Demi Moore - Emilio Estevez - Charlie Sheen - Tom Cruise : Brat Pack Confidential


by Steven Paul Davies and Andrew Pulver



Matthew 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."



While most 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.



Robert 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.



With a 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.'"



Anthony 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.



Rob 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.'"



Like Matthew 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.



Andrew 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 and Nelson.



Only two 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, she's succeeded.



Molly 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.



Like Emilio 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.



Ally 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 Hollywood parties.


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.



Mare 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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