Who is the most successful member of the Hollywood Brat Pack?

Tom Beasley
Contributor
'The Breakfast Club' made stars of Brat Pack actors including Emilio Estevez, second left, and Molly Ringwald, second right (Universal)

The Brat Pack were an unofficial group of actors who rose to prominence in the teen movies of the 1980s — most notably St Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club.

Emilio Estevez was considered the leader of the group and he has a new film out this week in the shape of library-set drama The Public. Estevez appears behind the camera as writer-director, as well as taking on the lead role of the librarian who helps a group of homeless people stage a sit-in in order to escape the vicious cold outside.

Read more: How The Breakfast Club became a classic

With one of its core members back on the big screen after a decade of absence, it’s time to take a look at the mixed fortunes of the eight stars who made up the original Brat Pack. So here are those actors, listed by their lifetime box office haul courtesy of The Numbers.

Demi Moore ($2.45bn, £1.9bn)

Demi Moore biggest silver screen hit was Ghost (Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Biggest Hit: Ghost ($518m, £402m)

Other Notable Roles: Striptease, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Indecent Proposal, G.I. Jane, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Moore became a part of the Brat Pack with her appearance as party girl Jules in St Elmo’s Fire and went on to appear alongside fellow Brat Pack member Rob Lowe in About Last Night the following year.

By far the most successful of the group, Demi Moore became the highest-paid actress ever at the time in 1996 when she netted an unprecedented $12.5m (£9.7m) for taking on the lead role in Striptease. Just a few years before, she had secured a Golden Globe and box office success for Ghost, alongside Patrick Swayze.

Read more: Ghost star reflects on 30th anniversary

The critical and commercial failure of Striptease led her career to stall for several years. She returned in the noughties with key roles in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Margin Call. In recent years, she has become a prominent activist on a number of fronts, including in confronting child sex trafficking. She played a small role in last year’s hard-hitting drama Love Sonia, which focused on those themes.

Rob Lowe ($1.72bn, £1.34bn)

Rob Lowe went on to star in The West Wing and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Getty)

Biggest Hit: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me ($312m, £242m)

Other Notable Roles: The West Wing, Parks and Recreation, Behind the Candelabra

With roles in Brat Pack titles including The Outsiders and Class as well as playing frat boy Billy in St Elmo’s Fire, Lowe was one of the most prolific members of the group in the 1980s. A sex tape scandal at the tail end of that decade, as well as his infamous performance with Snow White at the 1989 Oscars, saw his career falter.

His resurgence came courtesy of his award-nominated role as communications director Sam in Aaron Sorkin’s political drama The West Wing. Lowe continued to have major success on TV, appearing in several acclaimed miniseries as well as a major role in sitcom Parks and Recreation.

Read more: Lowe claims Netflix movie was more popular than The Irishman

Meanwhile, on the big screen, Lowe portrayed the young Number Two in the Austin Powers franchise and plastic surgeon Dr Jack Startz in Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra. His most recent major role was the lead in ITV drama Wild Bill, as an American cop relocating to Lincolnshire.

Anthony Michael Hall ($1.34bn, £1.04bn)

Anthony Michael Hall played the villain in Edward Scissorhands (Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagic)

Biggest Hit: The Dark Knight ($1bn, £776m)

Other Notable Roles: Edward Scissorhands, Foxcatcher, Halloween Kills

Hall was a frequent collaborator with John Hughes during his 1980s heyday, starring in Sixteen Candles and Weird Science alongside other Brat Pack stars, as well as his role as the geeky Brian in The Breakfast Club. During the later part of the 1980s and early 1990s, he deliberately turned down roles that would have typecast him as a teen movie star, including in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Pretty in Pink.

He narrowly missed out on the lead role in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and went on to play the villain in Edward Scissorhands, as well as directing low-budget 1994 comedy Hail Caesar. Throughout the 1990s and noughties, he played small roles in various movies and TV shows, including as news reporter Mike Engel in The Dark Knight.

He has recently signed on to play the older version of Tommy Doyle — the child babysat by Laurie Strode — in upcoming slasher sequel Halloween Kills.

Ally Sheedy ($1.24bn, £963m)

Ally Sheedy has had a lot of roles in independent movies (FilmMagic)

Biggest Hit: X-Men: Apocalypse ($543m, £422m)

Other Notable Roles: Bad Boys, High Art, Short Circuit

Sheedy was one of only three Brat Pack actors — Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson were the other two — to appear in both The Breakfast Club and St Elmo’s Fire. She also popped up in several other classic 1980s movies, including Short Circuit and WarGames.

Her career since has largely consisted of small roles on TV and in independent movies, with her performance in 1998’s High Art winning her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. On stage, she became the first woman to portray the genderqueer lead of the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. More recently, she popped up for a cameo in comic book epic X-Men: Apocalypse as Scott Summers’ teacher.

Emilio Estevez ($1.12bn, £871m)

Emilio Estevez was the unofficial leader of the Brat Pack (Getty for WE Day)

Biggest Hit: Mission: Impossible ($458m, £356m)

Other Notable Roles: The Mighty Ducks, Repo Man, The Way

The unofficial leader of the Brat Pack, Estevez played lead roles in both The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, as well as appearing in The Outsiders and leading romantic crime film Wisdom alongside Brat Pack colleague Demi Moore. That film also marked his directorial debut, making him the youngest person to ever write, direct and star in a movie.

Read more: Revisiting the cast of The Mighty Ducks

Son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie, Estevez is perhaps the quietest member of that particular dynasty and has pursued an eclectic career. As well as appearing in the punky Repo Man during the 1980s and Disney franchise The Mighty Ducks throughout the 1990s, Estevez has furthered his directing career and The Public serves as an impressive return to the big screen.

He’s also set to return to The Mighty Ducks in the near future for Disney+.

Andrew McCarthy ($267.3m, £207.9m)

Andrew McCarthy has gone on to have a successful directorial career (Getty)

Biggest Hit: Pretty in Pink ($40.5m, £31.4m)

Other Notable Roles: Weekend at Bernie’s, Orange is the New Black (director)

With his role as sullen writer Kevin in St Elmo’s Fire, as well as appearances in Pretty in Pink and Class, McCarthy cemented himself as a core member of the Brat Pack. His acting career, however, never really reached the peaks of that 1980s heyday again, with primarily small roles in indie movies and TV guest spots.

Instead, McCarthy has pivoted to a directorial career. He helmed several episodes of Gossip Girl and then more than a dozen instalments of Netflix’s hugely popular prison-set comedy Orange is the New Black.

Molly Ringwald ($262.4m, £204.1m)

Molly Ringwald is perhaps best known for her roles in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink (WireImage)

Biggest Hit: Not Another Teen Movie ($62.4m, £48.5m)

Other Notable Roles: Riverdale, The Kissing Booth

Molly Ringwald became one of the biggest stars of the 1980s thanks to a trio of roles for John Hughes, with Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink all giving her leading lady status. Her career stalled when she moved into more adult roles and it’s significant that her most successful film at the box office was Not Another Teen Movie, in which she has a cameo sending up her previous work.

In 2018, Ringwald wrote a powerful essay in The New Yorker, reappraising her teen movies in the era of the #MeToo movement. She admitted “troubling” elements to The Breakfast Club, particularly focusing on the character played by Judd Nelson.

Read more: Molly Ringwald reveals #MeToo experience

More recently, she has returned to acting with a recurring role on CW series Riverdale and a part in the popular Netflix romcom The Kissing Booth. She is set to return for the sequel.

Judd Nelson ($214.4m, £166.8m)

Judd Nelson appeared in both The Breakfast Club and St Elmo's Fire (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Biggest Hit: New Jack City ($47.6m, £37m)

Other Notable Roles: The Transformers: The Movie, Billionaire Boys Club, Empire

Nelson was one of the three Brat Pack members to appear in both The Breakfast Club and St Elmo’s Fire, but it’s for his role as bad boy John Bender in the former that he remains best known. He also provided the voice of Autobot leader Rodimus Prime in the animated The Transformers: The Movie and scored a decent-sized hit by appearing alongside Wesley Snipes and Ice-T in crime thriller New Jack City.

Read more: How well do you know The Breakfast Club?

He was subsequently prolific with smaller projects on both the big and small screens, including as part of the main cast of sitcom Suddenly Susan in the late 1990s. More recently, he has voiced Rodimus Prime on several Transformers TV projects and appeared as entertainment exec Billy Baretti in several episodes of Empire.