Running With the Pack
They hated being called the Brat Pack—a term introduced by a 1985 New York magazine cover story that Rob Lowe dismissed as a "mean-spirited hatchet job"—but the name stuck. Even three decades later, these stars of "St. Elmo's Fire" and several other '80s movies haven't entirely managed to shake it. Here, as the group's original leader Emilio Estevez turns 56, is more on the Brat Pack, along with updates on what they're doing now.
Emilio Estevez's history with the Brat Pack can be traced back to the 1983 coming-of-age film "The Outsiders," in which he co-starred with Rob Lowe and Matt Dillon. But it was Estevez's roles in the two 1985 movies most closely associated with this group of young actors—"The Breakfast Club" and "St. Elmo's Fire"—that established Martin Sheen's oldest son as Leader of the Pack.
At 55, Estevez still makes movies, most recently directing and starring in "The Public," a 2018 drama that flew under the radar. He maintains a lower public profile than his younger brother Charlie Sheen, though a brief marriage to Paula Abdul in the early 1990s kept him in the news for a time. In recent years, Estevez has operated a winery in Malibu, California.
Anthony Michael Hall—THEN
Anthony Michael Hall became a legacy member of the Brat Pack—and its head geek—having co-starred with Molly Ringwald in director John Hughes first film, "Sixteen Candles," before both of them were sent to detention in "The Breakfast Club." In 1985, the Brat Pack's breakthrough year, Hall joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live," but he was dismissed along with the rest of that year's SNL ensemble the next year.
Anthony Michael Hall—NOW
Despite a brief hiatus in the late '80s, during which he battled a drinking problem, Hall has continued to work in movies, including "Edward Scissorhands" and "Six Degrees of Separation." Now 50 and sober for nearly three decades, he appeared with Brad Pitt in 2017's "War Machine" and has a recurring role on TNT's "Murder in the First." Hall is godfather to the son of fellow Brat Packer Robert Downey, Jr.
Just 16 when she was cast in "Sixteen Candles," Molly Ringwald went on to star in two more John Hughes films, "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink," and in 1986 appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Though she was Hughes' muse and the Brat Pack's golden girl, Ringwald turned down the director's next offer—a starring role in 1987's "Some Kind of Wonderful"—fearing she would be typecast.
At 50, Ringwald is now known as a writer as well as an actress. She lived in Europe for several years in the 1990s, starring in some French films. The daughter of blind jazz pianist Bob Ringwald, she released her own jazz album, "Except Sometimes," in 2013. Married twice, with three children, Ringwald recently wrote an essay for The New Yorker that examined her John Hughes films of the 1980s in light of the #MeToo movement.
As the Brat Pack's official hunk, Rob Lowe had a successful 1980s run with such films as "The Outsiders," "Oxford Blues," "St. Elmo's Fire" and "About Last Night" before his flame started to flicker. In 1988, Lowe's image took a major hit when caught on videotape having sex with a 16-year-old girl he'd met while campaigning for presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis at the Democratic convention in Atlanta (with the age of consent in Georgia being 14-years-old).
The 54-year-old actor currently co-stars on the CBS series "Code Black," his career having rebounded in the 1990s with roles in such projects as "Wayne's World," the Austin Powers trilogy and television's "The West Wing." In his early days attached to both Melissa Gilbert and Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Lowe has been married to Sheryl Berkoff since 1991. The couple have two sons, now in their 20s, who appear with their dad in an A&E reality series, "The Lowe Files."
Andrew McCarthy—the sensitive, vulnerable one—qualified for Brat Pack membership with his roles in "Pretty in Pink," "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Less Than Zero." Ranked No. 40 on VH1's 100 Greatest Teen Stars of All Time, McCarthy saw his career begin to slow in the late '80s, though he did score a surprise hit with 1989's "Weekend at Bernie's."
In 2016, McCarthy had a co-starring role on the short-lived ABC series "The Family," but he's had greater success as a television director for such shows as "Orange is the New Black" and "The Blacklist." Like Molly Ringwald, he's an accomplished writer—his 2017 young adult novel "Just Fly Away" landed on the New York Times best-seller list. McCarthy, 55, is also Editor at Large of National Geographic Traveler magazine .
The yang to Molly Ringwald's yin, Demi Moore first appeared on the TV soap opera "General Hospital," gaining admission into the Brat Pack with "St. Elmo's Fire." During the filming of that movie, she began dating Emilio Estevez, and the two were engaged to be married in 1986, but the wedding was called off around the time Moore became romantically involved with future husband Bruce Willis.
The Brat Pack was a mere entry point for Moore, who soon ascended to A-list stardom with such films as "Ghost," "Indecent Proposal" and "A Few Good Men," and by 1995 she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood. Now 55, Moore hasn't had many big-screen hits in recent years—perhaps because she's busy tending to her collection of 2,000 dolls—but she remains one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
It's been reported that director John Hughes nearly fired Judd Nelson from "The Breakfast Club" because the actor insisted on staying in character, taunting co-star Molly Ringwald even off-camera. But Nelson's fellow cast-members convinced Hughes to keep the group intact. That's the thing about the Brat Pack: When you're in, you're in for life.
With some 70 post-"Breakfast Club" movie roles to his credit, Nelson has worked steadily since his Brat Pack heyday. Never mind that his films include "Bigfoot Wars," "Netherbeast Incorporated" and "Nurse 3D." Nelson, 58, is one Brat Packer for whom typecasting just doesn't exist.
An author at the age of 12—her children's book "She Was Nice to Mice" hit the best-seller list—Ally Sheedy appeared on "St. Elsewhere" and "Hill Street Blues" before co-starring in 1983's "WarGames." But she really hit big as part of the Brat Pack ensembles in "The Breakfast Club" and "St. Elmo's Fire."
Sheedy, 55, made headlines with her cryptic tweet during the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony: "James Franco just won. Please never ask me why I left the film/tv business." Although it wasn't clear that she'd left—her last role was a cameo in 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse"—Sheedy's career has never reached the heights of her Brat Pack days. Still, she has kept working, won critical acclaim for the 1998 indie film "High Art," and in 2003 reunited with "Breakfast Club" co-star Anthony Michael Hall as guest star on his TV show "The Dead Zone."
Robert Downey Jr.—THEN
Although not a core member of the Brat Pack, Robert Downey Jr. is associated with the group because he appeared in John Hughes' "Weird Science" and co-starred with Molly Ringwald in "The Pick-Up Artist."
Robert Downey Jr.—NOW
His struggles with drugs and alcohol are now stuff of Hollywood lore. What's sometimes less recognized is that Downey has become one of the greatest actors around, even with the obligatory Marvel Comics blockbuster franchise thrown in. Now 53, he has been drug-free since 2003 and credits his sobriety to Susan Levin, his wife since 2005. Downey is also an accomplished singer: He has sung on soundtracks to some of his films and in 2004 released a pop album, "The Futurist."
Auxiliary member James Spader makes it into the Brat Pack by virtue of his compelling performance as the rich, arrogant playboy "Steff" in "Pretty in Pink."
Spader quickly moved out of Brat Packdom and into more mature fare, such as the 1989 hit "Sex, Lies and Videotape." An admitted obsessive-compulsive, the 58-year-old actor is best known for playing oddball roles, including his current one on NBC's prime-time thriller "The Blacklist."
Matt Dillon was too cool to spend much time with the rest of the Brat Pack, but he did help start it all, co-starring in "The Outsiders" with charter member Emilio Estevez.
Dillon stars as a serial killer in "The House That Jack Built," the latest work by controversial Danish director Lars von Trier, which is about to debut at the Cannes Film Festival. Having matured in and then out of leading man roles, the 54-year-old actor has maintained a steady career that combines interesting character parts in indie films with the occasional big-budget feature. And Dillon earned immortality by playing the drunk-tank cop in Irish punk band The Pogues' classic video of "Fairytale of New York." Not bad for a pretty boy.
Harry Dean Stanton—ALWAYS
Perhaps because he co-starred with Emilio Estevez in "Repo Man" and Molly Ringwald in "Pretty in Pink," the middle-aged character actor Harry Dean Stanton was called the "spiritual father" of the Brat Pack. "I don't act like their father, I act like their friend," said Stanton, who died in 2017. "And, boy, would I have loved to have had everything these kids have when I was 22. That would have been great." Wrong, Harry. You were great.
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