John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club is equally as popular today as it was when it first graced audiences on February 15, 1985, screening for a staggering 45 weeks. Its nearly one-year box office run allowed it to gross $51,525,171, more than 51 times its $1 million budget. The Breakfast Club is consistently ranked by prestigious publications – such as Empire Magazine and The New York Times – as one of the greatest films of all time. Even Entertainment Weekly listed it as the greatest high school film ever made. It’s no surprise that The Breakfast Club was chosen to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2016 for its cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance. This commercial and critical success of The Breakfast Club is largely due to the cast, the then-younger actors of which would become known as “The Brat Pack.”
John Hughes, whose most prolific writing era was in the 1980s, gathered the perfect cast for his masterful screenplay about teen angst, honest, relatable issues about growing up, and high school stereotypes – a topic that countless high school films would copy after The Breakfast Club‘s popularity. This cast included Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson – a “brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal” – Paul Gleason, John Kapelos, and John Hughes in a memorable cameo. With its enduring legacy, we decided to take a look at where the cast of The Breakfast Club is today – more than 35 years after its release.
Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Johnson
Anthony Michael Hall transitioned from lead actor in his teenage years to character actor in his adult years. His baby face began to disappear as he grew into a strong, 6’1″ man. This first became noticeable in 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, in which he played the tough-talking bully, a role opposite of his former high school “nerd” stereotype. Although John Hughes famously cut Hall off as a friend and collaborator after he rejected one of his scripts, he had no trouble finding work elsewhere in critically and commercially successful films. Recently, Hall starred in small but memorable rolls in films like The Dark Knight as reporter Engel, Foxcatcher as John du Pont’s personal assistant Jack, and War Machine as number 2 general opposite Brad Pitt’s character, Greg Pulver. Hall will appear in David Gordon Green’s followup to his Halloween sequel, Halloween Kills, out October 15 in theaters and on Peacock, and he has three films in production including The Class, Trigger Warning, and Zero.
Emilio Estevez as Andrew Clark
While he thrived as a teen heartthrob, Emilio Estevez expanded his creative interests behind the camera instead of solely being the focus in front of it. Although he directed Wisdom in 1986 and Men at Work in 1990, Estevez became a more prominent director after the success of The Mighty Ducks franchise in the 1990s, when he grew tired of being in the limelight, helming such films as The War at Home in 1996 and The Way, in which he also co-starred with his father, Martin Sheen. The film garnered substantial critical success. Although he isn’t the worldwide sensation he once was, Estevez has carved out an envious career, even reprising his role as Gordon Bombay in Disney+’s The Mighty Ducks series, introducing some of his most famous work to a new generation. Looking ahead, Estevez will star in The Mighty Ducks season 2 and Guns 3: Alias Billy the Kid – the second sequel in the Young Guns franchise which he will also co-write and direct. Call it a third reentry into the Hollywood spotlight for the icon after his Brat Pack and The Mighty Ducks film days.
Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds
Ally Sheedy never retired from acting, contrary to popular belief. However, the Brat Pack member – also a skilled writer who wrote the foreword for “Don’t You Forget About Me,” an anthology of books about the films of John Hughes – began taking more three-dimensional roles in smaller budget indie films such as High Art in 1998 – which was recognized with awards from the Independent Spirit Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and National Society of Film Critics – and Life During Wartime. High Art took inspiration from Sheedy’s experience at Hazelden Foundation – a treatment center for alcohol and drug addiction – in 1985, and her treatment for sleeping pill addiction in the 1990s, a likely reason her work became less prolific after the 1980s. Recently, she made appearances as Scott’s teacher in X-Men: Apocalypse and in the TV series SMILF. On the horizon, Sheedy is in production on two films – Chantilly Bridge and Single Drunk Female.
Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish
Molly Ringwald left Hollywood after she was sexually exploited in an audition in which a director asked her to put a dog collar on to recite her lines. This may have influenced her decision to, understandably, turn down Julia Roberts’ role in Pretty Women, a role that would have continued her reign as the industry’s sweetheart. After she left the public eye, she moved to Paris, among other places, and raised a family, discovering life outside of the industry. Appearing in largely indie films in the 1990s and the 2000s on her own time in smaller roles, she returned to acting in a starring capacity with The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She also became a successful writer, authoring the books “Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick in 2010” and “When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories” in 2012. In a 2018 op-ed for The New Yorker, Ringwald re-analyzed the roles of her youth, criticizing Hughes, who also cut her off after she rejected one of his scripts, a bold move considering she was his muse. Ringwald wrote about The Breakfast Club: “As I can see now, Bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film. When he’s not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her ‘pathetic,’ mocking her as ‘Queenie.’ It’s rejection that inspires his vitriol…He never apologizes for any of it, but, nevertheless, he gets the girl in the end.” Although Ringwald still lauds Hughes’ work and cherishes her collaboration with him, she makes fair points about some of the problematic character arcs that may not have aged as well as others. Recently, she’s had recurring roles in Riverdale and The Kissing Booth franchise. Ringwald will appear in the short film Spa Day later this year, and feature films Pursued and Montauk in 2022.
Judd Nelson as John Bender
Roles became scarce for Judd Nelson after Airheads in 1994. Beginning in the 1999 and 2000 with the successful series Suddenly Susan and Cabin by the Lake – a film that would spawn a sequel and mark the resurgence of Nelson’s bad guy persona – it would seem Nelson embraced quantity of quality, guest starring in a plethora of tv shows such as Two and Half Men and Empire, and playing the lead in mostly little-known straight to video films, including this year’s Lifetime movie Girl in the Basement. However, his appearances haven’t all gone under-the-radar. The actor co-starred in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day and Billionaire Boys Club in the past 12 years. Going forward, Nelson will star in South of Hope Street, Jonni Dingo’s Eyeball, The Death and Life of Johnny G, which Nelson is also writing, and In-Security. Whether or not these will be straight-to-digital remains to be seen.
Paul Gleason as Principal Richard Vernon
Paul Gleason passed away in 2006 from mesothelioma after in illustrious career with 149 acting credits. His last major role was in Money Talks in 1995, however, he guest starred in numerous popular shows such as Walker, Texas Ranger and Malcolm in the Middle, and famously parodied his role in The Breakfast Club in Not Another Teen Movie in 2001. He is survived by two daughters and a son, and their mother, actor Candy Moore. His memory will also live on in audiences forever, with The Breakfast Club and Die Hard, which was also selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.
John Kapelos as Carl
He was the “eyes and ears” of The Breakfast Club. John Kapelos has a prolific career that consists of 202 acting credits. Because of his physical attributes and name, he’s played Greeks, Armenians, Italians, and Russians, mostly earning a living guest starring on noteworthy shows such as Desperate Housewives and HBO’s short-lived but critically acclaimed Togetherness, produced by the acclaimed duo the Duplass Brothers. Most recently, audiences may have noticed him as Jack Ruby in the popular Netflix series The Umbrella Academy. Kapelos has three projects coming out soon including Val, The Class, and The Rink.
John Hughes as Brian’s Father
John Hughes was one of the most prolific writers and directors of the 1980s and early 1990s. After Home Alone, he shifted his focus to screenwriting, and eventually retired from the public eye, moving to Chicago in 1994. Rarely ever doing press following the move, he became an almost J.D. Salinger-esque enigma, only more productive. He only wrote five films – including Miracle on 34th Street and Flubber, and provided the story for one (Drillbit Taylor – an unproduced screenplay rewritten by Kristofor Brown and Seth Rogen) after his move, focusing primarily on the joys of raising his children, John and James, with his wife Nancy. He remained together with Nancy until his sudden death of heart failure in 2009, which created shockwaves throughout Hollywood due to his vast influence. He created The Brat Pack, he wrote and directed classics including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles – widely known as the prototypes for many subgenres of comedy – and he wrote Mr. Mom, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Pretty in Pink, among other influential comedies. He influenced countless directors today including Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith. On top of the aforementioned The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was also chosen for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. His legacy not only lives on through his work and family and industry’s collective love, but also through his upcoming remakes, including The Grisby’s Go Broke – another unproduced script that will be rewritten by the Ice Age: The Meltdown scribe, Jim Hecht, and the Home Alone Disney + movie.