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Summary

  • John Hughes’ Breakfast Club is a timeless classic that delves into genuine human problems with its eclectic cast of teenage archetypes.
  • The chemistry and talent of Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and the cast truly brings Hughes’ script to life in a singular location over a day.
  • The making of The Breakfast Club faced challenges, including rejected scripts, intense heat, and unforgettable moments, like Ally Sheedy’s makeover scene.

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Praised as a quintessential piece of ’80s cinema and highly regarded among the greatest high school movies of all time, the legacy of the Emilio Estevez movie The Breakfast Club has endured due to the film’s eclectic cast of teenage archetypes. John Hughes’ characters weren’t just derivative personalities found in the everyday, run-of-the-mill teen comedy. From Claire’s social pressures as the pretty girl with the rich father to Bender’s abusive relationship with his own dad, the cast was rooted in genuine human problems.

On the cusp of adulthood, Hughes’ film took place in a singular location over a day. It was the youthful talents and chemistry of stars Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Michael C. Hall that truly breathed life into the drawn-out conversations of Hughes’ script. However, it wasn’t an easy road to the making of The Breakfast Club. At first, Hughes was turned down by Universal (via The Atlantic), who couldn’t see the appeal of the stripped-down, brutal honesty of the characters.

The Breakfast Club

After receiving detention, a group of five high-school students bonds as they realize they have quite a bit in common despite being from different friend groups. Despite being over 35 years old, The Breakfast Club still stands as one of the quintessential movies of the ‘80s and one of director John Hughes standout films.

Release Date
February 15, 1985

Cast
Molly Ringwald , Ally Sheedy , Anthony Michael Hall , Judd Nelson , Emilio Estevez

Runtime
97 minutes

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It Wasn’t Always Called The Breakfast Club

The Original Title Was “The Lunch Bunch”

Breakfast Club cast with John Hughes

According to casting director Jackie Burch, the original script went under the name The Lunch Bunch. (via The Huffington Post) Thanks to the son of one of Hughes’ friends, who attended New Trier High School in Northfield, Illinois, the name was changed. Sometime during New Trier’s school history, the students and staff created the designated “Breakfast Clubs” for early detentions. Hughes, having attended school in Illinois, gravitated towards the newer title. New Trier would also play a prominent role in many other ’80s teen dramas, serving as a shooting location for Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Weird Science.

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Each Breakfast Club Cast Member Took Part Of The Library Banister As A Souvenir

They Were Gifted To The Cast From Hughes

Andrew playing with his hoodie in The Breakfast Club

Thrust into the rigorous working schedule of Hollywood, the cast of The Breakfast Club have since admitted they were pampered during the shoot. Given the opportunity to joke around on set as well as ad-lib many of their lines, they shot the film entirely in sequence — a method that is unconventional by today’s standards.

Speaking to the resonating universal themes of the movie during a commemorative 30th-anniversary interview with USA Today, Ringwald fondly recalled having a blast filming her sophomore feature with Hughes. Like many of her co-stars, she became so acquainted with the cast that it was to say goodbye. To make the last day of shooting easier, Hughes gave each actor a part of the library’s banister (via USA Today) as a keepsake to remember the experience.

A Deleted Scene With Claire And Allison Resurfaced After 30 Years

The Breakfast Club Characters Share A Moment In The Female Restroom

In October 2017, the prestigious home video distribution company known as the Criterion Collection announced that The Breakfast Club would join its list of titles, receiving a 4K digital restoration as well as over 50 additional minutes of footage which would be included as part of the bonus features. Reserved for historically and culturally important films, both classic and contemporary, Criterion’s Blu-Ray release did not disappoint.

In one deleted scene featured on the release, Claire and Allison can be witnessed sharing a brief moment inside the girls’ restroom (via Variety). As Allison washes her hands, Claire attempts to start a conversation regarding Allison’s odd choice of eating potato chips while only a few feet from a “live toilet”. Disregarding her question, Allison picks up a chip from inside the sink and eats it before leaving the room.

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The Breakfast Club Helped Establish The Brat Pack

The Term Was Coined By David Blum, Who Observed Estevez’s Bratty Behavior

In the spring of 1985, New York Magazine writer David Blum was asked to follow rising star Emilio Estevez for a profile. The article was supposed to focus on Estevez’s career, but it gave birth to a new nickname. After Blum witnessed Estevez trying to get a free ticket to an 8 P.M. screening of Ladyhawke, he observed a sense of entitlement in the young actor (via Mental Floss).

Blum would later observe the same attitude in many other young stars, coining the term “Brat Pack.” Although Blum’s umbrella term became synonymous with the group that included members such as Estevez, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald, its origins really began with The Breakfast Club, which was the first film to star multiple members.

Anthony Michael Hall Hit A Serious Growth Spurt On Set

Hall & Molly Ringwald Also Dated While Shooting

As the only actors on set actually within the age group of their characters, 16-year-olds Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald reportedly became so inseparableduring production that they briefly dated while shooting. The other cast members were already in their early twenties by the time filming commenced. Both Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy were already 23 years of age and Judd Nelson topped everyone at 24.

Recalling the formative years of his young co-star, Nelson spoke of Hall’s surprising growth spurt during shooting (via Film School Rejects). According to commentary on the 30th-anniversary edition of the film, Nelson remembered being two inches taller than Hall during auditions and a half-inch taller during rehearsals. Sometime during shooting, Hall had outgrown Nelson, who jokingly stated that he began “writing letters to geneticists.”

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The Breakfast Cub Cast Suffered From Extreme Heat Exhaustion

Two Assistant Directors Were Hired To Keep The Cast Awake

The cast of The BReakfast Club tired in the library

Pioneering the idea of the “kids around the lunchroom” format, cinematographer Tom Del Ruth was among the crew members responsible for bringing out the opposing stereotypes of The Breakfast Club‘s cast. On a closed set, Del Ruth captured the imaginations of youths by providing a suffocating atmosphere, which he fondly remembers as a critical element during the movie’s pivotal scene in which each Breakfast Club member shares their detention stories.

Shot in a two-story library, the lighting played an instrumental part in the film, though Del Ruth recalls extreme heat from the lights causing tremendous problems for the cast. In the upstairs portion of the library, temperatures would vary from 95 to 110 degrees, causing heat exhaustion to the point that the cast fell asleep. In response, two additional assistant directors were hired specifically to keep the young crew awake (via Huffington Post). Del Ruth revealed:

They often dozed off in the heat. They’d start snoring. We had to have the assistant directors go wake them up in the middle of the shots. We had to hire two additional assistant directors to just work the second floor and keep the crew awake so they wouldn’t snore and ruin the sound takes.

The Female Breakfast Club Stars Had A Tasteless Scene Removed

MixCollage-06-Mar-2024-02-01-PM-7427

Getting his start as a staff writer for National Lampoon, John Hughes was a provocateur who understood that gratuitous scenes equaled box office success. When he first pitched the concept for The Breakfast Club, Universal couldn’t grasp how a film about kids in detention would draw much interest. Intent on critiquing the R-rated teen comedy formula, Hughes worked to make his sophomore effort a more relatable project, though the initial screenplay reportedly contained some remnants of his Lampoon days.

According to both Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, the original script had a Porky’s-style scene in which the boys sneak off to peek in on the high school’s synchronized swim team, stumbling upon a topless P.E. teacher along the way. When the actresses confronted Hughes about the misogynistic sequence, he listened, cutting it from the movie altogether (Vanity Fair).

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Bender’s Blonde Joke Was Never Given An Ending

Fans Have Been Trying To Guess The Punchline For Decades

Bender turning to his left in The Breakfast Club

As the stereotypical, rebellious bad boy with no respect for authoritarian figures, John Bender was the anti-hero of the group whose reckless abandon and joking mannerisms directly clashed with the no-nonsense ways of Vice Principal Vernon. Given the freedom to ad-lib his lines, Judd Nelson let loose on set, injecting much of his own personality into the character, including one scene where he was asked to tell a joke.

While crawling his way through an air duct, Bender entertains himself by remembering a joke about a blonde, a poodle, and a six-foot salami, but before he can deliver the punchline, he abruptly falls through the ceiling. Since the joke was never in the script, it has remained unfinished, though many Reddit users have tried their hand at giving it a proper ending.

The Breakfast Club Cast Went Undercover At A Real High School

Nelson Bought Kids Beer With His “Fake ID”

The Breakfast Club cast sitting in the library

To capture the authenticity of suburban high school life, John Hughes pulled a 21 Jump Street when he encouraged the cast to go undercover as students at Glenbrook North High School in Chicago’s northern suburbs, where Hughes attended school in his youth. Things escalated quickly when Nelson’s wild antics got out of hand.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Nelson remembered playing the role so convincingly that the students all believed he was much younger than his age. Telling some teens he was underage, he used a “fake ID” to buy them beer in exchange for a ride to his hotel (via Wall Street Journal). When asked about the hotel, Nelson responded by saying his father was in prison and that he was “staying at the Westin O’Hare.” The actor explained:

They would ask me why I was staying there, and I told them my dad was in jail. I’m staying at the Westin O’Hare while my dad’s incarcerated.

A Lot Of The Breakfast Club Dialogue Was Improvised

Nelson Ad-Libbed The Insult, “Neo-Maxi Zoom-Dweebie.”

Judd Nelson smiles in The Breakfast Club

35 years old at the time, Hughes was nearly two decades removed from his senior year of high school, but he was no novice when it came to teenagers. Encouraged to ad-lib their dialogue, the cast brought out sincere aspects of their characters through their own experiences. According to the actors, the most crucial moment of improvisation came when they were asked to tell their own detention stories in one of the film’s most iconic scenes (via Fader). Likewise, Nelson was known for coming up with stuff on the spot, including the ultimate Bender Breakfast Club quote, “Neo-Maxi Zoom-dweebie.

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Simple Minds Almost Never Sang “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”

The Song Was Also Inspired By One Of Brian’s Lines

Judd Nelson pumping his fist on the football field in The Breakfast Club

A go-to guy for Hollywood soundtracks, Keith Forsey churned out some of the most notable songs for ’80s movies. Approached by the studio to write the Breakfast Club soundtrack, Foresy spent time watching the actors on set before committing. Inspired by the scene in which Brian asks the group if they’ll still be friends after detention, Forsey wrote the now iconic song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.

Originally, Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music was approached to sing it before Billy Idol, who later recorded his own version. Luckily, an offer to Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders would lead to the recommendation of Simple Minds’ frontman Jim Kerr, Hynde’s husband. Simple Minds would agree to the song, though initially there was hesitation over the band not writing their own lyrics (via The Guardian).

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The Fired Actress Vs. Molly Ringwald

Ringwald Allegedly Wanted Keren Leigh Hopkins Fired

Molly Ringwald looks shocked in The Breakfast Club

As a screenwriter, Karen Leigh Hopkins has writing credits in films such as Stepmom and Because I Said So, but prior to her writing career, she landed what was supposed to be her breakout role in The Breakfast Club. Recalling her banishment from the film, Hopkins was supposed to play a P.E. teacher visiting the school for a synchronized swimming practice.

Later, it would be revealed that the role was cut due to a revealing scene, which Ringwald and Sheedy heavily protested, though Hopkins remembers no such scene (via THR). According to casting director Jackie Burch (via Huffington Post), Hopkins’ firing may have been over more than just that scene. Instead of working around the scene, Ringwald allegedly wanted the actress let go. Burch commented:

There was another girl cast as the gym teacher, and I don’t know if Molly didn’t think it worked or what, but they got rid of her. That was devastating for that actress, but she went on to direct movies. Behind the scenes, Molly had John’s ear.

A Breakfast Club Remake Was In The Works

The Film Was Going To Be Called Bumped

The cast leaning against lockers in Breakfast Club

Set inside a singular location, The Breakfast Club‘s cast of five — the rebel, the princess, the basket case, the brain, and the jock — banded high school’s seemingly opposing cliques together in an accepting representation of teenage angst that would become a seminal work in the teen movie category. With its generation-defying themes, a remake was sure to be on the minds of Hollywood executives.

In 2008, reports began surfacing of a new version of the film, set in Chicago’s O’Hare airport (via The Guardian). Entitled Bumped, the film would follow a cast of twenty-somethings, which included” a corporate shark, a musician, and a flirt”. The movie was set to be directed by Anna Mastro from a script by Lizzy Weiss, though interference from the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007-08 eventually led to the film’s demise.

Ally Sheedy Didn’t Like Allison’s Makeover

Allison Didn’t Need A Dramatic New Look To Appear Beautiful

Allison gets a makeover in The Breakfast Club.

Speaking her first lines 33 minutes into the film, Allison Reynolds was the quiet loner of the group who was prematurely labeled a basket case for her darkly colored clothes. From her school lunch of a Pixie Stix and Cap’n Crunch sandwich to her non-conformist attitude, Ally Sheedy spoke to Elle Magazine about her character, and there was one scene in particular she didn’t remember so fondly.

In a pivotal sequence, Claire gives Allison a makeover, removing her hair from her eyes and replacing her edgy look with a brighter ensemble. The drastic change catches the eye of jock Andrew Clark, but Sheedy didn’t agree with the transformation. In her eyes, her character didn’t need a dramatic new look to appear beautiful, which made it an unnecessary sequence that could’ve been removed altogether. Sheedy noted:

It was written in the script. I don’t know if John wrote that or it was a studio thing that they wanted Allison to go from being very plain to being suddenly very glamorous. I didn’t like that. I had come up with this thing about her black eye makeup and very pale skin so I thought, ‘Could it be more that she’s taking this mask off?’ John did give me that and they didn’t really put a whole bunch of makeup on me; it was more about revealing who Allison is. I wish it had been a little more of that and a little less of, ‘Let’s make her pretty.’

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An Early Draft Of The Breakfast Club Screenplay Was Found In A High School

The Script Was Unearthed When The Superintendent Was Sorting Through Old Files

Ally Sheedy chews on a pen and points in The Breakfast Club.

If The Breakfast Club is considered a milestone in the development of teen dramas, then an original manuscript would understandably be the holy grail of souvenirs from the set. In 2015, that’s what Ken Wallace, the superintendent for the Maine Township High School District 207 in Illinois, found while sorting through some old files (via Chicago Tribune).

Dated September 21, 1983, the script was discovered inside the shuttered Maine North High School where much of the movie was filmed. While preparing for a move to the building next door, the unexpected discovery revealed a few new revelations about the film, including that Universal had agreed to rent out the school for $48,000 during the time of production. As a now iconic piece of film history, Wallace has stated that he plans to preserve the script for future generations.

The Breakfast Club Dance Scene Was Almost Completely Different

Claire Was Originally Meant To Be The Only One Dancing

Three teenage boys dance in a library in The Breakfast Club.

It’s a classic dance sequence: Claire and the rest of Shermer High’s Saturday detainees let loose in the library in a moment of spontaneity to Karla DeVito’s “We Are Not Alone”. The scene is fitting as it forgoes each character’s differences for a moment of unity, but according to one cast member, the scene was almost completely different.

When asked by Time about her most embarrassing Breakfast Club moment, Molly Ringwald revealed she never wanted to do the dance sequence (via Time). In the original script, only Claire dances, but when Ringwald came to Hughes about her insecurities as a dancer, he revised the scene to have all the cast join in.

Judd Nelson Was Almost Fired

Nelson & Hughes Had A Heated Rivalry

Given considerable rehearsal time before takes, Judd Nelson remembered collaborating with John Hughes to bring truthfulness to his portrayal of the rebellious and victimized character of John Bender (via AV Club). At 24 years of age, Nelson was the oldest of his castmates, but his adamant method-acting approach to his character became so troubling that he developed a heated rivalry at times with Hughes, who nearly retaliated by firing him.

Encouraged to improvise while filming, Nelson played into Bender’s no-rules, all-fun personality by provoking his co-stars (via NY Times). Ringwald, in particular, was the butt of her co-star’s jokes. One such joke, Ringwald recalled, was mocking her father’s blindness. Although the actress said she wasn’t offended, Hughes was extremely protective and it nearly cost Nelson his most iconic role.

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The Breakfast Club Was Originally Much Longer

A 2.5-Hour Cut Included A Wacky Dream Sequence

Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy sit and look in a library in The Breakfast Club.

In a 1999 oral history of The Breakfast Club‘s production, the now-defunct Premiere magazine revealed a number of truths behind the teen angst drama. After approaching Universal Pictures to direct The Breakfast Club as his directorial debut, Hughes was asked to move forward with Sixteen Candles instead. According to Premiere, when the time came for filming to commence, the studio asked Hughes to trim the film from a two-and-a-half-hour epic to a much shorter run time.

With the deletion of many scenes, audiences reportedly missed out on many notable moments, including a wacky dream sequence where Ally falls asleep, and a much steamier seven minutes in heaven scene between Claire and Bender. According to Hughes, he owned the only copy of the movie’s director’s cut, though little evidence of its existence has been shared with anyone.

Emilio Estevez’s On-Set Feud

John Kapelos Referenced Martin Sheen’s Struggles On Apocalypse Now

As the second recurring adult figure of the film, John Kapelos only had two scenes as Carl the Janitor. While Kapelos would have little screen time, he took his role seriously, leading to a feud between him and star Emilio Estevez. According to Kapelos, the bad blood between the two began when Kapelos was trying to film a scene while Estevez and Nelson were trying to make him laugh.

Angered by their lack of seriousness, Kapelos referenced the real-life heart attack of actor Martin Sheen while shooting Apocalypse Now. Kapelos told the pair they “would’ve been great on the set of Apocalypse Now” during the time of Martin Sheen’s heart attack (via Huffington Post), watching him wince in pain as they goofed around. Unbeknownst to him, Estevez was Sheen’s son, making the rest of their time together very uncomfortable for both.

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Brian’s Social Security Number

The Number Reveals That He Isn’t Actually From Illinois

Brian and Andrew looking through each other's wallets in The Breakfast Club

Inspired by Glenbrook High School in Glenview, Illinois, where John Hughes spent much of his teenage years, Shermer High was the fictional setting of the two-story library where the entirety of The Breakfast Club took place. Shot on location in the abandoned Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, the real-world location has also served as a setting for the Hughes-directed film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Although Shermer is established as being located in Illinois, not every character is from the state. In one particular scene in which Allison filches Brian’s wallet, she rattles off information from his ID, reciting his height, weight, and date of birth, but the most interesting fact given is his social security number beginning in the number “049,” which is only possible if he was born in the state of Connecticut (via SSA).



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