×

Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy on How ‘The Breakfast Club’ Helped And Hurt Their Careers

Thirty years after “The Breakfast Club” premiered in theaters, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy are back in detention. Both actresses attended a SXSW screening of a restored version of their high school classic with 1,300 fans on Monday.

The John Hughes comedy follows five teenagers (among those would later be known as “the Brat Pack”) stuck in school on a Saturday, as they slowly reflect on their secrets and personal struggles. “William Saroyan and Eugene O’Neill have been here before, but they used saloons and drunks,” wrote Roger Ebert in his three-star review at the time.

Ringwald plays Claire, the popular girl, and Allison (Sheedy) is her polar opposite, the outcast dressed in black. Ringwald and Sheedy sat down with Variety at SXSW this year to talk about “The Breakfast Club,” working with Hughes and how the film helped — and hurt — their careers.

Why did the “Breakfast Club” become such a classic?

Sheedy: There hadn’t been a movie like it before. It’s a very particular movie that hasn’t been repeated. I don’t know if you could get away with doing that movie today.

Ringwald: Because there are no vampires in it. Any movie with teenagers now has to have a vampire, a zombie or a werewolf. I think that’s one of the reasons it has this lasting quality, because they haven’t been able to replicate it. It’s not for lack of trying. [The studio] gave John an awful lot of freedom for a relatively untested director. He had done “Sixteen Candles,” but it hadn’t come out yet.

What was John like as a director?

Sheedy: Sometimes when you work with a director, they are up high. He was right with us the whole time. I loved that he’d sit by the camera on an apple box, just sit there happily watching away.

Ringwald: He would get so involved, he’d forget to say cut. We’d keep going, and he’d let us.

Did you choose your own costumes?

Ringwald: I picked my costume. The original concept that we talked about in L.A. showed up in Chicago and just didn’t work. It was a big sweater, but it was a Pepto-Bismol pink, and there wasn’t enough time to have it redone. John took me shopping to the Ralph Lauren store in downtown Chicago.

Ally, did goth exist?

Sheedy: There was no goth.

Ringwald: Yes, there was — the Cure.

Sheedy: That was afterwards.

Ringwald: The Cure was around. They totally were. “The Love Cats” was a big song, because John and I were going to do it in the library. He was going to turn the library into a club.

Sheedy: I didn’t really know about it. I loved that beat poet look. I wanted a long black sweater and for everything to be dark.

Did you keep your costumes?

Sheedy: No, I wish I did.

Ringwald: This was after three months of wearing the same thing every day. I never wanted to look at it again. But I would love to have those boots now.

Did you see the “Dawson’s Creek” episode that re-creates “The Breakfast Club?”

Ringwald: No. Did Michelle Williams play Ally and Katie Holmes play my character? My daughter saw an episode on that show “Victorious” that had a lot of the jokes. It kind of bummed me out. She knew a lot of the jokes, but she didn’t know it from seeing the movie.

Do you ever watch “The Breakfast Club” on TBS?

In unison: No!

Ringwald: The language must have been bleeped out of it. That’s a different experience. I don’t like to watch stuff where they change your lines.

Is it hard to have your adolescence captured on camera?

Ringwald: I kind of like it.

Sheedy: I felt very awkward at the time, but I felt really happy in this experience and kind of loved and free.

Ringwald: And so beautiful! When I look at you in the movie, you look like a perfect kitten.

Sometimes child actors say that it’s hard to grow up in the industry, because people think of them as being young forever.

Ringwald: That’s true. For a long time, people thought I was a teenager way beyond when it was clear I was no longer a teenager. The movie has run so much on television. I think it’s hard for people to separate. But I think enough time has gone by for that to change.

Did that help or hurt you get roles?

Ringwald: I think it’s made it challenging. I also have to take my own personal choices into account. I did leave the country and live in Paris. I think that affected things too. In retrospect, I wanted to have some experiences out of the public eye.

Sheedy: After “The Breakfast Club,” I got to do a whole bunch of things. Then there was a period of time, “the Brat Pack” thing became a backlash. It felt derogatory — these kids had too much too quickly. There was a dip in my career. When you’re working this long, things go in cycles.

Ringwald: I think as time goes on, there are new people and new actors. There’s no escaping that. And you have a comeback.

Did the term “Brat Pack” hurt your feelings?

Sheedy: Yeah. I wanted to become Debra Winger. I kept thinking how was I going to make the shift to adult roles, now that we’ve been thrown this thing called “the Brat Pack,” which basically means young and bratty. It made things a little difficult.

Ringwald: It didn’t feel like a positive or fair moniker for sure. I found it objectifying.

More Film

  • Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks Off Tuesday With Solid $3.5 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Annabelle Comes Home” collected a strong $3.5 million in Tuesday night previews. The supernatural thriller is expected to earn $30 million over its first five days in theaters .“Annabelle Comes Home” is the third “Annabelle” movie and a sequel to 2014’s “Annabelle” and the seventh entry in the Conjuring franchise. [...]

  • Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour'

    Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour' Picked Up for U.S. by Brainstorm Media

    “The Wolf Hour,” a psychological thriller starring Naomi Watts and Jennifer Ehle, has been picked up for North America by Brainstorm Media. HanWay Films has also closed sales for a host of European and Asian territories. Directed by Alistair Banks Griffin, “The Wolf Hour” features Oscar-nominated Watts as June, a former countercultural celebrity who lives [...]

  • A Star Is Born

    'A Star Is Born' Soundtrack Surpasses Global Sales of 6 Million

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s onscreen chemistry continues to be felt on the official soundtrack to “A Star is Born,” which just surpassed 6 million albums sold globally and has been certified double platinum in the U.S. Released by Interscope Records in 2018, the album debuted atop the charts and remains the highest-selling album of [...]

  • monty-python-are-fifty-in-2019

    Previously Unreleased Monty Python Audio to Get Airing for Troupe's 50th Anniversary

    Michael Palin will exec-produce series of radio specials containing never-before-released audio from Monty Python as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the iconic comedy troupe. They will play on the BBC in the U.K. and then go out in the U.S. Palin and his fellow Pythons – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Huayi Brothers' Stock Falls 8% After 'The Eight Hundred' Cancellation

    Huayi Brothers’ stock fell by more than 8% on Wednesday, the day after the veteran Chinese studio announced that its new war epic, “The Eight Hundred,” will not hit Chinese theaters as scheduled next week. Shares dropped from RMB5.48 to RMB5.02 overnight after Huayi said Tuesday that its summer blockbuster’s theatrical debut would be indefinitely [...]

  • Chinese actor Xu Zheng holds his

    Golden Horse Organizers Set Clashing Date With China's Golden Rooster Awards

    The prestigious Golden Horse Awards announced Wednesday that it will hold its annual ceremony in Taiwan on the same day this year as China’s Communist-backed Golden Rooster Awards – which virtually assures that no major mainland Chinese talent will attend the event known as Asia’s Oscars on November 23. Hong Kong director Johnnie To will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content