- Faye Dunaway as Diana Christensen
- William Holden as Max Schumacher
- Peter Finch as Howard Beale
- Robert Duvall as Frank Hackett
- Wesley Addy as Nelson Chaney
- Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen
- Beatrice Straight as Louise Schumacher
- Jordan Charney as Harry Hunter
- William Prince as Edward Ruddy
- Lane Smith as Robert McDonough
- Marlene Warfield as Laureen Hobbs
- Conchata Ferrell as Barbara Schlesinger
- Carolyn Krigbaum as Max's secretary
- Arthur Burghardt as the Great Ahmet Khan
- Cindy Grover as Caroline Schumacher
- Darryl Hickman as Bill Herron
- Lee Richardson as Narrator (voice)
- Cast notes
- Kathy Cronkite (Walter Cronkite's daughter) appears as kidnapped heiress Mary Ann Gifford.
- Lance Henriksen has a small uncredited role as a network lawyer at the meetings in Diana Christensen's Los Angeles office, and at Ahmet Khan's home.
- Ken Kercheval makes an appearance as a lawyer in the negotiation scene.
- Some sources indicate that Tim Robbins has a small, non-speaking role at the end of the film as one of the assassins who kills Beale; however, Robbins has publicly stated that he did not appear in the film.
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