The actual anniversary of the release of The Breakfast Club was back in February, but it's never too late to celebrate right? We don't think so either. Thirty years ago, writer/director John Hughes' soulful, hilarious teen movie debuted and it's just as beloved today as it ever was. It's a watershed pop film — the kind directors dream about making.
But The Breakfast Club wasn't all smooth sailing. The production had its problems and, like most movies, those problems are now fascinating anecdotes (we'll get to that in a minute). Casting decisions were tough, and Hughes combined his script with plenty of improvisation to give the film its authentic feel. That may be the key to The Breakfast Club: It rings true.
So whether you're an athlete, a basket-case, a princess, a brain, or a criminal, you probably love this movie. But you may not know the whole story. Here are 20 things you never knew about The Breakfast Club:
1. Hughes wrote the Breakfast Club screenplay in just two days and shot it entirely in sequence.
2. Hughes almost fired Judd Nelson (who plays Bender) because the actor stayed in character off camera and continued taunting co-star Molly Ringwald. Ironically, Bender's arch enemy in the movie, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) convinced Hughes not to do it.
3. Universal's original plan was to make sequels to the movie every ten years that would include the same cast as they aged. But once filming began, it was clear Hughes did not want to work with Nelson ever again. The director said as much at the time. It was also rumored Hughes had a falling out with Ringwald after she turned down Some Kind of Wonderful (he wanted her to play Watts) and gravitated towards more adult roles. Ringwald has said she lost touch with Hughes after their third film together, Pretty in Pink, in 1986.
4. Ages of the Breakfast Club actors during filming: Judd Nelson (25), Molly Ringwald (16), Emilio Estevez (22), Anthony Michael Hall (16), Ally Sheedy (22). Estevez, Nelson, and Sheedy also played college graduates the same year, in St. Elmo's Fire.
5. Hughes cast Ringwald and Hall first, two of his stars from Sixteen Candles.
6. Ringwald was originally asked to portray Allison, but she wanted to play Claire and convinced Hughes and Universal to give her the role.
7. Estevez was originally cast to play Bender, but Hughes couldn't find someone for the Andrew Clark role so Estevez agreed to do it.
8. Nicolas Cage and John Cusack were both considered for the role of Bender. Cage was too pricey at the time, and Cusack lost out in the end to Nelson, who was casting director Jackie Burch's first choice.
10. Before The Breakfast Club came together Sheedy had auditioned for Sixteen Candles. She lost the role of Samantha Baker to Ringwald, but she made an impression. The actress showed up with two black eyes (caused from a set building accident) and Hughes remembered her when it came time to cast goth girl Allison in TBC.
12. Improvised scenes in The Breakfast Club: The storytelling circle in the library was entirely improvised by all the cast members; Brian's reason for having a fake ID — "So I can vote" — was ad-libbed by Anthony Michael Hall; Nelson came up with the loogie spit-and-catch, certain phrases — including "neo-maxi zoomdweebie," and also the film's final shot of Bender's fist in the air (he was supposed to just walk off into the sunset, so to speak).
13. Hall's mother, Mercedes Hall, and his younger sister, Mary Christian, have cameos as Brian's family in the movie.
14. Nelson went undercover at a local high school outside Chicago and convinced some students he was one of them. He bought beer with his "fake ID" (Nelson was well over 21) and told the kids his dad was in jail and that's why he was staying at the Westin Hotel.
15. The movie's theme song, "Don't You (Forget About Me)," was written for the film by British songwriter Keith Forsey. It was originally given to Billy Idol, and then Bryan Ferry, but both artists turned it down. Another rejection, by Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, turned out to be fortuitous. She suggested her husband Jim Kerr's band should do it. He was the lead singer of Simple Minds.
16. Allison's lunch is pretty great, but Andrew's is the most impressive: three sandwiches, a bag of chips, a banana, an apple, cookies and milk. Here are the other lunches: Allison mashes together a sandwich of Pixy Stix and Cap'n Crunch cereal; Claire eats sushi; Brian brings a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, soup, and apple juice; and Bender, sadly, has nothing. The lunches are telling personality indicators.
17. The beauty (Molly Ringwald) and the brain (Anthony Michael Hall) dated after the movie wrapped.
18. Hughes and his production designers built the library you see in the movie in the gymnasium of Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois. The school's actual library was too small.
19. Actress Karen Leigh Hopkins was cast as "Robin," a gym teacher who gives the teens advice. But after one day of filming, Hopkins was fired and her scenes were rewritten for Carl the Janitor. According to the book, John Hughes: A Life in Film, Ringwald and Sheedy objected to a scene in which Robin was seen nude in the locker room. So Hughes axed the character.
20. Ringwald could not do the lipstick trick (and no reports on how hard she tried). They had to use different camera angles to make it appear she could do it.
21. According to Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall hit a growth spurt during production. He said Hall was shorter than him at the start of production, but taller by the end.
22. Originally, Claire was supposed to dance alone, but Ringwald felt uncomfortable so Hughes had the entire cast dance with her.
23. Sheedy nicknamed Hall "Milk & Cookies" because she thought he was sweet. He never liked the nickname.
24. During the pot smoking scene, Brian says, "Chicks cannot hold their smoke." The line is from a Richard Pryor stand up routine and Hall does his best impression.
25. Hughes originally wanted The Breakfast Club to be a two and a half hour movie. However, many of the scenes were cut out and the negatives destroyed. The director said in Première that he had the only complete copy of The Breakfast Club on film.
26. The film's poster (seen below) was shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. The image of five actors gazing at the camera influenced the way teen films were marketed from that point on.
27. One of the scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor shows Carl predicting where the five kids will be in thirty years: Bender will have killed himself; Claire will have "two boob jobs and a face lift;" Brian will become very successful but die of a heart attack due to the stress of the high paying job; Allison will be a great poet, but no one will care; and Andrew will marry a gorgeous airline stewardess who will get fat after having kids.
28. The film's title comes from a nickname invented by students and staff for detention at New Trier High School, attended by the son of one of Hughes' friends. Detentionees were designated members of "The Breakfast Club."
29. Alternate titles for the movie: The Lunch Bunch and Library Revolution.
30. At the end of the film, Brian kisses the letter he writes. There is nothing written on the paper.
[Big h/t to IMDb, Wikipedia, and my Breakfast Club DVD.]