BRAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL
by Steven Paul Davies and Andrew Pulver
Broderick starred in two of the most commercially
successful teen films of the Eighties - WarGames (1983)
and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). Sidney Lumet, who
directed Broderick in Family Business (1989) called
him "one of the two best young actors in the United
States. There's just this profoundity to his work that
you rarely, if ever, see in actors that young. He's
totally involved, and he's incapable of being a cliché."
of the Brat Pack came and went, Tom Cruise
succeeded in his mission to become an international
movie megastar. According to the British film director
David Puttnam, Cruise has more 'want to be' about him
than any other American film star - men want to be him;
women want him. He is the most successful movie star
of his generation. Boyishly good-looking (constantly
voted Sexiest Man Alive in various trashy consumer magazines),
he makes $20 million a film.
Downey Jr. was one of Hollywood's hip, blow-dried,
'80s brat-packers but, in the space of just ten years,
managed to descend from clean-cut pin-up to gun-toting
junkie fuck-up. By 1996, he'd swapped making movies
for smack, crack and a .357 Magnum.
screen legend as a father and an infamous actor as a
brother, it's hardly surprising Emilio Estevez
chose a career in the movie business. However, unlike
father Martin Sheen and brother Charlie, he did choose
to proudly use his original Spanish family name. Estevez
featured in all of the key Brat Pack films - The Outsiders
(1983), The Breakfast Club (1985) and St Elmo's Fire
(1985). He hung out at LA's Hard Rock Cafe, endlessly
partied with fellow Eighties teen stars Rob Lowe, Tom
Cruise and Sean Penn, got engaged to Demi Moore and
became the unofficial leader of the Pack.
Later, Estevez rejected the Brat Pack label saying,
"We were just guys being guys. We'd meet to let
off a little steam, that was all. We all have to grow
up." He also rejects any notion of family influence
in his career: "I'm much more ambitious than my
father. Everything that's come to me I've earned. I
haven't been given stardom. I'm not a pretty boy who
was told, 'We're going to make you a star.'"
Michael Hall was the geek of the Pack - the
annoying nerd. The puny actor's naturally funny performances
in 1984's Sixteen Candles and in 1985's The Breakfast
Club resulted in scores of offers from noted directors
(including Stanley Kubrick, who wanted him for the lead
role in Full Metal Jacket in 1987, reportedly calling
Hall's debut the most promising since Jimmy Stewart's.)
But after a year of partying with the Saturday Night
Live gang, directors and casting agents lost interest.
Hall was drinking vodka by the quart every day by the
time he was 17. This led to much publicised drinking
sprees and punch-ups: "A lot of performers get
messed up because they think they don't deserve their
success, but I was the opposite," he told the Los
Angeles Times in 1988.
Lowe was the Leonardo DiCaprio of his time,
and the essence of a true Brat Packer. This pretty boy
partied with best buddies Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson
and dated a string of famous women, from actresses Melissa
Gilbert ("I was a Brat Pack wife," she claims)
and Nastassja Kinski to Grace Jones, Brooke Shields
and Princess Stephanie of Monaco: "If I haven't
been with 'em, I know 'em, or I've been engaged to 'em.
I looked at my calendar and said, 'Shit, it's a few
weeks into the new year and I haven't been engaged to
anyone yet. I'd better get to work.'"
Broderick, Ralph Macchio's deceptively
young looks have kept him in work for much of his career.
He earned fame and fortune as Daniel in the series of
Karate Kid films, but disappeared from the limelight
when he failed to escape the domain of teenage roles.
The main problem for Ralph Macchio is that the success
of Karate Kid and the other teen pictures he appeared
in marginalised him in that sort of role. It could only
last for so long. In the 90s, he was in his thirties
and a married man with kids of his own can't carry on
playing a 17 year old forever.
McCarthy was the Mr Nice of the 1980s, the
sensitive, caring, sensible member of the Brat Pack.
The characters he played always seemed a touch more
intellectual and deeper than those played by Lowe, Estevez
Brat Packers seemed to emerge from the eighties even
more successful than before. Tom Cruise is one; the
other is Demi Moore. Like Cruise, Moore
has always been intensely ambitious. She's always wanted
real power in Hollywood and, like her male counterpart,
Ringwald was the red-haired young movie star
who had teens queuing at the cinema, and who attracted
a huge following of groupies (Ringlets) who would dye
their hair orange, smear on the lipstick and parade
around in Molly-style designer punk gear. More 'normal'
than Madonna, Ringwald was still seen as hip, even though
she was a typical traditional white American teen. She
made the cover of Time magazine in 1986 and was labelled
the 'Princess of the Brat Pack', although she wasn't
really a part of the Brat Pack social scene, like her
one-time boyfriend Anthony Michael Hall, she was five
years younger than the rest of the gang. Ringwald was
the fresh young face of the 80s, although after her
rapid rise to stardom, it took even less time for her
to all but disappear.
Estevez and Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson
appeared in the two key Brat Pack films - The Breakfast
Club (1985) and St. Elmo's Fire (1985). Like his rebellious
character in the former, Nelson was just as wild in
real life. In the Eighties, he partied with the coolest
kids in Hollywood, he rode a Harley and dated a string
of actresses. He also dated Shannen Doherty.
Sheedy is one of the few, with Emilio Estevez
and Judd Nelson, who appeared in both The Breakfast
Club and St. Elmo's Fire - the two classic Brat Pack
features, both released in 1985. However, although she
was one of the key Brat Pack actors, she never really
went along with the lifestyle, choosing to shun the
If it was
just his three main Brat Pack movie appearances (Red
Dawn, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Young Guns) being
considered for entry into the main players list, Charlie
Sheen may not have made it. But because he's
the brother of the Pack's unofficial leader, Emilio
Estevez, and because he's been Hollywood's worst behaved
actor (the catalogue of crazed incidents is detailed
later) definitely mark Sheen down as a true Brat - a
party animal who was certainly one of the Pack.
Winningham is usually overlooked when it comes
to discussing the Brat Pack. She's become the forgotten
one. Admittedly, she was by no means a wild party animal
and she did only star in one key Brat Pack movie, but
the film - Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire (1985)
- was a major part of Brat Pack history. But the gang
of post-college youths (including Rob Lowe, Demi Moore,
Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy and Ally
Sheedy) all proved durable with the exception of Winningham.
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