If you came of age in the 1980s, there’s no way you didn’t watch John Hughes’ 1985 film, “The Breakfast Club,” at least once. This iconic movie epitomizes the entire decade in a way that no other teen movie quite can. Teenagers of the time could relate to the stereotypical characters from the movie by matching them with characters in their own high schools. Hughes did an excellent job of bringing these personalities to life with characters that were so believable and real that many ’80s kids feel like they grew up with the so-called Brat Pack. Three decades have passed since the film’s release, but its stars-the Princess, the Criminal, the Brain, the Outcast, and the Jock-are still going strong.
Without a doubt, Molly Ringwald, aka The Princess, was the main star of “The Breakfast Club,” although it probably wasn’t the intent of the producers when the film was being made. Ringwald started acting in 1979 when she starred in a production of “Annie.” She was later cast in the TV series “Diff’rent Strokes” alongside Gary Coleman. Perhaps her most memorable role prior to starring in “The Breakfast Club” was in the movie “Sixteen Candles” in 1984. In “The Breakfast Club,” Ringwald played Claire Standish, a spoiled rich girl who could apply lipstick by holding the tube between her breasts-a feat that would be on the minds of teenage boys for years following the movie’s release. She is easily the most recognizable face from the film that catapulted her into the consciousness of a generation and led to her subsequent role in the ’80s flick “Pretty in Pink” in 1986. Her recent work is sparser. Ringwald made a cameo appearance in “Not Another Teen Movie” and is currently starring as the abstinence-promoting mother of the main character in the hit television series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”
Ringwald’s love interest in “The Breakfast Club,”-the bad boy with the bad hair that made you just want to grab a pair of clippers and start trimming-John Bender, aka The Criminal, was played by Judd Nelson. Sadly, he found little success beyond starring in “St. Elmo’s Fire” the same year. His only other claim to fame is his voice work in “Transformers: The Movie,” in which he voiced Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime. Although he did star in films throughout the 1990s and had a four-season run in the latter part of the decade on the sitcom “Suddenly Susan,” Nelson hasn’t had any major roles in recent years.
Anthony Michael Hall played the movie’s struggling underdog/geek, Brian Johnson, aka the Brain. Hall had already had some success on the big screen by playing Clark Griswold’s son, Rusty, in the 1983 hit, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and starring in 1984’s “Sixteen Candles” alongside Ringwald. In 1985, Hall really found his footing with “The Breakfast Club,” although he went on to also star in TV’s “Weird Science.” It was also in 1985 that Hall became the youngest “Saturday Night Live” cast member. Hall starred in the TV series “Dead Zone” for five years before taking on his most recent role as a reporter in “The Dark Knight.”
Every ’80s high school had a handful of girls who were seen as just plain weird, and in “The Breakfast Club,” Ally Sheedy’s character, Alison Reynolds, aka The Outcast, brought weirdness home in a big way. From beneath her cold-as-ice, slightly psychotic demeanor, Ringwald’s character brought out a real beauty with an onscreen makeover that was not lost on the audience. Like two of her costars, Sheedy also starred in “St. Elmo’s Fire” following her work on “The Breakfast Club,” but like the character she portrayed, her career seemed to take a weird turn and she has done little else since other than publishing a book of poems and starring in two movies: “Maid to Order” and “Short Circuit.”
Having a father like Martin Sheen didn’t hurt Emilio Estevez’ chances of being cast as Andrew Clark, the movie’s jock. Estevez had already starred in one successful film, “Repo Man,” before landing his spot in “The Breakfast Club.” His success may be the greatest of all his costars; he has starred in dozens of movies in the thirty years since “The Breakfast Club” was released, including “Young Guns,” “Bobby,” and “The Way,” in addition to work on several TV shows.
Love them or hate them, the members of “The Breakfast Club” live on in infamy in the hearts and memories of every ’80s teen.