The cast of the greatest teen movie of all time, The Breakfast Club, is now old enough to have kids in high school — or college for that matter. Thirty years ago, five teens spent a demented and sad, but social Saturday together. Sentenced to detention, they entered their high school library as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. But after hours of getting high, giving each other horrible makeovers, and sharing their deepest secrets, they all left changed and all the wiser for it.
Thanks to The Breakfast Club's enduring popularity, three generations of teenagers can quote some of the film’s most memorable lines:
"We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."
"Spend a little more time making something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people."
"If you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap."
"When you grow up, your heart dies."
The five stars of the film have survived with their hearts intact. Read on to learn what the cast is doing today and keep your fingers crossed that someday they’ll reunite for The Breakfast Club Two: Class Reunion.
Ringwald played the princess, Claire, who was afraid to do anything that might have a negative impact on her social status. During the 1980s, Ringwald was Hollywood’s Teen It Girl and the queen of the group of young actors known as the Brat Pack. She was The Breakfast Club director John Hughes’s muse, starring in two of his other films: Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. Though she was in other hit movies including teen pregnancy drama For Keeps, her star never shone as brightly as it did when she worked with Hughes.
Ringwald’s career faltered when she began to play adult roles during the 1990s. She appeared in little-remembered films like Betsy’s Wedding, as well TV movies and miniseries including the original version of Stephen King’s The Stand. Ringwald moved to France and dropped out of the public eye for years. She made a comeback in the early aughts in projects geared to another generation of teens. Her cameo in 2001’s Not Another Teen Movie was nominated for an MTV movie award. She played Shailene Woodley’s mother on ABC Family’s long running drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager. And since then, Ringwald has kept busy releasing a jazz album, Except Sometimes, writing a novel entitled, When It Happens to You and, bizarrely, writing an advice column for the British newspaper The Guardian.
Nelson’s character, “criminal” John Bender was the quintessential '80s bad boy: angry, rebellious and emotionally scarred. The character was so memorable that Bender was parodied on a 2007 episode of “Family Guy” with Nelson providing the voiceover. Nelson was the oldest Brat Packer. He was 26 when The Breakfast Club was released, so there’s no need to feel guilty if you still lust after Bender. Nelson’s age may have made it easier for him transition to adult roles than it was for his fellow cast mates. The same year that The Breakfast Club was released he also appeared in the other key Brat Pack film, St. Elmo’s Fire, about recent college graduates figuring out what they want to do with their lives. In 1991, he played a cop in another movie that has stood the test of time, the urban gangster drama New Jack City.
During the 1990s Nelson’s bad boy image seeped into his real life. He made the gossip columns for his tumultuous romance with Shannen Doherty and was sentenced to probation for his role in a barroom brawl. He cleaned up his act, landing a starring role in the sit-com Suddenly Susan which ran for four years. Since it ended, he has guest starred on numerous TV series and played leading roles in a number of low budget films. He made a cameo appearance in the Kevin Smith movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and was the voice of Ben 10,000 in the animated kids series Ben 10: Omniverse. Nelson started 2015 with his highest profile role in years, playing sleazy music executive Bobby Baretti on the red hot new TV series Empire.
Hall played Brian, the sweet geek who contemplated suicide because he failed shop. Hall had already established himself as the go-to teen nerd with his role as Farmer Ted in Hughes's first film, Sixteen Candles. After playing another nerd in Weird Science, he decided he wanted to change his image. He joined the cast of Saturday Night Live for a season along with fellow Brat Packer Robert Downey Jr. It’s unclear how or why two movie stars with no stand-up comedy experience were cast on SNL. The 1980s were weird.
After several flops, in 1990 Hall played the preppy villain in the cult classic Edward Scissorhands opposite Johnny Depp. Next, he worked with another future A-lister, playing a con man in Will Smith’s first movie, 1993’s Six Degrees of Separation. Hall used his gift for portraying nerds to great effect when he played Bill Gates in the 1999 cable movie Pirates of Silicon Valley and then spent six seasons starring in the cable drama The Dead Zone. He introduced himself to a new generation of teens when he played a high school teacher on MTV’s comedy Awkward but returned to the big screen in 2014, playing a supporting role in the Oscar nominated movie Foxcatcher. He also plays a major role in Results, a comedy which just premiered at Sundance.
Estevez played Andrew, the tank-top clad jock who earned detention for duct taping a boy’s butt cheeks together, an offense that really should have landed him a much bigger punishment. Estevez began his acting career as an extra in the Vietnam drama Apocalypse Now which starred his father, Martin Sheen. He established himself as a teen heartthrob before The Breakfast Club when he starred in 1983’s The Outsiders, which featured every single 1980s leading man, including Tom Cruise and Patrick Swayze, and the cult classic Repo Man. After The Breakfast Club, Estevez reunited with Nelson in St. Elmo’s Fire.
He appeared in several bombs then rebounded with the 1987 hit Stakeout, which was the first of three films he was in that spawned a sequel. The second was the western Young Guns. In 1992, he played reluctant youth hockey coach Gordon Bombay in The Mighty Ducks and married Paula Abdul. Two years later, he divorced Paul Abdul, and filmed the Mighty Ducks sequel D2. The third Ducks film, D3, was his last major movie. In 2005 he wrote and directed the film Bobby, an ensemble film structured around the last day of Bobby Kennedy’s life. He partially financed the movie himself. Unfortunately, it was a flop, earning just 11 million dollars, less than its 14 million dollar budget. During an appearance on The Tonight Show, Estevez admitted he had to sell some valuable artwork to cover the loss. Since Bobby, his only high profile role has been a guest starring role on Two and a Half Men in 2008, opposite his brother, Charlie Sheen.
Sheedy’s character, basket case Alison, began the movie in a layered black outfit that would look chic in any hipster neighborhood today. She ended it in a hideous pink top and hair bow thanks to Claire’s ill-advised makeover. Sheedy was a child prodigy who wrote a best-selling children’s novel about Queen Elizabeth I when she was just twelve years old. She appeared in several films, including the pre-internet hacker drama War Games, before The Breakfast Club and, like her fellow Brat Packers, played a role in St. Elmo’s Fire. She next starred in Short Circuit, a movie about a robot that becomes sentient after being struck by lightning, which improbably was such a big hit that a sequel was filmed.
Her career stalled due to a substance abuse problem that landed her in rehab. By 1992, she was reduced to guest starring on the cable soft-core erotica series Red Shoe Diaries. After spending most of the 1990s making B-list television movies, she staged a comeback when she won an Independent Spirit Award for her performance as a lesbian drug addict in the 1998 independent film High Art. Instead of capitalizing on her recognition, she chose to focus on raising her daughter, who had a difficult adolescence. Sheedy has since starred in several other independent and television films and guest starred on several television series, most notably playing a recurring role as a crazy killer on the long running show Psych. In 2014, she appeared in the play The Long Shrift which was directed by James Franco. She also has a job that seems a perfect fit for a Breakfast Club alumna: she teaches acting at LaGuardia High, the performing arts school that inspired the movie Fame.
'The Breakfast Club's' intro and outro: 'Don't You Forget About Me' by Simple Minds: