The Brat Pack was a group of young highly successful actors in the 1980s. Membership in the club is up for debate, but it largely consists of Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire cast members. As the 1980s turned to the 1990s, many of them seemed to disappear into the ether. Whatever happened to the members of the Brat Pack? Let’s find out.
The de facto leader of the Brat Pack, there isn’t anyone more closely associated with this era than Emilio Estevez. He and Rob Lowe essentially established the Brat Pack while working on The Outsiders. Estevez played with genre in the ’80s as well, starring in the Young Guns comedies, the horror film Maximum Overdrive, and later children’s films with The Mighty Ducks.
Estevez managed to remain on the big screen for years after his Brat Pack days. He has a memorable appearance in Mission: Impossible. Estevez earned awards buzz for his Robert Kennedy biopic Bobby, which he also wrote and directed. Today, he’s still tethered to the Mighty Ducks franchise thanks to Disney+ and he’s directing Young Guns III.
Anthony Michael Hall
Often cast as the nerd of the group, Anthony Michael Hall rose to fame alongside John Hughes. He worked with Hughes on Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science. His desire to avoid being typecast led to an infamous run on Saturday Night Live when he was just 17. He turned down Hughes’ offers to work in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink, and he had to turn down Full Metal Jacket after a tough negotiation with Stanley Kubrick.
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After a career downturn, Hall stabilized things with Edward Scissorhands. In 2002, he began working on USA Network’s The Dead Zone. The supernatural show proved to be a surprise rating hit, lasting six seasons. Today, Hall is still very busy. He recently appeared in The Goldbergs and Halloween Kills.
No Brat Pack member had a more visible fall from grace than Lowe. St. Elmo’s Fire helped establish him as a strong up-and-comer and sex symbol. A 1988 sex tape involving a 16 year old derailed his momentum. An infamous musical number at the Academy Awards somehow did even more damage. He never stopped working, though—Wayne’s World is a highlight of this era—but his time as a movie star came to an abrupt end.
Luckily, Lowe was able to re-establish himself on television. The West Wing brought him back to the spotlight, and Parks and Recreation introduced him to a new generation of fans. He’s currently starring on 9-1-1: Lone Star on Fox, which is entering its fourth season.
Andrew McCarthy is often regarded as one of the great teenage stars of all time. His Brat Pack credits include St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink, but the hits didn’t end there. The 1987 comedy Mannequin and Weekend at Bernie’s both crushed at the box office. McCarthy never strayed too far from the stage either, starring in the Tony Award winning production of Side Man in 1999. Like Lowe and Hall, McCarthy struggled with alcoholism.
Nowadays, McCarthy pops up here and there on too many shows to count. He’s also found immense success as a director. McCarthy directed 14 episodes of Orange is the New Black and six episodes of Gossip Girl to name a few. He was behind the camera for two episodes of The Blacklist this year, so he’s in demand.
Demi Moore seamlessly bridged the gap from General Hospital to Brat Pack idol. Unlike many of her contemporaries, greater fame awaited her in the 1990s. Ghost and A Few Good Men did enormous business. Indecent Proposal and Striptease helped make Moore the highest-paid actress in film history. Throw in perhaps the most iconic Vanity Fair covers ever and Moore’s legend status becomes bulletproof.
After writing her bestselling memoir in 2019, Moore has continued to act a bit. She was a regular player in Peacock’s Brave New World and had a bit role in the Nicolas Cage film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Now’s as good a time as any to boot up her performance The Hunchback of Notre Dame and bath in the glow of the underrated Disney classic.
Judd Nelson, Rob Lowe, and Emilio Estevez are regarded as some of the hardest partiers in the Brat Pack. You could easily extrapolate that he must have been one of the hardest partiers in the world during the 1980s. Nelson played the street tough John Bender in The Breakfast Club, not to mention appearances in St. Elmo’s Fire and Blue City as well.
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The road was a bit rocky for Nelson after 1990, but that’s partially owed to how prolific he was. Nelson starred in six projects in 1994 alone. A highlight of his filmography has to be the neo-noir banger New Jack City. Nelson’s found consistent work as the voice of Rodimus Prime in numerous Transformers projects. He continues to star in smaller projects to this day, most recently an adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game co-starring Tom Berenger.
As iconic a teen icon as there’s ever been, Ringwald’s status as Hughes’ muse meant iconic role after iconic role. She became a megastar off of Sixteen Candles when was just 16 years old. Ringwald continued acting and eventually was able to play off her reputation as a teen star. She had a cameo in Not Another Teen Movie and was a main cast member on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. A new generation of fans may know her from Riverdale or The Kissing Booth franchise. Ringwald also appeared on the critical darling The Bear earlier this year.
Ally Sheedy’s makeover in The Breakfast Club remains contentious, but her status in the 1980s cannot be disputed. WarGames and Short Circuit kept her very active, a pace she seems to have kept up for the rest of her life.
Sheedy works more in independent film, winning the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead in 1999’s High Art. Sheedy has had recurring roles in multiple TV shows including Kyle XY, Psych, and most recently Single Drunk Female on Freeform.
Harry Dean Stanton
Harry Dean Stanton couldn’t be a proper Brat Pack member owing to his age. He was already in his 50s when the rest of the group was just staring out, but he became something of a mentor for them. Pretty in Pink and Repo Man meant working with Brat Pack actors. Stanton is one of the great character actors of all time. A frequent collaborator of David Lynch, Stanton landed a lead role in 2017’s Lucky. It would be his final role before his death at age 91.
Emilio Estevez’s brother Charlie Sheen was absent from St. Elmo’s Fire, but he’s always been Brat Pack adjacent. He nabbed the lead role in Platoon from Hall and co-starred with his brother in Young Guns. Television would later be his lucrative domain. From 2000 to 2014, Sheen was always in an active television series. Spin City, Two and a Half Men, and Anger Management helped make Sheen a very rich man.
A 2011 spiral involving drugs and alcohol has transformed Sheen’s reputation. His HIV diagnosis in 2015 was so public that it led to a boom in HIV testing. Sheen hasn’t worked on a major project in a few years, but he’s stayed in the spotlight thanks to his staunch anti-vaccination views.