On a summer’s day twenty years ago, June 28, 1985, to be exact, the film St Elmo’s Fire was released. It was a hotly anticipated film at the time due to its cast of young, ‘hot’ actors dubbed The Brat Pack. No one could have predicted the cult status the film would attain nor its current three-decade long reign as one of the most nostalgia-inducing 80s cinematic productions. But where are The Brat Pack now? Emirates Woman investigates…
If the term The Brat Pack means nothing to you, it’s quite possible that you were born in the late 80s or 90s; however many an 80s’ baby would know it referred to an unofficial grouping of young actors (both male and female) who seemed to be riding the wave of all the excesses the 80s (most notably in the United States of America) has come to represent – big wallets, big egos, big shoulders and even bigger hair. And while many critics looked upon the group as fame-hungry kids, the movie-going public couldn’t get enough of them. And the more of them in a film, the better!
Many have called St Elmo’s Fire a psuedo-sequel to The Breakfast Club which was released four months earlier. The Breakfast Club dealt with a group of high school kids in Saturday detention who through the course of a day embark on a journey of self-discovery and face the reality of their impending emancipation from childhood. St Elmo’s Fire peers into the lives of a group of recent graduates (four months earlier) from the University of Georgetown and their adjustment to attempted adulthood. Along with the similar storylines, three of the same actors appear in both films namely: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy.
Interestingly, the term The Brat Pack only made its way into the media’s popular imagination 10 days before St Elmo’s Fire was released. It first appeared on the cover of the June 10, 1985 issue of New York magazine with the headline “Hollywood’s Brat Pack” and features a photograph of St Elmo’s stars Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Rob Lowe dressed as their film characters captured in a state of candid exuberance in what could be a promotional image for the film. In the cover feature, journalist David Blum spends a night out in Los Angeles with the three “boys” (Estevez, Nelson and Lowe) and documents their [bratty] interactions with fangirls, a Playmate, bouncers and each other.
As Blum describes: “This is the Hollywood ‘Brat Pack’. It is to the 1980s what the Rat Pack was to the 1960s — a roving band of famous young stars on the prowl for parties, women, and a good time. And just like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis Jr, these guys work together, too — they’ve carried their friendships over from life into the movies. They make major movies with big directors and get fat contracts and limousines. They have top agents and protective PR people. They have legions of fans who write them letters, buy them drinks, follow them home. And, most important, they sell movie tickets. Their films are often major hits, and the bigger the hit, the more money they make, and the more money they make, the more like stars they become.”
Blum makes no reference to any female Brat-packers, his list includes the likes of Tom Cruise, Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Nicholas Cage, Sean Penn, Matthew Broderick and Matthew Modine. Blum never explains in the article why there are no women mentioned (maybe it didn’t gel with his direct comparison to the Rat Pack or maybe the ‘girls’ were not bratty enough), but the term quickly took on a life of its own and evolved to include young actors from cult 80s peer films including female stars like Molly Ringwald (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles), Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club, St Elmo’s Fire) and Demi Moore (St Elmo’s Fire).
Where are the Brat Pack cast of St Elmo’s Fire now?
Emilio Estevez (Kirby “Kirbo” Keager)
“Emilio Estevez is the unofficial president of the Brat Pack” claimed Blum in his 1985 article. The actor from showbiz stock (the son of Martin Sheen), acted solidly for the next decade after St Elmo’s Fire in entertaining but mostly forgettable films which included Loaded Weapon 1 and The Mighty Ducks. He works mostly behind the camera these days as director, writer and producer for film and television. It’s probably just as well – his brother Charlie Sheen has provided enough tabloid fodder for the whole family in the last few years.
Judd Nelson (Alec Newbury)
It’s safe to say that Judd Nelson’s film career peaked with St Elmo’s Fire. While the actor has continued to work solidly since the 1985 hit, his career quickly veered from the big screen to the small one. He has made a number of television movies and has appeared in countless TV series including a 71-episode recurring role in the sitcom Suddenly Susan starring Brooke Shields.
Rob Lowe (Billy Hicks)
Dubbed “The Most Beautiful Face” of the Brat Pack by Blum, Lowe’s career has been the most unpredictable. Just when you think he’s disappeared from the limelight he reappears and does something wonderful. Post St Elmo’s Fire his memorable movie roles include playing the slimy record exec in Wayne’s World and an evil sidekick in the Austin Powers movies. But Lowe has excelled on the small screen with roles in hit series The West Wing, Brothers & Sisters and Leslie Knope’s devilishly handsome boss in Parks and Recreation.
Andrew McCarthy (Kevin Dolenz)
Andrew McCarthy had a string of hits post-St Elmo’s Fire such as Pretty In Pink, Mannequin, Weekend at Bernie’s, The Joy Luck Club and Mulholland Falls. His screen acting career stalled after this with a string of television appearances. His most recent brush with notable success is behind the camera directing several episodes of the new popular women’s prison series Orange Is the New Black.
Ally Sheedy (Leslie Hunter)
Sheedy has had a confusing acting career, which seems to oscillate between “worst actress” and “best actress” nominations and peaked with the 1998 indie film High Art.
Demi Moore (Jules Van Patten)
By far the most successful of the Brat Packettes, Demi Moore needs little introduction. Her 1990 film Ghost (with Patrick Swayze) was the highest grossing film that year and solidified her status as a household Hollywood actor. She then went on to impress in films A Few Good Men opposite Tom Cruise, Disclosure and GI Jane. Her nude and heavily pregnant Vanity Fair magazine cover will go down as one of the most iconic of the century. Sadly the demise of her relationship with much younger Ashton Kutcher become the subject of many a tabloid headline in recent years.