Decades later, in a world full of iPhones and social media, The Breakfast Club is still as relevant as it was in the ‘80s. This teen drama seems to transcend time, offering an intimate look into the minds of a misunderstood group of kids who are forced to spend Saturday morning together in a library.
The Breakfast Club instantly warms your heart with its straightforwardness and valuable lesson – that people have more in common with one another than they think. Whether you’re a basket case, a brain, an athlete, a princess, or a reckless criminal, you’re first and foremost human.
Just like the Breakfast Clubbers changed how they thought of each other, here are some surprising facts that are sure to change the way you think about this epic movie.
The writers brainstormed before they settled on the title “The Breakfast Club.” They thought of Library Revolution (thankfully, they passed on that one) and the cute rhyme-y The Lunch Bunch (a slight improvement from Library Revolution but still not the best choice).
The final title was brought up after director John Hughes heard his friend’s son mention that the kids in his high school called early detentions “Breakfast Clubs.” Hughes instantly took an interest in the catchy new title, and The Breakfast Club was born!
The movie begins with a David Bowie quote: “… And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…” Actress Ally Sheedy (who plays Allison) is the brains behind it.
According to Ally, “I was listening to that song and was really obsessed with David Bowie. I asked John [the producer] if he knew it, and he said no, and then I gave him the tape of it and said I thought it would be a really cool quote.”
Molly Ringwald played the pristine and slightly conceited Claire, and she did so impeccably. It’s hard to imagine her taking on any other character, right? Well, directors originally wanted Molly to play basket case, Allison.
But Molly was intrigued by Claire’s character and wanted to challenge herself: “She was so different from the way that I saw myself, and more the way I saw my older sister because my sister was very popular.”
The breakfast club kids were supposed to look way different. Jodie Foster, Robin Wright, and Laura Dern were considered for the role of Claire. Brooke Shields was supposed to be Allison, and Nicolas Cage was supposed to play the rebel, John Bender.
Apart from Cage, another cast member had his eye set on being hot headed Bender. Emilio Estevez, who played the jock of the group, originally auditioned for the bad boy’s role. But director Hughes thought he was more fit to play Andrew. We think so too.
Carl, the janitor, was actually “Man of the Year” when he was a student at Shermer High. You can catch a glimpse of who he was on the school’s wall in the opening scene. The irony fits perfectly into the movie’s overall theme.
Directors felt it was important to show how much you can change from your teenage years to adulthood. It’s a valuable lesson for all of us. You can be on top of the world at one point in your life… but just as easily tumble down. Humility is the name of the game, friends!
The brains of the group, Brian Johnson, was played by Anthony Michael Hall. His sweet, childish look at the time was perfect for the role of the innocent virgin who spends his days solving problems in the physics club.
But it wasn’t only his onset character that was adorable. Anthony was just as nice off camera as well. Molly and Ally used to call him Milk and Cookies: “Doesn’t he look like that? He looks like milk and cookies,” Ally said in an interview, and Molly agreed: “He does. He was such a baby.”
At the start of the movie, the kids are dropped off by their parents at school. They sigh, roll their eyes, and head out of the car to their dreadful Saturday detention. Anthony Michael Hall, who plays Brian, gets dropped off by his mom, with his sister sitting in between them.
The family members look super alike, and that’s because they’re Anthony’s real family! His mom, Mercedes Hall, and his sister, Mary Christian, were both cast as his relatives. It looks like the whole family caught the acting bug.
Apart from housing The Breakfast Club students, the fictional Shermer High School starred in another one of Hughes’ films, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). To create this made-up school, Hughes drew inspiration from his personal life.
As a teenager, Hughes attended the Glenbrook North High School in Illinois, and his school was located on Shermer Road. Ta-da! There you have it. That’s the story behind this legendary school’s name.
The movie’s legendary anthem, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” was written specifically for its soundtrack. The song was performed by the Scottish band Simple Minds, but they weren’t the ones who wrote it. And they weren’t even so sure they wanted to sing it!
Good thing they did. Because the No. 1 hit peaked the Billboard charts and became the tune of an era. Initially, the song’s writer, Keith Forsey, wanted Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry to sing the tune, but they both denied. Surely they regretted that decision…
Playing the rebel looks like an easy role to get into, right? You just have to throw a few books into the air and bully everyone in the room. Well, Judd Nelson felt like he needed to fully commit in order to get into character, so he acted like John Bender even when the cameras weren’t rolling.
When he came to audition for the part, Nelson put on a bad boy front while he was still in the waiting room: “I was teasing [people] a bit, but not bad,” he mentioned, “But the receptionist thought I was bad.” Nelson was almost kicked out by security!
Nelson clearly took his part seriously. To prepare for the role, he snuck into a real Chicago high school and made friends with other students who resembled Bender. Nelson was 24 at the time, but he was able to fool everyone.
He told his new friends he had a “fake ID” and could buy them beer in exchange for a ride to his hotel room. When he was asked about the hotel, he answered that his father was in prison, so he had no choice but to crash at the Westin O’Hare for a while.
Ally Sheedy played the role of basket case Allison. The creepy outcast doesn’t really talk much at first and prefers to pass her time drawing and messing around with her hair. She even pulls out a few strands and wraps them around her finger to stop the blood from flowing.
But the scene where she runs her fingers through her hair to make dandruff snow on her drawing made viewers wonder whether it was her actual dry scalp. The answer? No. For a long time, people thought it was parmesan cheese, but Ally set the record straight and explained, “It was potato flakes of some kind.”
It’s hard to miss that preppy Claire comes from a rich family. From her fancy sushi lunch to her dad’s BMW, Claire’s upbringing seems more than comfortable. The luxurious car we see at the start of the movie is actually director Hughes’s very own vehicle.
The car enthusiast showed off his high-end, 6-series BMW, which ended up being a great contribution because it set the tone for Claire’s character. No wonder Bender was quick to judge her and told her to stick to the things she knew: “shopping, nail polish, and your father’s BMW!”
The Breakfast Club is a fantastic movie, but the ending left us hanging. What happened on Monday when the kids went back to school? Did they high five each other when they passed through the halls, or did they go back to being judgmental strangers?
Director Hughes wanted to provide the viewers with an answer, so he began writing a sequel. It almost came to fruition and even had Emilio Estevez (who played Andrew) involved in the production. But Hughes died tragically in 2009, and the sequel was scrapped.
After Bender gets yelled at by his obnoxious teacher Richard, he’s left to rot in a small room. But not for long. He soon crawls through the air ducts and entertains himself with a joke: “A naked blonde walks into a bar, carrying a poodle under one arm and a 200-foot salami under the other,”
He continues, “She lays the poodle on the table. The bartender says, ‘I don’t suppose you’d be needing a drink?’ The naked lady says –” and then the joke gets cut off because he falls through the ceiling back into the library. Over the years, fans have tried to solve the riddle. But don’t bother. Bender improvised the joke on the spot.
Much of “The Breakfast Club” was filmed inside the shuttered Maine North High School in unincorporated Maine Township during the spring of 1984. Actress Sheedy mentioned that a steamy, risqué scene didn’t make the final cut. It was supposed to involve a topless swimming teacher, but she explained, “I think John [Hughes] didn’t want to have it in the movie. I think he thought it didn’t really work for him.”
John Kapelos (who played the janitor) revealed there was another cheeky scene that didn’t make it into the movie: “A scene with a bunch of MILFs or middle-aged cougar women who were doing an aerobics class in the gym and were really letting it go.”
Judd Nelson was a troublemaker from the get-go. He was almost kicked out of his audition for being “too into character” and almost got himself fired after he consistently teased Molly Ringwald on set, upsetting director Hughes.
Molly dished to The New York Times: “John was extremely protective of me, and it just infuriated him. And he almost fired him, and we all banded together and really talked John out of firing Judd. It really made us seem like a real group.”
Actor Rick Moranis (mostly known for his part in Ghostbusters) was the production’s first choice for the role of Carl Reed, the school janitor. He came on set, already a well-known actor, and the rest of the crew were pretty star-struck. But he wasn’t there for too long.
He was kicked off the set and replaced by John Kapelos. Kapelos was told that “[Moranis] wanted to play the character as a Russian with gold teeth and keys between his legs, playing with it provocatively…” and this didn’t really fit with Hughes’s idea of the character.
John Bender puts Kapelos’ character on the spot when he asks him, “how does one become a janitor?” The question is meant to humiliate him in front of everyone, but fans of the film still expected an answer and were disappointed when the question was simply brushed off.
Thankfully, Kapelos replied in an interview, “You have to have your heart broken by your teenage sweetheart in your third year of university. Drop out. Lose her heart. Make sure her father hates you even more and will never include you in his future plans. And then get a job at your old high school as a janitor and try to lick your wounds. That’s Carl’s pathetic backstory.”
In the scene where Kapelos (the janitor) catches principal Vernon snooping through confidential files, director Hughes encouraged Kapelos to cut Paul’s character (Vernon) off and ask for 50 bucks. This took Paul by surprise, and his angry reaction was 100% genuine.
“John Hughes just told me before the take, ‘Cut him off and ask him for 50 bucks.’ So I did,” Kapelos revealed, “And if you see the movie again, take a look at Paul’s reaction because it’s real. He was really [ticked off].”
A lot of scenes weren’t included in the final film. For example, when the gang goes off to smoke, Allison, Sheedy’s character, prefers to isolate herself in the nearby room and sing a little tune. Producers went ahead and shot the scene, but it never made the final cut.
“John let me shoot something with Allison alone in the tiny audiovisual room, singing a capella,” Sheedy told HuffPost, “She sang the song to herself, and then she walked out of the room and just joined the group. So, that wasn’t in the script, and he actually let me shoot it. But afterwards said that everybody sort of thought it was a little bit too weird.”
Remember Claire’s infamous lipstick trick? The one where she applies lipstick by sticking the tube in her cleavage? Yeah, well, apparently Molly Ringwald had no idea how to do it. She simply moved her head around to make it seem like she was applying it.
It began as an idea and wasn’t supposed to really appear in the film. But Molly insisted they find a way to make it work: “John Hughes wrote it but never actually thought about me having to do it. But I kept bringing it up. Finally, we decided it was better to see less and let everyone assume that I was particularly skilled.”
Not everyone was supposed to dance around the library cheerfully. The scene was meant for Molly Ringwald (Claire) only. But she admitted she was too nervous about having all the spotlight on her like that, so director Hughes suggested that the rest of the crew join in.
Ringwald’s insecurity as a dancer made the scene a whole lot better! It ended up being an incredible moment of unity and an unforgettable scene. In the words of Stevie Wonders, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.”
Right after John Bender puts Claire’s shiny diamond in his ear, he walks across the football field and throws hit fist high up in the air. A sign of victory! The kids have managed to overcome their prejudices, biases and fear each other.
A pretty epic ending to an epic movie. But the gesture was completely off-script. Judd Nelson spontaneously came up with it on the spot. It just felt like the right thing to do, and Hughes loved it, so he kept it in the final cut.
The cast had a blast filming the movie. They admitted they were totally pampered and were given a lot of creative freedom. Hughes let them improvise in many of the scenes, which isn’t that typical of Hollywood directors.
Molly Ringwald said the whole cast became really good friends, and it was heartbreaking to say goodbye once the shooting wrapped up. They even had a hard time parting way with the library! So, Hughes gave each actor a part of the library’s banister as a way to remember the wonderful experience.
In 2017, the Criterion Collection (a home video distribution company) released a 4K digital restoration of The Breakfast Club and over 50 minutes of never-before-seen footage as a bonus feature. Fans could finally see the scenes that never made it to the final cut.
One deleted scene features a conversation between Claire and Allison in the girls’ room. Allison sets down her bag of chips and begins to wash her hands when Claire cries out, “Oh, this is so sad. You’re washing your hands, but you’ll eat food inches away from a live toilet?” Allison doesn’t seem to be moved by it all. She retrieves a potato chip from the sink, puts it in her mouth, and walks away.
Anthony Michael Hall (Brian) and Molly Ringwald (Claire) were sixteen at the time of the shooting, a lot younger than the rest of the cast, who were in their early twenties. Emilio Estevez (Andrew) and Ally Sheedy (Allison) were 23, and Judd (John) was 24.
Nelson revealed that Anthony Michael Hall grew taller right before their eyes! During auditions, Nelson was two inches taller than Anthony, but by the end of the film, he was only half an inch taller than the developing teen.
The film was shot in a two-story library with bright lights that generated heat and created an overall stuffy sensation in the room. The cast had difficulty coping with the dense air, but the “suffocating atmosphere” added to the sensation directors wanted to project.
In the film, Andrew feels pressured by his dad, and Claire feels pressured by her friends. If there’s one thing The Breakfast Club kids can agree on it, it’s that life can get pretty claustrophobic, just like the heated library.
For more than half of the film, Ally Sheedy’s character, Allison, barely speaks. She lets out a giggle here and there and shoots sharp glances but keeps to herself for the most part. But she slowly comes out of her shell and begins to open up.
With the help of Claire, Allison goes from an all black and messy look to blush on her face and a tidy hairdo. But Ally didn’t like the way her character’s makeover turned out. She believed Allison didn’t need a new look to appear beautiful.
The movie was filmed in 1983 in Maine North High School in Illinois. Years later, in 2015, the movie’s original manuscript was discovered while superintendent Ken Wallace sorted through some old files in his office.
The original manuscript revealed that Universal had agreed to rent out the school for $48,000. Wallace knows how much this script means to people and has decided to preserve this iconic piece of history for future generations.
The film was supposed to be two and a half hours long. Can you imagine how great that would have been? But Universal Pictures wanted Hughes to move forward with his next film, Sixteen Candles. So, he had to cut down the teen drama to a shorter run time.
He deleted many scenes and claimed that it was a shame because audiences missed out on many crucial and notable moments. Remember Claire and Bender’s steamy moment in the storage room? It should have been way longer and more detailed.
There was some uncomfortable tension between John Kapelos (Janitor Carl) and Emilio Estevez (Andrew). It began when Kapelos tried to film a scene but couldn’t concentrate because Estevez and Nelson were joking around in the background, trying to make him laugh.
Kapelos didn’t laugh. Angered by their lack of seriousness, he made a comment on actor Martin Sheen’s heart attack, saying that they “would’ve been great on the set of Apocalypse Now,” goofing around as Martin collapsed in pain. The awkward part here is that Emilio is Sheen’s son. Ouch
Molly Ringwald was a fresh-faced teenager when she starred in The Breakfast Club. She was relatively new to the business and didn’t think too much of it. But years later, she realized how messed up some of the scenes were.
She spoke up about the part where Bender hides underneath the table, catches a glimpse of Claire’s underwear, and leans forward in between her legs until she kicks him. Looking back, Ringwald said it was completely inappropriate and disrespectful.
Renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz, spent two full sessions with the Breakfast Club gang until they got the perfect shot. The five of them huddled together to create their iconic poster, and it took hundreds of photos until they captured the right one with Ringwald lying on her side in front of her castmates.
Annie Leibovitz did a great job in capturing the essence of the film. The theatrical poster for The Breakfast Club set the stage and intrigued the audience. Each kid had such a different look, and viewers were curious to find out who these weirdos were.
In the ‘80s, Emilio Estevez (who played Andrew) was a rising star. New York Magazine writer David Blum interviewed him in 1985, and their conversation gave birth to a not so flattering nickname – the “Brat Pack.”
After Estevez mentioned he tried to get a free ticket to a screening of Ladyhawke, Blum’s impression of him was that he was an entitled little kid. Afterward, Blum released an article called “Hollywood’s Brat Pack,” which discussed a group of young actors at the time who all shared this type of attitude.
Anthony Michael Hall played the nerdy, “good boy” of the gang. When the film ended, he knew he had to break free of the geek typecast, so he focused on other diverse roles. He joined Saturday Night Live in 1985 to show off some humor.
He then tapped into his scary side when he starred in Edward Scissorhands in 1990 and in the TV adaptation of The Dead Zone in 2000. His latest work was in 2020 when he starred in the film Halloween Kills, set to release in October 2021.
After her role as Claire, Molly starred in another of Hughes’ films, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. She then took a long break from acting, and when she came back, she decided to return to the small screen.
She starred in shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Riverdale. As for her personal life, Ringwald was married to writer Valery Lameignère from 1999 to 2002. In 2007, she married Panio Gianopoulos, also a writer, with whom she had three kids.
When Judd wrapped up his role as rule-breaker John Bender, he went on to star in St. Elmo Fire with costars Estevez and Sheedy. He met up with Sheedy again on the set of the 1986 film Blue City. A year later, he starred in Billionaire Boys Club.
Nelson has landed guest-starring roles on shows like CSI and Two and a Half Men. He has also voiced characters on many animated series like Family Guy, Phineas and Ferb, and Transformers. According to Judd, “It’s important to keep working and make the best of what’s available.”
After playing the gang’s outcast, Ally Sheedy met her Breakfast Club costars (Estevez and Hall) again on the set of St. Elmo’s fire and The Dead Zone in 2003. She also landed guest roles in CSI, Kyle XY, and Psych.
Ally even tried her hand in musicals when she appeared in 1999’s Hedwig and the Angry Grinch. As for her personal life, Sheedy married actor David Lansbury in 1992, and the couple gave birth to a son named Beckett. After 16 long years, the couple called it quits and divorced in 2008.
Right before the 2018 Golden Globes, Ally Sheedy shared some suspicious tweets: “Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much.” Once the event ended, she wrote: “James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/tv business.”
The actress has been pretty outspoken about the Me Too movement, and speculations rose that her angry tweets had something to do with sexual misconduct. She ended up taking the tweets down. In response, James Franco said, “I have no idea why [Sheedy] was upset. She took the tweet down. I don’t know. I can’t speak for her.”
Estevez was on a roll in the ‘80s and ‘90s. In addition to landing the part of star athlete Andrew, Estevez played in St. Elmo’s Fire and Young Guns. He even directed a few movies and shows, including Wisdom (1986) and Men at Work (1990).
He also made a guest appearance on Two and a Half Men in 2008, starring alongside his brother, Charlie Sheen. In his personal life, Emilio had a brief taste of what it’s like to be married when he tied the knot with Paula Abdul in 1992. But their romance was short-lived and ended after two years. He shares a daughter and a son with his ex-girlfriend Carey Salley.
Gleason had some memorable roles before he appeared on The Breakfast Club. But his performance as the resentful assistant principal, Vernon, remains one of his most recognized. After the film, he starred in 1988’s Die Hard and 1993’s Trading Places.
He appeared on many shows, including Boys Meets World, Dawson’s Creek, Friends, Drake & Josh, and Seinfeld. Tragically, he died in 2006 at the age of 67 from mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer.
The Breakfast Club premiered in Los Angeles on February 7, 1985, and was released a week later in cinemas all over the U.S. It earned a whopping $51.1 million. An astounding amount considering that its budget was only $1 million.
It became one of John Hughes’s most memorable works. So much so that in 2016 it was preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry and was deemed “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.”
If you paid close attention, you probably realized that the blue wall at the beginning of the film has the phrase “I don’t like Mondays” carved into it. A truly relatable sentence. But it’s a reference to something a lot darker than not wanting to start the week.
The sentence refers to a school shooting that happened a few years earlier, in 1979, in San Diego. 16-year-old Brenda Spencer killed the principal and one of the custodiansand injured eight students. When asked why she did it, she answered, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
The movie was such a hit that audiences insisted time and again on a sequel. They wanted to know what happened to their beloved characters, but John Hughes was initially against it. He was never a big fan of sequels.
He explained, “I know everybody would love to watch it, but I’m too fond of those characters … there’s no excuse that could ever put them in the same room ever again. There isn’t anything in their lives after high school relevant to that day.”
Ringwald was only 16 when she landed the role of Claire. But despite her young age, she established a deep connection with the director, John Hughes. Their relationship was a little more than your average boss\employee relation. Ringwald was his muse!
After The Breakfast Club, Hughes wrote the film Pretty in Pink with Ringwald in mind. And when she told him she felt the film needed a few changes, he took it to heart. He clearly valued her opinion over everyone else’s.
This may come as a surprise, but the room we see in the movie isn’t the school’s library; it’s the gym. Producers needed a larger space for all the dancing, jumping, pot-smoking moments, so they went for the school’s gym instead and transformed it into an epic library.
But you can see the actual gym before the makeover, when John Bender scores some hoops in an attempt to distract principal Vernon, giving his fellow Breakfast Clubbers a chance to get back to the library.
John Kapelos took on the small but memorable role of former star student and present day janitor, Carl Reed. He made around £16,000 from the movie, which isn’t much for Hollywood actors. But he claimed it was well worth it because it kickstarted his career.
“I got paid a pretty modest sum for my role in The Breakfast Club itself – something like £2,300 a day, and I only worked on it for seven days,” he revealed, “It was not a huge amount, but the film yielded lots of other work. It kicked off my acting career and I did a ton of movies after that.”
Nelson didn’t grow up with famous parents, and he wasn’t used to being in the spotlight. So, his newfound status after The Breakfast Club took a bit of time to get used to. When asked about how he dealt with the sudden fame, he answered:
“…when you have success, it’s kind of disorienting. [It’s like] wait a minute, things are OK? I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here.” Nelson explained, “You just try to keep yourself out of trouble. It’s hard, but you try your best.”
Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Emilio Estevez met up once again in another coming of age movie, St. Elmo’s Fire. The film was released in 1985 (the same year as The Breakfast Club), and it told the story of university graduates and their struggles to grow into adulthood.
It wasn’t as successful as The Breakfast Club, but the actors were still really excited about it and had a great time working together again. Although the two films had no real connection between them, fans like to think of St. Elmo’s Fire as its sequel.