See the Cast of ‘The Breakfast Club’ Then and Now
In 1985, John Hughes introduced audiences to ‘The Breakfast Club,’ a coming-of-age story about five teens from different cliques, all sentenced to a Saturday of detention, where together they discover that they’re worth more than their high school stereotypes as they realize they have more in common than previously thought. Featuring members of Hughes’ beloved Brat Pack, the film became an instant and enduring classic that still resonates among fans both old and young. Now, almost 30 years later, we revisit the cast to see what they’re up to these days.
Judd Nelson, John Bender
Then: Judd Nelson played John Bender, the rebellious bully who mercilessly teases the other students, and whose off-putting attitude is a result of an abusive life at home. Nicolas Cage was also considered for the role, which was eventually narrowed down to Nelson and John Cusack, though John Hughes didn’t find Cusack’s presence threatening enough for the part. Nelson also starred in ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ with Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy that same year, solidifying his Brat Pack status.
Now: Nelson went on to earn a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the TV miniseries ‘Billionaire Boys Club,’ and appeared in films like ‘New Jack City’ and ‘Airheads.’ He starred in the sitcom ‘Suddenly Susan’ with Brooke Shields from 1996 to 2000, and has appeared in ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’ and ‘Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,’ as well as several TV movies. More recently, he guest starred on the final season of ‘Nikita’ and had a supporting role in the campy horror flick ‘Nurse 3D.’
Emilio Estevez, Andrew Clark
Then: Emilio Estevez played Andy Clark, the preppy jock who resents his overbearing father, though he originally auditioned for the role of John Bender. Estevez, the son of actor Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie Sheen, previously appeared in ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘Repo Man.’
Now: In 1986, Estevez made his directorial debut with ‘Wisdom,’ and has since directed films like ‘Men at Work,’ ‘The War at Home,’ ‘Bobby’ and ‘The Way,’ which starred his father. Over the years he appeared in the ‘Mighty Ducks,’ ‘Stakeout’ and ‘Young Guns’ films, and guest starred on ‘The West Wing’ with his father and ‘Two and a Half Men’ with his brother.
Anthony Michael Hall, Brian Ralph Johnson
Then: Anthony Michael Hall, who previously appeared in Hughes’ ‘Sixteen Candles,’ played Brian, the nerdy one of the bunch who later reveals that he considered killing himself over a bad grade. That same year, Hall also appeared in Hughes’ ‘Weird Science.’
Now: In 1990, Hall reemerged almost unrecognizable in Tim Burton’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’ as jock antagonist Jim. He went on to appear in ‘Six Degrees of Separation,’ as well as a handful of TV movies, and made cameos in films like ‘Trojan War’ and ‘Happy Accidents.’ From 2002 to 2007, he produced and starred in the series ‘The Dead Zone,’ and in recent years he had a small role in Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight,’ and guest starred on shows like ‘Warehouse 13,’ ‘Awkward’ and ‘Psych.’
Molly Ringwald, Claire Standish
Then: John Hughes asked Molly Ringwald to star in ‘The Breakfast Club’ after they worked together on ‘Sixteen Candles,’ but he envisioned her as the introverted Allison. Ringwald was upset because she wanted to play the pretty and popular Claire, and convinced Hughes and the studio to give her the part. The following year she also appeared in Hughes’ ‘Pretty in Pink.’
Now: Ringwald went on to appear in ‘For Keeps’ and ‘Betsy’s Wedding,’ as well as the TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand,’ which featured fellow Brat Pack member Rob Lowe. Ringwald had a supporting role in the teen horror flick ‘Teaching Mrs. Tingle’ and made a cameo in ‘Not Another Teen Movie,’ which lovingly satirized popular teen films, like the John Hughes movies in which she once starred. More recently, Ringwald starred on the series ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager,’ and in 2013 she released a jazz record.
Ally Sheedy, Allison Reynolds
Then: Ally Sheedy, who previously starred in ‘WarGames,’ played Allison, the introverted odd duck of the group who dresses in all black and later reveals herself to be a compulsive liar. That year, Sheedy also starred in ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ with Estevez and Nelson.
Now: Sheedy went on to appear in the ‘Short Circuit’ films, reunited with Molly Ringwald in 1990 for ‘Betsy’s Wedding,’ and made a cameo in ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,’ which was written by her old pal John Hughes. Over the last several years, she appeared in several indies and TV movies, and in 2003 she popped up on an episode of ‘The Dead Zone’ with Anthony Michael Hall. More recently, she starred in the films ‘Life During Wartime’ and ‘Welcome to the Rileys,’ and had a recurring role on ‘Psych.’
Paul Gleason, Richard “Dick” Vernon
Then: Paul Gleason played assistant principal Dick Vernon, who instructs the teens to sit in the library and not move, speak or sleep for almost nine hours, during which time they must each write 1,000 words on who they think they are. Previously, Gleason mostly worked in television with roles on ‘Magnum, P.I.’ and ‘The A-Team.’
Now: Gleason went on to star in the TV movie ‘Ewoks: The Battle for Endor,’ as well as ‘Forever, Lulu,’ ‘Die Hard,’ ‘Johnny Be Good’ and ‘Miami Blues.’ In later years, he continued to pop up on TV shows like ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘Boy Meets World,’ ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ and ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ Like Ringwald, he also made a cameo in ‘Not Another Teen Movie,’ once again playing the role of Dick Vernon. Gleason had a supporting role in National Lampoon’s ‘Van Wilder,’ and his final credits were roles in the films ‘The Book of Caleb’ and ‘The Passing,’ which were both released after his death — Gleason passed away in 2006 at the age of 67.
John Kapelos, Carl Reed
Then: John Kapelos, who also appeared in ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Weird Science,’ played Carl Reed, the high school janitor.
Now: Over the years, Kapelos also appeared in ‘Roxanne,’ ‘The Craft,’ ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘Stick It.’ He guest starred on a ton of television shows, including ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘The X-Files,’ ‘Boston Legal,’ ‘Frasier,’ ‘Gilmore Girls,’ ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Chuck.’ He also appeared in an episode of ‘The Dead Zone’ with fellow ‘Breakfast Club’ star Anthony Michael Hall. More recently, Kapelos had a recurring role on the FX series ‘Justified,’ and guest starred on an episode of ‘Modern Family.’