Teen Days That Shook the World

Fifteen years ago, John Hughes had never had a hit, the Brat Pack was unheard of, and Hollywood believed the phrase "teen drama" was an oxymoron. The Breakfast Club changed all that BY SEAN M. SMITH

"KIDS WON'T SIT THROUGH IT, "'DIRECTOR JOHN Hughes recalls studio executives telling him about his detention-as-group-therapy drama, The Breakfast Club. "'There's no action, no party, no nudity.' But what they'd forgotten is that at that age, it often feels just as good to feel bad as it does to feel good." Indeed, not since Rebel Without a Cause had a movie so successfully challenged the notion that teenagers were interested only in Annette Funicello beach parties or Porky's peep shows. Praised by Roger Ebert and panned by Pauline Kael, The Breakfast Club polarized critics, but not its audience. In its short theatrical run, the movie took in $46 million and became one of the top 2o highest grossing releases of 1985. But its real legacy was to be forged on cable and on video (more than a million videocassettes have been sold nationwide). "These characters were so archetypal," Molly Ringwald says. "I can't tell you how many people I've met, from other countries even, who identify with it." Today, Hollywood is again flush with youth fever, and the influence of The Breakfast Club can be seen in such hit TV series as Dawson's Creek and Felicity, where teens tend to be as full of self-awareness as they are of self-pity. "One of the great wonders of that age is that your emotions are so open and raw, "Hughes says. "That's why I stuck around that genre for so long. "Here, in the words of those who were there, is the inside story of all the fun and fireworks behind the making of the movie that not only defined a generation but asked the eternal question, "Are you a virgin?"

JOHN HUGHES: You don't watch teen movies to figure out what teens are like. I knew these kids. My wife and I were ten years younger than every {other parent} in our neighborhood, so I was surrounded by teenagers until I was 27. I saw how their lives at 14 and 15 were different than mine had been. My generation had sucked up so much attention, and here were these kids struggling for an identity. They were forgotten.

"Demented and Sad, but Social"
HUGHES: I wasn't very happy as a writer. I got bounced off Mr. Mom and National Lampoon's Vacation for shooting my mouth off a little too much. One director said to me, "If they fire you, we make the movie. If they fire me, we don't." So I thought I'd better become one of those director people.
ANDREW MEYER: One day he pulls out a script and says, "I know it's hard for a guy like me to get a job directing, but I've written a script that takes place entirely in a school library. It won't be expensive, and how much can I screw up directing in one room?"
HUGHES: I wrote it on July 4th and 5th of '82. I asked Bobby Richter [the son of a friend] what they called detention at New Trier High School [in Winnetka, Illinois]. He said it was called the Breakfast Club. It actually referred to morning detention, not Saturday detention, but I figured nobody would call me on it.
MEYER: So A&M was going to finance it for $1 million.
HUGHES: But the budget was so low, I started to get antsy. I thought, Maybe I'll never get to be a director, so I'd better write something commercial. Sixteen Candles sold immediately to Ned Tanen [former president of Universal Pictures}, who had just begun Channel Productions. But we had this small problem: I was supposed to make The Breakfast Club first.
MEYER: I got a call from Ned. "We know you're making [Breakfast Club}," he said. "But Universal would like to take over the picture." Universal said, "Why don't we do Sixteen Candles first, and then we'll do Breakfast Club."
SEAN DANIEL: It was the worst pitch in the world, and it was definitely outside the studio box. There was this divide between those who made the movie and those who saw it as a problem child.
HUGHES: I took scale {payment} so I could have complete creative control. I made myself a producer. I had casting approvals. I didn't make any money on it, but I didn't care. This was my baby.

THE PLAYERS (in order of appearances)

JOHN HUGHES director, screenwriter, and producer
ANDREW MEYER executive producer, A&M Films
SEAN DANIEL president of production, Universal Pictures
MOLLY RINGWALD actor (Claire Standish)
ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL actor (Brian Johnson)
JACKIE BURCH casting director
ALLY SHEEDY actor (Allison Reynolds)
JUDD NELSON actor (John Bender)
PAUL GLEASON actor (teacher Richard Vernon)
JOHN W.CORSO production designer
NED TANEN producer, Channel Productions
DORAIN GRUSMAN choreographer choreographer
KAREN LEIGH HOPKINS actor; temporary cast member
MARILYN VANCE costume designer
JAMES R. GIOVANNETTI JR. second assistant director
THOMAS DEL RUTH director of photography
FREDELL POGODIN unit publicist
MICHELLE MANNING coproducer, Channel Productions
JOHN KAPELOS actor (Carl, the janitor)

"A Brain, an Athlete, a Basket Case..."
HUGHES: About casting, I was both reckless and careful. I've only got five people, so there has to be some interesting chemistry between them. It either works or it completely fails. I took Molly and Michael [Anthony Michael Hall's real first name} immediately from Sixteen Candles.
MOLLY RINGWALD: My first meeting with John [for Sixteen Candles} was at one of the Universal hotels in Los Angeles. I went to see him with my mom because I was 15 years old and didn't drive yet. I had a big, blond chunk dyed in my hair, and I was wearing an oversize, button-down men's shirt and jeans. He was not at all like other directors I'd met. He had really spiky hair, and glasses and cool tennis shoes.
ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL: I was in the ninth grade, and I had the audition at MCA Universal at, like, 57th and Park [in New York City]. I remember walking through the lobby and going, "Wow! This is really cool!"
HUGHES: Michael came in with his Catholic school uniform: the loose tie, khaki pants, and big Nike tennis shoes. I'd known him because he played Rusty in National Lampoon's Vacation, and I thought he upstaged Chevy Chase, which is kind of hard to do.
HALL: We were literally at the end of Sixteen Candles when John approached Molly and me, separately, and told us about this other project, and I was like, "I don't have to read for this? I'm in." {Laughs}
HUGHES: Michael kept his braces on for this part. People may say, "So what?" But when you're that age and you've been wearing those damn braces for four years, to say you're going to wear them for another six months because this character should have braces is pretty amazing. I think Molly thought I wanted her for Allison instead of Claire. I wanted her to play the popular girl, something she really wasn't. She may remember it differently.
RINGWALD: He wanted me for the part of Allison to begin with. I sort of insisted that I play Claire --she was called Cathy at first. I wanted to play someone who was really different from me. Allison was closer to me. I felt like a freak in school.
JACKIE BURCH: Molly called and said that she wanted to switch roles with Ally Sheedy. I thought that was the biggest mistake. I think John thought about it for two minutes, because Molly had such an influence on him.
ALLY SHEEDY: In the middle of filming, Molly told me, "You know, I wanted to play Allison." I said something like, "I'm really glad you didn't because I could never have played your part."

HUGHES: Emilio [Estevez] was probably closest to his character. There was a little surfer jock to him. The kid I based him on was a football player, but I got nervous that it was too close, so I changed him to a wrestler.
SHEEDY: When I read for Sixteen Candles I was working backstage in a play at USC. A board had fallen and hit me on the head, and I had two black eyes, but I still really wanted to read. John said he remembered that image of me, and he called me after he saw WarGames.
BURCH: Anyone who read the script wanted to do it. Ally was the third cast member, and Emilio was the fourth. And then everything began about the Judd [Nelson] character.
HUGHES: Judd was the wild card. He was the one I didn't know. That was the hardest role, and the last one cast.
BURCH: We were desperate. Everyone wanted that last character to be right. I wanted Judd the second I met him, but he was really the underdog. John had originally cast John Cusack [when the movie was going to be done with A&M], but Judd was the right ingredient.
JUDD NELSON: When I read the script, I knew it was mine. It was just a waiting period for them to agree.
PAUL GLEASON: John had it down to Judd and Nicolas Cage. I read with both of them.
SHEEDY: The first time I saw Judd I completely fell in love with everything about him. He was outside the window at the studio with a tennis ball, and he was slamming it against the wall. He looked like a wild animal. I turned around to John and said, "Who is that?"
HALL: He came in character: the Dickies pants rolled up into his boots, untied laces, the long overcoat, the glove. Judd just came in pissed off.
NELSON: There were 20 people in the room, so it was like a performance. I was listening to the Sex Pistols on my Walkman, loud, and I just kicked the headset off, didn't turn the sound off, and just started. Loud. You know, just obnoxious.
HALL: We all kind of looked at each other and said, "Okay. That's him."
BURCH: The showdown was between Judd and John Cusack, and it was touchy because John Hughes was against Judd Nelson at the very end. I just said to him, "I'm telling you right now, go with Judd Nelson. It's the way this movie should be."
NELSON: Jackie Burch is a genius. {Laughs]
BURCH: When I said to John Cusack, "We're going to pay for your airline ticket back," he said, "Big deal." He was so angry.
HUGHES: Ultimately, he just didn't look threatening enough.
RINGWALD: So John hired Judd, and then he almost fired him in Chicago.

Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois
HUGHES: When I started making movies, I thought I would just invent a town where everything happened. Everybody, in all of my movies, is from Shermer, Illinois. Del Griffith from Planes, Trains & Automobiles lives two doors down from John Bender. Ferris Bueller knew Samantha Baker from Sixteen Candles. For 15 years I've written my Shermer stories in prose, collecting its history.
JOHN W. CORSO: We looked at a lot of schools in Chicago, and all of the libraries were much too small. When we finally found this abandoned high school, Main North, John said, "We'll just build a library." And we did, on three basketball courts.
NED TANEN: It was one of those classic Chicago things where they built this modern high school out in the middle of a bean field and then found out that there were no students to go in it. I think we rented it for $25,000 a month.
CORSO: John walked onto the set when it was about one-third finished, and he was a little shocked that it was that big. The whole set was about 6o feet wide and more than 150 feet long. When we put the ceiling on, that gave him the scale he was interested in. The Chicago Public Library was gracious enough to give us a lot of discarded books. I think we had in excess of 10,000 books, so we had to build the set extremely strong. John saw the sculpture in the lobby at Universal, and he wanted to emulate it [for the film].
HUGHES: We had three full weeks of rehearsal, and we'd have a full performance every day. I sent them to my old high school, Glenbrook North, in Northbrook. None of them had been to a big suburban high school, so it was great for them to go in and see their prototypes. It worked fine until someone figured out who Emilio was.
HALL: That was a trip. We kind of just got dropped off and mingled. We got looks like, "Who the hell are these guys?"
NELSON: There were two hallways: the Freak Hall and the Jock Hall. I went to the Freak Hall and tried to gamble. A few afternoons, I hung out with the bad kids in the parking lot after school. I could buy alcohol. [Pause] Maybe I shouldn't be saying this.
HUGHES: What was so wonderful about these kids was that they had no image to protect and no preconceptions of who they were. They threw themselves into it with incredible enthusiasm.
NELSON: I went to this Laundromat in character, just looking at the ladies. Someone called the cops. I said, "Look, I'm just an actor." They're like, "Sure you are, buddy."
HUGHES: We actually had too much rehearsal. I thought their energy was peaking, and if we kept rehearsing, it was going to get soft. So two and half weeks in, on a Tuesday, I said, "We're going to start shooting tomorrow."
RINGWALD: There were so many different scripts. John called me up and asked if I was excited about the shoot beginning. I said, "Yeah, but it's kind of a different script." The next day, he brought in all 15 drafts and let us paw through them to find our favorite parts.
DORAIN GRUSMAN: When I first got the script, it had a water ballet in it, all kinds of really esoteric stuff.


Originally,' the dancing sequence wes to feature Ringwald alone, and it began with her pulling books off shelves. "I hated It," she says. "So John made everyone [dance]." Says Hughes, "The scene is a little embarrassing because it was the only thing that was 'of the moment.' Michael was doing a Flashdance parody. Emilio was doing Footloose. Today, I wouldn't have Emilio scream and break the glass. It was an extraordinarily bad idea."

HUGHES: In the aftermath of Porky's, there was a belief at the studios that you needed a sex scene or a party scene. To this day, they still think that. So I was sort of pressured to write this ridiculous scene that I knew would cost way too much money. There was no way it was ever going to be in the movie.
RINGWALD: There was a female teacher who does this nude swimming scene that Gleason's character, Vernon, is spying on. That was completely pointless.
KAREN LEIGH HOPKINS: My character was a swimming teacher, and she was sort of the voice of reason, saying, "You're going to look back on these times, and things aren't going to look so bad." Of course they laughed at her anyway. She was subsequently, and devastatingly for me, cut. Have I gotten over it? [Laughs} I don't know.
RINGWALD: Rick Moranis was originally supposed to play the janitor, and then he decided that he wanted to be a Russian immigrant, with this big Russian hat and everything. We shot for, like, two days, and then John was like, "You know what? That's really not what I want to do."
HUGHES: [We shot in sequence} because I was naive. I didn't know you could do things out of order. The first shot was in March and the last shot was in May, but it's the same day. It was great, because it started off cold and gray; the grass was dead. And in the last scene it was warm and the grass was green and growing. I had so few elements to deal with. I had this space, and the movie moves from the front of the room progressively backwards.
MARILYN VANCE: The clothing is all very layered, [and as the film progresses) they shed these layers; each layer is a little piece of the person. All their hang-ups discarded as they start becoming relaxed with each other.
SHEEDY: Everything sort of evolved into camps. Molly and Michael were in school a lot, and they knew each other from before. Judd and Emilio became very good friends, and they would be laughing and running around, playing basketball in the gym or something. I just kind of hung out by myself.
GLEASON: It was a half-hour drive from the hotel to the set, and every morning, I was the only one sitting in the van with nothing in his ears. Ally would be listening to Phil Ochs [the folk singer who committed suicide in 1976]; Molly would be listening to rock 'n' roll. It reminded me of Fahrenheit 451, where everybody is oblivious to what's going on around them.
JAMES R. GIOVANNETTI JR.: My main job was to get the cast in and out of makeup. I would go into the makeup room, and John would be there with the cast. The music would be going and they would be laughing. The makeup people were going nuts: "You have to turn the music down! We can't work like this!"
GRUSMAN: John truly was running in the halls with these kids at night, just goofing off.
HUGHES: Molly and Michael were 16 and 15, so we only had four hours a day with them [because of child labor laws]. We'd shoot them out early, so by the end of the day Ally was reading with stand-ins. After about three weeks, Molly asked me if she was ever going to get to do a scene with anybody.
THOMAS DEL RUTH: We tried to include all of the kids in all of the shots, because it was the group that was working their way through life, not the individuals. We had hundreds of setups. We never shot one piece of dialogue from only one angle.
HUGHES: The script was 165 pages, and I shot every bit of it. I managed to shoot a million feet of film, which is pretty damn hard in 32 days.
NELSON: So many times, we would shoot until we heard this tick, tick, tick. The film magazine had run out on the camera. I think we made our script supervisor retire. First he took notes. Then he used a tape recorder. Then he was, like, gone.
HALL: We had an Oscar-nominated editor, Dede Allen, who was this powerful presence. She was like a real Angela Lansbury-one of those older veterans in the industry who is just a rock unto herself.


The original cut of The Breakfast Club is more than an hour longer than the version released. For PREMIERE, John Hughes screened the only copy, and here's some of what audiences missed: Bender being even more obnoxious; Allison proving herself to be less of a loner, more of a rebel; and the following choice moments....

In the opening, when Andy's father says, as Andy gets out of the truck, "Do you want to blow your ride? No school's going to give a scholarship to a discipline case," the dad's next line is, "Not a white one, anyway."

In the scene where the bored kids fall asleep, Allison is actually studying them all, fantasizing about who each of them is internally. She imagines Claire as a bride, Brian as an astronaut, Bender as a prisoner, and Andy as a gluttonous Viking.

When Carl the janitor enters the library, he tells the kids where each of them will be in ten years [see page 78]: Bender will have committed suicide; Brian will be successful but drop dead of a heart attack at 35; Allison will be a good poet, but nobody will care; Andy will be a district sales manager married to a gorgeous stewardess who becomes fat; Claire will have "six face-lifts and two boob jobs" before age 40.

When Andy and Allison go to retrieve Cokes from the faculty lounge for lunch, Allison breaks into the teachers' lockers with a switchblade. Prince's 1999 album is in one of them, and Allison says, "You know what this means? They're human."

During the pot-smoking scene, Brian and Claire begin singing The Beatles' All My Lovin'."

In the confessional scene, after Allison says, "I can write with my toes," she actually does. She also describes her home life. "My house is like a museum," she says. "It's very pretty and very cold." Hughes would later give a version of this line to Ferris, to say about Cameron's home life in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In the last scene in the library, while Claire and Bender are kissing in the closet, Andy and Allison also kiss. And in the final scene, Hughes, playing Brian's dad, has his only line. As Brian gets into the car, he says, "Buckle up." "I stunk," Hughes admits now.

DEDE ALLEN: When I got to Chicago, they had been shooting for a day or two. I just sat and looked at dailies. I wasn't going to start cutting until I understood the characters. John couldn't believe I would just sit and look at film day and night. He said I wore him out.
HUGHES: I was exhausted. I'd finish shooting at 6 P.M. and wouldn't get out of dailies until 9:30. If I fell asleep, Dede would mark which reels I missed. When the shoot was over and all I wanted to do was sleep, she said, "Now we need to look at 62 hours of film." It was sort of like working with your mom.
That's It--I'm Going to Fire Him
FREDELL POGODIN: Judd could be arrogant as anything, but he was really smart, really quick-witted. And he was an uncanny observer. He knew where your Achilles' heels were.
RINGWALD: Judd was getting a little bit in character, trying to get under my skin, adlibbing a lot of stuff that was meant to be offensive to me. I didn't think it was such a big deal, but John was very protective of me, and he may have had other issues. All of a sudden it was like, "That's it--I'm going to fire him. I don't have time for this shit."
NELSON: My feeling was that Bender should be an incredible asshole. I wanted him to be poised for violence from the get-go. So when I started out it was like, "Whoa! That's too much!"
HUGHES: I thought we had to be really careful that Bender not become someone we hate. Judd wanted to push him out, and I had to keep bringing him back. We had long discussions about whether the cigar burn [on Bender's arm] was real or did he catch his arm on a fence. I happen to think he got it caught on a fence; Judd thought
NELSON: Of course he was burned! Did he do it to himself? Why would he know so many caricatures about other people's perfect families if his wasn't a
RINGWALD: We had this group meeting that Ally sort of spearheaded. Everybody had their own little assigned task to keep Judd in the role.
SHEEDY: The next day, I told John that I was extremely upset about what was happening with Judd. I don't think I had any particular power, but I had to express it.
GLEASON: John mentioned he was going to fire Judd, and I asked John to give him a couple of days. I had a feeling he would come through.
NELSON: Michelle Manning was very instrumental in their not releasing me.
MICHELLE MANNING: I don't think he was ever going to get fired. He was taking this very seriously, and he was very into his character. I got his manager to come out, and we just worked through it.

Judd and Emilio Were Doing Real Well With the Chicks
NELSON: We worked six days, but we had Saturday night off. Emilio and I would go into Chicago. One night we were tossed out of, like, seven straight clubs because we had sneakers on and they weren't allowed.
HALL: They could go out and have a beer. I had to retreat to the room and finish my homework. I was just trying to figure out when puberty would end.
NELSON: One of the great laugh nights of my life, Emilio and I were in the hotel, it was late, and we decided to go around and change people's orders on those breakfast-request cards on their doorknobs. We went through the whole hotel. Some poor guy getting eight eggs Benedict instead of the three he ordered! We laughed so hard, we would fall down.
GLEASON: While Judd and Emilio were terrorizing the hotel, I was out at Wrigley Field watching a baseball game. I'd get back late and see them in the hotel lounge with two or three chicks. They were doing real well.
MANNING: Ally and I would go out a lot. We were like the two older girls. We'd take Michael and Molly into the city to listen to blues. We watched the Academy Awards in my room. We kind of traveled as a little pack.
NELSON: We all went to this nearby go-cart track. Ally is a terrible driver. While she's driving, she'll turn to the passenger and tell a whole story. She'll look at you and drive and just wreck the car.
MANNING: Well, he ain't much better. He said, "I've driven in snow." And we're on the way to John's house, in the snow, and I'm like, "Uh, could I please drive?"

"You're So Conceited, Claire"
HUGHES: I didn't have any fondness for Claire as I wrote that character. It's fairly difficult to find sympathy for a character that in high school would basically have poked me in the forehead and said, "Get lost!"
RINGWALD: I was very close with John. We had some sort of telepathic relationship. We were also born on the same day--February 18, 18 years apart-which is kind of weird.
NELSON: Molly was John Hughes's girl, and I would push it, you know? What Claire represented was whatJohn Bender wanted to fuck metaphorically--not her. Any time John took Molly and Michael aside, coddled them, babied them, I loved it. It helped me.
HALL: What was important to convey was the sexual tension between Judd and Molly. And Molly had no problem on how to play the prissy thing.
RINGWALD: There was a scene where Judd gets stuck under the table, and he's between my legs. I really hated that. That isn't my underwear. I wouldn't do it.
GLEASON: I remember her saying "gross" a lot. The boys would say something to her, and she'd say, "Oh, gross!"John was pretty sensitive to her. He went out of his way to make sure that she was protected.
RINGWALD: [They teased } me more than Ally. I was like the teacher's pet in away, so I think I was more teasable.
VANCE: Originally we were putting Molly in pinks and fluffy little sweaters and everything.
RINGWALD: My costume arrived, and it was really not great.
VANCE: {We realized that Claire} wasn't a sweet little, "Oh, daddy, buy me something." She was very chic and very spoiled: "Daddy, I'm taking it."
RINGWALD: So John and I went shopping in Chicago and picked out the entire outfit.
VANCE: There was only one Ralph Lauren shop in Chicago at the time. We got her the Ralph Lauren wrap skirt, the big brown belt, and the really expensive brown boots. We had to give her that.

There's a Lot of Sean Penn in Allison
SHEEDY: Allison was very close to me. She looked on the outside the way she felt on the inside, this nondescript dark shape floating around. There are parts of John Hughes that I incorporated into her. He has a particular way of looking at people sometimes; you can tell he's thinking you're a complete asshole. {Laughs} I had also just worked with Sean Penn on Bad Boys, and there's a lot of Sean in Allison-ribbons of things. I've never told him that.
HALL: Ally had such an aura. She loves books, old music, Bob Dylan. At the time, she was a big fan of Edie Sedgwick and the whole Warhol period. She was kind of ahead of herself in her eclectic palette of tastes. Ally, to this day, is like an older sister to me.
RINGWALD: I thought Ally was really beautiful. She was everything that I wasn't. My face is kind of soft; hers is very angular. She had long hair, and I had short hair. I thought she was very sophisticated because she grew up in Manhattan, and she was wonderful about introducing me to things, talking to me about literature. I instantly liked her.
SHEEDY: Emilio's father [actor Martin Sheen} only remembers me from [the dandruff-painting} scene. One time I was visiting Emilio's house and a bunch of people were there, and Martin came over, and I said, "Hey, Martin, it's Ally." And he goes, "Oh, Ally, of course." And he starts scratching his head.
HUGHES: I always felt that the last line of the trailer is what opened the movie. Molly is fixing Ally's hair, and Ally says, "Why are you being so nice to me?" And Molly says, "Because you're letting me." There was something so provocative about that.
SHEEDY: Originally, Allison wasn't wearing any makeup in the movie, and at the end Claire put makeup on her. I didn't want it to be a makeover scene, as if somebody painted a face on Allison and suddenly she became acceptable. But I thought if she wore this heavy black eyeliner, then it would be like wiping off the mask to reveal the person underneath. I could have done without the bow in the hair, but it was a compromise.

I Wake Up Screaming
JOHN KAPELOS: The Breakfast Club was an intense environment. When you walked into that library, you weren't just on a film set. John had this sort of cocoon around these guys.
HUGHES: It was a club, and if you were in that club, you had a great deal of license. These kids became so tight that when John Kapelos came in, he just died. One of the most embarrassing moments was ...
NELSON: Kapelos was doing his scene where he [comes into the library} and he's talking about what is going to happen to our characters in ten years. [The scene isn't in the film.} Emilio and I were a little giggly. We started work every day at 8 A.M., so by 4:30 we'd get a little distracted.
KAPELOS: It's my close-up, and Emilio and Judd are fucking with me, making noises, making googly eyes. During one of the breaks, I said, "You guys would have been great working with Martin Sheen on Apocalypse Now."
NELSON: And he starts talking about how Martin Sheen takes things so seriously that when he did Apocalypse Now, he actually had a heart attack. I'm laughing. Emilio is not laughing.
KAPELOS: Emilio's face just goes ashen, and Judd's looking at me like, I can't believe you're saying this! And John comes up to me and whispers, "Martin is Emilio's father." I turned to Emilio and said, "I'm so fucking sorry! I didn't know!"
SHEEDY: It was awful. Everybody lost it.
HUGHES: I saw Kapelos a couple of years later, and he said, "At least once a year I wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Of all the actors in all of the movies I've seen, why did I pick that one?!"

That Teacher Was an Asshole
HUGHES: Vernon is based on a teacher I had in high school, a wrestling coach. He had no idea how much I hated him. He flunked me in gym. I ran into him when I was shooting another movie, and he said, "I saw that Breakfast Club movie. It was pretty good. But Jesus, that teacher was an asshole."
POGODIN: Gleason was, maybe as a function of his character, not loved.
GLEASON: I was more of a figurehead that they were rebelling against. But the only person, off the set, who kept a certain distance was Judd.
NELSON: I was specifically antagonistic toward him. I didn't want him near me. But it was for the film. He was the adversary, and we all had to become allies.
SHEEDY: Emilio and Judd were pretty awful to him. All Paul had to do was walk in a room and they would start ragging on him. But Paul's very funny. I think he loved it.
GLEASON: The scene [Judd and I} did in the closet, I was hoping we could get in one take. We didn't overrehearse it, so Judd didn't know what I was going to do.
NELSON: I thought he was really going to hit me. And I would have taken it.
"A Naked Blond Walks Into a Bar... "
NELSON: I've been asked about a zillion times what the punch line to that joke is.
HUGHES: There isn't one. That was the point.
NELSON: I made the joke up. My line when I fall into the room is, "I forgot my pencil," so we were trying to work backward from that, but what joke would have that punch line?

"Chicks Cannot Hold Their Smoke"
HALL: At the time, I was a huge Richard Pryor fan. "Chicks cannot hold their smoke"--that scene where we're all getting high--was Richard Pryor. We were just laughing our asses off in rehearsal.
RINGWALD: That scene was, like, 20 minutes, completely ad-libbed.
HALL: It would have been a freakin' miniseries if they'd given us real weed.
RINGWALD: John just let the film run out. He was so pleased with it that he actually brought my mom in to see the dailies and was saying, "Isn't this fantastic?" It was a little embarrassing.
HUGHES: [During that scene} Ally goes off into one of the listening rooms and sings this incredibly sad Phil Ochs song ["My Life"} to herself. It was entirely her invention. [The scene was cut from the movie.} It was about the saddest thing I had ever seen. Ally's double-jointed and can literally embrace herself. Allison was this child who had been deprived of any affection and had learned how to hold herself, to be both mother and child. Everybody was crying.
SHEEDY: It's the beginning of Allison's change, the moment where she decides to become part of the group. John trusted me. He knew that was part of Allison, and I knew that it made sense.

Puppy Love
HALL: At the end of the film, Molly and I kind of dated for a while, puppy-love stuff. It was a surprise to me because throughout Sixteen Candles and into The Breakfast Club, there was a little tension between us.
RINGWALD: We were like oil and water. Michael drove me crazy during Sixteen Candles. He was just out of control. Michael's always been very energetic-you might even call him hyper. I've always been much more calm and focused.
HALL: I didn't know how to approach her. I had seen Tempest, and I just remember thinking she was hot. So I kept a healthy distance from her on Sixteen Candles, but I really had a crush on her the whole time. And then, three-quarters of the way through The Breakfast Club, Molly just initiated it. I'm 15, making movies, and Molly Ringwald is interested in me. I'm just going, "This is too good!" She was very womanly.
RINGWALD: Well, I was the older woman, you know. I'm a big, like, three months older than he is.
MANNING: When we broke for lunch, they would go sit under a tree on a blanket together. It was cute.
SHEEDY: They were sort of wonderful together. Sixteen Candles had opened right at the end of shooting, and suddenly Michael had girls chasing him down the street. It was crazy! I thought Molly was great for him then because she was savvy about fame and understood it.

"When You Grow Up, Your Heart Dies"
HUGHES:[The confession scene in the back of the library} took three days to shoot. It was 35 pages. I was behind and the studio was bugging me: "You've got to cut pages." So when we hit that big scene, we shot more than ten pages a day.
HALL: We were all literally on our asses on the back of this set. The camera and the cameramen were on the floor with us. And John was sitting there behind the camera, like Buddha, watching these takes develop.
GIOVANNETTI: John wanted to have something to cut away to, so he filmed everybody throughout the entire dialogue. When Molly was giving her speech, he would film Judd so he could cut away from her at any time. It was tedious.
HUGHES: It was like diamond mining. You do 86o,ooo tons of ore to get to 12 carats. When Molly and Judd had their fight in that scene, she allowed him to actually insult her, personally.
RINGWALD: That doesn't seem like anything I would do. I may have told him he could ad-lib, but I don't think I asked him to say anything mean to me. I was the last person [to shoot my close-ups}, and all of the guys, once they did their coverage, their emotional reality just went out the window. I was supposed to be in this intense thing, and they were sitting there laughing their asses off. It was really frustrating. But in terms of Judd attacking me, I don't remember him doing it any more than usual.
HUGHES: Roger Ebert came to visit the day that Michael had his breakdown scene. Everybody was crying. I think even Roger was teary.
SHEEDY: We were filming all day, and when we got to the line "When you grow up, your heart dies," I wanted it to come from the absolute purest place. And all this grief just welled up, this sadness about these people that I loved ... and it was almost over.

The Honeymoon Was Over Real Quick
RINGWALD: John was having some sort of battle with Universal, and one day toward the end, he sort of disappeared for most of the day and came back wearing a Paramount T-shirt.
TANEN: The only problem was that the administration changed at Universal and Frank Price and Marvin Antonowsky came to the studio.
GIOVANNETTI: John wanted to cut the film in Chicago, and the studio wanted him to cut the film in L.A. That pissed him off. They just would not leave him alone.
HUGHES: Universal was threatening to shut me down. Sixteen Candles [had been released] and it wasn't a hit, and the honeymoon was over real quick. "Wrap that goddamn movie up and bring it back here!" I was really bothered that I had to move my children to California and put them in new schools, uproot my wife. I had this terrible feeling that if we went out there, I didn't know how we would get back. Everything changes.
NELSON: We finished a day or two early. It was weird. There was nothing left to shoot, but it felt like we weren't done. But we were.
HUGHES: We shot the last scene on the last day.
MANNING: There was something about being outdoors, out of the comfort of that room. There was a finality to it.
SHEEDY: John gave us each a piece of the banister from the library. I still have this little piece of wood.
HUGHES: When that movie came to an end, I was heartbroken. We did Judd walking off into the distance, and he just kept walking. I got into my car and drove away.

A Fatherless Child
HUGHES: The rough cut was about two hours and 45 minutes, but Dede Allen said, "I want you to see your whole film before it gets disassembled and shortened." I loved it and had no idea how we were going to shorten it. Whole sections had to go. I think all the negatives were destroyed. I have the only copy.
ALLEN: I didn't have a lot of visual effects and all that crap, but it was an awful lot of footage that was pretty static. You had to beat it a lot to make it dance.
TANEN: There are no car chases. No hot necking scenes. You had to keep it moving or you'd end up with the sequel to My Dinner With Andre, except with better dialogue.
ALLEN: But when the head of a studio doesn't like a picture, it permeates. We had problems at one point getting the mix done because it was kind of a fatherless child.
HUGHES: I started shooting Weird Science {at Universal}, and then I would run across the lot while they were mixing Breakfast Club. It was terrible, going between something I really loved and this dopey-assed comedy. Afterward, Dede said to me, "You have to realize how dangerous this movie was. You could have screwed it up in so many ways, and you didn't even know it." We ran it [for the executives) at Universal. The lights came up, the studio head [Frank Price} and two marketing people got up, walked out, and didn't say a word. I said to Ned, "Is that good or bad?" He said, "It's not good."
TANEN: This is not a movie that is going to go over great in the screening room with senior executives. All they're thinking is, Jesus Christ, these assholes are probably my kids! They thought it was unreleasable.
HUGHES: So I went and talked to them. They said, "There was no story." I said, "Certainly there's a story." They said, "A story is, boy gets dog; dog dies; boy gets new dog." I said, "Well, I don't think I can help you."
DANIEL: John asked Ned Tanen to represent him at the marketing meeting [with Universal's head of marketing, Marvin Antonowsky}.
TANEN: They didn't think the film was really going to work, and the campaign they came back with was not good.
HUGHES: The first trailer was all Chuck Berry music, kids running through the school, Judd falling through the ceiling. They went for as much comedy as they could. But they had forgotten one key element of teendom: At that age, it feels as good to feel bad as it does to feel good.
DANIEL: About halfway through the meeting, it became clear they were talking about very different movies. Ned erupted.
MANNING: If the table had not been bolted to the floor, Ned would have picked it up. He walked out of the room, sort of disappeared, and I'm sitting there thinking, "Okay, should I crawl out now?"
DANIEL: I don't think it led to any more marketing presentations.

"Don't You Forget About Me"
HUGHES: I started [thinking about the music} when I was still writing the script. I wanted it to be heavy on the drums and bass because there were clocks ticking and emotions ticking. I chose Keith Forsey [as the composer} because he was a drummer. Keith came in and watched rehearsal, talked to the actors, and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was what he took away from it.
MANNING: We really wanted an English sound for the movie, so we had to go to England to try and talk somebody into singing this song. We were literally walking the streets at night, saying, "Okay, who can we go to tomorrow?" Chrissie Hynde [of the Pretenders] was pregnant, so she didn't want to do it, but she talked her then-husband [Jim Kerr, lead singer of Simple Minds] into doing it.
HUGHES: Simple Minds was a little reluctant because they hadn't written it. There was a little bit of drama. They started recording and then they wanted to leave. But they finished it, and it went to number one. That's probably the coolest thing for me. I would rather have been a musician than anything else, so I sort of had a vicarious hit. Opening weekend [critic] Gene Siskel called me at home raving about the movie. He said he would have given it four stars if Michael had gotten Molly in the end, because he was a geek [in high school] and he never got the girl. I said, "But the movie would have been totally false." And he said, "I know, but just once I'd like. .." [Laughs} I must have seen it 25 times in this little theater in Westwood [near UCLA in Los Angeles]. Every night there was a line. It was wonderful.

"But What We Found Out..."
HUGHES: The most common question I'm asked is, "What happened on Monday?" I used to say, "Nothing." But I think it's more complex than that. So complex that I can't do it in film. If I can finish it in prose, in a book, then the characters transcend the film.
NELSON: Every time someone mentions The Breakfast Club, I smile.
HALL: To this day, what sticks in my mind is John, behind the camera, either laughing or crying. He was so great to all of us, particularly Molly and me. He made me feel like family. He made all of us feel like that.
SHEEDY: Even though the movie ended, I have this lifeline that I love, especially with Emilio and Judd.
RINGWALD: I feel honored to have been apart of it. I'm really happy that it was me who was there instead of somebody else.
HUGHES: I think I was able to get at something immutable, and I'm proud that it has lasted. I was desperately afraid of getting it wrong. It's really about characters and what they have to say. I've spent 15 years looking for that again.

Written by Sean M. Smith. Typed by the Seaners for Presenting...Emilio!!