Twenty-five years ago this week, 'Pretty in Pink' hit theaters, digging its hooks into teens across the country. The film not only stands as one of the great teen romances, it's also an iconic '80s film and a creative peak for its mastermind John Hughes and his red-headed, feminine muse, Molly Ringwald.
In 'Pretty in Pink,' Ringwald stars as Andie Walsh, an independent-minded outcast in high school who begins a tempestuous relationship with Blane (Andrew MccCarthy), a rich, preppy boy who may not be man enough to endure the taunts of his snobbish friends for dating a poor girl. Caught in the middle is Jon Cryer's Duckie, who loves Andie with all his heart, even if she doesn't return the feeling.
To celebrate the movie's 25th anniversary, we thought we'd find out Where Are They Now: The Stars of 'Pretty in Pink.' (Very special thanks to 'You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried,' Susannah Gora's excellent book about the Brat Pack, now out in paperback.)
Molly Ringwald (Andie Walsh)
Then: 'Pink' marked Ringwald's third team-up with John Hughes, and she was firmly established as the young actress of her time. She got her start as a child actor in theater productions and commercials before landing a supporting part on 'The Facts of Life.' Her breakout film role came in Hughes' first directorial effort, 'Sixteen Candles.' She got the part because, according to her, "He just picked my head shot out and put it on his board above where he was writing about this girl. So when it came time to cast that part ... he said, 'I want to meet that girl.'" The surprise hit was followed by 'The Breakfast Club.' At the time, Hughes approached Justine Bateman then Jodie Foster for the part of Andie; when neither woman's schedule allowed her to take the part, Ringwald, who had become a close friend of Hughes, stepped in.
Now: Molly Ringwald and John Hughes had a unique bond, perhaps spurred on by sharing a birthday, but 'Pink' marked the end of the Ringwald-Hughes cycle of films. The actress revealed that Hughes stopped talking to her, as he took the end of the partnership personally. Ringwald turned down parts in 'Pretty Woman' and 'Ghost' and relocated to France, where she performed in French-language cinema. She eventually moved back to the States, concentrating on theater, appearing on Broadway, off-Broadway, national tours and London's West End, occasionally popping up in TV movies. Since 2008, she has appeared on ABC Family's 'The Life of an American Teenager,' completing the circle of life by playing the young female protagonist's mother.
Girls on Film: Molly Ringwald and the Modern Teen Heroine
Andrew McCarthy (Blane)
Then: McCarthy made his film debut in 1982's coming-of-age story 'Class.' In 1985 he debuted on Broadway and starred in the post-college drama about the problems of pretty people, 'St. Elmo's Fire,' earning him a spot in that most elite of '80s cliques, the Brat Pack. He was cast as Blane, whose strong lips made him the object of Andie's affection and immediately earned the scorn of Duckie for having a major appliance for a name.
Now: McCarthy became a Hollywood dreamboat, scoring leads in youth-oriented fare like 'Mannequin,' 'Less Than Zero' and 'Weekend at Bernie's,' the most impossible premise for a movie ever. Since then, he has bounced between movies, television and Broadway, working consistently in all three fields. When he's not busy doing all that, he acts as a travel writer sharing his thoughts and experiences from around the world, even recently being named the Society of American Travel Writers Journalist of the Year.
Jon Cryer (Duckie)
Then: Born into an acting family, Cryer was an alumnus of the long-standing Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center summer camp in New York, then moved to London to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his screen debut as the lead of the teen romantic comedy 'No Small Chance' in 1984. Two years later, he was cast as Duckie, Andie's best friend who is hopelessly in love with her. The part was originally offered to Anthony Michael Hall (who rejected it, trying to shed his geek image) then went to Robert Downey Jr., but scheduling conflicts got in the way.
Now: Duckie has the unfortunate distinction of being maybe the only nice guy who doesn't get the girl at the end of a movie. Originally, Hughes had planned for Duckie and Andie to get together, but for whatever reason, test audiences hated that ending (Ringwald was disappointed that Downey had to bow out, as she felt she and Cryer never had the romantic chemistry she had with RDJ). Producers made Hughes re-shoot the ending, and Duckie kind of turned into the doormat of '80s teen-movie lore. Cryer followed 'Pink' up with the notorious bomb 'Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.' More bad luck followed for the next decade, as Cryer starred in three high-profile sitcoms that were all canceled after one season. In perhaps the cruelest twist of fate, Cryer's biggest post-'Pink' successes -- 'Hot Shots!' and the CBS comedy 'Two and a Half Men' – came by co-starring with raving egomaniac Charlie Sheen. For the sake of Cryer's career, Sheen better not go to jail / become a public pariah / die.
James Spader (Steff)
Then: The Boston-born Spader shocked his parents by dropping out of high school to pursue acting in New York. He studied at the Michael Chekhov School while holding down a variety of day jobs. His first high-profile gigs came in the Brooke Shields romance 'Endless Love' and the teen-gang drama 'Tuff Turf,' with Robert Downey Jr. 'Pink' marked his breakthrough, playing Steff, quite possibly the most gleefully jerkish bad guy in an '80s movie.
Now: With Spader unleashing the full power of his d-bag prowess in 'Pink,' he went on to become one of the best sleazy character actors of all time -- meant as a compliment -- in films like 'Less Than Zero,' Wolf,' David Cronenberg's 'Crash' and his critical breakout 'sex, lies and videotape.' Spader later moved to television, where he won three Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his part as Alan Shore on 'The Practice'/'Boston Legal.' He recently completed a Broadway run starring in David Mamet's 'Race.'
Annie Potts (Iona)
Then: Born in Nashville, Potts pursedtheater arts in college and by 'Pink' was already to known to movie fans as Janine, the best secretary ever, in 'Ghostbusters.' For the part of Iona, Andie's wise older friend who gives her advice on how to get through high school, Hughes originally wanted Angelica Huston; when he couldn't get her, he, like Dr. Venkman and everyone else, was transfixed by Potts' bug eyes.
Now: Annie, we're sorry about the bug-eyes thing. Just a few months after 'Pink''s release, Potts would be featured in the hit television show 'Designing Women,' which ran for seven years. Potts also appeared in 'Ghostbusters 2,' voiced Bo Peep in 'Toy Story' and its first sequel, then took the lead on another TV show, the Lifetime series 'Any Day Now.' She is currently performing in the Tony Award–winning play 'God of Carnage.'
Harry Dean Stanton (Jack Walsh)
Then: At the time of the movie, the veteran character actor Stanton was already 59, so we'll give a brief recap, highlighting only the most awesome moments. He studied journalism and radio arts at the University of Kentucky, studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, was a Navy sailor in WWII, and began building up his long acting resume appearing movies like 'How the West Was Won,' 'Cool Hand Luke,' 'Two-Lane Blacktop,' 'Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid,' 'The Godfather Part II,' 'Alien,' 'Escape from New York' and 'Repo Man.' His breakthrough lead role came with 1984's Cannes Film Festival sensation, 'Paris, Texas,' one of the greatest movies ever made. Roger Ebert said, "No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad" (with Ebert conceding 'Dream a Little Dream' to be the lone exception). His turn as the poor and depressed father of Andie in 'Pretty in Pink' gave the teen-movie genre one of its most nuanced parent roles.
Now: After 'Pink,' Stanton became a member of David Lynch's troupe of recurring actors, appearing in 'Wild at Heart,' 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,' 'The Straight Story' and 'Inland Empire.' He also stars on the hit HBO series 'Big Love' and, in his spare time, occasionally tours with country music acts. Basically, he's one of the coolest guys alive.
Alexa Kenin (Jena Hoeman)
Then: Hailing from New York City, Kenin got her start as a child actor and became something of a veteran of the 'ABC Afterschool Special,' appearing in five episodes over six years. She starred as "Dana" in the 1980 teen girl classic 'Little Darlings.' She continued working in television and off-Broadway productions until she was cast as Andie's friend Alexa.
Now: Sadly, only a few months before the release of the film, Kenin was murdered by her boyfriend in their Manhattan apartment. 'Pink,' along with the movie 'Animal Behavior,' was released posthumously. During 'Pink''s credits, a dedication appears to her and Bruce Weintraub, the film's production designer, who died of AIDS shortly before its release.
Kate Vernon (Benny Hanson)
Then: Daughter of John Vernon (aka "Dean Wormer" in 'Animal House'), the blond actress first came to fame with a two-year stint on the CBS soap opera 'Falcon Crest,' as one of Lorenzo Llamas's many wives. After her character was killed off in a tragic fall, she moved to movies, landing the part of the stuck-up witch who makes life hell for Andie because: 1) Andie is poor; 2) she realizes she is Steff's sloppy seconds after he is rejected by Andie; and 3) she's upset that she has a boy's name and her boyfriend has a girl's name.
Now: Vernon never really had another movie hit as big as 'Pink,' but she has fared much better on television, with reoccurring roles on 'Who's the Boss?', 'L.A. Law' and 'Nash Bridges.' Her biggest role was on the revamped 'Battlestar Galactica' as Ellen Tigh, a central figure in the series' paranoid Cylon mystery. We can't tell you anything more without revealing, like, 37 spoilers.
Gina Gershon (Trombley)
Then: The L.A.-born beauty attended Beverly Hills High School (yeah, the 90210 one) with Lenny Kravitz, studied drama at NYU, then worked with David Mamet at the Circle in the Square Professional Theater School. She did two professional plays and had a part in the music video for The Cars' 'Hello Again' before landing a small part in 'Pink,' as another tormentor of Andie's. Her most notable scene is the gym class game of volleyball that turns nasty.
Now: 'Pink' was Gershon's big break, leading to her continued working to this day. Immediately after the film, she starred in 'Red Heat' alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and 'Cocktail' with Tom Cruise. She went on to recurring parts in 'Melrose Place,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Rescue Me,' appeared in the mega-hit 'Face/Off,' and starred in three Broadway revivals ('Cabaret,' 'Boeing-Boeing,' and 'Bye Bye Birdie'). She's become a gay icon thanks to her parts in the lesbian crime caper 'Bound' and the notorious camp classic 'Showgirls.' Gershon has also parlayed her talents into the music world, playing the Jew's harp on recordings with Scissor Sisters, Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock.
Andrew "Dice" Clay ('Dice-Man')
Then: He's one of the most notorious stand-ups of all time, but when he appeared in 'Pretty in Pink,' he hadn't yet achieved infamy. "Dice" got his start doing comedy in local Brooklyn clubs, before moving up to Manhattan, then Los Angeles, where he became a regular at the world-famous Comedy Store. Aside from a few appearances on 'Diff'rent Strokes' and a bit part in the Johnny Depp sex comedy 'Private Resort,' 'Pink' gave Clay his first national exposure, playing a nightclub bouncer who tells Cryer, "Love's a b*tch, Duck."
Now: Clay next appeared with a two-year stint on the Michael Mann-produced police drama 'Crime Story,' but quit to pursue comedy full-time. His big break was a set at a Rodney Dangerfield–hosted show that landed him his first HBO solo special. In 1990, he released two albums, 'Dice' and 'The Day the Laughter Died,' became the only comedian in history to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row, and starred in the high-profile bomb 'The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.' Since then, the hype and furor has died down. He still pops up every few years, be it on 'The Opie and Anthony Show' or 'Celebrity Apprentice' to garner some comeback publicity.
Dweezil Zappa (Simon)
Then: The son of the prolific, avant-garde musician Frank Zappa, Dweezil was born Ian Donald Calvin Euclid and later changed his name to Dweezil, his father's nickname for him that was based on his mother's pinky toe (obviously). Along with his brother and sisters, he pursued music at a very early age, becoming proficient in guitar. He was dating Ringwald at the time of filming and scored a tiny part as her goofy burnout schoolmate.
Now: Dweezil continued pursuing music, recording with such notable luminaries as the Fat Boys, Don Johnson and Winger. He served as an MTV VJ in the late '80s but was fired for badmouthing the network. Starting in the '90s, Dweezil planted himself firmly in the eye of the "alternative" hurricane, recording the theme song to Ben Stiller's sketch show; voicing a character on the cult cartoon 'Duckman'; hosting a late-night show with his brother Ahmet on the USA Network; recording music and hosting a cooking show with then-girlfriend Lisa Loeb on the Food Network; recording with "Weird" Al Yankovic; and working on a 75-minute music project entitled 'What the Hell Was I Thinking?' featuring guitar work from Van Halen, Brian May and Angus Young (it has yet to be released). Currently he tours nationally with the 'Zappa Playing Zappa' tour, in which he exposes young audiences to the music of his late father.
Kristy Swanson (Duckette)
Then: Swanson got her start in commercials and TV guest spots before landing two simultaneous 1986 John Hughes parts. In 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' she's the student who tells Ben Stein that her best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors the night before. (It was pretty serious, we guess.) In 'Pink' she had the silent, 10-second part of Duckette, a blonde beauty who shows up out of nowhere at the senior prom, batting her eyes at Duckie. Because after fighting with Steff, getting picked on at school and letting the girl of his dreams go off with another man, he needed something good to happen for him.
Now: After 'Pink,' she continued acting in television, then landed the title part in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' Even though 'Buffy' went on to become a highly influential, beloved and critically acclaimed television franchise, the original movie bombed, so Swanson did not get to enjoy any of it. She appeared in several other '90s films, like 'The Chase,' 'Higher Learning' and 'Big Daddy.' She moved back into television work, became a spokesperson for the Medifast Diet, posed for Playboy and won the reality competition 'Skating With the Stars.' She later married her skating partner and currently has one child with him.
Howard Deutch (director)
Then: Deutch got his start directing music videos before making 'Pink,' his feature film debut. 'Pink' also marked the start of a three-year collaboration with John Hughes, as he directed Hughes' next two scripts, 'Some Kind of Wonderful' and 'The Great Outdoors.'
Now: Without editorializing too much, after his team-up with Hughes ended, Deutch went to make some of the worst comedies of all time: 'Grumpier Old Men,' 'The Odd Couple Two,' 'The Whole Ten Yards,' and 'My Best Friend's Girl' (we guess he got tired of doing sequels). On the bright side, he met Lea Thompson on the set of 'Some Kind of Wonderful' and later married her. And she still looks great -- good for him!
John Hughes (writer/producer)
Then: By 'Pretty in Pink''s release, Hughes had already left his mark on the decade. He had scripted 'National Lampoon's Vacation'; he wrote and directed 'Sixteen Candles,' 'Weird Science' and 'The Breakfast Club'; and simultaneously made 'Ferris Bueller' and 'Pink.'
Now: Unhappy with the changes that had been made to 'Pink''s ending, Hughes switched the genders and wrote 'Some Kind of Wonderful.' He pursued Ringwald for the film, but she declined, wanting to do something different from teen cinema. Ringwald speculated in her eulogy to Hughes that he took the rejection personally, as he never did another teen movie again. After 'Wonderful' he transitioned into a partnership with John Candy, doing comedies like 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' and 'Uncle Buck,' and penning the box-office phenomenon 'Home Alone.' After Candy's death in 1994, his writing style seemed to change again, as he focused on writing slapstick movies starring dogs and kids, sometimes under the pen name Edmond Dantes (the wrongly imprisoned character who faces solitary confinement in 'The Count of Monte Cristo'). Hughes rarely gave interviews, and lived a mostly quiet life in Chicago with his family until succumbing to a sudden heart attack in August 2009.