    • Justin

      No points? That’s ridiculous.

      • Justin


  • TBH

    I agree Jeff, Larry is right on the money. I mean Whatever happened to that Kathryn Joosten woman anyways? It’s not like she’s starring on a successfull TV series on ABC right now or anything. Or Rob Lowe, someone should tell him to get a part in a popular series or two in the space of one year. And don’t get me started on that Martin Sheen person…Who is he anyways? NEVER heard of him before Or after West Wing…

  • MJ

    Believe it or not, just discovered it on DVD. Watching it now reveals uncanny connections to the current administration. So sorry I wasted so much time before experiencing this brilliant show.

    • Rowan

      I actually kind of envy you that you’re watching the series for the first time now. I love watching the show still, but miss that feeling of anticipation because I don’t know what wonderful dialogue will come out of their mouths next. Savor the show!

  • Mark in FL

    I still can’t figure out why they didn’t show the episode of President Greg Stillson getting assassinated before he blew up the world!

    • Brett


    • XANDER

      Because there’s NO FUTURE FOR STILLSON! But, thank God for Johnny!

  • Juke Early

    The West Wing was an excellent show. While John Spencer’s death left a genuine hole, I still think TV movies should get made – esp. now Jimmy Smits show got axed. But hey, who needs content which engages & makes you think? I loathe Sorkin haters, the kind who watch cloned tv. BTW using a screen name is de rigueur on the net. But unless you are the real Larry David, use some creativity & hide behind something unique to you.

  • Lisa Simpson

    Mrs. Landingham lives!

  • Ronald

    To all of the nay sayers, The West Wing is simply, without fanfare, the best dramatic television program every produced in America. The writing, acting and production was unmatched. This can be watched over and over again and you can always find something new and fascinating. I can thing of no television show, except perhaps The Wire that had more single, stand out, compelling episodes. From “In The Shadow of Two Gunman,” “The Women of Kumar,” “Gaza,” “Manchester,” “Shutdown,” “The Two Cathederals,” and glorious trilogy that began with “25” and ended with “The Dogs of War.” There are at least a dozen more that reflect the superb, outstanding quality and value of what I believe is without question, the greatest television program ever!!!! I have all seven (7) seasons on DVD and enjoy watching the series from star to end twice each year. For those who don’t understand or get The West Wing–that’s your loss. I have only two (2) complaints about the show. First, the destruction of the Toby Ziegler character. They wrote him into a corner at the end and it was sad because Toby was the conscious of the Bartlett Administration. Second, I thought the Alan Alda character Arnie Vinick should have won the final election against the Jimmie Smits character–Matt Santos. It was originally planned to occur that way until John Spencer’s untimely death in the middle of the 7th and final season. Not only was Alda brilliant in the role, Vinick was a moderate Republican that providied an alternative to right wing extremist mentality. Nonetheless–The West Wing remains a monument of outstanding, compelling, brilliant elevision programming.

    • Donald

      I disagree with you. I believe ” The Wire ” and “The Good Wife ” are ahead of West Wing but is was a terrific television experience.

      • Trinity

        I’ve never seen “The Wire”. I will someday watch it on DVD given all the accolades it receives. I have seen several episodes of “The Good Wife” and find it to be well written and acted. I just don’t think you can compare the two. They are so completely different that I don’t see how one can say that the other is definitively better. It’s a different TV experience all together.

    • Donna Rose

      Completely agree. I still miss it. Most brilliant Amercian TV drama ever made. Wish it had continued with Smits and Alda, and Sorkin at the helm.

    • Trinity

      I watched it when it aired in primetime and religiously when Bravo first started and had it in heavy rotation. When Bravo replaced it with all that Real Housewives and other drivel, I started jonesing for WW. My sister, bless her heart, gave me the complete series on DVD. I have watched the entire series all the way through four times since then. Sometimes, I just watch a single episode I particularly like. I can always find something I missed before as it was rich in ideas and dialogue. Nearly every line has a meaning, even if it may sound like a throw away, it comes back. I find myself marveling at how ahead of the curve they were on some real political topics (social security, health care, illegal immigrants, for a few examples). Just this past weekend I watched “What Kind of Day It Has Been” and “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen”, I and II. I’ve seen it many times but still sat on the edge of my seat totally engrossed.

      I agree with Ronald about what they did with Toby Ziegler’s character. It didn’t feel right although I guess one could argue it was his last effort to do something for his late brother. He had always been the “do the right thing no matter what” person so I guess it wasn’t that far off. But it seemed to go against his loyalty to Bartlet. It hurt me to the core when Bartlet told Toby that many people would consider him a hero but he wasn’t one of them. I just hated it for him and always have to fast forward through that part. I am happy in flashbacks (library dedication) there is indication that Toby and Bartlet made up beyond Bartlet signing his pardon.

      Even the secondary and recurring characters were amazing on this show.

      • Trinity

        That should be “What Kind of Day Has it Been.”

      • WW girl

        My favorite episodes usually have Sam Seaborne writing or saying something so poetic and beautiful. I wish I had a vocabulary like his (or Sorkin’s) so anything like that or with him and Bartlett and I swoon

      • deacon blues

        I’m so glad not just for the article, but for this string. I’m off today and having a ball reconnecting with fans. I have to chime in on the “Toby Factor”. While I was sorry that his character arc led to less screen time, I have to admit it was incredibly brave writing. One of the posts called him the conscience of the Bartlett administration. That was the point. He knew Bartlett wanted to send the shuttle, but as POTUS, he couldn’t. I don’t think Bartlett knew he wanted to send at that point. But, as we saw with the presidential library dedication, President Bartlett came around and I think was greatful that Toby had the strength of his conviction to out the military shuttle. (GOD THIS IS FUN!!!!).

  • kim

    I still miss “The West Wing.” Josh and Bradley Whitford rule!

    • Amanda


  • Donald

    Watching the West Wing was like watching Shakespeare. That cast was extraordinary. My favorite West Wing was of-course “Twenty-Five.” Season 6 ad Season 7 are must see TV if you want to understand political primaries and the general election for the Presidency. Oops a shout out to John Amos as Commander Fitzwallace; Tim Matheson as the Vice President Hoynes; John Goodman as Speaker of the House who became President; the late great Ron Silver; the under rated Teri Polo as Helen Santos; The phenomenal Janine Garofolo and finally the brilliant Alan Alda as Arnold Venick. One of the best TV shows ever !!!

    • Fruttel

      Thank you Donald for staying on topic instead of feeling the need to trash other shows just to “prove” yóu are right.

      I’m in total agreement with what you wrote at that. ;-)

    • deeidub

      Yes! John Amos as Fitz was a favorite character for me. So sad when they killed him off….

  • wickEd

    …where is Aaron?

    otherwise, amazing :)

    • Trinity

      Just finished a little project about a little social network . . .

  • Mel

    Aaron Sorkin’s shows are always so smart and well-written, and The West Wing was the only one of them that got a real chance. TWW was a huge part of my family’s life for it’s entire run–it was the only show we would all sit down and watch together, sometimes the only time we spent together each week. A full-on reunion (TV movie, mini-series, whatever) would be amazing to experience, I think.

    • Caroline

      Aaron’s West Wing was a hit due in part to where Poltics was at the time – Clinton was in office and everything was rosey and good.

      When Bush and the Republicans took office, you see the ratings for the show drop. Wasn’t it around this time that Aaron left the show.

      • Trinity

        In 2006, he started working on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and writing the screenplay for Charlie Wilson’s War. John Wells also left but I think Sorkin still had a hand in things to the end. The last season was actually excellent. The fifth season was the dip.

      • WW girl

        When Rob Lowe left I think it took a little downward turn. I still loved it but was just not the same

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