What Happened to the Breakfast Club?

John Hughes’ 1985 teen drama ‘The Breakfast Club’ came to define 80s teen life while leaving an indelible mark on the movie industry courtesy of its timeless and universally recognisable themes. The movie also spawned the careers of many of its cast, some of whom peaked at its release and others who were just getting started. Here’s what happened to the cast of The Breakfast Club in the 30 plus years since its release.


John Bender (Judd Nelson)

Judd Nelson then and now

Judd Nelson’s alternative and rebellious teenager John Bender has become an icon of the screen due to his quick one-liners, distinctive look and that unforgettable grey streak of hair that seemed to disappear and reappear from scene to scene. He was perhaps one of the more notable members of the 80s’ so-called Brat Pack and his appearance in this movie coincided with a less notable but still important appearance in St. Elmo’s Fire in the same year. Later in the decade he’d provide the voice of Rodimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie and narrate the 100% fresh (Rotten Tomatoes) documentary Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, as well as win a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Mini-Series for his performance in Billionaire Boys Club. He’d close the decade having worked with the likes of Bruce Willis, John Hurt, Nicolas Cage, Charlie Sheen, Robert DeNiro and Burt Reynolds, and he’d move into the 90s as a co-star to Max von Sydow in Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes (1990). The 90s would see him transition into the popular ‘urban’ genre of the time opposite the likes of Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Forest Whitaker and Rosario Dawson, but it would be his television work on HBO’s Suddenly Susan – a show that ran for 4 seasons with Nelson as one of the starring roles – that would see out the decade. In the 2000s a series of bad film and TV choices diminished his success significantly and the actor could be found in lesser roles on CSI by mid-way through the decade. The 2010s saw him step away from the industry and release four novels for Kindle and reprise his role as Rodimus Prime in Transformers: Animated. He is currently filming a film version of Billionaire Boys Club and working smaller independent movies


Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez)

Emilio Estevez then and now

Emilio Estevez’s typical high-school jock Andrew Clark was given a depth and character by writer John Hughes that was often overlooked in characters of his type in other movies, and Estevez’s portrayal was praised for its honesty and vulnerability following the picture’s release. This made him one of the bigger stars to come from the film, following in the footsteps of his father and brother, Martin Sheen and Charlie Sheen respectively, to become one of the more highly sought actors of the day. Like Judd Nelson, Estevez was a cast member for St. Elmo’s Fire, and was set to lead Oliver Stone’s Platoon before scheduling delays meant passing the role to his younger brother Charlie Sheen. The rest of the decade would be a mixed bag from an acting point of view having picked up a Golden Raspberry for his performance in Maximum Overdrive and starred in the successful action-westerns Young Guns 1&2, but Estevez would make inroads into other roles within the industry having contributed to the screenplay of three films and directed two feature length pictures by 1990. In the 90s, Estevez would look to make more films and negotiated a deal with Disney that allowed him to get funding for some of his passion projects in return for starring in the successful sports movies The Mighty Ducks, and this more artistic route would take him through the 2000s where Estevez would direct a number of episodes of The Guardian, Cold Case, CSI: NY and Numb3rs but would fade into relative obscurity as a star name after only appearing in 10 films/tv shows this century, including a handful of cameos alongside family members in The West Wing and 2 and a Half Men. Now seemingly unofficially retired from the industry, Estevez is attached to no future projects but has been heard speaking of the possibility of another Mighty Ducks movie in the near future.


Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall)

Anthony Michael Hall then and now

Anthony Michael Hall’s reserved and nerdy Brian Johnson was one of the more lovable characters in this John Hughes classic, but Hall’s career has certainly been a rollercoaster in the years since. In 1986 he became the youngest cast member in Saturday Night Live history aged just 17, but after critical failures on a number of different projects, Hall took a hiatus from the industry at the end of the 80s following an alcohol problem that saw his Brat Pack membership all but revoked. Interestingly, Hall was set to star in Full Metal Jacket under the tutelage of Stanley Kubrick before a disagreement on pay scuppered the chance after 8 months of negotiations. In the 90s he saw success in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and opposite Will Smith in Six Degrees of Separation but issues with the bottle once again scuppered future opportunities and the actor all but disappeared from screens throughout the rest of the decade and the actor never truly managed to recover his star persona. In the decades since, Hall has been seen in cameos on hit TV shows such as Community and the incredibly successful Christopher Nolan movie The Dark Knight, and has steadily remained involved in the film and TV industries in much lesser roles as the century has progressed. Currently leading Murder in the First for TNT and starring as himself in an AT&T commercial, Hall is perhaps more prominent now than he has been for over 20 years.


Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy)

Allison Reynolds then and now

Ally Sheedy’s alternative and hair-chewing Allison Reynolds was the anti-social member of John Hughes’ Breakfast Club and perhaps best known for this period in her career. The actress, whose success peaked in 1985 with the release of The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, was one of the actresses that couldn’t transcend the 80s decade and therefore continue her career with the same prominence as she had enjoyed with these films. Other than an Independent Spirit Award for her performance in High Art (1998), Sheedy’s career has remained quiet throughout the decades since The Breakfast Club, with steady work as smaller characters becoming her forte, the most recent of which was a small role as Scott Summers’ teacher in X-Men: Apocalypse. With no new appearances on the horizon, who knows what’s next for Allison Reynolds.


Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald)

Molly Ringwald then and now

Molly Ringwald is perhaps the archetype of the 1980s Brat Pack in that she personified so many of John Hughes’s leading characters and never truly managed to push her career beyond the decade that she helped to define. One such character was that of Claire Standish, the popular and judgmental prude that fell for the bad boy in The Breakfast Club. Though her characters were often gifted with the innocence Ringwald brought to them, the actress became concerned that she was being type-cast and turned down the lead role in John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful to end her affiliation with the 80s teen drama. As the 90s came around, Ringwald was reportedly offered the leads in Pretty Woman and Ghost, but again turned the roles down. Having moved to France in the mid-90s, the actress took some roles in French cinema before returning to the US for a number of TV roles before all-but falling off the map. In the 2010s Ringwald has released a jazz record titled ‘Except Sometimes’ and has written an advice column for The Guardian. With no future roles lined up, your best chance to see Ringwald will be in repeats of the recent TV shows Raising Expectations and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.