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See the ‘Brat Pack’ Then and Now: The 8 Iconic Actors Who Dominated the ’80s

The '80s stars are now in their 50s and 60s — here's a look at what they've been up to

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If you think back on your favorite movies of the ’80s, you’re likely to picture the eight faces that made up what was known as the “Brat Pack”: Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy. These young actors dominated the film scene throughout the ’80s, and were coined the Brat Pack by New York magazine journalist David Blum, who after spending time with Estevez, Lowe and Nelson wrote an infamous article that gave a snapshot of the debauchery that came with their youthful fame. While most of the members of the so-called Brat Pack weren’t fans of the label and the somewhat negative connotations that came with it, they’ve gone on to be regarded as celebrity icons from the decade.

The two films that cemented one’s status as part of the Brat Pack were St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club, both of which were released in 1985 and captured the zeitgeist thanks to their charismatic young casts. Other films in the canon include The Outsiders (1983), Sixteen Candles (1984) and Pretty in Pink (1986). Decades after they first hit the screen, the Brat Pack actors are Hollywood veterans. Here’s a look at how the ’80s stars rose to fame, and what they’ve been up to in recent years.

The “Brat Pack” then and now

Emilio Estevez

Emilio Estevez in 1988 and 2023
Left: 1988; Right: 2023Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch via Getty; Jason Mendez/Getty

Emilio Estevez was destined to be in showbiz, as his dad is actor Martin Sheen. Throughout the ’80s, Estevez could be seen starring in popular films including The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire.

In 1986, Estevez added directing and screenwriting to his resume with Wisdom, which he also starred in. He continued writing, directing and starring in movies in 1990 with Men at Work, and directed and starred in the films Rated X (2000), Bobby (2006), The Way (2010) and The Public (2018) in the ’00s and ’10s. Estevez also starred in the classic 1992 sports film The Mighty Ducks, as well as its 1994 and 1996 sequels. Most recently, he returned to the hockey franchise in The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers TV show in 2021.

Now 61, Estevez, like many of his peers, has mixed feelings about the Brat Pack label. In 2020, he quipped to The Guardian, “That [term] will be on my tombstone,”

Anthony Michael Hall

Anthony Michael Hall in 1984 and 2023
Left: 1984; Right: 2023Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/Getty

Anthony Michael Hall was the go-to for playing nerdy characters in John Hughes films like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science (1985).

Following these teen movie classics, Hall joined the cast of Saturday Night Live for a season at age 17 in 1985. As the ’90s came around, Hall sought to avoid typecasting and appeared in movies like Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Six Degrees of Separation (1993), and branched into directing with the 1994 comedy Hail Caesar (1994), which he also starred in.

In the ’00s and beyond Hall took on roles in more serious films, including The Dark Knight (2008), Foxcatcher (2014), Live by Night (2016) and War Machine (2017). More recently, he’s appeared in movies like Halloween Kills (2021) and The Class (2022) and shown up in multiple episodes of The Goldbergs and Bosch: Legacy.

Now 55, Hall told The Independent, Fame was off-putting and kind of scary.” “It’s not unlike a horror movie,” he said. “When celebrity hits you, all of a sudden people are staring at you and looking at you in odd ways. Even though I was just a pubescent teenager, suddenly I was thrown into this world of show business. You don’t know what people are thinking, people are whispering about you, and it’s a strange thing to have to adjust to.”

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe in 1983 and 2023
Left: 1983; Right: 2023Images/Getty; Jason Mendez/Getty

One of the biggest heartthrobs of the ’80s, Rob Lowe rose to prominence in movies like The Outsiders, Oxford Blues (1984), St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night (1986).

As the ’90s rolled around, Lowe acted in Bad Influence (1990), Wayne’s World (1992) and the Austin Powers franchise. From 1999 to 2006, he was in the popular political series The West Wing. He then acted in the family drama Brothers & Sisters from 2006 to 2011 and the sitcom Parks and Recreation from 2010 to 2015. Currently, Lowe stars in the procedural 9-1-1: Lone Star.

In an interview with People, Lowe, now 59, looked back on his rapid transition from regular teen to teen idol, remembering, “I was in Santa Monica High School, and I really had to pick who I would invite to the junior prom because I didn’t want to get turned down; a year later, people were breaking into my house and stealing my underwear.” 

Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy in 1985 and 2021
Left: 1985; Right: 2021Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Bruce Glikas/Getty

Andrew McCarthy acted in films like St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, Mannequin (1987), Less Than Zero (1987) and Weekend at Bernie’s (1989).

McCarthy continued appearing in movies, among them The Joy Luck Club (1993) and Mulholland Falls (1996), throughout the ’90s, and since the ’00s he’s been in the cast of shows like Lipstick Jungle, The Family, Good Girls and The Resident.

Outside of acting, McCarthy is an accomplished director who has helmed episodes of Gossip Girl, The Blacklist and Orange Is the New Black. He’s also worked as a travel journalist and written multiple books, including a young adult novel and a memoir. In 2023, he wrote Walking With Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain, a book about traveling with his son.

Now 61, McCarthy told People in 2021 that when it came to being in the Brat Pack, “The term was cast in a very pejorative way. And the last thing you want in Hollywood is to be boxed in.”

Judd Nelson

Judd Nelson in 1985 and 2019
Left: 1985; Right: 2019Universal Pictures/Getty; Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty

Judd Nelson appeared in St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club, Blue City (1986) and Relentless (1989) in the ’80s.

In the ’90s Nelson acted in New Jack City (1991), Airheads (1994) and Steel (1997) and costarred in the sitcom Suddenly Susan from 1996 to 1999. The ’00s and ’10s brought roles in shows like Las Vegas, Psych, Two and a Half Men, Nikita and Empire. He’s also appeared in Hallmark and Lifetime TV movies. Most recently, he had roles in Save Christmas (2022), The Most Dangerous Game (2022) and Dante’s Hotel (2023).

Now 64, when asked in a 2019 interview if he ever gets sick of talking about The Breakfast Club, Nelson said, “No, not at all, man. It’s like riding a fast horse, you know what I mean? All you gotta do is not fall off.”

Demi Moore

Demi Moore in 1982 and 2024
Left: 1982; Right: 2024Dianna Whitley/Getty; Amy Sussman/Getty

Demi Moore started out as a soap star on General Hospital and earned her Brat Pack title when she acted in St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night.

In the ’90s, she became Hollywood’s highest-paid actress, starring in Ghost (1990), A Few Good Men (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), Disclosure (1994), Striptease (1996) and G.I. Jane (1997).

Some of Moore’s films since the ’00s include Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Margin Call (2011), Songbird (2020) and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022). Now 61, she most recently starred in the 2024 miniseries Feud: Capote vs. the Swans.

In a 1985 interview, Moore admitted she hated the Brat Pack label, calling it “embarrassing.”

Related: Young Demi Moore: A Look Back at the Glamorous Star’s ’80s Beginnings

Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald in 1985 and 2023
Left: 1985; Right: 2023Bob Riha, Jr./Getty; Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty

Molly Ringwald became America’s Sweetheart in the ’80s thanks to her starring roles in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.

Following those legendary teen movies, Ringwald appeared in King Lear (1987), The Pick-Up Artist (1987), For Keeps (1988) and Fresh Horses (1988). In the ’90s, she acted in Betsy’s Wedding (1990), Malicious (1995), Office Killer (1997) and Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999). In 2001, she made a hilarious cameo riffing on her teen icon status in the parody Not Another Teen Movie.

Since the ’00s, Ringwald has taken on many television roles in shows including Raising Expectations, Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Riverdale, Single Drunk Female, and The Bear. She also appeared in the popular Kissing Booth teen movie franchise on Netflix.

Now 55, Ringwald most recently starred in the 2024 miniseries Feud: Capote vs. the Swans. The multitalented actress has also starred in Broadway musicals and released her debut jazz album in 2013. Outside of acting, she’s an accomplished writer whose essays have appeared in The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe Guardian and Vogue, and she’s written two books, Getting the Pretty Back and When It Happens To You. If that’s not enough, she’s also fluent in French, and has translated books from French to English!

Looking back at the extreme level of fame she achieved at such a young age, Ringwald told The Atlantic that even as she became a household name, “There wasn’t any escaping being a teenager. I felt all the things that other teenagers felt. I was insecure in lots of ways, over-confident in others. I was very emotional. Excitable.”

Related: Molly Ringwald Movies: A Look Back Through the ’80s Teen Icon’s Best Films

Ally Sheedy

Ally Sheedy in 1987 and 2023
Left: 1987; Right: 2023Barry King/WireImage/Getty; Slaven Vlasic/Getty

Before Ally Sheedy was an actress, she was a precocious 13-year-old who wrote the bestselling book She Was Nice to Mice in 1975. Sheedy then earned her Brat Pack bona fides in movies like Wargames (1983), The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire and Short Circuit (1986).

In the ’90s, Sheedy appeared in Only the Lonely (1991), The Pickle (1993), Man’s Best Friend (1993), One Night Stand (1995) and Amnesia (1997). In 1998, Sheedy starred as gay, drug-addicted photographer in High Art, which led her to act in a string of indie movies like Sugar Town (1999), Happy Here and Now (2002), Life During Wartime (2009) and Little Sister (2016).

Now 61, Sheedy was most recently in the cast of the comedy series Single Drunk Female from 2022 to 2023. Outside of acting, Sheedy has stayed true to her literary roots by working as a book editor under a pseudonym.

As for her iconic role in the 1985 John Hughes classic, while she’s admitted she wasn’t a fan of her character’s infamous makeover, Sheedy has said, “I’m always happy to talk about The Breakfast Club. I still really love it!”

Related: From Precocious Writer to ’80s ‘Brat Pack’ Member to Indie Movie Fixture: The Fascinating Career of Ally Sheedy


Read on for more of your favorite 80s stars!

Helen Hunt Movies: 17 of The Leading Lady’s Most Memorable Roles

Winona Ryder 80s: Fabulous Photos of the Star Who Defined Gen-X Cool

John Cusack Movies, Ranked: The 10 Best Films of His 40-Year Career

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