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After 'St. Elmo's Fire'

We trace the ups and downs of the film's Brat Pack alums.

August 01, 2010|By John Horn and Chris Lee, Los Angeles Times

Technically, "The Breakfast Club" sparked the tinder 25 years ago that ignited "St. Elmo's Fire."

In the fleeting-but-influential panoply of Brat Pack movies, John Hughes' high school detention drama opened a mere four months before Joel Schumacher's post-collegiate ennui chronicle. But in the blink of a cinematic eye, many of the same "Breakfast Club" actors — Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez — had not only graduated from college but also were boozing and fist-fighting, snorting coke and sleeping around in "St. Elmo's Fire."

Both 1985 films helped launch careers. "Breakfast Club" alumna Molly Ringwald, previously featured in Hughes' "Sixteen Candles," went on to star in "Pretty in Pink" but is now mostly known for television's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" and her new style book "Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick." Anthony Michael Hall did "Weird Science" and had a cameo in "The Dark Knight" but most notably had a six-season run on USA network's "Dead Zone."

For star-making machinery, "St. Elmo's Fire" delivered more impressive results. Coverage of the movie launched the Brat Pack moniker, coined in a New York magazine story to describe the movie's male cast members as "a roving band of famous young stars on the prowl for parties, women, and a good time."

"The Breakfast Club" may be the more enduring movie, but it seemed that "St. Elmo's Fire" branded many of its actors as more bankable stars and pop culture touchstones. Their careers flared as wildly as Nelson's nostrils, and the actors' off-screen melodrama was sometimes better than anything in the film itself.

A recap of the "St. Elmo's" ensemble and their career ups and down:

Emilio Estevez ("Kirby Keger"):

1986: Directs-writes-stars in "Wisdom" opposite Demi Moore. +2

1990: Directs-writes-stars in "Men at Work" opposite brother Charlie Sheen. -3

1992: " The Mighty Ducks." Disney follows up with the Anaheim NHL franchise.. +3

1994: "D2: The Mighty Ducks." Have to make the sequel, right? +1

1996: "D3: The Mighty Ducks." Enough already. Penalty box time. -2

2006: Directs-writes-stars in "Bobby." RFK assassination drama called too earnest. -3

Rob Lowe ("Billy Hicks"):

1987 "Square Dance." Shades of Ben Stiller's Simple Jack from "Tropic Thunder." +1

1988: Sex video with underage girl, enters rehab. -5

1999: Starts "The West Wing." But Sam Seaborn never wins an Emmy. +4

2003: Leaves "The West Wing." "Dr. Vegas" isn't nearly as good. -2

2006: "Brothers & Sisters." At least it's better than "Dr. Vegas." +2

2008: Legal battles with nannies, chef. Can't trust the help, even. -2

Andrew McCarthy ("Kevin Dolenz"):

1986: "Pretty in Pink." Brat Pack power with Molly Ringwald. +4

1987: "Mannequin." Oscar nomination! (For original song.) +2

1989: "Weekend at Bernie's." Not dead on arrival, spawns sequel. +3

1992: Checks into rehab. Sober, makes "The Joy Luck Club" in 1993. +1

2008: " Lipstick Jungle." Otherwise off the radar for most of the '90s and '00. -2

2010: Writes magazine travel stories, including great quest for Irish soda bread. +3

Demi Moore ("Jules"):

1987: Marries Bruce Willis. Hollywood's hottest power couple. +2

1990: "Ghost." Eroticizes pottery wheels, communicates with dead. +3

1991: Poses naked and pregnant on cover of Vanity Fair. Yowza. +4

1996: "Striptease." Stars as world's most joyless pole dancer. -2

1997: "G.I. Jane." Push-ups impressive. Movie not. -3

2005: Marries Ashton Kutcher. Hope for all women seeking men 16 years younger. +2

Judd Nelson ("Alec Newbary"):

1986: "Blue City." Third teaming with Ally Sheedy not the charm. -3

1991: "New Jack City." Small part in surprisingly big cop film. +1

1996: "Suddenly Susan." Plays Brooke Shields' boss in hit TV series. +3

2001: "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."  It's mostly cameos by this point. -1

2005: "The Lost Angel." And direct-to-video titles like this, playing a priest. -4

2009: "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day." The original film was interesting. Nelson wasn't in it. -4

Ally Sheedy ("Leslie Hunter"):

1986: "Short Circuit." Nearly gets upstaged by a robot. +2

1988: Appears in Bon Jovi music video. Dates Richie Sambora. +1

1989:. Demi Moore gives her a plane ticket to Hazelden. Checks into rehab. -3

1994: "Red Shoe Diaries 4: Auto Erotica." Sadly, it's come to this.

1998: "High Art." Plays junkie, makes out with Radha Mitchell. +3

2009: "Life During Wartime." Good cameo in dyspeptic new Todd Solondz film. +1

Mare Winningham ("Wendy Beamish"):

1992: Releases folk album "What Might Be." She can actually sing. +2

1995: " Georgia." Nominated for Oscar, performs on soundtrack. +5

1997: " George Wallace." Wins Emmy, solidifies TV career. +2

2003: Converts to Judaism. 0

2006: "Grey's Anatomy." Good part in TV's popular series. +2

2007: "10 Million Miles" musical. Later performs in Old Globe show "Whisper House." +1

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