The Brat Pack movies are some of the most enduring films of the 1980s. People continue to love them to this day. The actors associated with the term “Brat Pack” - including Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Rob Lowe, and Robert Downey, Jr. - have long expressed disdain for the label, but to fans, it's used in an affectionate way. It's simply a means of referencing a group of stars who worked together in various combinations on a regular basis, often to great effect.
St. Elmo's Fire and The Breakfast Club are arguably the two quintessential Brat Pack films, although there are several others, like Less Than Zero, About Last Night, and Pretty in Pink. Making those movies was frequently a fun process for the actors, given the real-life camaraderie many of them shared, but there were some stressors, too. The following behind-the-scenes stories from Brat Pack films take a look at both the good and the bad of shooting those '80s classics.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox1331 VOTES
Filming ‘Less Than Zero’ Made Robert Downey Jr.’s Drug Problem Worse
Robert Downey, Jr. had one of the most legendary drug problems of any actor in Hollywood history. For years, the legal troubles created by his addiction completely overshadowed his work. His abuse of substances became worse on the set of Less Than Zero. Based on the best-selling Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, the film focuses on the relationship between protagonist Clay (Andrew McCarthy) and his childhood friend Julian (Downey). Julian is heavily addicted to cocaine, so Clay attempts to help him get clean, and also to make amends with the dealer (James Spader) Julian owes.
Making a movie about drug abuse ended up being a trigger for Downey's own use. He'd begun experimenting with marijuana at age 6, at the encouragement of his father. That led to continuing substance use during his teenage and young adult years. Playing Julian brought all that to a new level. Downey said:
Until that movie, I took my drugs after work and on the weekends. Maybe I’d turn up hungover on the set, but no more so than the stuntman. That changed on Less Than Zero. I was playing this junkie… and, for me, the role was like the ghost of Christmas future. The character was an exaggeration of myself. Then things changed and, in some ways, I became an exaggeration of the character. That lasted far longer than it needed to last.
- Photo: Columbia Pictures2294 VOTES
The Famous ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ Poster Image Was Originally A Private Photo For An Exec
Sometimes a happy accident ends up becoming iconic. Case in point: a specific image for St. Elmo's Fire. It features the seven main cast members sitting tightly packed on a bench right outside Saint Elmo's Bar. A couple of them are smiling, others look a little passive, or even bored. They're all bundled up in hats and coats. This picture ended up on the poster, the soundtrack album, and some VHS/DVD/Blu-ray editions of the film.
The thing is, that photo was never meant to become the central promotional image for St. Elmo's Fire. Someone took it to send to a studio executive so he could see how the cast looked together. Nothing about it was posed or staged. Nevertheless, the visual was so powerful that it ended up becoming the focal point of the marketing campaign. As Rob Lowe explained:
That image of all of us huddled outside of St. Elmo’s Bar was just a quick shot we took to send to the executive who had championed the movie, Craig Baumgartner. That was a photo for him that nobody thought anything of. We all sort of looked like crap. And it ended up being the poster for the movie.
- Photo: Universal Pictures3347 VOTES
John Hughes Wrote The First Draft Of ‘The Breakfast Club’ In A Weekend
John Hughes was a prolific writer, first as a regular contributor to National Lampoon magazine, then as a screenwriter. When inspiration hit, he could famously pound out a script in no time at all. With The Breakfast Club, for example, the idea was so powerful to him, and the themes he wanted to address were so clear in his mind, that he wrote the first draft in a matter of days.
According to actor Judd Nelson, who plays John Bender in the film, Hughes told him and co-star Emilio Estevez during the rehearsal process that he'd written the first draft over the course of a weekend. They asked how many drafts he wrote, and he responded that there were several. The actors asked to read them all. They liked some of what was in those other drafts, and worked with Hughes to meld those elements back in to the finished film.
- Photo: Paramount Pictures4274 VOTES
Molly Ringwald Cried When She Saw Her ‘Pretty In Pink’ Prom Dress
So much of Pretty in Pink revolves around whether Andie will go to the prom and, if she does, with whom. In the end, she does indeed attend the event, with pal Duckie at her side. The prom dress is a vital element in this scene. Andie comes from a working-class family and therefore can't afford an expensive prom dress. She shops in thrift stores. At the same time, it was important that her dress not only be attractive, but also imply that she arrives at prom with her dignity intact. The pink dress designed for her by costumer Marilyn Vance makes a big impression on viewers - but it didn't make one on Ringwald.
The actress broke down into tears the first time she saw what she had to wear onscreen. Ringwald explained:
I remember having a discussion with Marilyn about the dress and thinking it was going to look a certain way. It was the time of Dynasty, with all these big shoulders and unusual silhouettes. But when the dress showed up, I thought, What is this? How could anyone look good in that? It’s a triangle! The inverted-triangle silhouette made it really difficult to wear. Plus, it was the color of Pepto-Bismol! There were so many different shades of pink that could’ve been chosen, but that one was brutal. I burst into tears when I first saw it, and my teacher at the time kept reprimanding me. She said I was being rude, but it was truly just a visceral reaction. I understand how iconic that dress is now, but I was so bummed out at the time.