Brat Pack Now: Where Are the Iconic '80s Actors Today?
In a 1985 article in New York magazine, writer David Blum called a group of emerging young actors who regularly worked together the Brat Pack. The name stuck, and the actors became absolute sensations. More than 30 years after that nickname was coined, it’s still used when referencing such coming-of-age films as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Pretty in Pink. Where is the Brat Pack now, more than three decades after they captured our hearts? We’ve done the research and provided an update on each and every one of them.
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Andrew McCarthy - Then
Andrew McCarthy (pictured right, next to Rob Lowe) starred in Brat Pack films St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink, as well as fellow ’80s classics Less Than Zero and Weekend at Bernie’s. He also appeared on Broadway in The Boys of Winter. McCarthy, who struggled with alcoholism during his Brat Pack days — he’s been sober since 1992 — said in 1999 that he didn’t consider himself a member of the Brat Pack.
“The media made up this sort of tribe,” McCarthy said, according to People magazine. “I don’t think I’ve seen any of these people since we finished St. Elmo’s Fire. And I’ve never met Anthony Michael Hall.”
Andrew McCarthy - Now
Andrew McCarthy continues to act, but he’s found most of his success behind the camera, and with his keyboard. Since 2010, he’s directed six episodes of Gossip Girl, 10 episodes of The Blacklist, and 13 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning Orange Is the New Black. The actor/director also has carved out a nice career as a travel writer. (That was some serious foreshadowing in St. Elmo’s Fire!) He published a book, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, and is currently the Editor at Large of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Ally Sheedy - Then
Ally Sheedy was a star at a young age. She wrote a bestseller, She Was Nice to Mice, when she was just 12 years old — seriously — and that same year appeared on the game show To Tell the Truth. After making her feature film debut in 1983 (Bad Boys) and enjoying a prominent role alongside Matthew Broderick in WarGames, she cemented herself as a star in 1985. In that illustrious year of her career, she played the object of everyone’s attention in St. Elmo’s Fire and the “basket case” in The Breakfast Club. The following year, Sheedy starred in the hit science fiction film Short Circuit.
During the height of Sheedy’s popularity in the 1980s, she dated Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora and, as was the case with several Brat Packers, struggled with drug abuse.
Ally Sheedy - Now
After her success in the ’80s, Ally Sheedy’s acting career was mostly limited to independent films — she received praise for her performance in the 1998 film High Art — off-Broadway plays, and television guest appearances. Her last acting job was in 2016.
Sheedy gave birth to a girl in 1994, and when her child decided to identify as a man later in life, the former Brat Packer became a strong transgender advocate. In January 2018, on the evening of the Golden Globes, Sheedy caused quite a stir when she seemed to call out actors James Franco and Christian Slater for inappropriate sexual behavior on social media. Among a series of tweets that included the #MeToo hashtag, Sheedy wrote, “James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/tv business.” She later deleted the tweets.
Rob Lowe - Then
Handsome bad boy Rob Lowe acted prolifically in the 1980s, becoming a teen idol with performances in The Outsiders, The Hotel New Hampshire, Oxford Blues, St. Elmo’s Fire, About Last Night, and Square Dance. In addition to becoming a sensation, he also received critical acclaim, receiving Golden Globe nominations for his work in Thursday’s Child and Square Dance.
Lowe’s career took a huge hit in 1988 when a tape of him having sex with a 16-year-old girl was leaked. In another part of the tape, Lowe and another man were seen performing sexual acts with an American model in Paris. Lowe’s reputation and image were severely damaged as a result of the scandal.
Rob Lowe - Now
Rob Lowe, who clearly doesn’t age, put the controversy behind him and rebounded in a big way. He began to redeem himself in the ’90s, most notably with roles in Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy, before blowing up at the turn of the century. Lowe was nominated for two Golden Globes and an Emmy for his performance as Sam Seaborn in the hugely popular series The West Wing, and continued to thrive on television in Brothers & Sisters, Parks and Recreation, Code Black, and The Lowe Files. He received two more Golden Globe nominations for his work in the HBO film Behind the Candelabra and the Fox series The Grinder.
In December 2015, Lowe cemented his legacy when he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Molly Ringwald - Then
One of the darlings of the 1980s, Molly Ringwald (right, next to Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club) often played the prototypical popular “princess” or the insecure girl who yearns for love. Arguably the most famous and successful female Brat Packer during her heyday, critics praised her very early on in her career. After her work in The Facts of Life, she received a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Miranda Dimitrius in Tempest.
She became a household name, though, when she landed the role of Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles. The offers then came pouring in; she starred in The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, The Pick-up Artist, Fresh Horses, and For Keeps.
Molly Ringwald - Now
Molly Ringwald (pictured here with her husband, Panio Gianopoulos) never again achieved the fame she had in the ’80s, but there have been many highlights since her Brat Pack years. She continued to act, appearing in a number of forgettable films in the ’90s. (She reportedly turned down the female lead roles in Pretty Woman and Ghost at the start of the decade. Yeah, not good decisions.) In the 2000s, she took her talents to Broadway, and in 2013 expanded her creative horizons by releasing a jazz album. Ringwald also has shown off her writing chops, penning an advice column for The Guardian.
Ringwald has returned to her acting roots; she currently has a recurring role on The CW series Riverdale.
Judd Nelson - Then
Brat Packer Judd Nelson (pictured with famed jewelry designer Loree Rodkin in 1985) became an ’80s icon with his portrayals of misfit John Bender in The Breakfast Club and obnoxious yuppie Alec Newbary in St. Elmo’s Fire. Taking his career in a different direction after those two films, he voiced Rodimus Prime in The Transformers: The Movie, and in 1988 earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the TV movie Billionaire Boys Club.
Judd Nelson - Now
The highlight of Judd Nelson’s post-Brat Pack career was his three-year run as Jack Richmond on the NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan. Nelson has worked consistently since his Breakfast Club days, but starring roles in major films have eluded him. You might remember him as Nick Peretti in New Jack City and Billy Beretti in the Fox drama Empire, and he’s appeared in such TV shows as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: NY, Las Vegas, and Two and a Half Men.
No matter what he does in the years to come, he’ll forever be remembered as John Bender, the “criminal” from Shermer High School.
Demi Moore - Then
From an early age, Demi Moore was no stranger to the camera. After dropping out of school at 16, she posed nude for an adult magazine in 1981 — when she was still underage — and also appeared in a music video. It wasn’t long, though, before Hollywood came calling. Moore appeared in the soap opera General Hospital for three years and followed that with film roles in Blame It on Rio, St. Elmo’s Fire, and About Last Night.
Moore was engaged to fellow Brat Packer Emilio Estevez in the mid 1980s. After the duo called it off in 1986, Moore married action star Bruce Willis.
Demi Moore - Now
Demi Moore’s transition from Brat Packer to bonafide A-list movie star came swiftly. She starred opposite Patrick Swayze in the massively successful Ghost in 1990, acted alongside Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, and continued to blossom with lead roles in Indecent Proposal and Disclosure. Her popularity has had its ups and downs since the mid-90s, but she remains a top attraction to this day.
She’s also attracted a ton of attention off the screen. In 1991, Moore appeared nude while seven months pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair. The photo attracted a whirlwind of publicity, controversy, and debate. Moore and Bruce Willis separated in 1998, and in 2003 she began dating actor Ashton Kutcher, who is 15 years her junior. They got married in 2005 and stayed together until 2011 when the actress decided to end it.
Anthony Michael Hall - Then
Anthony Michael Hall was the “nerd” of the Brat Pack, if you will. After impressively playing Chevy Chase’s son in 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, he played a prototypical 1980s dork in Brat Pack classics Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, as well as Weird Science. On top of the world — and dating Brat Pack co-star Molly Ringwald — Hall made history when he became the youngest cast member in the history of Saturday Night Live. (He still holds that distinction today.) After his brief stint on SNL, Hall made some very poor career decisions, passing on prominent roles in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, and Full Metal Jacket.
The ’80s ended poorly for Hall, who struggled with alcohol abuse. He eventually beat his demons and, by 1990, was sober.
Anthony Michael Hall - Now
Anthony Michael Hall isn’t the huge star that he once was, but he’s carved out a nice career for himself post-Brat Pack and has had a few memorable roles. Most notably, he played Bill Gates in the 1999 made-for-TV film Pirates of Silicon Valley. Three years later, Hall landed the lead role on the USA Network drama The Dead Zone, which lasted for six seasons.
Off the screen, Hall is the lead singer of a band, Hall of Mirrors, and he runs The Anthony Michael Hall Literacy Club, which supports at-risk youths.
Emilio Estevez - Then
For a period of time in the early-to-mid 1980s, Emilio Estevez (pictured here with Demi Moore, his onetime fiancee) was far more famous than his younger brother, Charlie Sheen. (That would later change in a big way.) The son of actor Martin Sheen gained fame for playing Two-Bit Matthews in The Outsiders, “jock” Andrew Clark in The Breakfast Club, and Andie MacDowell’s admirer in St. Elmo’s Fire. Called the “unofficial president” of the Brat Pack, Estevez also starred in such ’80s films as Repo Man, Stakeout, Maximum Overdrive, and Young Guns.
Estevez was originally slated to play the lead role in Platoon but ultimately had to pass on the project due to production delays. His younger brother ended up getting it.
Emilio Estevez - Now
Emilio Estevez transitioned into the ’90s smoothly with the lead role in the cult classic — and commercial success — The Mighty Ducks. (He would reprise his role in the two sequels.) He also was heavily covered in the tabloids due to his two-year marriage to singer Paula Abdul. Since the mid-90s, though, Estevez — unlike his wild brother, Charlie Sheen — has stayed mostly out of the spotlight.
“I tend to be shy by nature,” Estevez said on The Busted Halo Show in 2010. “I tend to not want to be out there promoting myself. I’m not a great self-promoter. … I’ve never been a guy that went out there to get publicity. I never saw the value in it.”
Estevez has done some extremely strong directing work under the radar. Most notably, he wrote and directed — as well as starred in — the critically acclaimed Bobby, a film about the hours leading up to the shooting of Robert F. Kennedy.
James Spader - Then
James Spader was a fringe member of the Brat Pack. He wasn’t one of the key players, but many considered him part of the club. With prominent roles in Pretty in Pink (alongside Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy) and Less Than Zero (alongside McCarthy and Robert Downey Jr.), there’s certainly merit to his Brat Pack case. In 1989, he played the lead in the highly praised independent film Sex, Lies, and Videotape.
James Spader - Now
James Spader found success on the big screen in the 1990s and early 2000s, starring in Stargate, Crash, and Secretary. It was on the small screen, though, where Spader showed off his incredible talent and became a huge star. He won an Emmy for his performance as Alan Shore on The Practice, and took home two more Emmys — again for playing Shore — for his work on Boston Legal. Spader also has received rave reviews, as well as two Golden Globe nominations, for his portrayal of Raymond Reddington on the NBC series The Blacklist. And, of course, we can’t forget his memorable stint as Robert California on The Office.
Robert Downey Jr. - Then
Another fringe Brat Pack member, Robert Downey Jr. gets the nod thanks to his roles in Tuff Turf (alongside James Spader), Weird Science (alongside Anthony Michael Hall), The Pick-up Artist (alongside Molly Ringwald), and Less Than Zero (alongside Andrew McCarthy and Spader). Downey Jr. struggled with drug addiction throughout the decade, and his substance abuse issues were reportedly the cause of his breakup with longtime girlfriend Sarah Jessica Parker.
Downey Jr. also had a brief stint on Saturday Night Live, performing with signature Brat Packer Anthony Michael Hall.
Robert Downey Jr. - Now
Of all the Brat Packers, Robert Downey Jr. went on to be the most successful. But he also battled demons that nearly ended his career — and life. Downey Jr. was arrested on drug charges numerous times — he was using marijuana, cocaine, and heroin — and also was caught with an unloaded handgun while speeding. He ended up spending six months in jail and almost a year in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison.
Sober since 2003, Downey Jr. has established himself as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. A three-time Golden Globe winner, two-time Academy Award nominee, and Emmy Award nominee, he’s starred in such hits as Iron Man (and its sequels), Sherlock Homes, and The Avengers. As of 2018, his films have grossed more than $4.9 billion in the United States (third-most all time) and more than $11.6 billion worldwide.